Friday, December 28, 2018

If you must know: the Royal Enfield on the stamp was a 1955

Royal Enfield motorcycle on postage stamp.
The motorcycle on the stamp is a Royal Enfield of 1955, not 1954
I've never been to the island nation of Malta and I don't collect stamps. But I couldn't resist noting that a Royal Enfield motorcycle, in some ways similar to my own 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet, appeared on a 2007 commemorative stamp issued by the Malta post office.

I just thought it was attractive, that's all. Researching the stamp, I found that the artist who designed the stamp had worked from photos of the actual motorcycle. (Unfortunately, I never succeeded in reaching the owner of the machine pictured.)

The stamp showed a Royal Enfield in the red color of the Malta post office, and the year "1954." When the stamp was issued in 2007, newspaper coverage implied (but did not actually state) that the motorcycle on the stamp was a Royal Enfield Bullet.

I assumed that was the case, but more expert eyes said no. The motorcycle on the stamp was not a Bullet but a Model G Deluxe, something I'd never heard of before, and undoubtedly rare. The key difference is that the ordinary Model G would have had a rigid frame (no rear suspension) while the Deluxe would have the ground breaking swing arm rear suspension familiar to Bullet owners.

Online resources I consulted agreed that the motorcycle on the stamp looked like a Model G Deluxe; but that would make it a 1955 or later motorcycle, not a 1954. The Model G existed earlier, but the "Deluxe" only came along in 1955.

Maybe the year printed on the stamp was wrong, I guessed.

Unasked, Graham Scarth, chairman of the Royal Enfield Owners Club in the UK, generously came up with the definite answer. The club has the records compiled by Royal Enfield back when it made motorcycles in Redditch, Britain.

His email to me indicated that the year 1954, printed on the 2007 commemorative stamp, is off by a year.

"Whoever designed the stamp for the Malta post office definitely got the year wrong," Graham wrote.

"Three Model G (rigid frame) were sent to Malta in 1947 and another one in 1949.

"Six Model G Deluxe with consecutive frame numbers were sent to Malta in July, 1955 and were presumably all destined for Post Office use.

"These are the only Redditch 350s sent to Malta."

The difference of a year may seem insignificant and could easily be due to, for instance, budgetary record keeping at the post office. But it is always nice to know the definitive answer.

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