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Confusing Use Of The Term "Frank" And "Franked"

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Posted 12/05/2021   5:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Letterpress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hi all I'm learning from the philatelic glossaries and guides, and I'm puzzled by the use of "frank" that I keep seeing by collectors.

Some collectors are using frank to mean the application of postage, any postage, by any sender. So I'll see a random cover captioned "This one is franked with two Washington 5 cent stamps..." and similar.

Is this a new usage? This isn't what frank is supposed to mean according to most sources, and it isn't what frank historically meant.

About the only source I find defining franking to include random people sticking random stamps on any mailpiece is the Wikipedia article on franking. However, the USPS sources cited in the article don't support the usage at all. Those USPS documents actually make no mention of the word "frank" or any derivative: https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/604.htm#wp1080496

Some philatelic glossaries don't include the term, while others define it with its historic franking privilege meaning. It's strange to see it mean simply to apply postage.
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Posted 12/05/2021   5:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
https://www.linns.com/news/postal-u...tage-wa.html

Lots of sellers, especially on eBay, do not necessarily stick to conventional terminology or even know what it all means.
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Posted 12/05/2021   5:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Noocassel to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The Stanley Gibbons book; Philatelic terms illustrated, 2003 edition, begins it's definition "A mark or stamp on a piece of mail to indicate transmission without charge.
..... The stamp collectors encyclopaedia, Sutton, R.J. comp. 6th revisededition 1966. defines Franks; "Signatures and postal markings... indicating that a letter was to be carried free of postage..... I have also heard people use the phrase as a synonym for stamped. I try to avoid using the term frank in a wider sense because frankly I think it's misleading.
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Posted 12/05/2021   6:03 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Stamp Smarter Glossary defines 'franking' as "A marking on a cover, other than a stamp, that indicates that the postage has been paid."
https://stampsmarter.org/Learning/Glossary_F.html

As has been discussed in numerous threads in this community, there is absolutely no 'standard' or agreed upon common nomenclature in philately. In my opinion the hobby has a significant percentage of older people who are not interested in change or relearning what they already know. They use words, rightly or wrongly and often without feeling clarifications are needed, in whatever way they previously learned and are comfortable with (i.e. - 'setoff' vs. 'offset')
Don
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Posted 12/05/2021   6:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Siegel's lot descriptions use the term "franking" liberally to describe postage stamps affixed to covers.

Example:


Quote:
A SPECTACULAR SIX-TIMES RATE NEW YORK U.S. EXPRESS MAIL COVER TO BOSTON, FRANKED WITH TWO STRIPS OF THE 1851 3-CENT ORANGE BROWN.
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Posted 12/09/2021   2:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stallzer to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
From good old wikipedia

"Franking comprises all devices, markings, or combinations thereof ("franks") applied to mails of any class which qualifies them to be postally serviced."
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Posted 12/09/2021   3:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add James Drummond to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
applied to mails of any class


Franks were also used on other forms of communication besides mail, like telegrams, telephones, and even advertisements in newspapers.

Jim





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Posted 12/09/2021   7:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
(i.e. - 'setoff' vs. 'offset')


I have learnt to be comfortable now, with "set-off" or setoff.
and pleased, to see the Turkey Catalogue Isfila, employ setoff.
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Posted 12/09/2021   9:13 pm  Show Profile Check KRelyea's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add KRelyea to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I am surprised no one has mentioned the term "Free Frank" which allows members of Congress to send mail for free.
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Posted 12/09/2021   9:30 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
This is not "free" franking as the USPS is compensated for the servicing of these mails by annual tax-funded appropriations against which each Member is given a budgeted amount upon which he or she may draw.
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Posted 12/09/2021   9:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
The Stanley Gibbons book; Philatelic terms illustrated, 2003 edition, begins it's definition "A mark or stamp on a piece of mail to indicate transmission without charge.


