Inaugurated in the early 20th Century, airmail was a premium service which required paying special postal rates. U.S. airmail stamps document the early history of aviation commerce - from biplanes to Zeppelins to flying boats.

The first airmail stamp - a 24-cent stamp that covered postage from New York to Washington - was issued in May 1918. The stamp pictured the plane that carried the mail – the Curtiss Jenny – and is widely recognized today because a pane of 100 was accidentally printed with the plane upside-down.

On July 1, 1924, regular airmail service across the country was established. Airmail was divided into three zones: New York to Chicago, Chicago to Cheyenne, and Cheyenne to San Francisco. Mailing a letter cost eight cents per zone, so stamps were made in denominations of 8, 16, and 24.

In February of 1926, the Post Office contracted private air companies to distribute airmail. Three stamps were issued for use on these contract airmail routes (or CAMs), each depicting the U.S. map.

Charles Lindbergh’s historical flight in May of 1927 inspired one of the most popular airmail stamps issued, which featured his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis. The cost of airmail was reduced in 1928, and two new stamps were issued: Beacon on Rocky Mountains and the Winged Globe.

Airmail service across the Pacific was taken over by the Post Office Department in November 1935 as the threat of war with Japan increased, and Pan Am was chosen as the carrier. A stamp was issued for the three trans-Pacific zones: San Francisco to Hawaii, Hawaii to Guam, and Guam to the Philippine Islands. It originally cost 25 cents per zone, but in 1937, a 20 cent stamp was issued and the cost of mailing a letter from the mainland U.S. to the Philippine Islands was reduced to 50 cents and airmail was extended to Hong Kong.

Cross-Atlantic airmail began on May 20, 1939 as Pan Am delivered mail from New York to Marseilles, France, traveling through Portugal on the way. Although this service didn't las...

During World War II, seven stamps known as Transports were issued, each with a different denomination and depicting a different twin-motored transport plane.

After World War II, many commemorative stamps were released, such as a stamp to honor the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union in 1949 and another to honor the 50th anniversary of airmail service in 1968. Many commemoratives featuring aviators (such as Amelia Earhart, Robert Goddard, and the Wright brothers) were also released.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

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]



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

Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Us Stamp:#c15 $2.60 Blue 1930 Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Mh/og StampDrbobstamps Us Scott #c15 Mnh Og Zeppelin Plate # Stamp Cat $975Graf Zeppelin Flight Cover 1930 Friedrichshafen To Lakehurst Luftpost Pan AmUs Stamp:#c14 $1.30 Brown 1930 Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Mh/og StampUs Stamp:#c13 65c Green 1930 Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Mh/og Stamp Drbobstamps Us Scott #c13 Mnh Og Zeppelin Stamp Cat $275Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C14 Mint Og H $400Us Zeppelin Sc # C14 1930 $1.30 Mint Nh Cat $650Drbobstamps Us Scott #c14 Mnh Og Zeppelin Stamp Cat $650 (natural Gum Bends)Us Zeppelin Sc # C15 1930 $2.60 Mint Nh Cat $975Drbobstamps Us Scott #c13 Mint Og Hinged Zeppelin Stamp Cat $180 Us Stamp:#c1 6c Orange Brown 1918 Air Mail Mnh/og Stamp Drbobstamps Us Scott #c15 Mint Og Hinged Zeppelin Stamp, Creases, Sm. StainUs Stamp:#c3 24c Carmine & Blue 1918 Air Mail Mnh/og Stamp Us Zeppelin Sc # C13 1930 65c Mint Nh Cat $275Us Stamp:#c2 16c Green 1918 Air Mail Mnh/og Stamp 1930 Us Zeppelin $2.60 Sc C15 Nh Cat $9751930 Us Zeppelin 65c Sc C13 Nh Cat $275Us Stamp:#c6 24c Carmine 1923 Air Mail Mnh/og Stamp1930 Us Zeppelin $1.30 Sc C14 Nh Cat $6501930 United States Zeppelin Cover, Sc# C14, $1.30 Zeppelin Stamp, High ValueLisasgang: Us Scott Catalog # C1 - C2 - C3 - C4 - C5 - C6 Scott # C13, Very Fine, Mint, Lightly Hinged Fresh Color!Us Stamp:#c3a 24c Carmine & Blue 1918 Inverted Counterfeit Used StampNoblespirit No Reserve Choice Fresh No.c13-c15 Graf Zeppelin Mlh Vf/xf = $1150 !Noblespirit Noreserve 4103/72 Us C13 Zeppelin On Cover Pan American Round FlightNystamps G Old Us Bob Air Mail Postage Due Official Stamp & Block Collection NhNoblespirit No Reserve 4103/74 Valuable $445 Us No.c1-6 Lot W/ Mnh C3Noblespirit No Reserve 4103/76 Superb 2 Volume Bob Album Collection !!!Zeppelin First Flight Us To Germany Cover Oct 28, 1928 No ReserveAll Mint Us Stamp Collection! Liberty Album. Reg/airmail/ducks/cards. $203 Face!1930 United States Zeppelin Cover, Sc# C15, $2.60 Zeppelin Stamp, High ValueUs Stamp:#c5 16c Dark Blue 1923 Air Mail Mnh/og StampNoblespirit No Reserve 4103/71 Us C14 On Pan Am Round Flight Zeppelin W/ PostageU.s. #c3 Mint Nh - 1918 24c Jenny ($140)Us 1933 Mh 50c Graf Zeppelin Sc# C18Us Scott # C2 Mint / Vf / Lh With Fresh Original Gum; Scv $65.00U.s. #c18 Mint Nh Plate Block - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($725)Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C13 Mint Og H $200Lisasgang: Us Scott Catalog # C3Lisasgang: Us Scott Catalog # C3Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c3 24c Mint H Og Cv$65Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c2 16c Mint H Og Lightly Gum CreaseU.s. #c18 Mint Nh Beauty - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($90)Us Stamp:#c4 8c Dark Green 1923 Air Mail Mnh/og StampCkstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c18 50c Mint H Og Lightly CreaseCkstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c14 $1.30 Mint H Og Cv$400Scott C 18 Mlh Og 50 Cent Graf Zeppelin Cv $50Us Scott #c18 Baby Zep Mint W/gum DamageUs Airmail & Special Delivery Mnh Stamp Collection (dd1028)Us Stamp:- Admiral Richard E. Byrd Hand Signed Air Mail Cover 1934Airmail 80c Hawaii, 10c Pan-am, 'heights Ohio' Cancel, Lg Env To Germany, 1953U.s. #c4 Mint Plate Block - 1923 8c Propellor ($240)1927 #c9 Airmail Map 20c Fdc Edward Worden First Day Cover#c82a, 1971 11c Carmine Coil Imperf, Mint Nh Cat. $225U.s. Stamps Scott #c25 Rf Overprint,mint,nh,f-vf (a5698)1926 #c8 Airmail Map 15c Fdc Edward Worden First Day CoverNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C6 Mint Og H $701929 Usa To Korea Zeppelin Cover Via Japan, A Unique Item, High Value !!!Us Scott# C18, Mhr, Og

