Before The Modern Postage Stamp
In ancient times the common person rarely if ever sent or received what we would consider mail. If they did it was hand delivered by a single courier or a series of couriers. Merchants traveling to a particular port or friends and family traveling to a distant city would carry letters or parcels. Only the wealthy or heads of state could afford to do this on a regular basis.
In the 1600s, there was no such thing as a central post office system. Mail in Britain, Ireland and the new colonies in North America was carried by "post boys". These young men had their own horses and would carry messages, letters and parcels to a destination. The person who received the package had to pay for delivery in order to get it.
This system did work but it was very expensive, and full of problems. The post boy had to rely on the fact that the receiving party had the cash available and wanted the package. If something happened to his horse, the message could be delayed or worse.
Mail Coaches began running in the late 1700’s and ran regular routes. People would pay to put their mail on the route however delivery was not dependable nor was it timely. Many people still relied on hiring personal delivery for their packages. Wagon trains and settlers heading to a destination often were asked or paid to carry parcels with them. Because this was generally expensive, letter writing was for important business or serious situations. As the population and immigration grew so did commerce and the demand for a dependable system for delivery of documents and parcels.
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