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Postal Service's 'American Motorcycle' Stamps Roll Out From Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Aug. 7

STURGIS, S.D., April 26 -- Come early August, 85 million classic American motorcycles will begin to roll out in mint condition on commemorative postage stamps -- each guaranteed to make it across the country for just 39 cents. The first of these stamps, along with the actual cycles the stamps are modeled from, will kick-start the 66th Anniversary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, SD, Mon., Aug. 7. The stamps will be available nationwide Tue., Aug. 8, 2006. Today, enthusiasts received a sneak peek.

"Our American Motorcycle stamps evoke America's love affair with freedom, independence and ingenuity that continues to evolve today," explained Sturgis, SD Postmaster Vickie Cartwright during a special unveiling ceremony that took place at the Sturgis Post Office today. "We're honored the City of Sturgis will use the dedication ceremony to launch the world's premier motorcycle rally."

Joining Cartwright in unveiling the stamps was Sturgis Mayor Mark Ziegler.

"The City of Sturgis is very excited the United States Postal Service has chosen to release the 'American Motorcycles' stamps at the kick-off of the 4th Annual Mayor's Ride during the 66th Anniversary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally," said Ziegler. "We're honored to have the opportunity to partner with the United States Postal Service and look forward to welcoming them, as well as the owners of the motorcycles used on the stamp images, to Sturgis."

Three of the stamps feature digital illustrations of a 1918 Cleveland, 1940 Indian Four and a 1965 Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide that are modeled after motorcycles in existence today. The fourth stamp shows a circa 1970 chopper, a computer generated stamp image created by the stamp artist in consultation with professional chopper builders.

A 10 ft. image of the stamps will be unveiled as part of the stamp dedication ceremony that takes place across the street from the Sturgis Post Office in front of the Community Center at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 7. To immortalize this historic event, stamps will be postmarked on the cycles that posed for the images with the official "First-Day-of-Issue" cancellation. When not in use during the Rally, the Cleveland, Indian and Harley will be on display at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum

Cleveland 1918

The single-cylinder Cleveland motorcycle depicted on this stamp was built by the Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, OH. Advertisements claimed this motorcycle, which featured a 2.5-horsepower, single-cylinder motor, could travel 75 miles on a single gallon of gasoline and reach speeds of up to 35 to 40 mph. Weighing around 150 pounds and selling for $175, the Cleveland was both lightweight and affordable, making it a popular motorcycle of its time. The Cleveland A2 that modeled for the stamp is owned by Penny Nickerson of Long Island, NY.

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 Harley that posed for the stamp is 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 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; however, some colors and design features have been altered for artistic purposes or to maintain historical accuracy. To see the stamps, visit:

Since 1775, the Postal Service and its predecessor, the Post Office Department, has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. It is an independent federal agency that visits 144 million homes and businesses every day, six days a week and is the only service provider delivering to every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues solely from the sale of postage, products and services. With annual revenues of more than $69 billion, it is the world's leading provider of mailing and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. The Postal Service delivers more than half of the world's mail volume - - some 212 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year -- and serves seven and a half million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide. Its website,, attracts more than 21 million visitors each month.