The Smithsonians National Postal Museum has added the featured collection The Free Franks to its award-winning Arago Web site at http://www.arago.si.edu/flash/?eid=424|s1=6|
The Free Franks collection covers the history of the use of free franks and the evolution of the government franking system, including official stamps and penalty mail. The first use of free franks was authorized for selected government officials by the English Parliament. The Continental Congress adopted the free frank as a way for elected officials and constituents to communicate freely. The free frank is still used today by Congress and is authorized for certain other individuals, such as service members in time of war. The executive and judicial branches of government use penalty-mail envelopes.
The featured collection exhibits free frank and penalty covers selected from the National Collection that illustrate the history of their use. Many covers are from or to historical figures and famous Americans such as Benjamin Franklin, Booker T. Washington and Clara Barton.
Arago is dedicated to the online presentation of the museums vast collections and contains high-resolution images and associated stories presented by curators, expert volunteer researchers, museum staff and guest writers.