Thursday, July 23, 2009

Print your own stamps on line

Since now several months, the French postal administration, like in a lot of other countries, proposes a service that gives you the possibility to print your stamps on line. The service is called “Mon timbre en ligne” (my stamp on line) is available at
Only recently I decided to try it to see how it works. The idea is quite simple. You go to the website and you select a picture among a selection of various images sorted by topic. You can not download your own picture, at least on the public version of the service. Then you choose the characteristics of your stamp (how many you want, which denomination etc.). You are then proposed to see and print a “specimen” to make sure your printer is correctly configured. After payment you are allowed to print the final result.
When I tried I of course selected a picture of a frog (what else could I choose ;-) ), which is proposed in the Animal section. I selected a stamp at the tariff 0.56€, the standard rate for a letter in France. Here is the specimen I got.

And here is the final stamp that I got after the payment. Note that the stamp is priced at the face value!
As you can see, for security reason, there is a validity date indicated below the stamp. Passed this date, the stamp is not valid for postage anymore. The stamp is divided in two sections: one with the picture, the logo of La Poste, the country and the denomination, and one with a bare code where the information is stored and can be read by the machine in charge of sorting mails.

I used one of this stamp on a cover addressed to myself, but unfortunately it came back without cancellation! So not very interesting to be shown. I will try again and if I can get a good cancelled version I will post it here.

This service is probably interesting for people who have to send a big number of mails. This is interesting that La Poste proposes to have a picture on the stamp, which is not the case of such service proposed in other countries (if I’m not wrong Royal Mail, in UK, does not propose to have a picture on this type of stamps). Now it raises one question that I already raised about personalized stamps: are those stamps collectable?
Probably not, since they loose their validity for postage after some time. Also I wonder what is the real life duration of a picture printed in a color laser printer. I guess in few years the picture will be altered significantly.

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