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

The Different Sides of Lindbergh: 'Couple of an Age' at Morven
Packet Online, November 24th

The life, and mind, of Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) and his author/aviator wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001), have fascinated filmmakers, biographers, novelists, TV producers, children's book authors, musicians, postage stamp collectors and...Read more

Micro-electrode array recordings reveal reductions in both excitation and ..., November 24th

E-mail:; Dr JQ Pan, Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, 9016, 75 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA 02412, USA. E-mail: .... Recordings started 10 min after the MEA plates were placed on the head stage...Read more

USPS Is Going Down, And It's Taking Billions With It
ValueWalk, November 20th

The agency's business model was predicating on the assumption that granting it a monopoly over first-class mail delivery would enable it to reap high margins that would subsidize the agency's service nationwide. .... To illustrate: Last Christmas I...Read more

Hot air balloons take flight on stamps of Italy, Belgium and Mexico
Linn's Stamp News, November 20th

Hot air balloons are featured in the design of a stamp from Italy promoting stamp collecting in schools. Historic and contemporary balloons are ... by Poste Italiane Oct. 24 for Philately Day. The other two commemorate the 175th anniversary of the...Read more

Making a Museum Out of a Mountain
New York Times, November 12th

With his full beard and mass of rock-colored hair, he has the appearance of a man who might be featured on a limited-edition postage stamp. It's Messner, and perhaps only Messner, who defies author-adventurer Jonathan Waterman's claim that ''climbing...Read more

Waterville bookstore owner finds rare 'upright Jenny' stamps
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel, November 9th

In a rush to celebrate the first airmail flight, the Post Office department in 1918 issues 24-cent stamp with the Curtiss JN-4H biplane or Jenny on it. A sheet of 100 stamps mistakenly shows the airplane upside down. • In May 1918, a 29-year-old...Read more

Keep an eye out for 1929-30 first airmail set of India
Linn's Stamp News, October 30th

Stamp collecting in India has grown as many people became more affluent and could afford to collect. A good set to look for is India's first airmail set (Scott C1-6) issued in 1929-30. The stamp design features an inset portrait of King George V, while...Read more

'His Joy, His Life'
The New York Review of Books, October 29th

He had been tempted to mail her a blank sheet of paper with a question mark in the middle but hated to waste the stamp. ... He could endure it no longer: “Without the air which comes from you I can neither think nor write,” Nabokov grumbled. In the...Read more