Notes from the Past

"Franchise" Stamps

Most of us understand the purposes and usages of "Postage Dues," "Officials," "Semi-Postals," "Special Deliveries," and other groups of stamps, but in Scott's Catalog we also find under Germany Portugal, Spain and probably other countries, items designated as "Franchise" stamps.  A collecting friend recently asked me, "What are they?"  Stymied myself, I said I'd look into it further, positive I'd find the answer readily in any of the philatelic dictionaries I have at hand, but after consulting some of them I failed to find even a mention of "Franchise" stamps.

Finally I found an explanation in The Young Stamp Collector's Own Book by Ellis Parker Butler (Bobbs, Merrill, 1933).  His definition: "Franchise Stamps.  'Franchise' means a privilege or right given to some one or some group of people.  Our representatives in Congress are given the right to 'frank' their mail -- send it without paying postage.  Franchise stamps were issued by some governments to be used by charity organizations and other groups, to permit them to send their mail free of cost."

The late Ellis Parker Butler ("Pigs Is Pigs") was a frequent philatelic correspondent of mine.  An established author, he turned out this useful and very instructive 340-page work because, he told me, a friend had asked jim to help his two young sons who were having hard going in their stamp collecting.  You'll find the book dedicated to those two Aley lads.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
May 19, 1945

 Posted December 5, 1999  

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