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Franking is one of the largest advantages of incumbency, contributing to a very high reelection rate in the U.S. legislative branch.

That cannot possibly be true. The allocation of capital that goes to postage has got to be misicule! If there is no citation, we should remove it. Franking is a very minor perk of office. Rlove 23:47, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Origin of the term[edit]

What's the origin of the term 'franking'? Could be a useful addition to the article. --Ianboggs 08:52, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

Probably from french 'franc' meaning free. ( Which in turn derives from the Franks, though one source ( says latin 'francus' --Apoc2400 08:21, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Merging with Frank Mail[edit]

  • Merge --Natrajdr 08:39, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

"...would get his friends' mail franked"[edit]

This part doesn't really make sense. Where are the references? What was the outcome?

"In the 19th century, as use of the post office increased significantly in Britain, it was expected that anybody with a Parliament connection would get his friends' mail franked." —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 07:12, 19 March 2007 (UTC).

Suppliers of franking machines[edit]

To use a franking machine a licence is required and only a few companies can supply franking machines. Is this something that need adding? --Timsp83 (talk) 20:56, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Completeness, Accuracy and Sourcing[edit]

A discussion of issues relating to the completeness, accuracy, and sourcing of this article can be found at User talk:Ww2censor#Franking article issues (Centpacrr (talk) 19:54, 20 July 2008 (UTC))

I moved the discussion here from my talk page so it would get a wider audience. ww2censor (talk) 03:56, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Franking article issues

Upon closer inspection of the Franking article I find that it is not only almost completely unsourced, it appears as if it may well also be almost completely wrong as well. The first section on the "Franking privilege," for instance, states that the privilege permits elected officials such as Members of Congress to " send mail for free" and that "....adding an official's mail to the existing mailstream does not change the total fixed cost of the postal system for the taxpayer, and avoids reciprocal accounting transactions."

Neither of these seems to be correct.

The amount and type of mail permitted to be sent over a Member's signature is actually quite limited by total Dollar amount, to whom and when it may be sent (mass mailings can only go to addresses within a Members district and can't be sent within 60 or 90 days prior to an election), and other restrictions as to content, format, and even the size of pictures.

Such mail is not actually "free" either as the Congress makes annual appropriations to the USPS which fully cover the postage and costs of servicing these mails. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and subsequently the respective chambers, determine the amount to be appropriated for each of the two bodies and each Member receives an allotment from these appropriations which he/she can not exceed. In other words, the so called "Franking Privilege" is actually just a line item in the Member's office expense budget which can't be exceeded and on which there are significant limitations on how it can be used. The facsimile signature used to "frank" the mail is nothing more than a substitute for meter mail impression.

There appear to be a great many other details in the article (all of which are also unsourced) which I suspect are likely wrong as well although I have not researched them as yet. If you are interested in learning more about the Congressional "Franking Privilege" I invite you to look at the December, 2007, report number RL34247 of the Congressional Research Service entitled Franking Privilege: Historical Development and Options for Change which I intend to use quite extensively when I get around to revising this article. (It took me about three minutes to find this extensive and fascinating document with Google.)

Thanks for piqueing my curiosity on this topic. I think I am going to enjoy doing the research and fixing up this article. (Centpacrr (talk) 00:04, 20 July 2008 (UTC))

