United States Postage Meter Stamp Catalog/GROUP A – Early experimental franks, prior to 1920

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  • These are stamps from meters used in government sponsored tests in actual mailings before meters were approved for general public use.
  • An early prototype meter developed by Elmer Wolf and William Scott of Dayton, Ohio was patented in 1898 but was never tested by the government. The Wolf/Scott stamp is cataloged as essay type ESY-A1.
  • A meter-like device built by the Pitney Postal Machine Company was used on live mail. It was used from November 1903 to March 1904 on Official mail generated in the Office of the Third Assistant Postmaster-General, Washington D.C. The stamp is essentially a numbered "Official Mail" penalty statement and does not indicate postage paid. The stamp consists of a penalty statement above a boxed serial number. (shown at right) It is uncertain how many original examples of this stamp exist. Two proofs on cover are known. Three "postally used" examples were mentioned several decades ago by Swan. If they ever existed their status is unknown today.
  • Approximately 30 impressions of the Pitney prototype stamp were made decades later by Charles W. Rummler, the son of Arthur Pitney's patent attorney and business partner Eugene A. Rummler. The reprints are on small cards and have handwritten "C.W.R." (most of them) or "C.W.Rummler" (one known) in the box instead of a serial number.

Sub-group AA – Text in unframed rectangle[edit | edit source]

  • Count Detalmo di Brazza Savorgnan of Rome, Italy received patents on 30 June and 28 July 1896 for a "coin-freed letter posting or stamping machine". Three and perhaps four di Brazza self-service machines were on public trial in New York City for several months during 1897. Their purpose was to provide mail service while post offices were closed.

AA1. Di Brazza (FV), 1897. [RRRR]

Frameless rectangular design without value figures.
“NEW YORK N.Y.” at top, “REGISTERED” at bottom.
Impression counter number vertical at left with date vertical at right.
M# with “M” prefix at lower right.
This is the earliest meter stamp known used on actual mail anywhere in the world.
Only a single mailed cover is known. A proof of the stamp exists in German postal archives.

Sub-group AB – Shield shaped frank[edit | edit source]

* These were the first true meter stamps used in the country to show indication of postage paid on private, commercial mail. Their use was experimental, limited to selected mailers for a short period of time.

AB1. Pitney Postal Machine Company (FV), 9-15 May 1912. [RRRR]

Shield design, 35 x 35 mm, with rectangle in center containing 5-digit impression counter number.
“1c. PAID” at top, “Washington, D. C. / Permit No. 42” at bottom.
Printed in black.
Used during the week of 9 May 1912 at the offices of the National Tribune newspaper.
Eight impressions are known, three unaddressed souvenir covers and five cut-outs. No used covers exist.

NOTE: A single two-cent value exists as a proof, located at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

AB2. American Postage Meter Company (successor to Pitney Postal Machine) (FV), 1913.

Similar to Type AB1 but without the rectangle around the impression counter number.
Eight machines were trialed in Chicago, Illinois from November 1913 to 28 May 1914. Over 850,000 pieces of third class mail were processed during the test but only 109 examples are known to survive. They include 24 unaddressed souvenir covers and five commercial covers. All the rest are cut-outs.
The franks vary in size from 29 to 32 mm wide and 30 to 31 mm tall.
Printed in black.
Value: 1¢ (Permit nos. 2, 5, 867, 1041, 1081, 1165) [RR]
Value: 2¢ (1041, 1182) [RRR]


  • Fifty reprints in red were made in 1964 for the 50th anniversary of the test. They all have meter number 1165 and have transaction numbers 90000 and above.
  • Eleven proofs in red are known from 1913 and 1919. These are from meter number 5 and have transaction numbers 14990 (one) and 28888 (ten).

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