A J's U.S. E-Stamps & Philately

Indicia - The UGLY Truth.

They were UGLY then... something only postal historians (like this group) could love!


The Meter Stamp Comes To The Electronic Age

could this be uglier?

      Review  Articles  Indicia - The Product  Additional data


Meter Stamp Society, USA

Italian Association of Meter Stamp Collectors

aka: Associazione Italiana Collezionisti di Affrancature Meccaniche

Studiegroep Frankeerstempels Gemeenten, Netherlands

Forschungsgemeinschaft Post- und Absenderfreistempel e.V.

Contact: Rolf Witt
Wrangelstra�e 130
Berlin 10997, Germany
Phone: 030 / 612 33 09

Meter Stamp Society of India

Road No. 1-E, Rajendra Nagar
Patna 800 016, India (c.2007 via Post India)

The Review

Business will never be the same! Just think - no more long waits at the P.O. during business hours (slipping in those philatelic purchases ;) - just hit a couple of keys on the computer and business is hummmmmming... Too bad those cleaver programmers haven't (yet) figured out how to embed all the needed code into a printable image file we can enjoy ... (that's a 'steganographic' hint) ... one that's been taken seriously overseas:

and, according to events at the World Stamp Expo 2000, is soon due here...

As a business tool, it's an idea who's time has come but how could this possibly relate to 'philately'?. It will, undoubtedly, decrease the numbers of regular stamps in demand. Other interesting methods of message delivery such as e-mail (duh), variations like 'Hybrid Mail' in use in India, Taiwan and elsewhere and the 'postal reform' effort in Europe (which promises '..no need for post offices') add to the continued decrease in demand for regular stamps worldwide - particulary definitives and special services issues like Air Mail et al.

Or Will It?

Organizations have long used meters and most modern U.S. Post Offices issue postage at the counter with modern, inexpensive, printer/meters. But what about the effect on philatelic sales revenue... is the potential loss offset by savings in the labor and production costs for the Post Office? Is this question even serious enough to ask?
"... Today many would say that even some established post office philatelic bureaus such as the USA and Canada are engaged in the same business of marketing to collectors first, second and third, with the issuance of needed postage stamps coming in a distant fourth. "
Mike Mills @ collectstamps.about.com

DOWN TO BUSINESS - There are two basic methods: software only or seperate printers similar in function to those which produced the images above. Most players offer the 'free' software solution of using your laser or ink-jet printer for a monthly service charge but, currently, only NeoPost and Pitney Bowes offer the hardware meters. Each company is described below. The software and some hardware versions feature internet access for getting postage and intergration with your computer. Further, Pitney Bowes advertises the ability to put your logo or message right on the indicium.

(truth = Stamps.com and NeoPost's Simply Postage) are my affilate sponsors - for now ... Boy, that E-Stamp Internet Postage (who was an affilate) didn't last long!

Articles  The Product  Collectors & Additional data



U.S. Postal Service Launches PC Postage
U.S.P.S. News Release 8/09/99
WASHINGTON - Today the Postal Service opened another chapter in the history of mail when it announced the nationwide availability of postage that customers can purchase and print through their personal computers. ... cached copy

"Stamping Out Stamps"
Computer Currents Magazine - March 3, 1999

It's all part of a U.S. Postal Service program called IBIP--the Information-Based Indicia Program (www.usps.gov/ibip). Their goal is to make buying postage more convenient, especially for small businesses that send out moderate amounts of mail on a regular basis. It works like this: USPS-certified companies offer customers postage in exchange for a small fee or service charge. The early players in the IBIP include E-Stamp (www.e-stamp.com), Stamps.com (www.stamps.com), Neopost (www.neopost.com), and Pitney Bowes (www.pitneybowes.com) ...

PC Postage Will End Trips to PO
July 20, 1999 The San Francisco Chronicle

...optional digital postal scales ... will allow users to get addresses from several popular contact-management programs, then print their envelopes or labels from within Microsoft Word, the word processing application used by an estimated 90 percent of SOHO users. Stamps.com will also support Corel's WordPerfect, while E-Stamp promises integration with Intuit's popular QuickBooks accounting software. ...

