ComputerStamp

"Computer Stamps"
(aka Computer Vended Postage Stamps, Personalized Stamps, Personalized Postage, Custom Stamps, Photo Stamps, Logo Stamps, Art Stamps, Vanity Stamps, PC Postage Stamps, IBI Stamps, Meter Labels, etc)
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Revised 12/12/2020
Portrait of AMERICA

Look at US personalized postage stamps and what becomes quickly evident to the viewer?
A portrait of America.

America was born in an analog world. It has matured into a digital world.
Look at the simple example of an analog clock face with an hour, minute and second hand revolving clockwise providing the viewer with the time of day.
Today time has been digitized with a numerical presentation.

America is a prism of progress of families, friends and neighbors;
of homes, neighborhoods, cities and states;
of natural beauty, art, houses, buildings and roads;
of religions, philosophies, doctrines;
a matrix of good and bad, rich and poor, law and order, simple and complex,
and orchestra of individuals making the music of life and living.
The chair of America stands strong supported by three legs of freedom, equality and patriotism.
Today we have the opportunity to look at US personalized postage stamps and see a kaleidoscope of American life, a portrait of America.

History of Postage Stamps


Definitions

A) A postage stamp is an adhesive or imprinted stamp issued by the government (US Postal Service ~ USPS) for pre-payment of postage to carry the mail. Postage stamps are sold at Post Offices.
B) A computer postage stamp is a postage stamp with the addition of an IBI (info-based-indicia) barcode, that is printed by an USPS authorized organization some of which require the cooperation with users who use their personal computer and the internet to transmit their stamp designs/photographs for inclusion on the final stamp. Computer postage stamps are NOT sold at Post Offices. To avoid laws applicable to the issuance of postage stamps, the USPS identifies these stamps as "meter labels."

Brief Overview:
        In 2000 Personal Computer Postage became an natural extrapolation of Computer Vended Postage Stamps. This occurred with the commercial advancement of IBI (info-based-indicia) technology. IBI is a two-dimensional barcode (matrix of digital data) containing scanable inteligence in PDF417 format (portable document format) about the stamp and it's use. This lead to the cooperative issuance by Stamps.Com of stylized postage (Theme NetStamps). Simultaneously, Stamps.Com initiated a trial beta program for Personalized Photo Computer Postage Stamps. The USPS then authorized other organizations to produce IBI postage stamps.
        Initially Scott Specialized Catalogue elected NOT to list these computer postage stamps in their catalog stating three major reasons for their exclusion:
                 1) these stamps are not sold at any US Postal Service post office,
                 2) they are sold for amounts over face value and
                 3) you cannot purchase an individual stamp but must buy a pane of stamps.
                 4) An unstated forth reason for exclusion is that their appears to be no controllable way to catalog the vast quanity of differing photos/logos/designs found on these stamps.

USPS Authorized Organizations

(1) Stamps.com


        Stamps.com was founded in 1996. They were the first company approved by the US Postal Service to offer a software postal package that allowed customers to use their personal computer, printer and internet connection to buy and print postage stamps online.
        Customers paid a monthly subscription fee, purchased sheets of NetStamp labels and then purchased postage at face value. NetStamp labels were first offered in original format and then in themed photo format.
        On August 10, 2004 Stamps.com inaugurated PhotoStamps. Customers could use the internet to upload their unique digital photographs to Stamps.com or purchase themed photograph stamps offered by Stamps.com. Stamps.com would print the PhotoStamps in sheets of twenty, send them via the mail back to the customer and charge face value plus a per-sheet fee for this service.
        In 2016 Minted.Com in conjunction with Stamps.Com began offering creative Holiday photo stamps using the design talent of contributing artists.

Catalog Listing of NETSTAMPs

CVP Meter NetStamps

Theme NetStamps

Photo NetStamps

Design-On-Demand NetStamps

Catalog Listing of PHOTOSTAMPs

Beta PhotoStamps

Theme PhotoStamps

Photo PhotoStamps

Minted PhotoStamps

(2) Endicia.com


        Endicia.com was founded in 1982 as PSI Associates, a technology consulting company based in Palo Alto, California. In the late eighties it developed software products for address verification and mail management called Envelope Manager.
        PSI formed a partnership with Microsoft in 1997 producing Direct Mail Manager which became part of Microsoft Office 97 and Office 2000.
        In 2005 Endicia introduced PictureItPostage, a personalized postage service and LabelServer, an application programming interface that enabled postage-paid shipping labels. On July 2, 2007 Newell Rubbermaid acquired Endicia. Rubbermaid's acquisition of Endicia allowed a closer partnership with sister companies Dymo, CardScan and mimio. With PictureItPostage customers could create US Postage using their own photos, business logos or graphics. Customers could use the internet to upload their unique digital photographs to Endicia.com. Endicia.com would print the PictureItPostage Stamps in sheets of twenty, send them via the mail back to the customer and charge face value plus a per-sheet fee for this service.
        In 2015 Stamps.Com acquired Endicia.

