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]

R. A. Siegel Auction Galleries

R. A. Siegel Auction Galleries

This auction house site offers an extensive online database of US stamp information. Includes PDF catalogs of past … [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 10c Panama-pacific, Perf 10 1914-15 Sc 404 Nh Cat Value $1700Us $5 Regular, Perf 12 1902-03 Sc 313 Nh Cat Value $6250Us $1 Regular, Perf 12 1902-03 Sc 311 Nh Cat Value $1900Us, Marvelous Collection Of Mostly Old Mint Stamps In A Lindner AlbumUs 1916-17 Franklin 30c Orange-red #476a Mint Nh Cat Val $4500Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#505 2c Washington Mint Lh Og Pf Cert $300Nystamps S Large Many Mint Old Us Stamp Collection Scott AlbumUs 1926 White Plains Sheet 2c Carmine-rose #630 Mint Nh Cat Val $600Us 5c Regular, Imperf 1906-08 Sc 315 Nh Cat Value $1300U.s. #313 Rare Mint - 1902 $5.00 Marshall ($2,100)Us $1 Regular, Perf 12 1902-03 Sc 311 Nh Cat Value $1900 Noblespirit No Reserve {3970} Us 1913 Parcel Post Set Nh No.q1-q12 Cv $2,500Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#396 5c Washington Mint Nh Og Paste-up $135Nystamps Us Stamp # 523 Mint Og H $525Ckstamps : Extensive Mint Most Nh Us Postages Stamps Collection In Large Binder[63] Usa 1909 Scott#358 Mnh 2 Cents Bluish Paper Cv:$190Nystamps Us Plate Block Stamp # 834 Mint Og Nh $375 P# 4Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#658-668 (11) Mint H Og Cv$216.25Nystamps Us Stamp # 524 Mint Og Nh $360 Us $5 Regular, Perf 12 1902-03 Sc 313 Nh Cat Value $6250U S Stamp M N H #c13 Zeppelin 65c Cv$250Nystamps Us Stamp # 404 Mint Og H $725Nystamps Us Stamp # 404 Mint Og H $725U.s. #573 Choice Mint /xf Nh - 1922 $5.00 Freedom ($190)Us 1913-15 Franklin Nh 50c Sc 440 Cat $1050Uncle Shelby's Really Old Stamps Lot #50885 Noblespirit No Reserve {3970} Fantastic Us 1857-1981 Coll In 2 Albums Nh & UsedUs 50c Franklin 1913-15 Sc 440 Nh Cat Value $1050Us 1906-08 Regular, Imperf Nh 5c Sc 315 Cat $600Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#669-679 (11) Mint H Og Cv$265.25Usa : 1918. Scott #524 Fresh & Very Fine, Mint Original Gum Hinged. Catalog $175Usa : 1929. Scott #599a. Very Fine, Mint Original Gum Vlh. Catalog $105.00.Us Stamp:#634 2c Carmine 1926-32 Counterfeit Mnh/og StampUs $1 Franklin 1912 Sc 423 Nh Cat Value $1000Nystamps Us Stamp # 342 Mint Og Nh $1150 WashingtonUncle Shelby's Really Old Stamps Lot #50901Usa : 1903. Scott #309 Very Fresh & Very Fine, Mint Original Gum H. Pf Cert.Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#803-834 (32) Mint Nh OgUncle Shelby's Really Old Stamps Lot #50878Us 2c Regular, Perf 12 1902-03 Sc 301c Nh Cat Value $950$us Sc#299 M/nh/f-vf+, Pan-am Sound, Cv. $300Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#692-701 (10) Mint Nh Og Us 1902-03 Regular, Perf 12 Nh $1 Sc 311 Cat $1900U.s. #658-79 Mint Set - 1929 Kansas-nebraska Ovpts ($482)Nystamps U Investment Mint Old Us Stamp & Plate Block Collection Scott Album NhUs 1912 Franklin $1 Violet-brown #423 Mint Nh Cat Val $1000Us 2c White Plains Sheet 1926 Sc 630 Nh Cat Value $600Noblespirit No Reserve Us National Parks Blocks All Four Arrow Positions =$350Noblespirit No Reserve {4148/620} Us 1912-1921 Mint 102 Card Hoard =$330 Cv!Noblespirit No Reserve {4148/609} Us Block / Plate Number Block Hoard =~$495!Noblespirit No Reserve {4149} Outstanding Heritage 1932-2002 Commemorative M/nhCkstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#581-591 (11) Mint H OgCkstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#386 2c Washington Mint Nh Og Cv$280Us National Postage Stamp Album 1935-1976 + Air Total Mint 900 + StampsUs 1910-11 Washington 15c Pale Ultramarine #382 Mint Nh Cat Val $525Ckstamps: Us Stamps Collection Scott#437 15c Franklin Mint H Og Tiny Thin Cv$125Nystamps Us Stamp # 369 Mint Og Nh $320 Blue PaperU.s. #446 Mint - 4c Brown, P10 Coil ($130)Nystamps Us Stamp # 422 Mint Og H $225 FranklingNystamps Us Stamp # 630 Mint Og H $350