Phonopost Rates 1966-1971

1967 Phonopost packet, second step 1s 2d rate for 2-4oz (courtesy Colin Marshall)

"Phonopost" was a class of mail introduced by the 1939 Buenos Aires UPU Conference, which offered a concessionary rate of postage for packets containing phonograph (gramophone) records, particularly intended for spoken messages. They had to be sent unsealed in strong packaging, which could have a note printed on the front to explain how to play the recording. (The records themselves were fragile and needed a special needle to play them, and it was permissible to enclose one in the package.) The service was extended to "tapes and wires" by the 1952 Brussels UPU Conference, taking effect 1st July 1953.

The service was always limited to countries which agreed to allow Phonopost packets at the concessionary rate, either in both directions or incoming only. Britain did not accept incoming packets until 1st January 1954 (see the British Commonwealth and Foreign Post Warrant 1953), and did not implement an outgoing service until 1st February 1966 following the 1964 Vienna UPU Conference, which allowed the printed explanatory notice to be an enclosure, and extended the service to "gramophone records and tapes, wires or other similar materials, whether or not bearing a sound recording" (presumably to cater for the sending of a blank tape for the addressee to record a message on).

The rules for GB packets were that Phonopost packets could contain or bear nothing except the above, any required customs declaration, and the names and addresses of the sender and addressee. They had to be clearly marked "PHONOPOST" in capital letters above the address, and had to be packed so as to allow examination.

The outgoing service was, however, short-lived as the 1969 Tokyo UPU Conference agreed to withdraw the Phonopost concession, along with that for samples. This took effect on 1st July 1971. After this, items which would have been transmissible by Phonopost were charged at the letter rate if they were recordings of personal messages, otherwise they were transmissible as small packets.

Date Rate Date Rate Date Rate
(1 Feb)
5d - 2oz
10d - 4oz
1s 3d - 6oz
1s 8d - 8oz
2s 1d - 10oz
2s 6d - 12oz
2s 11d - 14oz
3s 4d - 1lb

Each additional 2oz up to 2lb - 5d
(3 Oct)
7d - 2oz
1s 2d - 4oz
1s 9d - 6oz
2s 4d - 8oz
2s 11d - 10oz
3s 6d - 12oz
4s 1d - 14oz
4s 10d - 1lb

Each additional 2oz up to 2lb - 7d
(15 Feb)
3p - 2oz
6p - 4oz
9p - 6oz
12p - 8oz
15p - 10oz
18p - 12oz
21p - 14oz
24p - 1lb

Each additional 2oz up to 2lb - 3p