Catalog Listing of PictureItPostage
Endicia CVP Meter Stamps

(3) Zazzle.com


        Zazzle.com was launched in July 2001. In its beta format, it encouraged customers to participate by designing products and submitting designs to Zazzle as well as rating the products/designs of others.
        Since 2006, Zazzle has maintained an extensive inventory of approved stamp designs that can be chosen by customers via the internet. These Zazzle Design Stamps can then be purchased in sheets of 20 in small, medium or large sizes. They are organized in the following general postage categories: cute, wedding, monogram, animal, flower, birthday, fine art, love, new baby and save the date.
        Alternatively, customers can use the internet to upload their unique digital photographs to Zazzle.com. Zazzle.com would print the stamps in sheets of twenty, send them via the mail back to the customer and charge face value plus a per-sheet fee for this service.
        In mid 2018 Zazzle paused the production and printing of custom postage stamps over a dispute with the USPS stating that to continue, it "will create broad restrictions on content, will be onerous to comply with and could have unintended consequences." Futher resolutuion with the USPS was also desired regarding:
        "Any image" that might violate someone else's copyright, trademarks, or "rights of publicity or privacy."
        "Any depiction of political, religious, violent or sexual content, including content not suitable for minors."
        "Any depiction of any other subject matter prohibited for display under US law."

Catalog Listing of Zazzle Custom Stamps

(4) Pitney Bowes.com


        In 1902 Arthur Pitney patented his first "double-locking" hand-cranked postage-stamping machine. With his patent attorney, Eugene A Rummler he founded the Pitney Postal Machine Company. In 1908 Walter Bowes founded the Universal Stamping Machine Company who provided stamp-canceling machines to the US Postal Service.
        On March 15, 1920 the US government passed a bill authorizing mechanical stamps on First-Class Mail and on April 23, 1920 the two companies merged to form the Pitney Bowes Postage Meter Company. They produced a machine that combined Pitney's "double-locking" counter with Bowes's system for wrapping postage payment, postmarking and cancellation.
        Between 2000 and 2007 Pitney Bowes invested $2.5 billion in 83 acquisitions primarily in software and services businesses. On June 11, 2007 Pitney Bowes.com offered customers their Stamp Expressions Printer to print US Postage Stamps using their proprietary CD-ROM software. This proved to be commercially complicated and failed to be competitive so Pitney Bowes entered into agreement with Zazzle to print their US Postage vanity stamps.
        On October 18, 2011, Pitney Bowes started a test of "Mail&Go" kiosks to dispense US Postage as self-adhesive stamps.

Catalog Listing of STAMP EXPRESSIONS

Monochrome Stamp Expressions

Color Stamp Expressions

Pitney CVP Meter Stamps

Pitney-IBM CVP Meter Stamps

Catalog Listing of PERSONAL POSTAGE

Custom Postage

Custom Zazzle Postage

Theme Premier Postage

Mail&Go Postage


(5) Artstamps.com


        ArtStamps.com is a privately held company supporting creativity, literacy and education through a school fundraising program which converts original student art into US postage. ArtStamps encourages children to design their own postage stamps.
        Children can use the internet to upload their unique digital art work to Myartstamps.com who would print the stamps in sheets of twenty, send them via the mail back to the children and charge face value plus a per-sheet ee for this service. ArtStamps will then make a monetary contribution to The Literacy Community, a not-for-profit charitable organization that supports the Flat Stanley Project (an international literacy initiative). This program has been discontinued.

Catalog Listing of ArtStamps (Endicia)

(6) YourStamps.com


        In March 2007 Fujifilm (through its Fujifilm Partners) launched a new service for personalized postage called YourStamps.com that allowed users to put their photos and artwork on US postage stamps. Fujifilm did this in conjunction with Pitney Bowes bringing Fujifilm's proven imaging expertise to postage. Fujifilm Partners had been offering its products to a broad spectrum of industries including medical, chemical, graphic arts, electronic materials, optics, recording media, motion picture and photographic technologies. It offered promotional codes and on-line coupons to enhance its marketing endeavors.
        YourStamps was officially recognized by the US Post Office to issue valid postage. Like its competition, its users could view their uploaded photographic images/designs as the stamp was being created using different borders, colors and messages. This program has been discontinued.

Catalog Listing of YourStamps (Pitney Bowes)

(7) USPS.com


        At the turn of the 21st century, the USPS understood that to cut costs and improve efficiency at its Post Offices, it must concentrate on the development of automatic self-service stamp vending machines (Automated Postal Center Project). This strategy was designed to introduce self-service equipment in which users could access basic postal products, services and operations on a 24/7 basis.

Catalog Listing of Automated Postal Center (APC) & Self-Service Kiosks (SSK) Stamps

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Meter Stamp Society Personal Postage

Computer-Vended-Postage offerings by Craig Selig

Visit the American Philatelic Society