Scouting for Meter Stamps
Charles F. Schafstall

Scout Meter Stamps

I have some Scout meter stamps to share and hope you find them interesting.  I know of over 230 different Scout meter stamps from the USA and over 900 worldwide!  In SOSSI Journal articles and online, I hope to show some differences in the meters and in the stamps.

Doug Kelsey, former Director of the American Topical Association wrote on the subject of the use of the correct name of the meter stamp in his Meters Stamp column in Linn's Stamp News, March 16, 1998.  Correctly named, the meter is the machine, and the meter stamp is what the machine produces.

Meter stamps are legal postage stamps as defined by the USPS.  A postage stamp is a receipt for prepayment of a fee to use the mail system.  The term 'meter stamp' identifies a franking unit comprising two standard elements, the idicium and the postmark.

The slogan, which is of interest to us topical collectors, is an optional third element of a meter stamp.

Some of the improper names used in lieu of "meter stamps" include: meter cancellations, meter permits, meter impressions, meter imprints, meter labels, postage meter seals, franking machine labels and meter marks.

Meters do not cancel anything and under normal use do not require cancellation.  This allows the postal service to handle the mail faster.  "Permit imprints are not a receipt indicating prepayment" and are incorrectly referred to when described as meter permits.  Because of the lack of franking description, the terms "meter impression" or "meter imprint" inaccurately refer to the meter stamp being described.  A label or seal has no franking value and these terms are incorrect.

The term "meter mark" is widely used in other countries.  It is misleading in the United States because the term "mark" is generally referring to a "directive or instructional impression, such as an 'auxiliary mark'" and does not describe the franking ability of the meter stamp.

There is a lot to look for when comparing meter stamps.  A quick glance will not reveal a new discovery.  I am always looking for examples and/or photocopies of examples to aid in the gathering of information for a catalog that I still hope will someday be published.  Your questions and comments are always welcomed.

Charles F. Schafstall
6927 Oakshade Road
Sylvania, OH 43560


SOSSI JOURNAL, VOL 47, Number 5, September/October 1998
Volume 45, Number 1, January/February 1996
Meter Stamps
Meter Stamps Home Page