Evolution in Reverse: The Post Magazine Address Panel and its Decorative Borders 1840-53


A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE POST MAGAZINE — Only two sources of information on the Post Magazine are recorded in philatelic literature. One is in The Postage Stamps of the Nineteenth Century by Robson Lowe (Page 93) and the other in The British Pictorial Envelope of the 19th Century by Bodily, Jarvis and Hahn (Page 287) and both have errors, namely the date of issue. One book describes the date of issue as August 1840 when in fact it was first issued on Saturday 25th July 1840.

The Post Magazine at first was sold pre—franked with an unused Penny Black stamp ready to post. At a later date it was sold without a stamp for mainly correspondence use. The first Post Magazine consisted of a front page with information on each side of a decorative border, five pages of news and advertising and two pages, the first with a fancy border and the other plain, for letter writing giving it a total of eight pages. Later copies had two plain pages for letter writing. The Post Magazine was sold to the public at one and a half pence and at a penny to the advertisers (limited to 24 copies).

It was the first publication in the world to be sent by post — hence its name. It therefore ranks among one of the most significant commercial innovations of the nineteenth century.

Fittingly for such an historic publication, its first offices were situated at the heart of the publishing industry close to London's famous Fleet Street at 3½ Wine Office Court. These buildings were destroyed during the Second World War. All archive material was destroyed with the destruction of the buildings so perhaps this explains the apparent lack of information available today.

THE EXHIBIT shows how each of the five types of the Post Magazine address panel, decorative border and information on each side of it changed over the years. It started with a very elaborate border but was gradually reduced to no border at all. The exhibit also gives some details of the stamps, cancellations and type of postage used (stamp or prepaid in cash). Examples of each of the five types of Post Magazine are described and shown.

All information and comments are made based on the database of the 118 unused and used Post Magazines recorded up to October 2018. The database is made up of complete or part copies. The number of each type so far recorded is listed as follows:

Type I — 87, Type II — 13, Type III — 12, Type IV — 2, Type IVa — 3 Type unknown — 1

An afterthought! A minimum of 5000 Post Magazines were printed each week for sale on a Saturday (up to 10000 some weeks). Working on 52 Saturdays per year from 25th July 1840 (Issue date of No 1) to October 15th 1853 (latest issue date recorded) equals 689 Saturdays times 5000 each week, equals some 3,445,000 copies in total that would have been printed. Only 118 are recorded so far, where are the other 3,444,882 copies?


Frame 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Type I Decorative Border
  3. Type I Decorative Border
  4. Type I Decorative Border
  5. Type I Decorative Border
  6. Type I Decorative Border
  7. Type I Decorative Border
  8. Type II Decorative Border
  9. Type III Decorative Border
  10. Type III Decorative Border
  11. Type III Decorative Border
  12. Type III Decorative Border
  13. Type III Decorative Border and Type IV with No Decorative Border
  14. Type IV with No Decorative Border
  15. Type IVa with No Decorative Border
  16. Type IVa with No Decorative Border