Online Stamp Program Gets Go-Ahead From USPS
Internet World - April 6, 1998

... The first approved application for computer-generated postage-- called "Information-Based Indicia" by the postal service--was developed by an Internet startup, E-Stamp, of Palo Alto, Calif. The "SmartStamp" underwent more than a year of laboratory testing to ensure that it was fraud-proof before postal officials gave it a green light for a real-life test. ...

...Microsoft purchased an equity stake in E-Stamp last fall, and E-Stamp has already integrated its postage application with Microsoft Word so that users can generate a document, an envelope, and postage in one process.

"I see postage being integrated into office suites in the near future," said Vernon Keenan, a senior electronic commerce analyst with Zona Research. "That's what will drive the technology. E-Stamp has got a real leg up through their relationship with Microsoft. In the high-tech world, the keys to success are being the first one out of the gate, partnering with Microsoft, and establishing a brand name."

Neopost Introduces System for Downloading Postage from the Net
InternetNews, March 10, 1998

... Neopost, a maker of mailing and shipping equipment, announced PostagePlus, an Internet-based system for downloading and printing postage from the Internet. ... PostagePlus is the Internet companion to PC Stamp, introduced by Neopost last year, which provides secure storage of postage on a PC....

Print Your Own Digital Stamps
PC World - Sept. 8, 1998

Notes E-Stamp, StampMaster (also the name of a fine philatelic software and possible reason for a name change but the URL, "www.stampmaster.com", now resolves into www.stamps.com now) and Neopost's PC Stamp as the players...

Stamps.com Reorganizes into three B-to-B units
DirectMag.com 5/15/2000

Stamps.com Rolls Out Return Solution
June 19, 2000 By Carol King, InternetNews.com

Stamps.com (NASDAQ:STMP) Monday introduced two services to help online merchants efficiently and cost-effectively manage large volumes of merchandise returns.

The iReturn Merchant Service is designed for e-commerce sellers with annual sales of more than $25 million. This customized electronic return management solution can be seamlessly embedded into any major merchant's Web site, allowing the merchant access to the shipping services of private and public carriers.


The Product

Isn't this the UGLIEST thing!!!!
A U.S.P.S. example - UGLY! - YUK! - NIX!

[email protected] - let 'em know what you think!

Neopost's Ugly Example Neopost's "Simply Postage" / PC Postage (tm)

The internet stamp, or "indicium":
(4/2001 note: URL to "indicium" is now '404') "... quite different from a standard stamp or postmark. Called "indicia" (or an "indicium," if you're talking about a single stamp) ...

Depending on the Simply Postage product you choose, your postage may be kept in a secure server administered by us, or may be held right in the printer/scale you've purchased.
General Information 1-877-397-8267 x1 M-F 6a-7p PST [email protected]
4/99 - PC Magazine Porduct Review: Postage in Your PC - calls NeoPost's product a Winner! - aj. - Neopost also has variations under the names: PCMailTM (formerly PC StampTM), EZMailTM (formerly PostagePlusTM) and PROmail

Stamp.com's UGLY example
Stamps.com Offering:

If you have a PC, a laser or ink-jet printer, and an Internet connection, you can enjoy unlimited access to postage from your desktop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - every day!

No hardware to purchase. No sign up fees. No lease to sign. Just download our free software or request a free CD, open an account, and you can start printing postage the same day.

One plan reads: Pricing is 10% service fee on postage printed, minimum service fee of $1.99 per month, maximum fee of $19.99 per month.

Hoover's Online Company Review of Stamps.com
Pitney-Bowes Pitney-Bowes (PitneyWorks) ClickStamp (tm) Online: ($1.49/mo; free trial)
Address and print postage on envelopes or labels for all types of packages from your desktop. Promote... (by) ...customizing your envelope or label with your logo or special message. "Your mail looks more professional than stamps."

