Motorcycles on stamps

(From the "Motor en Scooter Kampioen" magazine of the Dutch Cyclists Association (ANWB) of November 1960)


Do you now and then take a good look at the stamps on your mail? You can find anything on them! Off course monarchs and presidents of very many countries are depicted on stamps. But also flowers and animals. There are stamps with journalists and churches; van Gogh, Lenin and the Wright brothers can be found on stamps, but also Rembrandt and Lord Byron. Stamps are an advertisement for certain facts, and must keep the remembrance to certain events alive.
Perhaps you have also seen a stamp with a plane or an automobile. Much more difficult is it for us, motorcycle philatelists, to find something in our area of interest, thus to discover stamps with motorcyclists and motorcycles. We have come to the conclusion that a very long trip is necessary to find the first stamp with a motorcycle.

The first country to issue such a stamp was Mexico. There express stamps, stamps to be used for letters that are delivered per express, were issued in 1919. In that year it was beautifully shown on a stamp of 1.20 how the express mailman of the Post distributes the letters quick as lighting on his motor with sidecar. Later, in 1924, the same stamp was issued with a value of 2.20; in 1940 an imprint "1940" was put on it.

Mexico - 1st express stamp, 1919

Mexico - 2nd express stamp, 1950

In the end this South American state in 1950 again came with a speeding motor mailman on the lowest valued stamp in a completely new, very modern designed series of 4 express stamps.

When it is about motorcyclists on stamps, we must name the United States together with Mexico. Express stamps were already issued there in 1885. On the express stamps of 1922 we see a real motorcycle. If you want to have the series complete: in the period 1922-1944, 5 stamps have been issued with the same image, in different colours and values. 

USA - Express stamp 1944

Dominican Rep. - Express stamp 1927

The Dominican Republic, which choose for a plane on the 1920 express stamps, already in 1921 switched over to the motorcyclist. In 1927 and 1941 this issue was followed by comparable stamps.

On its first 2 express stamps Egypt let a mailman-with-fez cross the desert on his motorcycle. In 1943/1944 and 1952 new values and an imprint came out there which makes that now on all 5 Egyptian express stamps motorcycles can be found.

Egypt - Express stamp 1928

Russia - Express stamp, 1932

Russia issued 3 nice express stamps in 1932.

If we open the album of Bulgaria, we find in 1939 again express stamps where bicycle, motorcycle and automobile are used as symbols for fast mail delivery.

Bulgary - Express stamp 1939

Bulgary - Express stamp 1941

Further, the stamps from 1941/1942 again show a motorcycle, next to train and truck.

Then we come to Spain, where a welfare stamp was issued in 1940 on the occasion of the 1900th anniversary of the apparition of the "Vierge del Pilar". On the express stamp we see a relay motorcyclist, with at the background a church.

Spane - Express stamp on the occ. of rebuilding the church, 1940

Roemenia - Express stamp 1944 (from block)

Romania also issued a series of welfare stamps with on the lower values a motor with sidecar driver. In 1944 (200th anniversary of the renewed post) this series, including our motorcyclist, was issued with imprints and in blocks.

After the war, Ethiopia was the first country that again choose for a motorcyclist for express deliveries. You can see him doing his job on stamps from 1947 and 1954.

Ethiopia - Express stamp, 1947

Guatemala - Express stamp 1948

In South America Guatemala continued in 1949 and 1953 the tradition to depict motorcycles on stamps.

In 1958 France showed how the mail is delivered on the countryside. A small car from a well-known make brings the mail to a road crossing. From there, mailmen on motorcycles and bikes take over the job on the smaller roads.
In Algeria the same stamp was issued with the imprint "Algérie".

France - Issue for the day of the stamp, 1958

East Germany - Issue for the day of the stamp, 1959

Also East Germany issues stamps with motorcycles. In 1959 an old-fashioned post-horseman was put on the 10 pfennig stamp, and on the 20 pfennig stamp a neatly upright sitting motorcyclist on a very light motorcycle.

We shortly travel to Formosa (note: now Taiwan), where in 1960 a stamp was issued with a motorcyclist delivering the mail, on the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the mail service.

Formosa - Express stamp, 1960

Russia - issue with military sports, 1959

After all this post-business, lets go to to the utilitarian and the sporting motorcycle. Here Russia must be mentioned first. In 1938 a series of sports stamps was issued with, amongst others, soccer, tennis, skiing and also motorcycle sports. Next in 1948 again a motorcyclist was depicted at a stamp, on the occasion of a sports happening that year. Finally, as far as it concerns Russia, we can point at a fast motorcyclist on a diamond-shaped stamp from 1959.

In Yugoslavia there was an other reason to put a motorcyclist on a stamp. In 1939 special welfare stamps were issued on the occasion of an automobile exhibition in Beograd; on 2 of them is a motorcycle. In 1951 the 10th anniversary of the revolution was commemorated, and for this some man with flags on a motorcycle with sidecar were depicted.

Joegoslavia -10th anniversary of the revolution, 1951

San Marino - 1954

Bulgaria (1949), San Marino (1954), Rumania (1959) and Czechoslovakia (1953) also choose for motorcycle sports in their respective sport series.

The last country thought the International Six Days that were held there in 1995 to be so important, that a motorcycle driver and the trophy were put on a stamp.

Czechoslovakia - issue for the intern. 6 days, 1955

Poland - issue for the Tatra rally, 1955

Poland issued 2 stamps on the occasion of a ralley in the High Tatra in 1955.

With stamps, you must never think that you know them all. New ones constantly appear, and of the large number of already issued stamps, one will have been forgotten now and then.
Finally we must in fact go to Japan, because we can find a tiny motorcycle driver there! In 1958 a tunnel has been opened between the islands Honshu and Kiosiou; on the stamp issued for this occasion we see a truck, a private car, walkers, bicyclists and a motorcyclist rush through the tunnel! It is indeed a small motorcyclist, but this one also belongs to our collection of motorcycles on stamps.

(Written by Dr. J. M. FUCHS, English translation by Paul Essens)
With special gratitude to our club member H.J. Janse for the supply of this article.


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