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.
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Recent News: Airmail Stamps
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What's new on the business scene for Oct. 2Poughkeepsie Journal, October 1st
Local company collecting cards for troops — Aire Serv of the Mid-Hudson Valley will collect holiday cards for its annual Holiday Cards for Our Troops drive during October to send to soldiers deployed overseas during the holiday season. No stamps or ...Read more
BULLETIN BOARD: Oct. 1Wicked Local Plymouth, October 1st
For more information on how to become a sponsor, email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the office at 508-866-4188. All proceeds from the tournament go toward furthering Habitat's mission of providing simple, affordable housing in...Read more
Meet the Prison Bankers Who Profit From the InmatesTIME, September 30th
To get cash to her son, Pat used to purchase a money order at the post office for $1.25 and mail it to the prison, for a total cost of less than $2. But in March of last year, the Virginia Department of Corrections informed her that JPay Inc., a...Read more
USPS Announces Five Celebrity Chefs Immortalized On Limited Edition Forever ...Sierra Sun Times, September 28th
The five chefs honored on the stamps — James Beard, Julia Child, Joyce Chen, Edna Lewis and Edward (Felipe) Rojas-Lombardi — revolutionized the nation's understanding of food. By integrating international ingredients and recipes with American cooking ...Read more
Final train departs Union StationThe Herald-News, September 27th
Starting next week, she'll have to use the new, mostly open air platform south of Jefferson Street between Michigan Street and Eastern Avenue. In the past, Peters said she was dropped off at Union Station, took the elevator to track level and boarded...Read more
Signed and SealedIndian Express, September 26th
It was also the first to introduce Air Mail in 1911. On auction is a collection of rare postcards and envelops from the first Aerial Post flight from Allahabad to Naini Junction on February 18, 1911, including a postcard signed by the pilot Henri...Read more
Philatelic society offering $100000 reward for return of stolen rare stampsAntique Trader, September 17th
Recovered in 1981 and now owned by the American Philatelic Research Library, this is one of the two recovered, famous 1918 “Inverted Jenny” misprinted 24¢ airmail stamps that was part of New York City collector Ethel B. McCoy's intact block of four...Read more
$100000 Reward for Missing 'Jennies'New York Times, September 14th
Her inherited wealth allowed her to happily indulge her collecting passions, which included airmail stamps of the world and stamps depicting palm trees, of which she had three albums full. Her Inverted Jenny block was one of just a half-dozen surviving...Read more