Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

British Motorcycles - 19 July 2005

The theme of Transport continues with British Motorcycles, following buses in 2001, jet airliners in 2002, toys in 2003, and steam locomotives and ocean liners in 2004.

For most of the 20th century Britain was a world leader in motorcylce development and manufacture. Royal Mail's celebration of the UK motorcycle industry is illustrated with a wide range of manufacturers, and the machine on each stamp represents a major leap forward in design at the time.

Norton F1 1991
BSA Rocket 3, 1969
Vincent Black Shadow 1949

1st class (30p) - Norton F1 1991, road version of race winner

40p - BSA Rocket 3 (1969), only 3 cylinder 'superbike'

42p - Vincent Black Shadow 1949, fastest standard motorcycle
Triumph Speed Twin 1937
Brough Superior 1930
Royal Enfield 1914

47p - Triumph Speed Twin 1937, two cylinder innovation

60p - Brough Superior 1930, bespoke luxury motorcycle

68p - Royal Enfield 1914, small engined motor bicycle

Background on the machines (from Royal Mail)

British Motorcycles stamps official post office first day cover

1st Class : Norton F1. 1991. Engine capacity: 588cc. Power output: 95bhp. Top speed: 145mph
After a decade in the doldrums, the revered Norton marque made a dramatic comeback in the 1980s with unorthodox road and track motorcycles. Powered by piston-less Wankel rotary engines, their storming power delivery was silky smooth. Based on Norton's successful rotary racer, the F1 of 1990-1992 had a liquid-cooled engine in an aluminium frame and sported the latest suspension and braking technology. Scorching acceleration and 145mph capability made the F1 a demanding, but very exhilarating, motorcycle to ride. Fewer than 150 were made before the tiny Norton factory ceased production.

40p : BSA Rocket 3. 1969. Engine capacity: 750cc. Power output: 58bhp. Top speed: 145mph
BSA's Rocket 3 was one of the original superbikes, offering mighty 120mph+ performance along with superb roadholding and a high level of comfort. Its growling three-cylinder engine was designed to sustain high speeds without the vibration that plagued large capacity British twins. When the BSA Group launched the Rocket 3 late in 1968 (press preview and some US sales, not launched on UK market until following year) alongside the basically similar Triumph Trident, there were high hopes for American sales success. But the machines' unusual styling was not widely appreciated and the British triples struggled to compete against sophisticated and lower-priced new machinery from Japan. In 1973 the last BSA motorcycle rolled off the production line after the company merged with Norton-Villiers.

42p : Vincent Black Shadow. 1949. Engine capacity: 1000cc. Power output: 55bhp. Top speed: 125mph
An unrivalled top speed of 125mph and exceptional character made the highly priced Vincent Black Shadow a motorcycling legend of the 1950s. The hand-built Vincent Black Shadows V-twin engine lazily churned out tireless power, but whilst it readily ate up the miles on the open road, the Vincent was also manageable in town. Lavish use of light alloys helped to keep the machine's weight to a minimum, as did the radical 'frame-less' chassis design, that used the combined engine and gearbox unit for structural strength. Vincent's cantilevered rear suspension layout was widely adopted by other manufacturers in the 1980s. Motorcycle production at Vincent's factory in Stevenage ended in 1955.

47p Triumph Speed Twin. 1937. Engine capacity: 500cc. Power output: 27bhp. Top speed: 92mph.
Triumph's Speed Twin launched for 1938 changed the face of motorcycling. Its smooth and powerful parallel twin cylinder engine was such a revelation that when postwar production resumed, every major British marque offered a 500cc twin designed on similar lines. Designed by the brilliant Edward Turner, the stylish and compact Speed Twin could top 90mph, but being simple to manufacture, it was keenly priced. Swift 650cc twins derived from the 500cc original would make Triumph a world famous and profitable marque in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1951 Triumph was bought by BSA and manufacture of Triumph motorcycles continued when BSA merged with Norton-Villiers.

60p Brough Superior 1930. Engine capacity: 1000cc. Power output: 45bhp. Top speed: 110mph.
Claimed by company proprietor George Brough to be the 'Rolls Royce of Motorcycles', the Brough Superior was truly in a class of its own. Brough's most famous product, the handsome SS100, was sold with a 100mph guarantee and renowned for superb roadholding. A lusty one-litre V-twin engine made by JAP powered the SS100 via a Sturmey Archer three-speed gearbox with hand change. This Alpine Grand Sport version has Bentley & Draper rear springing. Brough's most famous customer was Thomas Edward Lawrence, otherwise known as 'Lawrence of Arabia', who owned six SS100s. During World War II motorcycle production at Brough ended in favour of aircraft components.

