The earliest screw down tap device was patented and produced by the Guest and Chrimes, brass founders of Rotherham, Sth Yorkshire in 1845. Most older taps use a neoprene or soft rubber washer that is screwed down onto a valve seat to stop the water flow. This is known as a globe valve in engineering and while it gives a fairly reliable seal and good adjustment of water flow, both the washer and the valve seat are subject to wear over time, so that eventually no tight seal is no longer formed, resulting in a dripping tap. The washer can be replaced and the valve seat resurfaced, but globe valves are never maintenance free.
Additionally, the tight S shaped route the water is forced to follow gives a significant obstruction, slowing the flow. For high pressure water systems this does not really matter, but for low pressure systems where flow rate can be important, such as a shower fed from a storage tank, a gate valve is typically preferred.
Your plumber understands all tap types and can offer expert advice to meet any specific need.