American motorists are buying trucks at a record pace, but now, pickups have won the stamp approval from the U.S. Postal Service.
The USPS plans to issue four new Forever stamps honoring four classic trucks later this year. The collection offers a look at the evolution of the pickup from the ‘30s through the 1960s. The collection is meant to honor “the rugged and reliable work vehicles that Americans have driven for nearly a century,” the post office explains.
The new series comes as the latest in a long line of stamps meant to honor automobiles. It’s an idea by no means unique to the United States, either, with postal services from Bulgaria to Benin honoring trucks, sports cars, muscle cars and motorcycles over the decades.
(Pickup sales help put U.S. market on record pace. Click Here for the story.)
No one quite agrees on the origins of the pickup. Studebaker was the first to use the term, but some credit the Galion Allsteel Body Company for converting a Ford Model T back in 1913. Ford followed with is own Model TT and, by the early 1920s, the concept was a mainstay for the Detroit maker and a number of its competitors.
The four new stamps don’t aim to resolve the debate. The USPS decided to pick the story up a few decades later, starting with the 1938 International Harvester D-2, with its distinctive, barrel-shaped grille, fender-mounted headlamps and side-mounted spare tire. Other models in the series include:
- The 1948 Ford F-1, a precursor to today’s best-selling F-150. It features nostril-like upper air intakes, a chromed, five-bar grille and wood rails around the cargo bed;
- The 1953 Chevrolet pickup grew longer and wider, with a split-glass windshield, a wide chrome grille and power bulges on the hood;
- The 1965 Ford F-100 adopted a much more modern shape, with a squared off hood, grille roofline, a single-piece windshield and, Ford’s distinctive Twin-I-Beam independent front suspension.
The pickup stamps will be issued later this year in booklets of 20.
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They’re by no means the first vehicles to be honored by the U.S. Postal Service. One of the earliest official stamps featured a stagecoach. And one of the most famous stamps is known as the “Inverted Jenny,” Issued on May 10, 1918, the 24-cent release was meant to honor the Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” biplane the Postal Service was just beginning to use to deliver air mail. But a handful of the stamps feature the plane flying upside down. To collectors, it now goes for as much as $1 million.
While there are no inverted GTOs or other ultra-rare automotive issues, the USPS has been appealing to collectors for years with a variety of special stamps, such as a collection of five issued in 1988 commemorating classic automobiles including the 1928 Locomobile, 1929 Pierce-Arrow, 1931 Cord, 1932 Packard, and 1935 Duesenberg.
There have been stamps for GTO fans, those who love the Studebaker Hawk, the Cadillac Eldorado and classic Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
A number of foreign postal services have also gotten into the act, including Monaco, Bulgaria and Benin. In 1986, in fact, Gambia issued a series designed to honor the 100th anniversary of the automobile.
Real cars aren’t the only vehicles to be honored, incidentally. In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Forever series honoring such characters as Tow-Mater, one of the four-wheeled stars of Disney’s popular animated film, Cars.
And for those who feel like their own favorite set of wheels has been ignored, the post office now permits customers to print their own stamps. So, if you’re a die-hard Edsel or Pontiac Aztek fan, you can make your own series and share it with the world.
(American car buyers paying record prices – running up record debt. Click Here for the story.)