Sir Rowland Hill's Postal Reform to 1840


Sir Rowland Hill(1795 – 1879) was the founder of the Uniform Penny Postage system and also invented the world's 1st postage stamp – the Penny Black. The exhibitor would like to use some essays, covers, line‑engraved issues, Mulready postal stationery, autographed letters and some non‑philatelic materials to illustrate and commemorate the greatest British Postal Reformer – Sir Rowland Hill, his postal reform and his inventions (Uniform Penny Postage and Penny Black).

In 1835, Hill took real action to start his postal reform under the help of Mr. Robert Wallace MP, another longstanding postal reformer. In Jan.,1837, he published his famous pamphlet entitled "Post Office Reform, Its Importance and Practicability". After a few years' effort, he finally succeeded and the Uniform Postage Act was enacted by the Parliament and received the Queen Victoria's Royal Assent on 17 Aug., 1839.

On 5 Dec., 1839, Uniform 4d Postage came into operation as an experiment and then the Uniform Penny Postage System was introduced on 10 Jan., 1840 and the first world postage stamp – the Penny Black was invented, which was sold together with Mulready postal stationery on 1 May 1840 and officially used as postage on 6 May 1840.The Uniform Penny Postage and the Penny Black stamps became a milestone in the world postal history and represented the beginning of the modern postal system of the world.

This 16‑page exhibit will let you know briefly about Sir Rowland Hill's postal reform and his achievements to 1840.


Druce, A.G.(2018), Perkins Bacon Great Britain Line‑Engraved Postage Stamp Printing 1840‑1846, Vol.I& II, London: The Royal Philatelic Society London, 2018
Grimwood‑Taylor, J.L. (2020), International Postal Reform, RPSL, London, 2020
Hill, R (1880), The Life of Sir Rowland Hill and the History of Penny Postage, Thomas De la Rue & Co., London, 1880
Holyoake, A (2013), The World's First Postage Stamp, RPSL, London, 2013
Huggins, A. & Klempka, E. (2013), Great Britain: The 1840 Prepaid Parliamentary Envelopes RPSL, 2013
Jackson, M (1999), May Dates, Mike Jackson Publications, Hampshire, 1999
Lowe, R. (1968), The British Postage Stamp of the Nineteenth Century, London, 1968
Zhang, H. (2015), The Origin of the Penny Black, Shijiazhuang: Huashan Literature and Art Publishing House, Shijiazhuang, 2015
Zhang, H. & Buxton, M. (2021), An Historic Penny Black Wrapper to Rowland Hill, London Philatelist, No.1486, June 2021, London: 2021


Frame 1

  1. Introduction and High Postage before the Postal Reform
  2. Unreasonable Postage‑charging Method
  3. Franking Privilege from 1652 to 1840 & its Abuse and Rowland Hill's Pamphlet
  4. The Formation of a Parliament Select Committee on Postage and Penny Postage Act Pamphlet
  5. An Act on Uniform Penny Postage, The Treasury Competition in 1839, The Uniform 4d Postage
  6. Post Office Regulations Notice Dated 7 Jan.,1840 and The Uniform Penny Postage
  7. The Franking Abolished & 1840 Parliamentary Envelopes, The Birth of the Postage Stamp
  8. Proof, Penny Black Cover Addressed to Rowland Hill, First Day Usage of Penny Black on 6 May 1840