I am just rolling on this because I was here doing something else. It seems to me that if this article's title remains Franking then it should address each of the following (definition from Merriam Webster) with equal content:
  • to mark (a piece of mail) with an official signature or sign indicating the right of the sender to free mailing
  • to mail free
  • to affix to (mail) a stamp or a marking indicating the payment of postage
Currently this article is so highly focused on the first of these and if it remains so should be renamed: Franking privilege--Mike Cline (talk) 15:58, 20 July 2008 (UTC)
I agree completely, and actually that is my whole point. It is the current inadequacy (and inaccuracy) of the Franking article that led to the whole kerfuffle with the Airmails of the United States article that I am working on when I properly (at least in my view) used the word "franked" for its third accepted dictionary meaning of applied "postage stamps [or other markings] indicating the payment of postage." (Centpacrr (talk) 16:08, 20 July 2008 (UTC))
You may well both be correct that franking needs to be rewritten, but the problem was that Centpacrr kept making a link to an article that did not confirm the idea he wished to convey. Here again he states it is inaccurate when it is better described as incomplete. We must be very careful, in rewriting this, not to be confusing, because in older times franking was essentially the same as the free franking privilege, while franking covers all of the above descriptions, so we must take a "worldview" not a US-centric viewpoint that some editors take. Proper and verifiable sources are needed for any rewrite, not esoteric unreliable sources. But that applies to all articles. ww2censor (talk) 16:30, 20 July 2008 (UTC)
Based on your above comment I think I understand the issue you had with the my usage of the term "franked" now. The complaint was apparently never the word itself, only that I linked it to what I now appears to be an incomplete (and in my view also inaccurate) Wikipedia article which contains "unreliable" sources. (Upon further review of the article I find that is indeed true and I was at fault for using that link.) However when you pointed that out to me and I changed the link to what clearly appeared to me to be a well researched and reliable external article The evolution of franking: different ways to indicate postage was paid from Linn's Stamp News, this was described by you to a third party (but curiously not to me) as being "a most unusual situation indeed" and despite its title and content you said that it "does not support the idea" that franking refers to any and all postal markings applied to mails (including "privilege" marking) for the purpose of their being accepted for postal service.
In the absence of anything to the contrary, I will therefore gather from your (Ww2censor's) comments above that there never was a real objection to the word "franked" and that it would have actually been completely acceptable if I had not tried to link it to anything at all. As Mike Cline succinctly points out above as well, my usage of the word was actually correct so I may choose to revisit my introduction and restore the term in the future but, of course, without linking it to anything else that might confuse the matter.
I am unclear about what the expression "esoteric unreliable sources" means or to what you may be applying it to. I am reasonably sure, for instance, that it could apply to the current version of the Wikipedia Franking article which is virtually unsourced and also has demonstrated inaccuracies, but I accept that you may have a different view on that. My specific question is, however, do you mean "unreliable esoteric sources" to apply to the likes of official documents and reports of the Universal Postal Union or the Congressional Research Service? Would you apply it also to an apparently well sourced and researched paper published by the world's largest weekly stamp newspaper, Linn's Stamp News that directly relates to the subject at hand? If these are considered "unreliable" and "esoteric" on their face, then I must admit that I am at a loss as to what you would consider to be acceptable, especially if you find no particular fault with the level of sourcing in the Franking article ("Here again he states it is inaccurate when it is better described as incomplete."), only in its depth. (Centpacrr (talk) 18:12, 20 July 2008 (UTC))
See also Regulations on the Use of the CONGRESSIONAL FRANK By Members of the House of Representatives and RULES OF PRACTICE IN PROCEEDINGS Before the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards June, 1998 (Centpacrr (talk) 00:34, 21 July 2008 (UTC))
Let's see what we can do here with this topic before anyone goes changing things without consensus. There are a number of possibilities because we really have here 3 different uses of the word franking. First we have Franked mail, being in historical terms the most common name for what we now call the Franking privilege, we have franked mail, as in mail to which postage stamps have been applied to pay the postal fee, and we have franked mail as in mail where the fee has been applied by a Franking machine. How can we make these related topics simple yet accurate and well sourced? Perhaps Franking should be a disambiguation page with links to 3 separate articles; Franking privilege, Franked mail and Franking machine. Then there will be no confusion as each has its own page. On the other-hand, because they are related we could take our lead from the Linn's article and expand this article with separate sections and of course a history section. Also, the Linn's article takes a worldview which Wikipedia promotes in articles. This would work quite well, as most of the three individual articles will likely be relatively short, however, in that case, I would promote it to be renamed Franked mail. Some ideas to chew on. ww2censor (talk) 20:01, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

I see the overall definition of "franking" as follows:

Franking refers to the physical presence of any postage stamps, printed impressions, codings, labels, privileged signatures, and/or any other authorized forms of markings which were affixed or applied to qualify an item of mail to be postally serviced.

I would divide the types of franking into four categories:

