Arago: 5-cent Motorcycle

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5-cent Motorcycle

The 5-cent Motorcycle of the Transportation Coil Series was issued on October 10, 1983, at the annual meeting of the Envelope Manufacturers Association of America in San Francisco, California. The stamp depicts a 1913 Model L motorcycle made by Albert Pope, who introduced bicycles to the United States in 1878. The design is based on a vehicle in the Smithsonian Institution. The motorcycle has a two-cylinder, air-cooled engine originally rated at 7-to-8 horsepower, but tests have shown that it actually produced 15.4 hp at 50 mph and had a top speed of 60 to 65 mph. Motorcyclists of the day wore dark goggles, thick leather gloves with a high cuffs, heavy coats, and high boots to protect their legs from the engine heat. There were 188,240 first day covers.

The 5-cent stamp matched no postal rate but was used as a changemaker in vending machines. It was printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on the Cottrell press with a plate number every twenty-four stamps. Plate 1 was paired with 2; and plate 3 with 4. All four plate numbers were available on the first day of issue, but plates 3 and 4 are rare. Vertical joint lines are found to the right of the plate number stamp. All stamps were block tagged.

The 5-cent Motorcycle stamp was designed by Walter Brooks of Norwalk, Connecticut. Kenneth Kipperman engraved the vignette, and Dennis Brown engraved the lettering. Both worked for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.


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