Motorcycle stamps Canada

In newsletter 104 two Canadian stamps from May 5th 2013 have been mentioned in the novelties. It concerns the first issue of stamps with motorcycles manufactured and designed in Canada. One of the stamps mentions that the motorcycle is a Motosacoche, the other an Indian. But as far as I knew Indians had been made in Springfiels, Massachusetts (and thus USA) and Motosacoche was a Swiss motorcycle brand. Time for some research.

About the stamps

Matt Warburton from Emdoubleyu Design in Vancouver chose for the CCM and the Indian for the 2 first motorcycle stamps in the series of 21, both on their own stamp in both riders perspective and sideview. To draw the motorcycles, he went to the largest private motorcycle collection in Canada, the 'Trev Deeley Motorcycle Heaven' museum of the Harley Davidson dealer Trev Deeley, located in Vancouver.

The stamps carry a Maple Leaf with the letter P from Post in them as value indication, have a value of 63 $ct and are valid for sending a standard letter within Canada.

The stamps are sold in 2 variants: self adhesive punched, in a stamp booklet with 5 pieces of each, and as perforated set in a block of 4 as depicted in Newsletter 104. On the cover of the booklet both motorcycles in riders perspective.

The punched self adhesive stamps in the booklet

Cover of the booklet

The block as announced in Newsletter 104

Also an 'Uncut Press Sheet' is sold of this issue, and as we want to have everything anyhow, we ordered one of those too.

A few weeks later Nico arrived with a big carton tube from overseas. This sheet appeared to be half a sheet of wallpaper, with no less than 12 of these blocks, unperforated and uncut. Here Nico shows the sheet.

In the same style and using the same images there is also a set of pre-paid postal cards, each provided with matching image and stamp.

Also on the Post Canada FDC-envelop both motorcycles are depicted.

But as usual in Commonwealth countries, there is not one 'only official' FDC envelop, but everybody may offer his own design for cancellation.

With the First Day Postmark, derived from a military poster, drawn in 1940 by Eric Aldwinckle, the Post honours the military motorcycle riders and shows 2 soldiers riding on their bikes.

Now the motorcycles

For stamp number 1 the first motorcycle built in Canada had been chosen: a model composed in 1908 by bicycle manufacturer 'the Canada Cycle and Motor Company' from a Swiss 214 cc side valve engine in a bicycle frame. The brand of the Swiss engine is Motosacoche.... therefore the name.

The Toronto Junction based company CCM was in business with clip-on engines on their bicycles until the 1950-ies, and the famous bicycle type 'Motorbike' is a CCM invention. CCM grew to a manufacturer with settlements in Montreal, Weston, Winnipeg and Vancouver, and in the 30-ies even an establishment in Birmingham, England, were the bicycles were sold under the name Hercules.

As said before the CCM on the stamp is displayed in the private museum of Trev Deeley in Vancouver:

CCM motorfiets in het museum van Trev Deeley

The Indian on the stamp is in fact not yet an Indian, as Indian was named Indian just in 1928. No, until 1928 the brand was named Hendee Mfg. Co. and owned by the former bicycle racer George Hendee and engineer Carl Oscar Hedstrom. On the track the so-called pace-makers were still used to keep the racers out of the wind and give them a constant speed. Hendee thought the pace-makers were unreliable, and started on his own to build motorcycles for use in the bicycle sport.

Such a 'pace-maker' could easily be compared to a tracker who was going ahead of the troops, a scout, and was by means of joke called Indian. Thus the motorcycle from 1914 depicted on the stamp should in fact be called 'Hendee'. What's in a name??
The Hendee factories were located in Springfield USA, but already in 1912 Hendee started a Canadian factory at Mercer Street in Toronto. There the worlds first motorcycle with electrical starter, the Push-Button-Pioneer, equipped with electric head and tail light, as depicted on stamp number 2, was made. This factory has built motorcycles until 1916.

Hendee Special met elektrische starter in het museum van Trev Deeley

And this shows again that we can learn a lot from a single motorcycle stamp.

Hans de Kloet


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