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The origins of postal orders in the UK

 
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John_Gledhill



Joined: 06 Oct 2007

Posts: 154
Location: Wellesbourne, UK

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 7:34 pm    Post subject: The origins of postal orders in the UK If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

The first British postal orders were issued in 1881. They were seen as an ideal method for the general public to send relatively small amounts of money safely through the post, without the need for expensive registered mail. It added to the existing Money Order system which was more complicated as both the recipient and the paying office had to receive separate notification, so as to ensure security. The postal order system was much simpler (largely because it involved smaller amounts).
Although a range of pre-printed values were issued, the odd amounts in between could be created by adding postage stamps: since the postal order system was operated by the General Post Office (GPO) this use of stamps did not cause particularly complex accounting difficulties. These supplementary values could not be used to take the postal order above the next available printed order, otherwise it would have been easy to get round the more expensive poundage charges by simply buying a low-value postal order and adding high-value stamps. It should be noted that in some countries (eg USA) special stamps were issued for specific use as supplementary values on postal orders: it is probable that this was made necessary by those countries' internal accounting methods.
The "poundage" on each order was a handling charge for the GPO, and was higher for the higher-value postal orders (though not pro-rata).
To stop the postal orders being treated as substitute currency notes, the recipient's (payee's) name had to be written on the postal order, and (in theory at least) only that person could cash the postal order at a postal order, or pay it into their bank account. This is why they were inscribed "not negotiable". However, during the war years (1914-1918 and 1939-45) they were permitted as legal tender, and indeed some versions were expressly issued with that in mind.
At first the postal orders could only be bought at the existing "Money Order Offices", but they soon became available at post offices too.
The British postal order system was extended to the rest of the then "British Empire": some issued their own postal orders (or "postal notes" - sometimes only valid within the country of issue), some used British postal orders, and some used British postal orders overprinted with the country name; these were not mutually exclusive, and some countries used more than one of these options.

The postal order system went through a period of decline in the 1990s in the UK, due to the rise of web-based payments and credit cards, but ironically it experienced a significant revival in the early years of the 21st century as a means of paying for small items bought through on-line auctions.

In order to simplify stock-keeping, in 2006 the GPO replaced the multiple fixed-value postal orders with a more flexible electronic system which printed postal orders at the post office counter for any amount the buyer wanted; this also helped the post office's accounting software, and significantly reduced bureaucratic overheads.


For further details see Aidan Work's Wikipedia entry in British postal orders and postal orders generally


(sources: Stephen Cribb, 1984, "The Standard Catalogue of Postal Orders. Vol 1. The British Postal Order 1881-1981", Squirrel Publishing Limited, Middlesex, UK; ISBN 0-947604-00-6




Last edited by John_Gledhill on Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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unipos



Joined: 11 Oct 2007

Posts: 23
Location: Cotswolds

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:32 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

British Postal Orders were not imprinted NOT NEGOTIABLE until the 3rd Victorian issue in 1892. Postal orders have, without doubt, been used informally as currency since they were originally issued. Provided they were within expiry date there was no problem.
Postal orders were not legal tender for the whole of the war periods, only from the 4th Aug 1914 to 3rd Feb 1915 and 3rd Sep 1939 to 20 Dec 1939. The counterfoils were not issued and were usually guillotined off. These orders demand a premium and the 1914/5 ones are esp. scarce..........Mal


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Aidan_Work



Joined: 07 Oct 2007
Age: 40

Posts: 141
Location: Wellington,Dominion of New Zealand.

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 8:49 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Mal,although postal orders have not been legal tender,apart from those 2 periods during both World Wars,we can say that they are a form of money.

Aidan.



_________________
Aidan Work.

Check out http://www.banknotebank.com/collection/BCNumismatics , http://www.allnumis.com ,& http://www.notebrag.com .


Please let me know what you think.
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unipos



Joined: 11 Oct 2007

Posts: 23
Location: Cotswolds

PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 4:03 am    Post subject: Origins of Postal Orders If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Aidan. If you want a definition, postal orders are financial instruments............Mal


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Aidan_Work



Joined: 07 Oct 2007
Age: 40

Posts: 141
Location: Wellington,Dominion of New Zealand.

PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:02 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Mal,a banknote is also a financial instrument,as is a coin & a trader's currency token.To me,postal order collecting is a branch of notaphily (study & collecting of banknotes),which is also a branch of numismatics.

Aidan.



_________________
Aidan Work.

Check out http://www.banknotebank.com/collection/BCNumismatics , http://www.allnumis.com ,& http://www.notebrag.com .


Please let me know what you think.
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