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”)

1847USA

1847USA

Bob Allen's beautiful and well organized catalog of US stamps from 1847 to 1970 is a fantastic resource for all US … [read review or visit site]

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

Most watched eBay auctions    

United States Stamp Lot Zeppelin Set From 1930 Unused Mint (c13-15)United States Zeppelin 65c Scott C13 . Never Hinged. Sc $275Ckstamps : Outstanding Mint & Used Us Stamps & Airmails Collection In 2 Albums1930 Us Zeppelin. $2.60 Sc C15 . Never Hinged. Cat $975United States Zeppelin $2.60 Scott C15 . Never Hinged. Sc $975United States Zeppelin $1.30 Scott C14 . Never Hinged. Sc $650Ckstamps : Us Stamps Scott#c15 $2.6 Graf Zeppelin Airmail Mint Nh Og 2014 Cv$975United States Zeppelin 65c Scott C13 . Never Hinged. Sc $275U.s. Unused Og Zeppelin C13 C14 C15 Airmail Stamps Set Of 3 65c 1.30 2.60Ckstamps : Us Stamps Scott#c14 $1.3 Graf Zeppelin Airmail Mint Nh Og 2014 Cv$650U.s. #c14 Choice Mint Vf W/cert - 1930 $1.30 Graf Zeppelin ($400)Nystamps X Large Mint Old Us & Air Mail Stamp & Plate Block Collection Album PgUs Stamp:#c15 $2.60 Blue 1930 Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Mh/og Stamp Drbobstamps Us Scott C15 Used Sound Zeppelin StampCkstamps : Us Stamps Scott#c13 65c Graf Zeppelin Airmail Mint Nh Og 2014 Cv$2751930 Us Zeppelin. 65c Sc C13 . Never Hinged. Cat $275Nystamps S Large Old Us Bob Air Mail Sd Due Cut Square Stamp Collection Album PgNoblespirit~no Reserve~my/304~gem C10a= $120 Cv V.f. /x.f. Mnh BookletUnited States Scott C53 - C60, A Set Of 8 Mint Us Airmail Stamps1918 Us Curtiss Jenny. 16c Sc C2 . Never Hinged. Cat $130U.s. #c20-22 Choice Mint Nh Plate Blocks - 1931 Clippers ($202)U.s. C3 Mint Fnh, Cv $140 (for Vfnh)United States Scott C53 - C60, A Set Of 8 Mint Us Airmail Stamps1918 Us Curtiss Jenny. 24c Sc C3 . Never Hinged. Cat $560Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og $70Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C2 Mint Og $70Scott #c12, 16, 17, 19 + #24 Winged Globe Air Mail Stamps **mint** Us Stamp:#c3 24c Carmine & Blue 1918 Mnh/og StampNystamps W Much Mint Old Us & Air Mail Stamp Booklet Pane CollectionDr Jim Stamps Us Canton Island - Australia First Flight Air Mail Cover Fam 19Dr Jim Stamps Us Cipex First Day Army Post Office Air Mail Cover 1947Scott #c25 Through #c31 Transport Plane -- Air Post Stamps **1941-44***mnh** Dr Jim Stamps Us Modesto California Airshow Air Mail Event Cover 1938June 11 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp Wash To N Y NorsU.s. #c18 Mint Nh Beauty - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($85)Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C5 Mint Og $65U.s. C6 Mint Fh, Cv $80 (for Vfh), See Desc.#c1 To #c6 Used Airmail SetMay 5 1984 First Flight Cover Dirigible Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsNystamps G Us Bob Air Mail Sd Due Official Revenue Stamp Collection Scott Album#c1, #c2, #c5 & #c6 UsedNystamps Us Air Mail Plate Block Stamp # C7 Mint Og Nh $48 P#6U.s. #c46 Mint Nh Plate Blks (x3) - 1952 80c Hawaii ($60)Us Early Stamps Airmail Blocks Sets Bob Mint Used $66.12 FvNoblespirit~ No Reserve~valuable Scarce Zeppelin Post Card Collection!!!Noblespirit~no Reserve~my/307~gem Cioa=$120 Cv V.f./x.f Mnh BookletNystamps E Many Mint Us Bob Air Mail Stamp Collection Album PageU.s. #c26-31 Mint Nh Plate Blocks - 1941-47 Transports ($83)Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C2 Mint Og $70Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C6 Mint Og $80Ckstamps: Us Stamp Collection Scott#c18 Mint Nh Og Cv$85Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C4 Mint Og $20Nystamps Us Air Mail Plate Block Stamp # C10 Appears Mint Dg $130 P#6Us Airmail C3 "fast Plane" VarietyZeppelin: 1929 Rtw Flight, Large Cover From Us To Germany, 15 StampsC24 Airmail To Hungary Service Suspended, 1941U.s. #c20-22 Mint Nh (x8) - 1931 Clippers ($176)U.s. #c18 Mint Nh Beauty - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($85)Ckstamps: Us Stamp Collection Scott#c3 Mint H Og Cv$65Sb1 Stamps - 1930 Plate Block Of 6, 5c Winged Globe; Sc. C12; Mnh

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

Back to the Future: Times past, times present, in Broken Barnet
NOTTINGHAM CITY COUNCIL LOLS (blog), July 29th

For reasons too difficult to explain, Mrs Angry recently had occasion to have to sit in the air conditioned isolation of the British Library, trawling through back copies of the two local papers which serve us here in Broken Barnet: that is to say the...Read more

Israel says it's extending Gaza truce for 24 hours
WMBF, July 26th

The temporary lull on Saturday saw Palestinians return to neighborhoods reduced to rubble and allowed medics to collect close to 150 bodies, Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra said. With the retrieval of the corpses, the number ... Israel...Read more

WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Gov. Walker worried about unacompanied ...
Pierce County Herald, July 26th

There was extensive damage to the front end, three tires were falling off, the air bags had deployed and fuel was leaking onto the ground. .... According to the most recent Marquette Law School poll, 33-percent of registered voters say they've been...Read more

Indian teen has 232 'teeth' removed from jaw
WNEM Saginaw, July 25th

Ashiq had surgery on Monday, where two dental surgeons and two assisting surgeons removed the 232 “denticles” from his lower right jaw. (Source: MarlinBrown17/YouTube). The "teeth" pulled from 17-year-old Ashiq Gavai's mouth on Monday. (Source: ...Read more

What's happening Friday in the north valley
Enterprise-Record, July 23rd

Fresh foods, free garden exchange, CNAP (food stamp) EBT accepted. Free stall spaces for ... Chico Air Museum: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Chico Municipal Airport adjacent to tower; 11 aircraft, some airport-type vehicles, indoor museum, gift shop. Free. RSVP for...Read more

Accent on New Paltz: Ohioville sojourn
New Paltz Times, July 22nd

I entrusted some old coins and stamps to his keen eye and mastery of the on-line auction domain and have been very happy with the result. I enjoyed the process of sitting down with him, having each item reviewed, and receiving his recommendation about ...Read more

What's Driving Global Demand for Rare Stamps?
ThinkAdvisor, July 20th

Meanwhile, prices on Twentieth-Century stamps decreased 0.2% over those 12 months ended April 30, though airmail prices were up 3.2% for the period. From an ... The first—no surprise here—is demand from wealthy Chinese collectors and investors...Read more

Stamp prices rise but rates still among lowest in EU
Irish Independent, July 17th

"Our bread and butter mail, financial documents, a lot of them are moving online, onto electronic channels and it has resulted in a very serious loss in terms of a collection and delivery service five days a week and delivery for a uniform tariff," the...Read more