Mysterious Bicycle Stamp
What is it?
How many varieties are there?


(Click on any image for hi-res version)

If all you want to see is the catalog, it starts about half-way down the page - scroll down past the text.

If you just want the answer (What are these stamps?):
In my opinion, based on the exchanges below, these stamps are from India, and were used by a bicycle messenger service there.

If you want to know what collectors think about the origin and use of these stamps, keep reading.

July, 2005 - About fifteen years ago I acquired a collection of Cinderella stamps through a philatelic auction. It was advertised as an "old-time collection of poster stamps and other Cinderellas", and comprised mostly early 20th century German material, plus assorted U.S., British, and miscellaneous other items, including the item shown above, which had a label stating "Chinese (private) bicycle post - $100". I set the bicycle stamp aside, as I have a friend who had asked me to keep an eye out for stamps with bicycles, for a friend of hers who is an ardent bicycle rider. She declined the item, as the purported value was more than she could afford.

About a year ago I stumbled on this web page: http://www.raster.it/stefano/a/stamps/cinderella91-100.htm. There at the top was a stamp resembling mine, though no additional information about it. The consensus of the contributors was that its origin had never been determined. The image rang a bell, though, and I started looking through my philatelic library. Eventually I found a series of items in issues 26 though 30 (published 1987- 1990) of "ATALAYA," a bi-annual magazine (in English) devoted to Cinderellas, published by Christer Brunström of Sweden. I subscribed for a short period in the late 1990's, and ordered all the back issues he had at that time. Mr. Brunström's readers had contributed information revealing that their were four "denominations" of the stamp - 4, 5, 6, and 7 - in red, green, and blue, and that the "6" occurred both with and without the large numeral in the top right corner. Most significant, however, was the information from a collector in England (a member of the Bicycle Stamp Club), who said that he owned the remains of a box which had contained a pair of rubber bicycle pedals, with a dark green example of the bicycle stamp stuck to the cover. The collector dated his find in the 1938-1950 era, and believed the origin to be India, as Indian companies produced bicycle products for the British market at that time.

I emailed the collectors named on the "weird stamps" page, one of whom sent me the e-dress of Norman Batho, who had originated the inquiries in ATALAYA(!) None of them had learned anything new, but Mr. Batho sent me high-res scans of all the stamps he owned. The "weird stamps" site is no longer active, so I decided to create this web page, in hopes it will generate further information.

Based on all the above, then, the current theory is that these stamps were used by an Indian manufacturer of bicycle pedals, as size labels on its boxes. That seems plausible, but with only the one box to go on, it is not conclusive.

The table below lists all the known "denominations," colors, and types of the stamps. The color images were contributed by Mr. Batho, while the B&W ones are reproduced (with permission) from ATALAYA. If any viewer can supply scans of designs or colors not shown here, or further information concerning the origin and use of these stamps, please email the author of this page:

March 24, 2011

On March 15, 2011, I saw an eBay auction for the TYPE 1 small "6" stamp described thus:

OLD ASIA*LOCAL KHYBER PASS-HINDUKUSH BICYCLE EXPRESS
Light used with faint ink residue.

I wrote and asked the seller (ozphila) what he knew about the stamp.

He replied as follows:

Sold similar few years for about $15.00 USD. Purchased by India Ebay customer and he mentioned that up north in Afghanistan/Pakistan/India they had lots of bicycle deliveries by local runner and also lot of buses parcel posts ... this was listed in the stamps international magazines in the late 60s in U.K. Cheers OZ.

So for what it's worth, I am adding that here. The item sold for AU $69.90 (US $70.63)!

BTW, on 2/22/2011 a copy of the red large "6" stamp sold on eBay for the opening bid of $7 - it was described simply "BYCYCLE POST" [sic].

December 10, 2014

Aranya Dutta Choudhury alerted me to an item on eBay, described
INDIA-1890-LOCAL CYCLE COURIER INDUS RIVER AREA TO AMU DARYA VALLEY -1MNH STAMP
That's pretty specific!

But Aranya added "I have not found this reference in any old gazette of India."

It has a "denomination" of 15 - a new find!
I have added it to the catalog below. (It sold for $23.50)
I have emailed the seller ("avrolle" of Rhône-Alpes, France) and hope he/she can provide more info. Stay tuned.

February 4, 2016

"Arnoldt", a bicycle stamp collector from Germany, alerted me to several items on eBay, described
Bicycle Tax or Inspection stamp Japan?
all from seller alphaomegaphilately - they have been added below. I have emailed the seller to see if they can add anything.