Personal Post(tm), the newly designed digital, desktop meter for small business gives you unlimited access to postage whenever you need it, right in your home or office. (built in modem)
(you can download their software) - $1.49/mo - 30 days free trial

Endicia's Example - YUK! - Click for larger view   Endicia Internet Postage
  1-800-576-3279 x140

Their peel-and-stick labels are "designed to work with most standard printers, print as easily as a standard envelope and offer plenty of space ..." 2 sizes "- plenty of room for the main address, return address, postage indicia, Delivery Confirmation barcode, and even a company logo or graphic." - Try it free for 30 days - just download the software ... After that it's either a monthly or yearly fee (your choise: 9.95/mo 99.95/yr)


Some Company History

E-Stamp.com left the stage early ...
E-Stamp Corporation Sells Internet Postage Intellectual Property to Stamps.com

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 1 -- E-Stamp Corporation (Nasdaq: ESTM), a provider of transportation management solutions, today announced that the company has sold its Internet postage intellectual property to Stamps.com for $7.5 million. The intellectual property includes a broad set of 31 Internet postage patents, the "E-Stamp" name and the e-stamp.com Internet domain.

E-Stamp discontinued the company's Internet postage operations in November of 2000 and is completing the final reimbursements to E-Stamp Internet postage consumers -- meeting all requirements set forth by the United States Postal Services for a formal closing of that business.
The USPS notes (on their 'PC Postage products' link below):

"We are disappointed to have been notified by E-Stamp Corporation that they are phasing out their Internet Postage Service. We applaud their pioneering spirit and credit this company as the first to champion the pursuit of PC Postage technology with the Postal Service. We recognize this as a business decision and assure our customers that it is not a reflection in any way on the integrity of the security architecture of the products or the electronic postage market. Whereas we regret this company's determination to leave this market, we are affirmed in our commercial development approach which provides multiple and diversified products and providers of PC Postage products."

Manager, Information Based Indicia Program December 2000
E-stamp's UGLY viewE-Stamp's offerings: Print postage and addresses onto envelopes and labels in one easy step right from your PC. E-Stamp� Internet postage has everything you need to print directly to your printer without connecting to the Internet. Purchase and print postage, whenever you need it, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

System Requirements: A PC with a CD-Rom drive, a laser or inkjet printer, plus access to the Internet, and you're ready to go. (still offers mailing services and supplies)


Related Collectors

  • Josep Jov� i Jov�
    A multi-lingual site featuring Spanish and Latin American ATM postage data (a variation on the theme).
  • Mailer's Postmark Permit Club, OH 44473 USA
  • Topical Meter Stamps, by Arthur H. Groten (ATA)

    Some Official History

    Products for postage purchase and printing from a computer using standard ink jet and laser jet printers are developed by commercial providers and approved by the U.S. Postal Service. Different companies offer product variations, but all are held to U.S. Postal Service requirements to ensure security and appropriate interface with Postal Service operations. Customers are afforded options and opportunities to select the products that best meet their business needs, and assurance of Postal Service compliance. PC Postage is a trademark owned by the U.S. Postal Service used on qualified PC Postage products offered by approved licensed vendors.

    USPS's IBI ProgramPress Releases
    Date   -   Title   -    Ref No.

    5/19/99 U.S. Postal Service Announces Major
    Milestone For Digital Postage 99041

    11/10/1998 U.S. Postal Service Approves Pitney Bowes
    'ClickStamp'� For Beta Test 98114

    09/02/1998 U.S. Postal Service Approves Neopost PC
    Stamp For Market Test 98091

    08/25/1998 New Product Design For PC Postage
    Certification Cleared for Market Test 98080

    03/31/1998 Lick, Stick and Now Click, First PC Generated
    Postage Unveiled 98031

    .pdf Postal Bulletins you can downloaded here

    Search ZDnet for 'e-stamps' (it's last use produced a good set of data on stamp software!)

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