The breadth of U.S. postage stamps issued during the 20th century is staggering, from denominational postage bearing formal presidential portraits to stamps that celebrate everything from national parks to space exploration. In general, unused stamps are more expensive to collect than used stamps, which makes condition an important determinant of a stamp’s price.

One of the most collected series was issued early in the century, on May 1, 1901, to promote the Pan American Exposition and World's Fair in Buffalo, New York. Issued in denominations of 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, and 10 cents, the stamps show off America’s transportation know-how, from steamships to trains to automobiles. Another early series, this one produced to promote the St. Louis World’s Fair, celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. Images in this series include the 10-cent stamp, which features the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase overlaid on a map of the United States.

The U.S. Air Mail stamps of 1918 are noteworthy because one sheet of the first release, with a denomination of 24-cents and the image of a Curtiss Jenny biplane on its front, was printed with the biplane upside down. Subsequent airmail stamps from 1918 saw denomination decreases to 16 cents and then just 6 cents. In 1930, images of Graf Zeppelins were printed on 65-cent, $1.30, and $2.60 stamps (a “Baby” Zeppelin stamp was also issued in 1933).

Ten National Parks stamps, in denominations from a penny to a dime, were issued in 1934, and numerous commemoratives were issued in 1937 (Union generals Sherman, Grant, and Sheridan got a 3-cent stamp, while Confederate generals Lee and Jackson were remembered on a 4-cent stamp). In 1940, Famous Americans were given stamps, organized by authors such as Irving and Twain, poets like Longfellow and Whitman, and inventors such as Morse and Bell (in all, 35 Americans were thus honored).

During World War II, the 13 Overrun Nations stamps issued in 1943 and ’44 are noteworthy because they marked the first time the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) contracted work to an outside printer (American Bank Note). In addition, instead of plate-block numbers, the sheets were printed with the name of each occupied nation. Later that decade, in 1947, the Postal System marked its own centennial with a souvenir sheet showing the first two U.S. stamps, a 5-cent Franklin and a 10-cent Washington. And a slew of commemoratives followed in 1948, honoring constituents as diverse as Swedish pioneers and the American poultry industry.

Stamps got more colorful in 1956 thanks to the purchase of a Giori Press, which allowed the BEP to print three colors from the same plate. Examples of Giori stamps include the Whooping Crane stamp of 1957, the International Geophysical Year stamp of 1958, the Soil Conservation stamp of 1959, and the American Credo issues of 1960 and ’61. And in 1960, the Postal Service issued the first of many space-exploration themed stamps, beginning with the 4-cent Echo 1 stamp and culminating for many collectors with the 10-cent, horizontal Giori marking Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Stamp Collecting Round-up

The Stamp Collecting Round-up

Don Schilling's long-running, in-depth blog on stamp collecting and postal operations. Schilling stays up on all th… [read review or visit site]

National Postal Museum

National Postal Museum

If you're into postal history or collectibles, check out the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum. This extensive s… [read review or visit site]

Post Office in Paradise

Post Office in Paradise

Post Office in Paradise showcases Hawaiian postal history from the years before Hawaii became a part of the United … [read review or visit site]

Private Die Proprietary Stamps

Private Die Proprietary Stamps

Bob Hohertz's impressive database of U.S. Private Die Proprietary stamps from the Civil War and Spanish American Wa… [read review or visit site]

