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a machine that imprints on a piece of mail (letter, postcard, or mailing tube) a sign showing the charge for postage (replacing the stamp), a dated postmark, and a stamp that shows the name and address of the organization that sent the article. The amount of postage and the date of mailing are set on a dial mechanism of the stamping drum by a mail clerk; the serial number is set automatically.
Postage meters are used to keep track of mailing expenditures for noncash payments to the post office. Meters exist that subtract postage charges from an initial sum that is set on the metering mechanism, rather than totaling charges. When the metering mechanism reaches zero, the postage meter shuts off automatically. The productivity of manual postage meters is 1,000-2,000 items per hour; electrically driven meters handle up to 4,000 items per hour.
a machine designed to imprint a dated postmark on written correspondence, such as letters and postcards, and to cancel the symbols of postage payment or to cancel regular postage stamps. The imprinted postmark contains the name of the communications enterprise and the date and time of cancellation; the stamp cancellation consists of three wavy lines.
A postage meter operates in the following manner. A packet of letters or postcards is sorted so that the addresses appear on the same side and the stamps are located in the same position in the upper right corner; the packet is then transferred from a storage unit to a separator. From the separator each letter is individually guided across conveyor rollers to the device that prints the postmark, whose single-cycle mechanism is set in motion by an arm engaged by the forward edge of the moving letter. The cancelled letters are ejected by a blade wheel into the next storage unit.
The most widely used postage meters in the USSR are the ShM–4A for large postal enterprises (designed for prolonged, continuous operation) and the ShMN–2 for regional postal cen ters and communications offices. The bestknown foreign postage meters are made by the American firm of Pitney-Bowes, Inc., the British company Universal Postal Frankers, and the French company SECAP. Postage meters can process from 12,000 to 45,000 letters per hour.
K. V. BOROZDIN