United States Postage Meter Stamp Catalog/Town and date marks

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Town- and date-marks

The Town Mark (TM) is that part of the stamp that contains the identification (town, state) of the post office where the meter is licensed plus the date of mailing. On most U.S. meters the TM is a circular mark immediately left of the frank. Meter designs in Group A have no town mark, and those in Groups E and F have straight-line town marks.

Town mark circles can be single (SC), double (DC), or broken inner circle (BIC), i.e., a single circle with arcs inside. Modern digital meter stamps mostly have straight-line town marks.

Town marks can also be absent. Before 1951 postal laws and regulations banned the date of mailing and the name of the originating post office from the front of registered mail. (On the back was OK.) Prior to this date metered registered mail normally showed the frank without a town mark. The catalog listings show only the town mark formats that are normally found with the stamp. Users should be aware that "without town mark" was an option for nearly all the stamp types.

Town marks occasionally include the name of the postal station as well as the town and state, as these can be found with most types before 2000 they are not listed as separate varieties. Mailing permit numbers also can be found inside the town mark, these are usually listed as small letter varieties. Starting in the 1960s meters used by some mailers occasionally contained the postal (ZIP) code rather than or in addition to the post office name. Most such town marks were in the form of " MAILED FROM ZIP CODE" plus number. Variations are " MAILED FROM ZIP" and " MAILED FROM". These "MFZC" town marks are common and are not listed as varieties in the catalog. Town marks containing the town and state as well as the ZIP code are scarce, and these are listed as small letter varieties.

Earlier meters, most of those produced before the 1940s, had their date figures set by hand. They are often found inverted. Inverted dates for these early meter types are not listed.