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Have the post office issue stamps that are defined as a frame with teeth and postage.
The center image is not officially part of the stamp and is left blank in the stamps printed by the post office.
This opens up a secondary business of "make your own postage" companies. You send in an image and
money for the stamps (at a slightly increased price, of course); you get back an official looking set of stamps with your image masked, resized, and laser printed in the center.
Alternatively, sell the blank sheets with software.
Great for company promotions, wedding invitations, birth announcements, ...
(Some restrictions apply, depending on what can or cannot appear on a country's postage stamps.)
Legally, this wouldn't be very different from the existing "digital postage" concept; it's the formal resemblance to traditional postage stamps that makes it attractive to the buyers.
Canada Post (English Version.)
Well, I guess this would be baked then. Thanks moe! [jutta, Aug 05 2000]
Postes Canada (Version Francais)
C'est un croissant accompli. [jutta, Aug 05 2000]
Australia Post Personalised Stamps
Mostly baked - available now. Your picture is not on the actual stamp, but pretty close. [RobRoy, Aug 05 2000]
(??) Britain's version
Just in time for Christmas [phoenix, Aug 05 2000]
US version (one of many resellers).
Pretty much as outlined, including the secondary market. Trialed first in 2004. [jutta, Sep 10 2006]
New Zealand version
(From Imaginality.) They require you to pick one of ten accompanying images, which take up about 2/3 of the space. [jutta, Sep 10 2006]
UK: Royal Mail "Smilers"
Probably what phoenix's outdated link described. [jutta, Sep 10 2006]
||Actually, a slight variation on this I think would work $$great$$ for the postal service would be for them to sell custom stamps to corporate customers (in large quantities and at a small premium, e.g. $3,500 per 10,000 "33-cent" stamps). Companies could then use the stamps on their own mailings and/or sell them to customers (e.g. Disneyland could sell Mickey Mouse stamps, etc.)
||they already do this in canada. www.canadapost.com
you get the little frame stamp and canada post makes a bunch of little 'stickers' from a picture of your choosing and you put them on the frame stamp...
||Deeply illegal here in the UK - only one person is allowed to be represented on stamps: the Queen. As an aside when they designed "1978 World Cup Winners : Scotland" stamps, none of the actual players were featured on the stamps, just some pictures of fictitious guys.
||To slightly correct imagooAJ....any (lawful) image CAN appear on a UK stamp, provided that the Queens image is also represented...usually by a small gold sillouette in the corner. The reason none of the real players were used in those Scottish footie stamps is because none of them/their representatives could agree on such trivia as royalties
||There's a convention that living people (apart from members of the royal family) aren't portrayed on UK postage stamps.
||Using your rules, then the stamps shown here (www.benhamcovers.com/pics/BL20.jpg ) are illegal....hmmm. Or, more amusing yet, those at http://www.benhamcovers.com/results.asp?rcount=4 feature the (unfortunately) still alive Cliff Richard and Phil Collins.......wanna reword your comments Hippo ?
||The Queen Mother is allowed on stamps as she's a member of the royal family. I couldn't get to see the Phil Collins stamps, and the Cliff Richard stamps are not British stamps ("Antigua & Barbuda"?). Lots of small countries make a bit of extra money printing weird stamps which are then sold to stamp collectors.
||Not allowed in U.S. - no living persons (don't you hate that word?) can be depicted on postage stamps. The rule gave rise to a mini-crisis at the office of the Postmaster General re how to depict the 9/11 disaster on a postage stamp which could not include images of firefighters, rescuers, et al. Bland flag image seems to have made it through the review process in record time (apologies for extra talk about 9/11).
||baked. I have a whole set of stamps with my photo on them, which are legal and valid. I went to a place which took my photo and sent them to me.
||I work at Walgreens, and they have customized stamps you can order in their photo section with your fave picture.