The Beginning and End of GB Postage Due Stamps Could Be an Opportunity
It was in fact the French who first introduced a postage label when payment was due on a letter. A black and white label inscribed with the words "POSTES / CHIFFRE TAXE / 10 Centimes percevoir" (meaning Post / Taxed Amount / 10 Centimes to pay) came in to use on January 1st 1859.
Throughout the reigns of Queen Victoria and Edward VII, Great Britain muddled on using various handstamp based methods of applying extra charges on mail and the collection of fees by postmen was a somewhat hit and miss affair. It wasn't until 20th April 1914 that the first GB postage due stamps were issued.
The original design by George Eve would be used on British postage dues from 1914 right through until 1971. From 1970 new wording was introduced simply saying "To Pay" as it was decided the same stamps could be used when payment collection was needed for customs duty on parcels coming in from overseas countries.
New designs replaced the George Eve design from June 1970 and these were then replaced by a more modern design in 1982 which stayed in use until the final design was issued in 1994. From April 1995 the use of postage due stamps was reduced to be applied only to business mail before all postage due stamp use ceased on 28th January 2000.
Postage due stamps and underpaid mail is an increasingly popular area of study among British postal historians and, while still relatively affordable, this is one aspect of GB philately where it remains possible to build a complete beginning to end collection that has the potential to grow in real terms value in the years to come.
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