The first of 85 million classic "American Motorcycles" commemorative stamps were revealed August 7 at the 66th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The stamps are available for purchase starting today.
The 1918 Cleveland, 1940 Indian Four and 1965 Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide that modeled for the stamps were showcased in Sturgis. The fourth stamp, depicting a circa 1970 Chopper, was computer generated by a stamp artist.
This single-cylinder cycle was built by the Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. of Cleveland, OH. Advertisements claimed this 2.5- horsepower, single-cylinder motor could travel 75 miles on a gallon of gas and reach speeds of up to 40 mph. Weighing around 150 lbs. and selling for $175, the Cleveland was both lightweight and affordable, making it a popular motorcycle for its time. The Cleveland A2 that modeled for the stamp is owned by Penny Nickerson of Long Island, NY, and was used for dispatch duty in World War I.
1940 INDIAN FOUR
This 1940 four-cylinder streamlined bike features skirted fenders that partially covered the wheels, a controversial design innovation that soon became an Indian motorcycle trademark. The cycle that modeled for this stamp is owned by Michael and Larry Spielfogel of New York City. It is depicted in the deep red color often associated with Indian motorcycles.
1965 HARLEY-DAVIDSON ELECTRA-GLIDE
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 Harley that modeled for the stamp is owned by George Tsunis of Port Jefferson, NY.
The circa 1970 chopper featured on this stamp was "invented" on a computer by the stamp artist in consultation with professional chopper builders. Although lacking various safety features such as mirrors and turn signals that are usually required under current laws, 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. Some colors and design features have been altered for artistic purposes or to maintain historical accuracy.
"We understand the power our stamps have in helping to celebrate our American culture," said James C. Miller III, Chairman of the presidentially appointed Postal Service's Board of Governors, who dedicated the stamps. "These motorcycles are iconic classics that represent the sense of freedom that is America."
Joining Miller in dedicating the stamps were Sturgis Mayor Mark Zeigler and the owners of the cycles depicted on the stamps. Also participating in the event were Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds (R), Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (R), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) and Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs, Maggie Grant.
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