  • Postal Franking (prepaid postage fees) is the physical application and presence of postage stamps or any other markings recognized by the accepting postal service to indicate the prepayment of sufficient fees for the class of service which the item of mail is to be afforded. This includes uncanceled postage stamps, printed or stamped impressions made in a postally authorized format and applied directly by a franking machine or other similar methods, computer generated franking labels, "postage paid" notices authorized by postal service permit, or any other method accepted by the a postal service and specified by Postal Service Regulations as proof of the prepayment of the appropriate fees. Postal franking also includes "Postage Due" stamps which designate any amount of underpaid fees to be collected on delivery.
    • I would remove the word prepaid from the parenthetical above. Although prepaid was clearly the business model that covers 95% of all postal franking it wasn't always the case. Much mail in the pre-stamp period was not mailed pre-paid, but mailed collect where the franking was applied at the time of collection, not at the time of mailing.--Mike Cline (talk) 19:35, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
      • I actually covered that circumstance in the last sentence (Postage Due franking) for unintentional underpayment, but I agree with your point and have no problem making it "paid postage fees" (as opposed to "prepaid postage fees") to indicate the inclusion of those cases when items were intentionally sent with "COD" (for lack of a better term) postage. (Centpacrr (talk) 20:19, 22 July 2008 (UTC))
  • Privileged Franking is either an original pen signed or printed facsimile signature of the person with a "franking privilege" such as certain government officials and others designated by law or Postal Regulations. Use of the franking privilege is usually not absolute, however, but generally limited to official business and constituent bulk mails as prescribed by law. A primary example of this type of limited privileged franking is the "Congressional Frank" afforded to Members of Congress in the United States. This is not "free" franking, however, as the USPS is compensated for the servicing of these mails by specific annual appropriations against which each Member is given a budgeted amount upon which he/she may draw. In addition to this type of franking privilege, during wartime governments from time to time also authorize active duty service members to send mails for free by writing "Free" or "Soldier's Mail" on the item of mail in lieu of paid postal franking.
  • "Official Business" Franking ("Penalty" franking) is a printed notice that the mail constitutes "Official Business" of the Government and substitutes a "penalty for private use" notice where the postal franking would otherwise be placed.
  • Business Reply Mail (or "Permit") Franking is a preprinted frank with a Permit number which authorizes items so marked to be posted with the authorizing postal service without advance payment by the person posting the item as the postage fee will be paid upon delivery by the permit holder at the specified address authorized and preprinted on the item of business reply mail.

There seem to be more than adequate verifiable sources and references to support each of these forms of franking, although I am unclear as to what your view may be on that as you were silent in your comments on my question as to what you mean by "esoteric unreliable sources" (see above), although I guess the Linn's article is not longer one of them. (Centpacrr (talk) 21:07, 21 July 2008 (UTC))

*Ensifera* (Centpacrr (talk) 16:02, 22 July 2008 (UTC)) etiam magis *ensifera* (quoque tardus iam) (Centpacrr (talk) 23:36, 22 July 2008 (UTC))

Well Centpacrr you have been WP:BOLD and went ahead with what you decided apparently ignoring what I wrote totally and not continuing the discussing any further. That is not consensus. You are of course correct that you have sources but using them you have turned this into a highly US-centric article. A worldview is what is necessary and we certainly don't have it here. While effectively all mail, that is pre-paid in some fashion, can be termed franked according to your definition, adding Official mail and Business reply mail as distinct categories within franking is not right - they are distinct classes of mail in their own right. And where is the franking machine mail you were talking about earlier. I don't think there is one link you added that is not a US one and despite my directing you on several occasions to the citation templates and how to cite references, you insist on just linking words from the text instead of making inline citations as is recommended or not using a template either. Unless you are going to redress the imbalance it should now be renamed "Franking in the United States! ww2censor (talk) 21:39, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

I held off begining the major revisions to help cure the deficiencies in the Franking article that I was prepared to do several days ago when you indicated that you wanted to provide some input on the matter. You posted your thoughts which I then followed with mine less than an hour later and upon which Mike Cline then commented. You, of course, were also free (and expected by me at least) to comment on both of our postings, but instead remained silent for more than two days. In the absence of any further input from you or anyone else, I proceeded with beginning my revision which is still ongoing. I thank you, however, for your now belated comments above which I will incorporate in my thinking as I continue to make my contributions to the ongoing development of the article over the next few days.
You have raised a number of issues above which I will be in a much better position to discuss meaningfully once you have addressed the variety of requests I have made of you over the past week to provide support, justification, and/or clarification to your earlier contentions on such topics as formatting, "ownership," sourcing, centricity, completeness, accuracy, POV, etc, most if not all of which remain pending. You still, however, seem to have a fundamental misconception as to the actual core meaning of "franking" (i.e. stamps and other markings which qualify mail for postal service) and may still be confusing it with the narrower concept of the physical franking associated only with the "franking privilege" and perhaps even other types or forms. Also a franking machine is not a "type" of franking, only a commercially available mechanical device (business machine) used to apply printed franks under a postal permit. (Centpacrr (talk) 00:36, 24 July 2008 (UTC)}