I would support this explanation.
Seen
US Military free frank (Cinderella ..free stamps prohibited)
Romania free frank
Australia
Canada
Great Britain

Stamps, Meters, and Hand struck
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Edited by rod222 - 12/09/2021 10:57 pm
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Posted 12/10/2021   07:11 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Living languages are dynamic. Words that have an established meaning can change through modified usage. Here, there is the original, "technical" meaning of "frank" to refer to "free frank" as in the USSS definition:

Quote:
the right to send mail without payment of postage. Usually indicated by a signature where a stamp is usually affixed. This privilege has been extended to various individuals at different times, including government officials and military personnel.
Frankly, by this defintion "free frank" is redundant, and if not taken as redundant, would necessarily infer that letters with paid postage affixed is an "unfree frank" which is how "franking" has come to be usage referring to affixing ordinary postage to a cover.

Or, what was originally a noun is now being used as a verb.

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Posted 12/11/2021   09:09 am  Show Profile Check KRelyea's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add KRelyea to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting topic, so I went to the ultimate source ie. eBay to get some data;




I couldn't search for "frank" because there were too many other usages buy "franked" and "free frank" gave fairly good results. My interpretation of the data is the "free frank" is not used as often as "franked" but it's usage in the US is significant and actually exceeds "franked"

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Posted 12/14/2021   11:35 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Letterpress to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I see a couple of structural issues so far.

The Linn's article reveals one here: "Originally there was not much need for franking, because most mail was sent postage due to be paid for by the recipient upon delivery."

This implies that what's distinctive about franking is prepayment. Not just free mailing privileges (for various government officials) what pops out is that postage is not due. Before prepaid stamps, the only prepaid postage scenario was franked mail from government officials. So the attribute of no further payment required is what united traditional franked mail and the newfangled prepaid postage stamps.

The second structural issue is that people need to be able to say "This mailpiece is x-ed with a 20 Truman stamp" and similar. We sort of naturally need or want a word that works there, apparently a word that means what we're using "frank" to mean: marked or affixed with postage, any type of postage including stamps, meters, indicia, etc.

It might be that no other word works quite as well. We could say "stamped with a 20 Truman stamp", but that sounds off, and it may not work for indicia or meters (though it does seem natural with meters, since stamping with ink is a common usage of the verb stamp across many domains, like arts and crafts). We could say "affixed", but that would only work for stamps it lacks the universality of franked, since it doesn't work for meters or pre-printed indicia.

Language evolves to solve problems, and it seems like a word that means marking or affixing any kind of postage is handy. The wrinkle is the lumpy mismatch between the attribute of prepayment and marking/affixing postage. If franking is supposed to specifically mean marking/affixing prepaid postage then we have a gap with marking/affixing post-paid postage or postage due. It doesn't seem like a big issue, and I'm not sure if it even exists anymore, but there are lots of historic instances, covers, etc. I'm not sure how those are described. "This letter is x-ed with a 10 cent postage due..."? What's the x? Marked? Stamped?

It would be fun to invent a word to use instead of franked for any and all application of postage on a mailpiece, regardless of payment status. Bobbed? "This letter is bobbed with three counterfeit stamps." Or "This piece was jeffed with a post office meter." Or "This parcel was janed with computer printed postage."
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Posted 12/14/2021   1:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It would be fun to invent a word to use instead of franked for any and all application of postage on a mailpiece, regardless of payment status.


Why?
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Posted 12/14/2021   3:41 pm  Show Profile Check jomic-3139's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jomic-3139 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It's a delight to view all the replies to this subject!!


Here's good ol' Mererium-Webster's answer:

frank verb
franked; franking; franks
Definition of frank
transitive verb
1a : to mark (a piece of mail) with an official signature or sign indicating the right of the sender to free mailing
b : to mail free
c : to affix to (mail) a stamp or a marking indicating the payment of postage

2 : to enable to pass or go freely or easily

frank noun (1)
Definition of frank
1a : the signature of the sender on a piece of franked mail serving in place of a postage stamp
b : a mark or stamp on a piece of mail indicating postage paid
c : a franked envelope

2 : the privilege of sending mail free of charge

I don't know about you but I'm still confused. I have even seen people call "embossed" as franked!

Having fun with this one.
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