The first Penny Black stamps went on sale on 1 May 1840, but were not valid for use for another five days – 6 May.
The Penny Black ultimately was part of the radical changes in postage as a result of the major postal reforms that introduced charging by weight for a letter to go to any destination in the UK. Before 1840, postal charges were based on distance and number of sheets in the letter, and the recipient usually paid for the post, not the sender. These were the origins of the one-price-goes-anywhere universal service.
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