The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Motorcycles Of yesteryear in forthcoming stamp issue

Malta Independent Monday, 10 September 2007, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

A four-stamp set featuring motorcycle models of yesteryear is being issued by the Philatelic Bureau of Maltapost on Wednesday. The set, designed by Joe P. Smith, is offset printed by Printex Limited of Qormi on Maltese Crosses watermarked paper. The stamps, which will be available in sheets of 10, are 44mm x 31mm in size, with a perforation of 13.9 x 14.1 (comb).

Motorised two-wheeled transport has been a practical and much sought after form of transport in most countries since time immemorial, owing its huge popularity to various factors. Motorcycles are cheaper to run and maintain, easier by far to park, and are fun to drive!

The popularity of this form of transport in Malta is evident from the considerable number of motorcycles on the roads. Besides being much in use here, motorcycles are also rented out in large numbers to visiting tourists, who obviously find them a cheaper and more practical form of transport, given the congested roads. The ideal weather conditions no doubt further contribute to their popularity.

For this exceptional set, four models of motorcycles were chosen from a bygone era, at a time when Britain led the world in their manufacture. The models featured on these stamps are a 1903 Minerva, a Matchless model much in use by Services despatch riders, a Triumph model popular with police forces, and a Royal Enfield motor-cycle much favoured by the GPO.

The Royal Enfield motor-cycle featured on the 1c / EUR0.02 stamp is a single-seater 1954 model which had been used by the General Post Office in Malta. This machine was renowned for its beautifully balanced and very fine 350cc engine, known as the bullet engine. It was first used by the Call Office, as it was then known, in Melita Street, formerly Britannia Street, Valletta. The same model was also used for different duties in Branch Post Offices around Malta and Gozo.

The Matchless featured on the 16c / EUR0.37 stamp is a 1941 G3/L model. Powered with a 341cc overhead valve single cylinder engine, this model was manufactured in large numbers between 1941 and 1945. This particular model was very popular with despatch riders because of its innovative teledraulic front forks and its performance both on and off the road. This model remained in service throughout the war and until the mid-sixties. The machine depicted on this stamp had been painted a sand colour with a crazy-paving pattern designed to resemble Maltese rubble walls. This type of camouflage was only used in Malta.

The 1903 Minerva featured on the 27c/EUR0.63 stamp is reputed to be the oldest motorcycle in Malta, and also the oldest vehicle on the road. This model undoubtedly represents the very beginning of motorcycling as it is known. The concept is actually a strengthened bicycle frame with an engine attached, giving direct drive to the rear wheel via a leather belt.

The Triumph Speed Twin police motorcycle is featured on the 50c/EUR1.16 stamp. Launched in 1965, this particular model was built to be a police motorcycle. Although it is a 6v machine, the Triumph Speed Twin was equipped with a changeover switch, enabling it to change to 12v. With this facility police riders were able to use two-way radios. Although this feature was never used in Malta, this motorcycle was equipped with this facility.

This particular machine on the 50c stamp achieved its moment of fame when it was used in the shooting of the film ‘Eyewitness’, and is one of the motor-cycles that had been driven down the steps of the Upper Barrakka Gardens.

This set will be available in First Day Cover format, mint or cancelled, and as a Souvenir Folder and Presentation Pack. The stamps can be purchased from all Maltapost postal retail outlets in Malta and Gozo, from the Mobile Unit and from the Philatelic Bureau. Additional details regarding this and forthcoming issues are obtainable from the Philatelic Bureau (tel. 2596-1747, e-mail

[email protected], postal address: 305, Triq Hal Qormi, Marsa MTP1001), or from the Maltapost website www.maltapost.com.

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