Engine Stamp Idea Backed by Readers

article image
1912-1913 issue.

The proposal of a steam traction engine stamp, which would be
issued as a commemorative by the U.S. Postal Service, has drawn
enthusiastic support from readers of this magazine.

Charles O. Harthy, of Grand Haven, MI, stated it very aptly in
his letter:

‘We have honored the chicken, almost every service
organization, and animals; therefore, the machine that began the
evolution of labor-saving for agriculture is an appropriate subject
for a stamp.’

Harthy is a longtime collector of commemoratives. He offers to
help the effort.

Iron-Men Album suggested that a stamp be sought, since many
types of engines and machines have been shown on U.S. postage, and
so little attention has been paid to the steam traction engine.

If you like the idea, tell your Congressman. Make a copy of this
article and send it to him or her. Meanwhile we will forward the
article with a cover letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory
Committee in Washington. No decision can be expected in less than
two years.

The steam traction engine is a key element in American farm
history. It enabled farmers to multiply the energy of their labors
as a new source of power for the growing nation. President Abraham
Lincoln saw the value of the engine. Billions of tons of crops were
prepared for market through its use. The crews who used it the
operators, the takeoff boys, the harvesters and the threshermen
became heroes of progress.

Support for an engine stamp has come from various sectors.

Capt. John Leonard, of 195 Dalhousie Ave., St. Catherines,
Ontario, Canada, sent along a copy of a card on which Canada postal
officials featured steam locomotives. He thinks Canada may also
have shown a return-flue steam engine in a threshing scene in
western Canada about 70 years ago, but does not have definite

David R. Bowie, of Mercer, PA, suggests that a stamp could show
a Case or a Huber. Michael L. Barber, of Mt. Pleasant, MI, is for a
Case or a Nichols & Shepard. However, opinions certainly do
vary. Gerald W. Yoder, of Hicksville, Ohio, urges, ‘please
don’t make it a Case… We have plenty of good engines to
choose from.’

Among others favoring a stamp were Mr. and Mrs. Vern Keszler, of
Clearfield, SD, and T. H. DeWees, (winter Yuma, AZ; summer Cedar
Rapids, IA).

Thomas C. Wilfred, of Palisades, NY, said he thought the
proposal for a steam traction engine stamp was a great idea, but
also added other suggestions. We quote most of his letter in

‘To my knowledge, the steam traction engine appeared only
once on a United States stamp. That was the 75 cent Parcel Post
issue of 1912-1913, which depicted a threshing scene (see

‘The ideal format for a steam traction engine would be a
first class commemorative-size stamp. This would be the best way to
show the engine, and ensure the widest distribution.

‘If Postal Service officials do not consider the steam
traction engine historically important enough to occupy a whole
sheet of stamps, they should consider a sheet devoted to steam
power, which was very important in this country until World War

‘Steam engines could be featured on a four subject Historic
Preservation sheet like one issued in 1971. The four subjects could
be: a steam traction engine in action (similar to the 75 cent
Parcel Post issue), a stationary steam engine of the Corliss type
(which powered many an industry until relatively recent times), a
typical late model steam locomotive (like a Pacific or Hudson
type), and perhaps a steam shovel and steam roller combined on a
stamp to represent the construction industry.

‘Such a series could also appear as a booklet pane of five
subjects, like the current early locomotive set. The fifth stamp of
a booklet pane could represent the lumber industry with a Shay
geared locomotive in action.

‘To me, the least acceptable format for displaying the steam
traction engine is the small vertical stamp of the current
Transportation series, like the 2 cent locomotive stamp. It would
not display the traction engine very well at the angle required to
fit the stamp. Also, it may be relegated to an odd-value stamp like
the 4.9 cent buggy, the 8.3 cent ambulance, or the 17.5 cent race
car, which are seldom seen on mail, and are sold only in coils of
100 or 3,000 stamps.

‘I think that much more support can be mustered for a
multiple subject sheet showing steam used in agriculture,
transportation, manufacturing, and construction, than simply a
steam traction engine.’

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment