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    

Us Panama-pacific, Perf 10 Sc # 404 1914-15 10c Mint Nh Cat $1700Nystamps E Investment Mint Old Us Stamp & Plate Block Collection With NhUs Nh Washington Franklin Perf 10 To $1 # 478 & Perf 11 #505 Cat $42,593Us Mint Nh Bureau Issues To $2 #262 And $5 #278 Wf's To $1 #342 Cat $65,000Nystamps E Many Mint Nh Old Us National Park Stamp & Plate Block CollectionUs Banknotes Mint To 90c Carmine + Officials With Certs Cat $39,230Us Mint Nh Wash Franklins With $1 #460 5c Error #467 Cat $15,600Sc#832 & 832c, Lot Of 2 Top Pl# Blks Of 4, 2# Mint O.g. Xfnh Cv$65 (5 Photos)Nystamp Us Stamp # 524 Mint Og Nh $360Scott#480 $5 John Marshall 1917 Mint Very Lh Og Well Center $170Us Washington Franklins Nh 1908-1918 To $1 #342 & #518 Cat $50,456Nystamps U Large Mint Old Us Stamp Collection Album Scv $2300#431 Mint Original Gum Plate # Block Of 6 Impt & A VfUs Franklin Sc # 420 1912-14 30c Mint Nh Cat $250Nystamps X Investment Mint Old Us Stamp & Plate Block Collection With Nh !#314 Mint Original Gum Plate # Block Of 6#461 Mint Original Gum Plate # Block Of 6Us Regular, Perf 12 Sc # 310 1902-03 50c Mint Nh Cat $1150Us Mint Nh 1910-1922 Washington Franklins With #477 #523 #505 Cat $42,770Us Franklin Sc # 477 1916-17 50c Mint Nh Cat $2000Us Franklin 50c Sc 477 $2000 NhScott 244 1893 $4 Columbus Stamp Pse Certified Fr G 20 Mint RgUs Franklin $1 Sc 423 $1000 Nh1917-19 Us Washington 5c Sc 505 Nh Cat $1000Ckstamps : Outstanding Mint & Used Us Washington-franklin Stamps Collection In PUs Franklin Sc # 439 1913-15 30c Mint Nh Cat $500Sc. 630 White Plains Sheet, Mnh Vf, Cat. $6001918 Us Franklin $2 Sc 523 Nh Cat $1150Us Sc 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 Original Gum Hinged 1909 Commem Set1926 Us White Plains Sheet 2c Sc 630 Nh Cat $600Ckstamps : Fantastic Mint Us Sixth Bureau Issue Pb & Booklets Stamps Collection U.s. #505 Mint Nh - 1917 5c Rose Error ($625)Us Scott #416 Mint Og Nh Xf 10c FranklinUsa : 1917-19. Scott #498-518 W/o #500 & 505 Mint Original Gum Many Vf. Cat $337Drbobstamps Us Sc #630 Mnh Well Centered White Plains Sheet631 Center Block Of 64 With Crossed Gutters And Dashes, Mog-nh, Scv $235U.s. #599a Mint Nh W/ Cert - 2c Carmine, Type Ii Coil ($200)Nystamps X Many Mint Nh Old Us Washington Franklin Stamp Collection Stock PageU.s. #669-79 Mint H/nh - 1929 Nebraska Set ($425)Ckstamps : Exceptional Most Mint Us & Airmails Stamps Collection In BinderUncle Shelby's Really Old Stamps Lot #52792Nystamp Us Stamp # 330 Mint Og Nh $310Noblespirit No Reserve Desirable Us 630 Mh White Plains Sheet = $350 CvNoblespirit No Reserve (sr1) Very Valuable Us Classics 1901-1927Drbobstamps Us Scott #395 Scarce Mnh Coil Lp W/pse Cert. 2017 Scv $1100Us Scott #297 Xf Og Lh 2015 Pfc Scott $75 Vf $120 XfBuffalo Stamps, Scott #449 Washington Coil Pair, Mint Nh/og & Fine, Cv = $12,500Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#303 304 (2) Mint H OgU.s. -- Scott #803 Through #834 - Presidential Issue Of 1938 **mint/mnh**** U.s. #479 Mint - 1917 $2.00 Dark Blue, P10 ($210)#437 Mint Original Gum Plate # Block Of 6U.s. #422 Mint W/cert - 50c Violet, Dlw ($225)U.s. #294-99 Nice Mint Set - 1901 Pan-american Issue ($422)U.s. #524 Mint Vf - $5.00 Green & Black ($170)#314 Mint Original Gum Plate # Block Of 6U.s.a. (1) 1915, Two Cents, Pale Carmine, Mnh, Scott N° 461Noblespirit No Reserve (sr1) Appealing Us No. 479 Mh = $210 CvU.s. #519 Mint Nh - 1917 2c Carmine, Dlw, P11 ($850)Scott #770 Nh 1935 Farley Special Printing Souvenir Sheet PairUs Scott 833 Mint Nh Block $2 Harding 1938 Definitive