please empty your brain below

Two things stand out:
1) the sudden drop in price from 1839 to 1840 - had the initial price been pitched way too high, or did this newfangled idea catch on so dramatically that volume of sales meant they could slash the price?
2) Yet again, decimalisation was the cover for a 50% price hike.

1) The Fourpenny Post lasted only four weeks. Then January 1840 saw the introduction of Rowland Hill's Penny Post, which transformed and popularised the postal system.
2) For more information about stamp prices in the 1970s, and the century beforehand, click on the '1971' link. One of the worst price rises, thanks to inflation, was between 24 June 1974 and 17 March 1975.

Even at the new prices, it is still (to my way of thinking) the best value service around.

It amazes me that many people who think nothing of spending four quid on a coffee, or eighty quid on a month's Sky subscription moan about the cost of the small miracle of sending mail across the country.

If anyone's that worried - stock up on stamps now: Superdrug and Costco sell them at cut price (and probably other places too).

E-Bay is what's keeping most Post Offices afloat these days.

Agree with Blue Witch - it still represents incredible value for money.
W H Smith on-line is currently selling books of 1st & 2nd class stamps at 5% discount (minimum order of 4 books). Worth it if you are seriously stocking up!

Different country but same result. allotmentqueen has it right, with out on line shopping, the post office would be long dead.

Why can't stamp prices be in simple multiples e.g 48p and 36p, (with larger multiples of 12p for foreign, oversize etc) so that you only need one kind of stamp? I still remember the convenience of being able to use 2p stamps in fours or fives in 1979, and 5p or 6p stamps in threes or fours in 1989/1991.
It is enormously frustrating to have to queue for twenty minutes or so to make a purchase of a few pence because you have a letter to post abroad, or which is outsize - especially when you already have some stamps with you.

Train ticketing is far more complex, but most people seem to cope with ticket machines.

I remember reading somewhere once that way back in the early days of the postal service, it was the recipient who paid the postage when a letter was delivered. A young man or woman who had left their rural home for better prospects in the big city would sometimes post an empty envelope addressed to their poverty-stricken parents, as an assurance that they were alive and well. The parents declined to pay the postman, so the "letter" was not handed over.
I can't help thinking this little ploy might backfire, eg if there was a fiver in the envelope!

the empty envelope strategy is the same reasoning as used by those of us who phone parents, or others, for a set number of rings, eg to indicate we're home safely, then hang up.
this ploy is now probably less needed now as, unlike postage, the cost of telephone calls has reduced in real terms.

Interesting post. 19p lasted from 1993 to 2002 which is good, other than a rise to 20p for three years which is odd. The costs are rising fast now, but I do agree with others that it's still very good value, especially when you consider there is no supplement to send to remote islands and the like.

In my childhood, when the standard postage was 3d (purple stamp), there was also the possibility of using a red 2 1/2d stamp for postcards or greetings cards with simple messages and no enclosures - envelope tucked in rather than sealed. I regard it as being a "second class" service, even though the delivery time was no slower.

March 27th update: post updated to show actual 2012 price increase. Yeeouch.

We should adjust for inflation.
I've used the Bank of England's historical inflation calculator which I reckon is likely to be accurate, but only gives outputs in 2011 prices, so there might need to be a slight upward inflation for today's prices.

For simplicity and illustrative purposes only, I've picked on 1840 (first penny post), 1912, 1937, 1962 and 1987 only, and I'll just use the single or first class price that you give here DG. I've rounded to the nearest whole penny.

1840: 1d - modern equivalent: 35p
1912: 1d - modern equivalent: 39p
1937: 1.5d - modern equivalent: 35p
1962: 3d - modern equivalent: 22p
1987: 18p - modern equivalent: 41p

My opinion of the price increase: what business, with falling sales volumes and annual losses of £1bn, plus a legal obligation to provide a universal service, could possibly avoid raising prices?

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