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Collection Plate from first London pillar box (1855)

The inspiration for pillar boxes came from France and Belgium, brought back to Britain by Anthony Trollope. The first pillar boxes in London were erected in 1855. However, they were not red. They were rectangular in shape and sage green in colour with a large ball on top (it was not until 1874 that red became the uniform colour). This cast iron collection plate was used on one. It has amazing detail on the 10 daily collections and deliveries, that started at 9am and continued until 10pm. Deliveries started as soon as an hour after collection, with the 10pm collection out on delivery at 8am the following morning.

Royal Mail marked the sites of the first pillar boxes in London in April 2015 as part of the celebrations to mark the bicentenary of Anthony Trollope’s birth. Special plaques were installed on five pillar boxes in London on Fleet Street, The Strand, Pall Mall, Piccadilly and Rutland Gate in Kensington, the five streets where the first five pillar boxes in London were originally erected.