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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Postage meter

A postage meter is a mechanical device used to create and apply physical evidence of postage (or franking) to mailed matter. Postage meters are regulated by a country's postal authority; for example, in the United States, the United States Postal Service specifies the rules for the creation, support, and use of postage meters. A postage meter imprints an amount of postage, functioning as a postage stamp, a cancellation and a dated postmark all in one. The meter indicia serves as proof of payment and eliminates the need for adhesive stamps.
The postage meter was introduced in the United States in 1912 by Arthur Pitney, who in 1920 went into business with partner Walter Bowes in order to produce the machines.
Postage meters have evolved from purely mechanical devices to today's Internet-based postage dispensing services. The evolution of the postage meter is covered in the following sections.
Types of meters
Mechanical, manual and rotary-print head meters
Mechanical meters are letterpress meters that had to be taken to the post office and physically reset by a postal official. These meters were decertified and taken out of circulation by the USPS in 1999.
Manual Set and Rotary Print Head meters were decertified by the USPS in 2002. While more advanced, including remote meter resetting capabilities, this early technology was deemed susceptible to tampering.
Digital meters
With Digital Print Meters, postage is added through a modem connection. Postage is printed through an inkjet cartridge using special postage ink. The most advanced systems print Information Based Indicia (IBI), a 2-dimensional Data Matrix or bar code combined with visually identifiable characters and symbols. The data matrix contains such information as amount of postage, origin zip code, destination, mail class, weight, and confirmation/tracking numbers.
Leading systems also include IntelliLink technology, which provides access to a complete suite of management information and USPS services such as Delivery Confirmation, Signature Confirmation, Certified Mail and e-Return Receipt. Other preferred features include Weigh-on-the-Weigh and Shape-Based Rating, which automatically calculate the correct postage for mixed-weight and mixed-sized mail.
There are a number of companies offering postage meters, also called franking machines.
Internet- and stamp based meters
While most mailers use mailing systems, new technologies are making metered mail accessible to even the smallest of businesses.
eBay and PayPal users can print labels with postage using eBay's online postage solution and pay using their PayPal account. This technology, powered by Pitney Bowes, provides for a completely browser-based online postage solution.
Other technologies allow you to print postage from your computer, or from small stamp printers. In the first consumer application for postage meters, customized stamps are also possible.
In 1999 became the first organization to be licensed by the United States Postal Service to print valid postage from a traditional PC printer. Their system allows the user to automatically download and print postage directly onto an envelope or "Netstamp".
see also:
Arthur H. Pitney

The International Postage Meter Stamp Catalog, by Joel Hawkins and Richard Stambaugh, 2005; self published, Goodyear, Arizona, and its online Supplement, 2008.
The Meter Postage Stamp Catalogue, by S.D. Barfoot and Werner Simon, 1953; Universal Postal Frankers Ltd., London, England.
Gibbons Stamp Monthly, "GB Meter Franking- History with a Future", Jack Peach. Serialized May through December, 2001.
Catalogue des Affranchissements Mecaniques provenant des Machines Francaises, and Supplement, A.C.E.M.A. (Association des Collectionneurs d'Empreints de Machines a Affranchir).
Catalog of Meter Slogans, by Walter M. Swan; William R. Stewart, 9, S. Clinton Street, Chicago, Ill. (U.S.A.)
The Meter Stamp Bulletin of the Meter Stamp Study Group of Great Britain. Editor A. A. Dewey, 46, Chester Drive, North Harrex, England.
Meter Stamp Bulletin. Newfield, N.J., U.S.A.
The Philometrist, monthly publication of the Philometer Society of Chicago, U.S.A.
Frequent notes in “The Postage Stamp”, Walter M. Swan. Editor : Arthur L. Caraway, Bethany, Mo. U.S.A.
xxxxxxxxxxxx column in "Stamps", Werner Simon. Published by H. L. Lindquist, 153, Waverly Place, New York 14, N.Y., U.S.A.
Illustrierter Katalog der Barfteimachungs und Frankostempeln nach dem 8.5-1945, Curt Paul. Julius Muller, Berlin-Spandau Postfach 4. Contains an interesting section on provisional meter stamps used after the German defeat in World War 2.
Classification of United States Postage Meter Prints, ####. The Meter Stamp Society and Meter-Slogan Associates.
Freistempel-Spezialkatalog Schweiz-Liechtenstein, Heiner Dürst, 1946.
Spezialkatalog der Absenderfreistempel des Deutschen Reiches, by Heiner Dürst, 1944, and addendum 1949.
Pitney Bowes Model M Postage Meter 1920
Wood, Kenneth A. - Meter Postage: A Brief History
Man And His Machines: Postage Without Stamps
online source:
Royal Mail Franking machine info
USPS Postage Meter info
Neopost Franking machine info
Pitney Bowes Postage Meter
World Meter Stamps
Meter Stamp Society

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