*Ensifera* (Centpacrr (talk) 15:47, 24 July 2008 (UTC)) iterum etiam magis *ensifera* (quoque tardus iam) (Centpacrr (talk) 02:00, 25 July 2008 (UTC))

What's with the attitude Centpacrr? We are not in school or college with a deadline. All editors are volunteers and have "Real lives" that take precedence over Wikiwork, so expecting replies within your timeline is unrealistic even if you have all the time in the world. Consensus works when people work together but it does not seem to suit your timeline for doing things. That is a pity as you seem like a knowledgeable bloke. Despite what you wrote, as far as I know nothing is pending that needs any input from me because you seem to go your own merry way anyway. Formatting, "ownership," sourcing, were all dealt with in previous discussion with me and others. Centricity, completeness (both of these you mentioned, not me), accuracy, POV, could be up for discussion but I get the distinct impression that you do not like to take any advise from other editors who may have differing opinions from yours. The most important of these are covered by policy and guidelines, accuracy, POV and NPOV that your should, or maybe did, read but you have indicated elsewher that you did not agree with some of these. And suggesting that I have a "fundamental misconception" is totally inaccurate unless you have already forgotten that I noted franking by postage stamps as being a valid use of the word in this edit on your talk page. Also, I did not imply that franking machine was a type of franking, but even if you got that impression, if you include other types of mail like official mail and business reply mail it is very valid to include at least a minor reference to franking by franking machine indicia.
What a cop out to writing a worldview article, instead adding a note to the page saying the examples given are US only but reflect the generally mirrored practices of other postal services. That is absolute rubbish, it is just a lazy US-centric solution to doing a proper sourced job. The only way to verify that is to provide sources. Talking about sources; while I have not checked each of them, I do not see your different made up franking titles listed in any of the references you do quote. And of course the references still are incomplete: no access date, no publisher, only the title and url. Please prove me wrong.
BTW, two minor questions. What's with the esoteric edit summaries? [[Help:Edit summary|Edit summaries are supposed to help other editors understand what you did without having to review it but I do not understand most of them, so I doubt others will either. Secondly, this is the English wiki, so what's with the Latin? I am wondering what you are trying to say. Are you telling us that you are like a cricket who nocturnally keep on chirping annoyingly because I don't see you are the "sword bearer" type, unless you are slashing your way through all other viewpoints. What's the deal here. Good night ww2censor (talk) 06:49, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

The article, as I see it, is only meant to provide a broad definition of what constitutes franking (i.e. "any device or marking such as postage stamps (including postal stationery), printed or stamped impressions, codings, labels, manuscript writings (including "privilege" signatures), and/or any other authorized form of markings affixed or applied to mail to qualify it to be postally serviced"), and to give some examples to illustrate how it is generally utilized and regulated by the world's postal systems. I never intended to also do a treatise on how franking may be regulated differently in and by each of the 191 member postal administrations of the Universal Postal Union, just to give some examples of the major types and methods of franking to help illustrate the overall concept. You are free, of course, to expand on those if you think that will make this clearer, or link to additional articles or external sites. After all I am not claiming "ownership" of the article, just contributing to the best of my ability what i hope might be of value with the expectation that others will do the same. (This also seems to me to be a much more efficient way to reach "consensus" as there is something concrete to consider.)

I know you have very set views on various styles and formatting particularly as they relate to sources, citations, and references. You are also about the 20th person that I have come across in Wikipedia that has offered such advice either directly to me, or whose advice to others I have read in the talk pages of various other articles. Every one of these folks has also had very set views on these matters -- and all of their views are different and often inconsistent. As there clearly seems to be no "consensus" on these matters of style and formatting, I have simply adopted what seems to me to work the best and provides the salient information. I understand that you have a different view, and so if you wish to tweak the formatting you are, of course, free to do that as well.

I really did not do much with the original "franking privilege" section except leave it in (and as it was) in the earlier article as I am not really particularly familiar with the early history of that type of frank. That is an area that is probably deficient and may need some expansion in the future. (Centpacrr (talk) 15:34, 25 July 2008 (UTC))

PS: I still have no idea exactly what you mean by (or consider to be) "esoteric unreliable sources" which you have never really explained (particularly in regard to documents and reports of the Universal Postal Union and the Congressional Research Service) so that would be a helpful start. (Centpacrr (talk) 16:17, 25 July 2008 (UTC))

