Machines Are Changing The Way We Frank Our Mail, Frankly

Regular MailNo one wants Stamp Licker as a job title anyway.

The mailroom is vital to the operations of many companies, improving in efficiency as time goes by. But, change comes at a cost; one in the form of inconveniencing stamp collectors everywhere.

Meet Victoria

Stamps are the infallible markers of paid-for postage. Since the legendary Penny Black stamps came into production in 1840, post offices quickly adopted the system of sticking thumb-sized photographs onto letters. Portraits of Queen Victoria adorned letters for decades, as other prominent individuals, places, objects, and events followed suit. This modestly practical method went on to spur an entire subculture in the following century; evolving into a hobby, an art form, a tradition.

Businesses can’t afford the delays of individually placing stamps on the letters they send out. The US Postal Service reports 6,050 mail pieces processed every second. Using traditional stamps makes for a slow and dehydrated mailroom. This is why countless industries sending bulk mail are turning away from the traditional stamps—probably denting the figure of over two billion individual pieces sold by the posts each year.

Meet Frank

Instead of paying a dedicated employee to stick stamps all day long, businesses turned to the machine. Franking is the umbrella term for placing stamps on mail, and its modern makeover is undeniably faster and dryer. Companies now purchase postage meter machines from distributors like These sleek pieces of tech automatically weigh mail and stamp them accordingly.

The machine prints the stamps right on the package, charging the value to a prepaid account. The prints are barebones stamps; completely professional, functional, and secure. There are typically no fancy designs, unless the owner commissions a custom print. Obviously, machine stamps are less glamorous to collect than the removable variants, but that does not mean some enthusiasts aren’t saving the government stationery whenever their bills arrive.

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Stamps are iconic: literal icons we place on the objects we send out. Some people may see them as another invoice, while some treat them as humble chips from the block of global culture. Whichever perspective people take, stamps are here to stay—and you don’t even have to lick them now to make sure that happens.