A Brief History Of The Post Office In Jamaica

19th & 20th Centuries: Jamaicanization and the Use of Stamps

Gleaner Photograph Prints of the six stamps to mark the Post Office Tercentenary 1671–1971.
Gleaner Photograph Prints of the six stamps to mark the Post Office Tercentenary 1671–1971.

By the 1840s steamship service had arrived and stamps had been created. Prior to the use of stamps, recipients paid for mail on delivery, so if they refused to pay then no revenue was collected. The brainchild of English Schoolmaster Rowland Hill, the first stamps, the one-penny black and the two-pence blue, each carrying a likeness of Queen Victoria, noted a set rate regardless of distance travelled and went on sale in 1840.

In 1858 Jamaica was given control of her own postal service­ the issuing of her own stamps was soon to follow. Jamaica used British stamps until 1860, when the island began to produce its own with a distinctive pineapple watermark. The stamps were, however, still made in England. Watermarks are mainly for security purposes, making forgery more difficult. Until 1900, when Jamaica’s first pictoral stamp of Llandovery Falls was issued, all stamps bore pictures of Queen Victoria wearing a laurel. In 1877 Jamaica joined the postal union and by 1903, bicycles were being used to deliver mail.

In 1907, following the massive earthquake that demolished much of downtown Kingston, the postal service was only briefly interrupted. It resumed under a Lignum Vitae tree in the yard where the exe cutive branch of the postal service had once stood. Soon after, the main office moved to King Street.

The 21st Century: Branching Out

Today the main office stands on South Camp Road and is known as the Postal Corporation of Jamaica Ltd. It is the responsibility of the Post and Telecommunications Department, a division within the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Science & Technology. The Postmaster General of Jamaica is assisted by two deputies, a senior management team, a team of 11 regional managers and close to 2,800 employees.

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