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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Scientists hunting particle that could explain the universeSalon, December 8th
That's where eight of us—two women and six men—camped out in yellow, pyramid-shaped “Scott tents” for the next five bone-chilling weeks, cut off from the rest of the world except for a satellite telephone and the occasional drop-off of mail and...Read more
Books of Local InterestWatertownDailyTimes.com, December 8th
true-life theft of an iconic postage stamp and offers a twist on the hobby of stamp collecting. The story centers on a stamp error of 1918 that shows an upside-down airplane on the nation's first 24-cent airmail stamp. The stamp is known as an...Read more
The stamp of a bygone eraBangalore Mirror, December 7th
There's a nip in the air as we walk lazily to the General Post Office (GPO) on Raj Bhavan Road at 7.30 am on a chilly December morning. Once inside, though, lethargy seems misplaced. At the 'sorting At 5 am, red mail vans troop in and dump bags of...Read more
Woman recalls attack at Pearl HarborOcala, December 7th
The letter is stamped "Passed by Naval Censor" and has a cancelled six-cent Air Mail postage stamp. Edith Lanning went on to serve in the U.S Army, beginning in 1952, and had a career as a physical therapist, including service at Brooke Army clinic in...Read more
'Stamps offer insights into human behavior'Arab News, December 6th
In his collection is an envelope that was mailed from Makkah, by an Indian pilgrim over 60 years ago that reached India in just eight days. The envelope bears airmail seals from post offices in Makkah and Cutch — a city in the Western Indian state of...Read more
Exhibit floors philatelics during N-DayGulf Today, December 6th
SHARJAH: Hassan Ali Alnuaimi, a prominent Emirati who has been collecting currency notes for some time, was one of the many exhibitors and dealers who are showcasing their unique collection of postage stamps and currency notes in an exhibition which...Read more
Black River Stamp Club to host annual show SaturdayChronicle-Telegram, November 22nd
“About five years ago, my father-in-law got my oldest son, Zachary, who's 12, interested in stamp collecting,” Dolata said. “The more I worked with him, the more it Dolata prefers air mail, specifically air mail from 1941 to 1945. Zachary likes...Read more
Harry Potter stamps rile collectorsStuff.co.nz, November 18th
To generate excitement among collectors, the Postal Service recently reissued a new $2 version of a highly publicised stamp error: a 1918 air mail stamp commemorating the country's first airmail flight, a stamp known as the Inverted Jenny. The stamp...Read more