68p Royal Enfield 1914. Engine capacity: 425cc. Power output: 14bhp. Top speed: 50mph
Royal Enfield got into its stride as a motorcycle maker in 1910 and soon became known for solid, dependable products. One was this lively Model 140 middleweight with an unusually sized 425cc V-twin engine. Its advanced features included automatic lubrication, and all-chain transmission at a time when hide belts were still widely used to drive the rear wheel. An ingenious twospeed mechanism was operated by a 'coffee grinder' handle alongside the petrol tank. Royal Enfield went on to make larger V-twins and a series of rugged single cylinder machines. Production at the Redditch factory ceased in 1970, although the Royal Enfield marque lives on with motorcycles manufactured in India.

Technical details:
Designed by Atelier Works from illustrations by Michael English. Printed in litho by Walsall Security Printers.
All images are Copyright 2005 by Royal Mail.

Norvic Exclusive First Day Cover

The limited edition Norvic First Day Covers will show a vintage Velocette motorcycle: the company was started in 1905 but Royal Mail overlooked this important centenary! With set of 6 stamps, one cover with postmark M9667 Silverstone ALL SOLD, the other with L9650 Snetterton, Norfolk - Price 8.95.

Norvic Philatelics Velocette fdc for British motorcycles stamps
Norvic Philatelics Velocette fdc for British motorcycles stamps

Also available:
Post Office FDC with a full set and any postmark in stock
Set of stamps unused or VFU
Set of postcards reproducing the stamps (PHQ cards)

Special postmarks available on the Day of Issue are shown here:

Speedometer motorcycle wheel text motorcycle motorcycle
Ref FD517
Official Bureau postmark (speedometer)
Ref FD518
Official Solihull postmark (spoked wheel)(location of National Motorcycle Museum)
Ref FD518N
Official Solihull non-pictorial postmark
Ref L9650
British Motorcycles, Snetterton, Norwich
Ref M9667
Silverstone, Towcester, Northants.
motorcycle motorcycle motorcycle motorcycle motorcycle
Ref L9660
BSA, Speedwell House, Southampton
Ref L9659
Road Racing Legend AJS, Goodworth, Clatford, Andover
Ref L9658
The Rolls Royce of British Motorcycles, Brough Superior, Tonbridge, Kent
Ref L9655
Ace Corner, London NW9
Ref L9653
Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, New Milton, Hants
Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle BSA Rocket motorcycle Triumph Speed Twin motorcycle Brough Superior Motorcycle Royal Enfield motorcycle
Ref L9656
Stevenage - Vincent Black Shadow
Ref M9661
Birmingham - BSA Rocket
Ref M9662
Coventry - Triumph Speed Twin
Ref M9663
Nottingham - Brough Superior
Ref M9664
Redditch - Royal Enfield
Norton F1 motorcycle motorcycle Norton' motorcycle Harley-Davidson motorcycle Classic Bike logo
Ref M9665
Wolverhampton - Norton F1
Ref M9666
Sheen Road, Birmingham
Ref M9668
The Norton & The Sun Inn, Birmingham
Ref M9669 Silverstone Harley-Davidson, Towcester, Northampton Ref M9671
Classic Bike Silverstone, Towcester, Northampton
motorcycle motorcycle AA badge - automobile association Triumph logo Beaulieu museum logo
Ref L9657
Bletchley Park Post Office Urgent Despatch
Ref L9649
Biko Close, Uxbridge, Middlesex
Ref L9648
Automobile Association 1905-2005, Fanum House, Basingstoke
Ref L9647
TMC Southfield Road, London W4 (Triumph logo)
Ref L9646
The best day out in England, Beauliey Hants (motor museum)
motorcycle and chequered flags motorcycle and side-car text text
Ref L9654
Ace Corner, London NW10
Ref M9670
British Motorcycles, Birmingham
Ref L9674
Verralls, Veteran & Vintage Motorcycles Handcross Haywards Heath
Ref M9681
Royal Enfield Development Pioneers, Blockeley, Moreton in Marsh

This page updated 9 August 2005

2005 stamp issues
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Farm Animals
British Journey - South West England
24 Jane Eyre & Brontes prestige book
Magic Circle Centenary
22 Wilding Castles Miniature Sheet
New definitives
8 Royal Wedding
21 World Heritage Sites
26 Definitive reprints provisional date
Definitive reprints provisional date
Trooping the Colour
Smilers sheet - Flag stamp, White Ensign
21 Definitive reprints provisional date
End of World War II
19 British Motorcycles
London 2012 Olympics
Europa - Gastronomy
Independent Television 50th Anniversary
Small greetings definitives & Smilers
18 Battle of Trafalgar
Christmas Robins Smilers Sheet