21¢ Railroad Mail Car
Transportation Series Coil
Issue Date: August 16, 1988
City: Santa Fe, NM
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Engraved
Perforations: 10 vertically
Color: Olive green
This stamp paid tribute to the vehicle that made the rapid growth of the postal service possible - the Railway Mail Car. By combining fast transportation with in-transit mail processing, the Postal Department was able to speed up its distribution of mail.
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 quanity-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.