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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
The Stamp Collecting Round-up
National Postal Museum
R. A. Siegel Auction Galleries
Post Office in Paradise
Private Die Proprietary Stamps
Clubs & Associations
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Airmail Stamps
Source: Google News
How 'One Nation' Didn't Become 'Under God' Until The '50s Religious RevivalSt. Louis Public Radio, March 30th
"As this new religious revival is sweeping the country and taking on new political tones, the phrase 'one nation under God' seizes the national imagination," Kruse tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It starts with a proposal by the Knights of Columbus...Read more
Five things to do for $5 or less during the week of March 30-April 3Washington Post (blog), March 30th
In 1918, the U.S. Post Office decided to rush out a new stamp in honor of the first airmail flight. The result was one of the ... Works from the NMWA collection that are inspired by the natural world are featured in this springtime show. Noon. National...Read more
Neil Kinnock invokes Adolf Hitler to smear the ConservativesDaily Mail, March 28th
By Simon Walters Political Editor For The Mail On Sunday. Published: ... and punched the air in anticipation of victory – and voters turned against him. ... If you want a hobby take up fly fishing or stamp collecting, it's less dangerous than voting...Read more
5 reasons your kids should collect stampsThe Columbian, March 28th
Child development experts say the benefits are many; the challenge is to get kids started. Cool stamps aren't arriving in the mailbox much now that ground mail is less common. And few kids know others who are already collecting stamps. So parents and ...Read more
Hold the post: there's no such thing as a dead letterThe Conversation AU, March 25th
The force of this letter, and of other missives exhibited around the country to mark a century since the first world war, stands in stark relief against our diminishing reliance on snail mail in Australia today. Last month, Australia Post announced...Read more
The Early Days of Caribbean AviationCaribbean Journal, March 20th
the study of stamps. First Flight and Commemorative envelopes issued by Post Offices, known as “covers,” were used to promote new routes and created a market for collectors. International airmail lanes were called FAM- (XX) designating the contract...Read more
Grammar School | Long words for lovers of learningThe Virginian-Pilot, March 8th
I nearly always believe that shorter words are better for making a point. But I found a few unusual long words that can be fun for both philonoists and non-philonoists. Yes, "philonoist" is one. A philonoist loves learning. I might have made up that...Read more
You never know what people will loveThe Virginian-Pilot, March 5th
I had heard of philately, or stamp collecting. But a specialty in the hobby is “aerophilately,” the collecting of airmail stamps. Those are the guys with their heads in the clouds. Some of the words threw me because I was unfamiliar with the roots of...Read more