USPS Announces American Motorcycles Stamps for 2006

The U.S. Postal Service will offer a four-stamp set commemorating "American Motorcycles."

The U.S. Post Office will issue a four-stamp set commemorating "American Motorcycles" during the Sturgis Rally in August 2006. The four-stamp set will feature a 1918 Cleveland single, a 1965 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, a 1940 Indian four, and a hardtail Harley chopper that might have bee built around 1970. The images of the first three are based on actual bikes. The chopper image was created from scratch with input from custom-bike builders.

This is not the first time motorcycles have appeared on U.S. postage stamps, but there are no current U.S. stamps with motorcycle images.

The following are excepts from the U.S. Postal Service announcement.

_Postal Service Unveils 2006 Commemorative Stamps; 50 stamps highlighting four subjects to be dedicated at Washington 2006 Stamp Exhibition

WASHINGTON - What do Baseball, Batman, Brooklyn's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Hattie McDaniel and Harley Davidson have in common? They're all just a sampling of American icons that will be highlighted on 2006 Commemorative postage stamps, the Postal Service announced today.

"Our 2006 program commemorates a wide range of diverse American icons with something that will appeal to everyone," said Postmaster General John E. Potter in describing stamps that will honor Baseball sluggers, comic book heroes, the world's longest bridge span, the first African-American to earn an Oscar and America's love affair with motorcycles...

American Motorcycles

In early August, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, SD, the role of motorcycles in American culture will be recognized on four "American Motorcycles" stamps featuring digital illustrations of a 1918 Cleveland, a 1940 Indian Four, a 1965 Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide, and a circa 1970 chopper. The Cleveland, Indian and Harley-Davidson stamps are based on motorcycles in existence today. The circa 1970 chopper featured on the stamp was created by stamp artist Steve Buchanan in consultation with professional chopper builders. Although lacking various safety features such as mirrors and turn signals that are usually required under today's laws, this chopper would have been street-legal in 1970...

American Motorcycles (4)

With the issuance of the American Motorcycles stamps, the U.S. Postal Service recognizes the role of motorcycles in American culture with four stamps that feature digital illustrations of a 1918 Cleveland, a 1940 Indian Four, a 1965 Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide, and a circa 1970 chopper.

Cleveland 1918

The single-cylinder Cleveland motorcycle depicted on this stamp was built by the Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

Advertisements claimed that this motorcycle, which featured a 2.5-horspower, single-cylinder motor, could travel 75 miles on a single gallon of gasoline and reach speeds of up to 35 to 40 miles per hour. Weighing around 150 pounds and selling for $175, the Cleveland was both lightweight and affordable, making it a popular motorcycle of its time.

The model for the "Cleveland 1918" stamp artwork is a 1918 Cleveland A2 owned by Penny Nickerson of Long Island, New York.

Indian 1940

The motorcycle depicted on this stamp was made by the Indian Motorcycle Company. The 1940 entry in a series of deluxe, four-cylinder motorcycles known as the Four, this streamlined bike featured skirted fenders that partially covered the wheels, a controversial design innovation that soon became an Indian trademark.

The model for the illustration featured on this stamp is a motorcycle owned by Michael and Larry Spielfogel of New York City. It is depicted in the deep red color often associated with Indian motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson 1965

With features such as whitewall tires, extensive chrome, large fenders, and spacious fiberglass saddlebags, the Harley-Davidson featured on this stamp is considered by many to be one of the company's most iconic motorcycles. Known as the Electra-Glide, this model was first manufactured in 1965, when its new features included a push-button electric starter.

The model for the illustration featured on the Harley-Davidson 1965 stamp is a motorcycle owned by George Tsunis of Port Jefferson, NY.

Chopper c.1970

The name "chopper" derives from the process of removing, or "chopping," unnecessary or unwanted components from a motorcycle. The term often indicates an extensively customized motorcycle with such features as a stretched frame, stepped seat, and raised handlebars. Typically, the frame has been stretched with an extended-length fork leading to the front wheel.

Especially prominent during the 1960s and 1970s, choppers follow in a tradition of earlier customized motorcycles that were known as "bobbers" for their shortened, or bobbed, fenders.

The circa 1970 chopper featured on this stamp was invented by the stamp artist in consultation with professional chopper builders. Although lacking various safety features such as mirrors and turn signals that are required today, this chopper would have been legal to ride circa 1970.

The digital illustrations featured on the American Motorcycles stamps were created by Steve Buchanan of Winsted, CT. The illustrations are based on existing restored motorcycles, reference photographs, and consultation with owners and experts; however, some colors and design features have been altered for artistic purposes or to maintain historical accuracy._

The motorcycles depicted on the stamp set include (clockwise from top left) a 1940 Indian Four, a 1918 Cleveland single, a 1965 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, and 1970-something Harley chopper.