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    

Ckstamps: Us Stamps Scott #c14 $1.30 Airmail Graf Zeppelin 1930 Mint Lh Cv$400Ckstamps : Us Stamps Scott #c13 65c Airmail Graf Zeppelin 1930 Mint Hr/og Cv$180Ckstamps : Us Stamps Scott #c15 On Cover $2.60 Airmail Graf Zeppelin Used Cv$625#c14 Mint Original Gum Never Hinged Graf ZeppelinDrbobstamps Us Scott #c13-15 Sound Used Stamp SetU.s. #c14 Mint Nh Beauty - 1930 $1.30 Graf Zeppelin ($650)Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C13 Mint Og Nh $275Us Stamp:#c13 65c Green 1930 Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Mh/og Stamp SuperbU.s. #c13 Choice Mint Nh - 1930 65c Graf Zeppelin ($275)Drbobstamps Us Scott #c13 Sound Used Well Centered StampDrbobstamps Us Scott #c14 Sound Mint Og Vlh Stamp With Clean Pf CertificateU.s. #c1 Choice Mint Vf - 1918 6c Jenny ($60)Nystamps G Us Air Mail Due Official Parcel Revenue Stamp Collection Scott AlbumNystamps E Mint Us Air Mail Stamp & Plate Block Collection White Ace Album NhUsa Mint U.s. Postage Coils Air Mail Officials Stamp Collection Scarce $$$Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c3 Mint Nh Og Cv$140Us Airpost Sc # C6 1918 24c Mint Nh Cat $2750Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og H/ Nh(2) $310Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og Nh $140Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c2 Mint H Og Cv$65Us #c18 1933 Chicago Century Progress Zepellin Block 4 W/number 21172 Mnh1937 Hawaii China Clipper Air Mail Ships Mail Uss San Francisco CancelCkstamps : Assorted Mint Us Airmails Pb Stamps Collection ( Face Value $119.001928-2 Zeppelin Theme Covers-1928 Postcard Graf Zeppelin #127 Nj To Germany# C11 On 1928 Air Mail Rate Change 1st Day Indian Motorcycle Adverting * NiceNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C1-c3 Used $100# C4 & C6 On 1924 On Air Mail Flight Los Ang Ca To Alaska Ak Signed PilotUs Airpost Sc # C4 1923 8c Mint Nh Cat $600Us Airmail 50cent Graf Zeppelin 1933 Century Of Progress Flight Scott C18 (st12)Us Mint Original Gum Never Hinged Airmail Sheets1929 Graf Zeppelin Round The World Flight Cover Ny To Germany * NiceMr Fancy Cancel C10 Bk4+567 Cover Graf Zep First Round The World Flight Aug 1929Us Postage Scott # 834 1938 $5 Calvin Coolidge Mlh XfU.s. #e12 Scarce Nh Plate Block - 1922 10c Messenger ($800)Nystamps S Old Us Bob Air Mail Sd Postage Due Stamp Collection Scott Album PageScott#c18 50c Air Mail Baby Zeppelin Mint Nh Og Never Hinged1936 Graf Zeppelin Hindenburg Flight Ny To Germany * Nice1936 Graf Zeppelin Hindenburg Flight Ny To Germany + Return To Pitts Pa * NiceUs Scott C18, Mint Never Hinged1933 Chicago World's Fair Welcomes Graf Zeppelin Dr Eckener Nice Cachet1929 Graf Zeppelin 1st Round The World Flight Card Los Angeles To LakehurstU.s. Scott C15 Zeppelin Mint, Very Fine [id:8829]Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C6 Mint Og Nh $140U.s. Scott #c13 - Graf Zeppelin 65 Cent !!Us Mint Original Gum Never Hinged Airmail Plate # Blocks And CoilsU.s. Scott C13 65¢ Zeppelin Mint, Very Fine [id:8827]Discount Postage Mnh All Full Sheets $358.00 Face1847-2000 Minkus Album. Us Stamp Collection. Airmail, Bob, Post Due. No Reserve!Nystamps U Old Us Bob Air Mail Sd Due Official Parcel Stamp Collection Scott PgSb1 Stamps - 1933 50c Baby Zepplin; Sc. C18; Vf/mhCkstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c18 Mint H Og Lot Of 14 Us First Flight Air Mail Covers And Airport Dedications 1920s# C8 Plate # Block On Graf Zeppelin Round The World Flight Saticoy Ca - GermanyMa036 Cover Iraq/ Usa 1941 " Baghdad/ New York " By Airmail Passed By CensorUs Stamp:#c18 50c Green 1933 Graft Zeppelin Air Mail Cover Noblespirit No Reserve 8107/1 Astounding Us First Flight Airmail Covers Coll. HuMl-us Stamp 2 Pages Cut Squares Unused/ Used @ Airmail Nice Cancels Us First Day Covers Fdc # C 25 Air Mail 1941 Lot Of 2 With BlocksDr Jim Stamps Old Us Scott C3 24c Curtiss Jenny Air Mail Og Heavy Hinge Thin NrUs 1918-1923 Scott C1-c6 Set Of First Six Air Mail Issue, Stamps, Mnh Scv$700

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

UW students against education cuts-transcribed interview
Fourth Estate Newspaper, February 28th

Paul Ahrens: You know we're going to be a professional about this. We're working very hard to organize on many levels it's, like a pep rally, we're going to get people there and get them pumped. Talk to them about what's going on. Have some speakers...Read more

Commentary: A single stamp collector's priority
Beacon Review, February 27th

This month Linn's Stamp Information documented the Postal Services made the irresponsible and thoughtless determination to mail at random 1 of the unusual, suitable-side up Jenny sheets to 3 new world-wide-web and mail buy buyers for free -- what...Read more

BC's environmental studies pose an unsettling paradox
Vancouver Sun, February 27th

Typically, the biology that goes into an environmental assessment for a large industrial project is limited to conducting wildlife surveys and collecting data to establish what animals live in the path of a proposed resource project. So it is unusual...Read more

10 wonderfully weird collections
Mother Nature Network, February 26th

In many cases, collectors of oddball items enjoy a greater sense of camaraderie and community than those who go for standard things like stamps, spoons and snow globes. With fewer of these niche items in circulation, the competition is greater, the...Read more

Meet the 1970s-Era Plane Technology That Never Took Off
Slate Magazine (blog), February 25th

26, 2014, a telecommunications contractor named Brian Howard woke early and headed to Chicago Center, an air traffic control hub in Aurora, Illinois, where he had worked for eight years. He had decided to get stoned and kill himself, and as his ... For...Read more

Events calendar
Poughkeepsie Journal, February 19th

Air Studio Gallery — 71 O'Neil St., Kingston. 8 p.m. Feb. 21, Annual George Harrison birthday Beatle bash with ..... Teen Geeks help with e-mail, the internet, computer software, smart phone, laptop, e-reader, etc. Help available 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m...Read more

How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle
The Intercept - First Look Media, February 19th

While the FBI and other U.S. agencies can obtain court orders compelling U.S.-based telecom companies to allow them to wiretap or intercept the communications of their customers, on the international front this type of data collection is much more...Read more

Mimi Sheraton's latest book is “1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die.” (Courtesy)
WBUR, February 11th

E-mail · Twitter (45) · facebook (70) ... I strove for an overall collection that includes not only the pleasurable—though that was my primary purpose—but also the unusual (the uninitiated might even say outlandish and bizarre)—Hirn mit Ei...Read more