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, Includes Mint Nh 572-573 , Excellent Old Mint Stamps In GlassinesUs Mint 1908 Bluish Papers Arranged On An Early Album Page Cat $79,000Us Washington Franklin Mint Nh Stock With 2c #519 Pfc $1 #342 Cat $40,000#467 Mint Original Gum Error Strip Of 12Us Mint Nh Washington Franklin Stock Perf 12 & 10's #315 Pair Cat $35,550Us Scott #459 Unused With CertificateNystamps E Many Mint Nh Old Us Washington Franklin Stamp & Block CollectionUs White Plains Sheet Sc # 630 1926 2c Mint Nh Cat $650Noblespirit No Reserve (th1) Exciting $9,000 Us Mint Treasure Trove DiscoveryUs Stamps # 534b F+ Og Hr Scott Value $2,000.00Uncle Shelby's Really Old Stamps Lot #52564U.s. #404 Choice Mint Vf/xf - 1915 10c Pan-pacific, P10 ($700)Us Stamps # 312 Vf Used Very Light Cancel Deep Color Scott Value $200.00Us $5 1923 Freedom Statue Stamp Scott 573 M. Free Us Shipping, Cat $90#342 Mint Original GumUs Panama-pacific, Perf 10 Sc # 404 1914-15 10c Mint Nh Cat $1700Nystamps Us Stamp # 630 Mint Og H $350#312 Mint Original GumU.s. #595 Scarce Mint Nh - 1923 2c Carmine, Rotary, P11 ($475)U.s Stamp Sc#403 Mint H Og Vf Perf. 10 Cv$160 (1845)Nystamps E Investment Mint Old Us Stamp & Plate Block Collection With NhUs Panama-pacific, Perf 12 Sc # 400a 1913 10c Mint Nh Cat $400Ckstamps: Us Stamps Scott#519 2c Washington Mint Lh Og Stain On Gum Cv$400Nystamps U Much Mint Old Us & Bob Stamp Collection Album Scv $2000Nystamps Investment Mint Old Us Stamp Collection With Better & High Value#294 To #299 Mint Original Gum Pan - American SetU.s. #524 Mint Vf - $5.00 Green & Black ($170)Us Pictorial Sc # 127 1875 10c Mint H Cat $1650Us Stamps # 519 Vf Og Hr Reperfed At Top Fresh Scott Value $400.00Us Franklin Sc # 439 1913-15 30c Mint Nh Cat $500Us Madison Sc # 479 1917 $2 Mint Nh Cat $475Noblespirit No Reserve Valuable Mint Us 3 Vol. Albums W/blocks & Many BetterUs Stamps # 315 Fvf Og H Few Dry Print Specks Scott Value $325.00Us Sc# 546 Unused Strip Of 3 Mnh Og 1921 IssueUs Stamps # 349 L/p Vf Og Nh Line Pair Few Specks On Gum Scott Value $1,350.00Buffalo Stamps, Scott #692-701 Rotary Press, Mint Nh/og, Vf-xf++, Cv = $100+Noblespirit No Reserve (th1) Po Fresh Mnh Xf Us No. 573 = $200 CvUs 1913-15 Washington Nh 7c Sc 430 Cat $200Us Stamps # 359 Vf Og Hr Scott Value $1,800.00Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#658-668 (11) Mint H Og Cv$216.25Us Stamps # 834 Superb Og Nh Gem Scott Value $85.00Us Washington, Perf 12 Sc # 342 1908-09 $1 Mint Nh Cat $1100Usa Stamp #354 4c Brown 1909 Coil Stamp Mlh/og Line PairScott#595, 2c Carmine, Perf 11. F/vf. Scarce.Us Stamps # 573 Xf Og Nh Striking Corner Margin Mount Gem Scott Value $200.00U.s. #832-34 Mint Nh - 1938 $1 - $5 Presidential ($109)Usa Stamp #350 4c Brown 1909 Coil Stamp Mhr/ogUs Stamps # 361 Fvf Dist Og H Reperfed At Left Scott Value $5,750.00Us Stamps # 634e Pane Vf Og Nh Pane 6 Scarce Shade Scott Value $750.00Nystamps Us Stamp # 545 Mint Og Nh $400 WashingtonU.s. #505 Mint Nh - 1917 5c Rose Error ($625)Us Stamps # 352 L/p Fvf Og Nh Line Pair Few Gum Wrinkles Scott Value $1,800.00U.s. Stamps Scott #312 Mint,nh,regummed,fine+, Surface Scrapes (a3026)Nystamps Us Block Stamp # 369 Mint Og H (2 ) / Nh (2 ) $940 Block Of 4Us Franklin Sc # 478 1916-17 $1 Mint Nh Cat $1450Nystamps Us Stamp # 573 Mint Og H $220 PrScott 832/834 Mint Presidential Plate Number Singles Nh/hr Og Attractive $75U.s. #e2 Mint Beauty - 1888 10c Messenger ($475)Us Stamps # 322 "as Is" Fvf Og H A Space Filler Sold "as Is" With No GuaranteeNystamps Us Stamp # 392 Mint Og H $190 Line Pr Franklin