Regardless of what Ww2Censor meant by it, the use of the word esoteric means nothing in this discussion. Although Esotericism is clearly defined as a concept, I am unable to find any WP guideline that deals with it, so it should be off the table. As far as reliability, WP:Verify is very clear and the underlying guidelines on reliability of and citing sources are clear as a bell. Those are the guidelines we should all follow when using and challenging sources of WP content. Unfortunately, a great many sources while they meet every WP guideline to a tee, are not readily available and indeed can be extremely hard for the average Wikipedian to find. That doesn't make them esoteric or unreliable. Let's strive for precision of language in both the articles and our discussions and back up our content with sources that meet WP guidelines. If they don't, challenge the content and the sources on merit, make a better case, find better sources and make the article better.--Mike Cline (talk) 19:29, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, Mike. My view exactly. (Centpacrr (talk) 19:42, 25 July 2008 (UTC))

Is this type of Military Forces Franking Adequately Addressed[edit]


The covers in this image have indicia that says Official Paid - On Her Majesty's Service. They are not Official Business franking but essentially military free franking. Do the defintions of the various types of franking in the article adequately address these--Just a question. BTY - I can provide a nice image of a single instance of one of these if useful for the article.--Mike Cline (talk) 10:07, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

I have made some additions to the text in a number of places to cover "official paid" franking and postal stationary (including for free franked soldier's mail), etc. An image of a single cover with "Official Paid" franking would fit nicely in the "Official Business" Franking section. (Centpacrr (talk) 15:40, 24 July 2008 (UTC))
Looks good to me. I'll try and get an image loaded up on Friday when I get back from my current business trip.--Mike Cline (talk) 19:00, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

Excellent, thanks Mike. (Centpacrr (talk) 21:35, 24 July 2008 (UTC))

Official Business franking probably not unique to Federal Governments[edit]

In the Official Business paragraph the following phrase: designated as being for official business of a federal government is probably underinclusive. Federal has a very specific meaning as an adjective describing a government. Not all governments are federal and I suspect that Official Business franking is not unique to just federal governments. In fact the addition of the Official Paid language and image from Great Britain create some contradiction, because Great Britain does not have a federal government. I would remove the term federal and refer only to governments or postal authorities, unless the term federal is appropriate because you are refering to a specific federal government.--Mike Cline (talk) 13:16, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

I had added the word "federal" to indicate that the governments referred to for "official business" were limited to national governments )i.e., those that could also regulate their postal system), as opposed to state, provincial, regional, city, or local governments. I have removed the word "federal" and will give a little more thought on how to express this more clearly, but would also welcome your thoughts on this. (Centpacrr (talk) 13:51, 25 July 2008 (UTC))
I suspected as such. Unfortunately, I can't think of an immediate generalization about governments that captures the idea and would still be accurate. On the other hand, I started to puruse this document and think if we refered to Postal Administrations in lieu of governments and such, we would be on solid ground, regardless of how a specific country operated in terms of Official Business. Its conceivable to me that there may be some governments that indeed have official business type franking below the national level to support provincial and other regional government structures. But regardless, Official Business franking probably falls under the perview of a Postal Administration.--Mike Cline (talk) 14:27, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, let me ponder that. (Centpacrr (talk) 16:19, 25 July 2008 (UTC))

President of Italy franking privilege[edit]

I have made some correction to the line stating that the President of Italy has a franking privilege (which in fact has been abolished in 1999), but I wonder if such an information goes here, shouldn't I simply delete it? (talk) 12:54, 9 July 2009 (UTC)


This article states the following with respect to the term "franking":

The phrase franking is derived from the Latin word "francus" meaning free. Another use of that term is speaking "frankly", i.e. "freely". Because Benjamin Franklin was an early United States Postmaster General, satirist Richard Armour referred to free congressional mailings as the "Franklin privilege"

The article Postage meter suggests (without explicitly stating so) that the term is derived from the name of the inventor of the Franking machine:

As early as 1884, a Norwegian, Engle Frankmussler (later anglisized to Edward Franks), obtained a British patent for a device that would print a “stamp” on an envelope and record the amount of postage by means of a counting device, or Franking machine, he presented this design at the 1886 Worlds Fair. Inventors in Germany, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain pursued similar idea in the late 1800s, but nothing came to pass.[1]

A reader writing in to the Wikimedia Foundation notes that these seem contradictory. Can anyone help to clarify this etymology? --Moonriddengirl (talk) 22:22, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Wood, Kenneth A. (2000-10-14). "Meter Postage: A Brief History: Part 1". Notes From the Past. Retrieved 2008-07-24.