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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Britain's Labour Party battles for soul and identityDaily Mail, November 28th
Several lawmakers said they have had to distance themselves from his stance on the "shoot-to-kill" policy, his opposition to joining air strikes against Islamic State in Syria and his statement that if prime minister he would never use nuclear weapons...Read more
Lady Gaga leaves London recording studio with Mark RonsonDaily Mail, November 25th
And Lady Gaga showed no signs of slowing down, or feeling the cold weather, as she emerged from a recording studio in London early on Wednesday morning. Continuing to sport a punk-inspired look, the 29-year-old Born This Way singer emerged from a ...Read more
The Different Sides of Lindbergh: 'Couple of an Age' at MorvenPacket 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
Burke's Law: Embrace the weird, wonderful world of snowAlaska Dispatch News, November 22nd
A sun dog -- a halo around the sun created by the presence of ice crystals in the air during cold weather -- in Anchorage on Wednesday, Nov. ... A snowflake from Fairbanks is on a commemorative U.S. postage stamp. ... Sturm has voyaged across the...Read more
Hot air balloons take flight on stamps of Italy, Belgium and MexicoLinn'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 MountainNew 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' stampsKennebec 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 IndiaLinn'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