MEMORABILIA: Post Office To Honor Pickup Trucks with Forever Stamps

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4 stamps in one

One thing the United States Postal Service continues to do well is issue commemorative stamps. Case in point would be the upcoming “Pickup Trucks Forever Stamps” that are debuting next month.

They celebrate the:

  • 1938 International Harvester D-2
  • 1948 Ford F-1
  • 1953 Chevrolet
  • 1965 Ford F-100

A little grammatical clarity before proceeding, the post office isn’t proclaiming this series, “Pickup Trucks Forever” stamps, as appealing as that sounds. Instead, it’s “Pickup Trucks” forever stamps, those little pieces of postage that guarantee you can mail a letter in perpetuity at the same price [or not] or until Congress finally bankrupts the postal service.

It’s tough to quibble with the four pickups selected. They’re a nice representation of iconic trucks from the 1930s to 1960s. Artist Chris Lyons of Pittsford, NY, used Adobe Illustrator to create the renderings of the pickup trucks. Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, designed the stamps.

Here is a little history lesson of pickups, courtesy of USPS, which itself mostly uses the Grumman LLV, or long-life vehicle, for its deliveries. The Grumman LLV appears to be fading from existence. The postal service wants a new mail truck. Maybe we’ll be seeing a Grumman LLV stamp in the near future.

USPS Pickup History Lesson

The following is from an announcement of the new pickup stamps: The origin of pickup trucks can be traced back to the early 20th century, when automobiles first became popular in the United States. They made personally hauling cargo, which once was the job of horse-drawn wagons, easier than ever. By the early 1900s, several manufacturers first began producing light-duty trucks in limited numbers.

International Harvester supplied and maintained trucks on stateside military bases during World War I. In 1917, Ford released the Model TT, which had a one-ton chassis. For 1918, Chevrolet introduced the Model 490 truck. But because drivers had to purchase their own cargo beds and bodies, these vehicles weren’t considered true pickup trucks.

The first fully factory assembled pickup truck didn’t arrive until the middle of the next decade, when the 1925 Ford Model T Runabout with Pick-Up Body made its debut. A fortified version of Ford’s landmark Model T, it had a base price of $281, featured a steel bed, and was powered by a modest 20-horsepower engine. Ford sold nearly 34,000 Model T pickups, helping kick start the popularity of pickup trucks.

Automaker Studebaker used the word “pickup” in an advertisement in 1913, but the exact root of the term “pickup” is unclear. By the Great Depression, it had become part of the American lexicon. U.S. Federal Regulations currently classify the pickup truck as “a non-passenger automobile which has a passenger compartment and an open cargo area (bed).”

Here is some additional information on the pickups being honored.


1938 International Harvester D-2

As mentioned above, International Harvester was involved in providing trucks during World War I. In 1938, as the Great Depression was winding down, it came out with the International Harvester D-2, a pickup with design inspired by luxury cars like the Packard and the Cord. It made stunning use of stainless steel upfront and had a barrel-shaped grille.

Ford F1 pickup

1948 Ford F-1

This truck would have to be included on any list of iconic pickups hands down. It was the first new pickup after World War II and it launched the Ford F-series. By most accounts, 33 million of them have been sold since then. That makes it the second biggest selling vehicle globally behind only the Volkswagen Beetle.

OK, not to sound all Larry the Cable Guy (remember him?) but give me an F-1 over a Beetle any day.

Just to show how things have come full circle, the F-1 also had the distinction of being built on a truck chassis. Prior to World War II, Ford pickups had been built on car chasses.

1953 Chevrolet

1953 Chevrolet

By some accounts, this pickup was actually introduced as part of Chevrolet’s new advance design in 1947. It went through small-scale design evolutions through 1954. What made this truck stand out, probably, besides its cool exterior design, was its interior space. Chevrolet consulted with business buyers who told them the passenger cabs were too compact. So, Chevy listened and added eight inches of length and seven inches of width.

There were a host of other improvements. Probably the biggest comfort factor was the addition of a fresh-air heater/defroster system. That made the winter months more comfortable without a doubt.

65 Ford F100

1965 Ford F-100

The USPS didn’t make a mistake in picking the 1965 Ford F-100. It’s a good looking truck, but why not the 1965 Dodge D-series pickup for balance? Some might find it more attractive.

But we’ll have to stick with the Ford F-100 instead. What sets it apart, at least from the post office’s perspective, is the facelift it got with a new grille that featured 18 small rectangular openings.

There were also some mechanical improvements, too, including “Twin-I-Beam” independent front suspension, which improved the quality of the ride, and a powerful six- or eight-cylinder engine.

Here’s a little tidbit you might not know from the Department of When Is a Door Not a Door Government Regulations. To quote the postal service [emphasis ours], the U.S. Federal Regulations currently classify the pickup truck as “a non-passenger automobile which has a passenger compartment and an open cargo area (bed).” What automobile in existence has no passenger compartment?

Going to be in Syracuse, NY on July 15? You can be there for the actual debut of the stamps at 1 p.m. at the Syracuse Nationals, itself a pretty cool sounding event with more than 8000 vehicles on display. It’s billed as the largest show in the Northeast and it takes place at the New York State Fairgrounds. Look for the stamps debut in the Horticultural Center, because what’s more natural than pickups and horticulture?


Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin is an automotive columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal and, as well as a reviewer for the Boston Globe, and - most importantly - dad to two great girls.