February 10, 2016

"Bindu" from eBay seller alphaomegaphilately replied to my inquiry as follows:

The stamps came to me in a lot from the estate of Jim Czyl, a famous cinderella collector. It was a lot of 100 bulging binders with stock pages.There were no notes. Some of the binders contained a single country or entity. Some had several countries in a binder arranged alphabetically. Jim Cyzl was quite knowledgeable & was considered an expert on cinderellas of all types. He put these in the J file & not in the India file. I presumed they were from Japan as I have seen similar inspection labels of Japan before for other products. I still have that stock page. It contained some similar looking non bicycle stamps also. I'll send you a scan of the page. The other labels might have a clue as to their origin.

Below is the scan - note the stamps at top, which definitely look related, but no bicycle, and no numerals. The last stamp, "Uganda", is clearly unrelated.


Click for enlarged version.

February 15, 2016

Bicycle stamp collector Arnoldt sent me the following comment by another eBay seller "drjoeo" who was offering an example of the "red large 6" -

There is much debate about the origin and value of the stamp. The dealer I purchased the stamp from for $20 said that it was used in India and he was led to believe it had to do w/ licensing the cycle. The stamp has a watermark or cancelled paper depression which resembles the cancel on the 7 value in the Alphabetilately site. Take care, Dr Joe

LATER the same day - I just came across an old deck of "bicycle" playing cards, and noted an interesting similarity of the design on their backs to these stamps.
Coincidence? Just my imagination? Three variations below - You be the judge.


Click for enlarged version.

3/6/2016 - Arnoldt (aka Bike Max) sent these images from "the 5th issue (autumn 1988) of "Bicycle stamps" - the club magazine of the Bicycle Stamps Club."

     

--- Thanks, Arnoldt.

3/22/16 - On 3/16/16 I received the following message from collector Kimmo Kuikanmäki:

The "cancel" of "7" appears to have two Hindi characters (many other Indian languages use similar characters and may be used here instead of Hindi). If they are, then they are on the bottom half of the cancel and the Latin characters would read NII. Someone who can read Hindi may be able to tell what they stand for. It is likely to mean the same as NII. This cancel seems to support the Indian subcontinent connection.
(Scroll down almost to the bottom of the page to see the "cancel" - on the left side.)

I emailed eBay seller "Bindu," who replied:

They are stylized hindi but not in any of the styles Hindi was written. It reads L Ki. The style looks more Tibetian than anything else but that is a subjective interpretation.

I emailed a couple of other people I thought might know, but no replies from them as yet. Anyone else?

========================

2/27/2017 - NEW FIND - "1" large numeral! New first entry in table, courtesy of eBay seller alphaomegaphilately.

 

Description Colors Size (of design area) Image(s)
(All are to same scale)
"1" large numeral Red 45x32 mm
"4" large numeral Red 41x29 mm
"5" large numeral

2 types - note "5's", handle-bars, position of background pattern

Red, Blue 23.5x19 mm TYPE 1

TYPE 2

"6" small numeral

2 types - note "6's", floral pattern beneath bicycle

Red, Green 23.5x19 mm TYPE 1

TYPE 2

"6" large numeral Red, Blue 23.5x19 mm

Nice multiple! NEW FIND - 2/4/16 - eBay seller alphaomegaphilately - Thanks!

"7" large numeral

2 types - note "7's"



Tracing of cancel on second stamp
Red, Blue 41x29 mm TYPE 1

TYPE 2

"12"

NEW FIND - 2/4/16 - eBay seller alphaomegaphilately - Thanks!

(Sold for $30 - 1/11/16)

Red 51x20 mm

"15" large numeral

From an eBay auction, 12/9/2014

Red unknown

No denomination

NEW FIND - 2/4/16 - eBay seller alphaomegaphilately - Thanks!

(Sold for $20 - 1/11/16)

Blue 43.5x32 mm


NOTES (from ATALAYA)

One collector has a gummed block of 6 (3x2) of "6" with small numeral, red, with straight edge at left.

Another collector says that the "7's" have a multiple watermark of the stamp's central design.

Note "cancel" on "7", type 2, Stamp is red, with blue cancel. The letters at the bottom of the cancel appear to read either "N I I" or "I I N".

If any viewer can supply scans of designs or colors not shown above, or further information concerning the origin and use of these stamps, please email the author of this page:


ATALAYA is an international magazine devoted to Cinderellas, "dead" country stamps and other philatelic oddities. It is published twice a year by Christer Brunström in co-operation with the Halmstad Philatelic Society in Sweden.

For a sample copy of Atalaya write to:

Christer Brunström, Kungsgatan 23, 302 45 Halmstad, Sweden
and enclose US$3 in cash, or three IRCs

To contact the publisher via e-mail: ChristerBrunstrom@utb.halmstad.se


Collectors of bicycles on stamps should consider joining the Bicycle Stamp Club, which has a web site at http://members.tripod.com/~bicyclestamps/, and publishes an excellent quarterly magazine named Bicycle Stamps.


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Created -- 07/27/2005
Revised -- 02/27/2017