Arago: 2-cent Locomotive

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2-cent Locomotive

Issued at Chicago’s Union Station on May 20, 1982, the 2-cent Locomotive stamp depicts a steam locomotive with a distinctive funnel-shaped smokestack. The smokestack replicates that of the Central Pacific's steam engine Jupiter, which was at Promontory, Utah, in 1869. The image may have been based on an engine in the Smithsonian Institution's collection. Paying no particular rate, the 2-cent Locomotive was intended for make-up postage and as a change-maker in vending machines.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed the 2-cent Locomotive on the Cottrell press in coils of five hundred and three thousand with overall tagging. There were 184 million stamps printed. Alternating plate numbers appear every twenty-four stamps. Only plate numbers 3 and 4 were available on first day covers. Plate numbers 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10 were issued. Later coils paired plate 2 with plate 6 and plate 8 with plate 10. Plate 1 was printed, but all examples were shredded before leaving the Bureau. There were 290,020 first day covers.

David K. Stone of Port Washington, New York, designed the stamp. Clarence Holbert of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing modeled it, and the engravers were John S. Wallace for vignette and Robert G. Culin, Sr., for lettering. Both worked for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.


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