1981-84 17¢ Electric Auto Precancel
Issue Date: June 25, 1983
City: Greenfield Village, MI
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Engraved
Perforations: 10 vertically
A popular model from 1890 to 1910, the electric auto was quiet, clean, and easy to operate. At top speed, it could travel about 20 miles per hour and had to have its batteries changed or re-charged every 50 miles. Its popularity faded, however, when the gasoline-powered car proved to be superior. Not only could one drive it faster and for longer, but it was also less expensive to operate.
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.