This stamp, known as the Penny Black, was the world’s first postage stamp. Before the postal reforms of 1840 sending a letter was expensive. The charge was for each sheet of paper that a letter comprised, and for the distance covered. The receiver had to pay and not the sender! So a letter of two pages travelling one hundred miles would cost 18 pence or one shilling and six pence. From 1840 the same letter if it weighed under half an ounce cost the sender just one penny.
The introduction of uniform penny postage resulted in increased trade and prosperity, with more people sending letters, postcards and Christmas cards than ever before.