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Postage for HEAVY item ...

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Equivalent to sticking approximately £2,200 on a parcel today

£5 pair

what on earth were they sending ?

(These stamps usually occur single, not paired and were almost exclusively used to post bales of tobacco from the Channel Isles into the mainland).

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Possibly for payment of stamp duty on legal documents, eg leases, apprentices' indentures.  Stamps had to be purchased and attached to prove payment. Stamp duty was abolished on newspapers in the 1830s which led to the increase in newspapers which were previously shared in a neighbourhood.

In the 1899 Budget, stamp duty had just been introduced for bankers cheques and drafts, and foreign stocks,shares, and bonds.

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