Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Birth of Cheap Communication (and Junk Mail) (article)

In Victorian London, though service wasn’t 24/7, it was close to 12/6. Home delivery routes would go by every house 12 times a day — yes, 12. In 1889, for example, the first delivery began about 7:30 a.m. and the last one at about 7:30 p.m. In major cities like Birmingham by the end of the century, home routes were run six times a day.

“In London, people complained if a letter didn’t arrive in a couple of hours,” said Catherine J. Golden, a professor of English at Skidmore College and author of “Posting It: The Victorian Revolution in Letter Writing” (2009).

And, not unlike us, most Victorian letter writers seemed more concerned about getting a rapid response than a long one. “Return of post” was an often-used phrase, requesting an immediate response, in time for the next scheduled delivery that day.


Anonymous said...

fascinating! thanks for the post.
~ a.m.

Hels said...

The other connection with writing is in your photo :)

My favourite 19th century novelist, Anthony Trollope, designed the first pillar box in England. His report on postal services in the Channel Islands included a recommendation to try Jersey's pillar boxes out in London. In 1855 it happened! They were rectangular, sage green and with a large ball on top. Later they became red.

I am so proud of him :) But gosh I wish mail was as fast today as you found it to be 120 years ago.

Hermes said...

In Bath we have the Postal Museum and its absolutely fascinating to see how the email or texting of its day developed. The Postal service is definately in decline over here.

Term Paper said...

Excellent post. Your predictions are very much in line with what we are expecting to see in the near future.