Three Republicans on the House Appropriations legislative subcommittee who have been leaders in efforts to limit "franked" mail have been some of the biggest mailers in the House, a review of material on file with the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards shows.

But the Republicans -- John Edward Porter (Ill.), Silvio O. Conte (Mass.) and Jerry Lewis (Calif.) -- are not alone. Democrats on the subcommittee also use the frank as a way of boosting name recognition and highlighting their activities among voters back home.

Porter, a 10-year House member, mailed 13 separate town meeting notices for forums on various subjects to each household within his district in 13 of the past 19 months. During the same period, Porter mailed four newsletters district-wide.

Porter said town meetings "were a wonderful way to stay in touch with constituents," but added there had to be a way to put a lid on mailing costs.

Conte, who in a floor debate last September told House members they faced a "Frank-enstein monster" and it was time to "cut its head off cold turkey," regularly mailed the then-limit of six newsletters to his constituents in 1989 and earlier.

In that debate, Conte supported a Senate proposal, later dropped, that would have prevented use of the frank -- a member's signature in place of postage -- for unsolicited mass mailings such as newsletters.

In his winter 1989 newsletter, Conte reported to his constituents that Congress had cut from six to three the number of newsletters that members could send and added: "I'll miss this valuable form of communication with you and the feedback I get after you read the Washington newsline."

Conte's staff had no comment yesterday.

Lewis, ranking GOP member of the subcommittee, sent five newsletters in 1989 when the limit was six, and two this year, when the limit is three. Lewis said last week he expected some new limits to be placed on House mailings.

The legislative subcommittee on which the three sit may take up new limitations on congressional mailings, including perhaps an individual allowance for each member, when it meets this morning to mark up fiscal 1991 appropriations for the House and other legislative branch agencies.

Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee, has been attempting to work out a plan similar to one adopted in the Senate that would require individual limits for members and reporting on what they actually spend on mailings.

Fazio -- who sent six town meeting mailings over the last 19 months along with two district-wide newsletters and a special report to one section of his district -- has been trying to satisfy members who want limitations and public disclosure and members who want neither.

Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), a major supporter of franking on the subcommittee, sent out seven newsletters over the past 19 months and one town meeting announcement. Rep. Bob Traxler (D-Mich.) sent out six newsletters and two office-hour notices during the same period. Another subcommittee member, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), sent out four newsletters and notices of congressional office hours on three occasions.

Postmaster General Anthony M. Frank last week proposed that if Congress wanted to enforce limits on members, it prepay mailings as do other commercial customers who use postage meters, stamps and permit imprints.

Like almost every incumbent, the subcommittee members promoted themselves in their mailings.

For example, Porter's summer 1989 newsletter dealt with the Defense Department's proposed closing of Fort Sheridan in his district and the Illinois legislator described his actions and feelings about the proposal by using the word "I" 16 different times on page one.

House regulations caution on the "excessive use of personally phrased references" such as "I." As a guideline, the regulations suggest that "for the most part {words such as 'I'} should not appear on the average more than eight times per page."