1982 5.9¢ Bicycle
Issue Date: February 17, 1982
City: Wheeling, WV
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Engraved
Perforations: 10 vertically
The high-wheeler bicycle, also known as the penny-farthing, was introduced in England in 1873. The first all-metal frame bicycle, it featured a front wheel that was almost as tall as a man and had a very small back wheel. Not only did this design make it difficult for the rider to get on, but it was also extremely difficult to master.
The Transportation Series
A ground-breaking stamp was quietly issued on May 18, 1981. For the first time in U.S. history, a coil stamp featured its own unique design rather than simply copying that of the current definitive stamp. Fifty more coil stamps would be issued over the course of the next 15 years, each picturing a different mode of transportation.
The various denominations provided face values to exactly match the rates for several categories of Third Class mail (bulk rate and quantity-discounted mail). As the rates changed, new stamps with new values were added. Never before had a stamp series included so many fractional cent values.
Most of the stamps in the Transportation Series were printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, although a few were printed by private contractors. All but a few of the later stamps were produced by engraved intaglio. Differences in precancels, tagging, paper and gum provide a large number of varieties.