Alphabetilately

Alphabetilately

First shown in 2008 to celebrate the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 15th anniversary, Alphabetilately is esse… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#523 $2 Franklin Mint Lh Og Cv$525Us Regulars Mostly Nh Thru $2 #293 And Wash Franklin $1 #342 Cat $30,920Nystamps Us Stamp # 315 Mint Og H $350Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#547 $2 Washington Mint Lh Og Cv$125Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#440 50c Franklin Mint Nh Og Cv$1050Nystamps Us Stamp # 573 Mint Og Nh $230Nystamps Us Stamp # 480 Mint Og H $170Nystamps Us Stamp # 404 Mint Og H $725Nystamps Us Stamp # 630 Mint Og Nh $600Nystamps Us Stamp # 311 Mint Og H $625Nystamps Us Stamp # 351 Mint Og Nh $325 WashingtonUs Mint Nh With Trans Miss $1 #292 & Bluish Paper 10c #364 Cat $47,9101914-15 Us Panama-pacific, Perf 10 10c Sc 404 Nh Cat $1700Us Panama-pacific, Perf 10 Sc # 404 1914-15 10c Mint Nh Cat $1700Us 1916-17 Nh Perf 10 Unwmkd Complete Thru 50c #462-480 Cat $14,640Nystamps Us Stamp # 342 Mint Og H $500 Xf WashingtonBuffalo Stamps, Scott #365 Washington Bluish Paper, Mnh/og & F/vf, Cv = $6,000Us Franklin Sc # 423 1912 $1 Mint Nh Cat $1000Us Air Post Nh With C1-c6 And Zeppelins C14-c15 With Certs Cat $5,950Us Washington, Bluish Paper Sc # 364 1909 10c Mint Lh Cat $1600Us Washington, Perf 12 Sc # 342 1908-09 $1 Mint Nh Cat $1100Nystamps X Investment Mint Old Us Stamp & Plate Block Collection With NhNystamps E Many Mint Nh Old Us Washington Franklin Stamp Collection Stock PageUs Franklin $1 Sc 423 $1000 Nh1913 Us Panama-pacific, Perf 12 10c Sc 400 Nh Cat $1080Us 1912 $1 Franklin Nh Sc 423 Cat $1000Us 1908-09 $1 Washington, Perf 12 Nh Sc 342 Cat $1100Us 1917-19 5c Washington Nh Sc 505 Cat $1000U.s. #630 Mint Nh Beauty - 1926 2c White Plains Sheet ($600)Nystamps Us Stamp # 347 Mint Og Nh Paid$600 Strip Of 4 Xf WashingtonCkstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#312 $2 Madison Unused Regum Corner RepairedNystamps Us Stamp # 310 Mint Og H $400Scott 295, 2 Cent Pan American Expo. Block Of Four, M XfScott 294, 1 Cent Pan American Expo. Block Of 4 M XfCkstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#595 2c Washington Unused RegumU.s. #374//381 Mint - 1c - 10c Washington, Slw ($286)Nystamps E Many Mint Nh Old Us Famous American Stamp & Plate Block CollectionU.s. #573a Mint Nh Pns - $5.00 Carmine Lake & Dark Blue ($350)Us Regular, Perf 12 $1 Sc 311 $1900 NhUs Stamps # 519 Fvf Og Nh Fresh Scott Value $850.00U.s. #498//518 Mint - 1917 1c - $1.00 Franklins, P11 ($337)Uncle Shelby's Really Old Stamps Lot #53358Noblespirit No Reserve (sm) Po Fresh Us No A185 Pb8 Mnh Arrow 2x Pl No = $450 CvNystamps Us Stamp # 458 Mint Og Nh $300 Strip Of 4 WashingtonCkstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#350 4c Washington Mint Lh Og 21mm Cv$140Nystamps Us Stamp # 834 Mint Og Nh $375 Center Line BlockNystamps Us Stamp # 297 Mint Og Nh $190Nystamps Us Stamp # 369 Mint Og H $150 Blue Paper XfV.g.t. Worldwide Stamps - U.s. 832-834 Mnh $100 W/top SelvageUs Scott #497 Vf-xf Og Nh Pair Scott $85 Vf $150 XfBuffalo Stamps, Scott #456 Washington/franklin Line-pair, Mh/og & Vf, Cv = $1250Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#438 20c Franklin Unused RegumUs United States, Harding Memorial, 2c Black, Mnh, Scott 611, Cent. Line BlkUs Stamps # 449 Avg Og Lh Scott Value $2,500.00Noblespirit No Reserve (sm) Po Fresh Us No. A180 Pb6 Mnh = $375 CvUs Scott #523Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#803-834 (32) Mint Nh OgCkstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#533 2c Washington Mint H Og Gum BendNystamps G Large Many Mint Old Us Stamp Collection AlbumB9326: (10) Us #622 Mint, Og, Vf-xf, Nh; Cv $200++