America on the Move: 50s Sporty Cars’ postage stamps and Postal Cards roll out of Detroit
RELEASE DATE: August 20, 2005
In this article we will look at the history of the 1953 Corvette Postage Stamp. The US post office came out with 5 commemorative stamps in 2005: “America on the Move: 50s Sporty Cars.” Corvette historian and author, Noland Adams’ 1953 Corvettes was on one of these stamps.
DETROIT — Millions of classic cars from the 1950s rolled out of the Motor City today, guaranteed to cross the country for just 37-cents. Available in five makes and models, the “America on the Move: 50s Sporty Cars” commemorative stamps hit the road following a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony in Detroit today. These collectibles — a ‘53 Chevrolet Corvette, ‘54 Kaiser Darrin, ‘52 Nash-Healey, ‘53 Studebaker Starliner, and a ‘55 Ford Thunderbird — are also available as stamped postal cards, and can be driven off the lot of Post Offices and Philatelic Centers nationwide beginning Aug. 21.
“Automobiles have always been a clever way of celebrating our American history and culture,” said Patrick Donahoe, Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Postal Service, in dedicating the stamps at the Michigan State Fair. “These cars are a perfect reminder of the 1950s and America’s optimism that the nation’s future was looking bright.”
The new stamps highlight the sporty look of American cars designed in the 1950s with sleek, aerodynamic lines and the innovative styling of the types of European sports cars American GIs favored upon their return from World War II.
Joining Donahoe in dedicating the stamps was Noland Adams (www.solidaxle.org), owner of the ’53 Corvette that was the model for the stamp. Adams, an author of several Corvette restoration books, served as the Postal Service’s technical advisor for the Corvette stamp.
“I know Corvette and other classic car enthusiasts will be thrilled to see America’s first sports cars immortalized on stamps,” Adams said, whose ’53 — number 284 of 300 Corvettes produced in 1953 — was on display at the event. “The stamps will make for great collectibles.”
The “America on the Move: 50s Sporty Cars” are available in a booklet of 20 stamps (five designs) for $7.40 and as a booklet of 20 stamped postal cards (five designs) for $9.75.
Carl Herman of Carlsbad, CA was the stamp designer. Art Fitzpatrick, who was once a car designer and a long-time advertising designer and illustrator for General Motors, was the stamp artist (see attached). Fitzpatrick was only 20 when he designed the Packard four-door convertible and hardtop sedans. While working for noted car designers and coach builders John Tjaarda (Briggs Body), Werner Gubitz (Packard), and “Dutch” Darrin, Fitzpatrick custom built cars for personalities such as Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and Al Jolson.
1953 Chevrolet Corvette Postage Stamp
The fiberglass-bodied two-seater Corvette captured the public’s imagination with its sleek styling and sense of fun. Only 300 hand-built, white, with red interior and black convertible top models were produced in 1953. A marked departure from other GM designs, its sporty appearance promised speed and high performance. In 1955, GM added a V-8 engine to raise the bar for the competition.
(Note: Noland Adam’s 1953 Corvette owns the very car from the US Postal Services Postage “Sporty Car” Stamp Series.)
1954 Kaiser Darrin US Postage Stamp
The two-seater featured retractable doors that slid forward into the front fenders; a clever pointed, compact grille; long sloping lines; and a three-position Landau top. Nine months after it went into production, the last of 435 Kaiser Darrins rolled off the assembly line. It could not compete with the Corvette which boasted more horsepower and sold for slightly less. Dutch Darrin himself bought 100 of the left-over cars and refitted them with powerful Cadillac V-8 engines. They sold quickly, but the Kaiser era had passed.
1952 Nash-Healey US Postage Stamp
An elegant little sports car famous for its hybridized styling drew on the creative genius of three countries. The U.S. created the six-cylinder engine, England engineered the chassis, and Italy added the body before returning it to the U.S. With only 150 made, it priced itself out of the market. Sold exclusively in the U.S., the high-performing hybrid had a moment of glory when it came in first in its class and third overall in the 1952 LeMans sports car race in France.
1953 Studebaker Starliner US Postage Stamp
The Starliner was low-slung, long and wide, and light on the chrome to give it a sophisticated, European look. Some considered it “the first American sports car.” It was proclaimed “a work of art” by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which selected the Starliner as the lone American representative for the 1953 exhibition, “Ten Automobiles.”
1955 Ford Thunderbird US Postage Stamp
Ford introduced the flashy 1955 Thunderbird in 1954 and dubbed it “a sports car with luxury”—a contradiction in terms, since sports cars at that time were built for appearance and performance, not comfort. The Thunderbird featured a steel body, interchangeable hard and soft tops, an overhead valve V-8 engine, and roll-up windows, as well as a host of luxury options. Styling remained essentially the same until 1958 when Ford converted it to a four-seater.
There are five philatelic products available for the “America on the Move: 50s Sporty Cars” stamps issue:
- First-Day Cover (set of 5) $3.75 (Item 673863)
- Stamped Postal Cards (Booklet of 20) $9.75 (Item 673866)
- Digital Color Postmark First-Day Cover (Random single) $1.50 (Item 673865)
- Digital Color Postmark First-Day Cover (set of 5) $7.50 (Item 673868)
- Booklet of 20 stamps and random Digital Color Postmark single $8.90 (Item 673899)
Art M. “Fitz” Fitzpatrick
America on the Move: 50s Sporty Cars
(did not attend the First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony)
Renowned automobile artist Art M. “Fitz” Fitzpatrick designed cars before he embarked on a decades-long career as an illustrator specializing in car advertising art. Fitzpatrick attended art classes at Detroit’s Society of Arts and Crafts (today the College for Creative Studies) and the Detroit School of Art. He was only 20 when he designed the Darrin Packard 4-door convertible and hardtop sedans. While working for noted car designers and coach builders John Tjaarda (Briggs Body), Werner Gubitz (Packard), and “Dutch” Darrin, Fitzpatrick custom-built cars for personalities such as Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, and Al Jolson.
After serving as a naval officer during World War II, Fitzpatrick turned to advertising art—producing ads for General Motors, Lincoln/Mercury, Nash, Chrysler, Dodge, DeSoto, Plymouth, Kaiser, Studebaker, and Buick—all the while turning down offers to return to the automotive industry. But, in 1953 Buick signed him to an exclusive contract beginning what would become a 21-year association with General Motors automobiles: Buick, Pontiac, and Opel. For 13 years, he created an award-winning and widely imitated car advertising campaign for Pontiac. In 1958 he designed and produced the General Motors Golden Anniversary Book.
In addition to his work for General Motors, Fitzpatrick also created product, and graphic design and art for clients such as General Electric, Texaco, Quaker State, and Chris-Craft and editorial art for Life, Look, Esquire, and Automobile Quarterly. His art has been honored with more than 40 art and design awards. A former member of the Society of Industrial Designers, Society of Automotive Engineers, and the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, Fitzpatrick is today an honorary member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society and the Classic Car Club of America. His original art continues to be exhibited nationwide and Fitzpatrick himself often presents lectures as part of these exhibitions. The stamp art for “America on the Move: 50s Sporty Cars” is his first project for the U.S. Postal Service.