The Fundy Stamp Collectors Club
Stamp Collecting - How it all began:
Text by RM
- People have always needed a way to send messages to one another as society developed. Reaching one another became more and more
important. We know the Egyptians had messenger services from 1580 B.C., and King Darius in the Assyrian Empire after 671 B.C.
The first real postal system as we know it was used by King Darius and his successors. Between 550 B.C. and 333 B.C. King Darius
set up relay stations between all the important cities in his empire to carry messages by men on horseback.
- The Romans refined this by using a two-system plan that carried the mails and also carried food and military supplies.
When the Roman Empire collapsed, the mail system fell with it.
- About 500 years passed until Marco Polo established a system of relay stations in China. Run in the 13th century, his program used about
300,000 horses to deliver the mail.
- Businessmen, monasteries, and great universities in Europe had their own private postal systems through the 15th century.
These were replaced by mail systems created by the European kings.
- The first international postal service was organized by trades guilds in the 12th century. The butchers' guild used a curved horn to
announce mail delivery in the towns. This postal horn has become the emblem for many national postal systems.
- Messages through all this time were delivered in many ways. The first was to have a messenger repeat the message.
In India runners carried their messages in split sticks. They also had an assistant carrying a torch and drum to ward off wild animals.
In the 18th century these mail carriers began using horse carts. Finally, before postage stamps were invented, messages were written on
one side of a sheet of paper, folded, and addressed on the outer side.
For more on the history of stamps please see the article in issue # 8 of our news letter.