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$400Drbobstamps Us Scott #c13-15 Sound Used Stamp SetCkstamps : Us Stamps Scott #c15 On Cover $2.60 Airmail Graf Zeppelin Used Cv$625Ckstamps : Us Stamps Scott #c13 65c Airmail Graf Zeppelin 1930 Mint Hr/og Cv$180Us Stamp:#c13 65c Green 1930 Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Mh/og Stamp SuperbDrbobstamps Us Scott #c13 Sound Used Well Centered StampDrbobstamps Us Scott #c14 Sound Mint Og Vlh Stamp With Clean Pf CertificateNystamps E Mint Us Air Mail Stamp & Plate Block Collection White Ace Album NhUsa Mint U.s. Postage Coils Air Mail Officials Stamp Collection Scarce $$$Nystamps G Us Air Mail Due Official Parcel Revenue Stamp Collection Scott AlbumCkstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c3 Mint Nh Og Cv$140Us Airpost Sc # C6 1918 24c Mint Nh Cat $2750Ckstamps: Us Stamps Scott #c15 $2.60 Airmail Graf Zeppelin 1930 Mint H/og Cv$575Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c2 Mint H Og Cv$65# C4 & C6 On 1924 On Air Mail Flight Los Ang Ca To Alaska Ak Signed Pilot# C11 On 1928 Air Mail Rate Change 1st Day Indian Motorcycle Adverting * Nice1937 Hawaii China Clipper Air Mail Ships Mail Uss San Francisco CancelU.s. #c14 Choice Xf/sup Used - 1930 $1.30 Graf Zeppelin ($375)Us Airmail Plate Number Block Collection MnhU.s. #c18 Choice Mint Vf - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($50)Ckstamps : Assorted Mint Us Airmails Pb Stamps Collection ( Face Value $119.00Us Scott C18, Mint Never HingedNoblespirit No Reserve 8107/1 Astounding Us First Flight Airmail Covers Coll. HuCkstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c18 Mint H Og 1929 Graf Zeppelin 1st Round The World Flight Card Los Angeles To LakehurstUsa 1930 Sc#c15 $2.60 Zeppelin Flight Cover To Kansas,rareU.s. Scott C15 Zeppelin Mint, Very Fine [id:8829]1936 Graf Zeppelin Hindenburg Flight Ny To Germany * Nice1936 Graf Zeppelin Hindenburg Flight Ny To Germany + Return To Pitts Pa * NiceMr Fancy Cancel C10 Bk4+567 Cover Graf Zep First Round The World Flight Aug 1929Dr Jim Stamps Old Us Scott C3 24c Curtiss Jenny Air Mail Og Heavy Hinge Thin NrNystamps E Many Mint Nh Old Us Bob Air Mail Duck Stamp CollectionUs Airpost Sc # C4 1923 8c Mint Nh Cat $600Discount Postage Mnh All Full Sheets $358.00 FaceUs 1918-1923 Scott C1-c6 Set Of First Six Air Mail Issue, Stamps, Mnh Scv$700Scott #c1-c6 Used Classic Airmails Set Cv $174.00U.s. Mint Never Hinged C3 Cv $140.001929 Graf Zeppelin Round The World Flight Cover Ny To Germany * NiceUs Postage Scott # 834 1938 $5 Calvin Coolidge Mlh Xf1933 Chicago World's Fair Welcomes Graf Zeppelin Dr Eckener Nice CachetCkstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c7-c11 Mint Nh OgCkstamps : Us Stamps Scott #c13 65c Airmail Graf Zeppelin 1930 Mint H Og Cv$1801847-2000 Minkus Album. Us Stamp Collection. Airmail, Bob, Post Due. No Reserve!Us Scott #c18 1933 50c Graf Zeppelin Mnh,og StampNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og Nh $85Sb1 Stamps - 1933 50c Baby Zepplin; Sc. C18; Vf/mh[a06] Usa 1918 Scott#c3 Mint Cv:$70Us Stamp:#c18 50c Green 1933 Graft Zeppelin Air Mail Cover Scott #c18 Mint Nh 1933 Zeppelin Century Of Progress AirmailUs Fdc Cover & Stamp Collection 1967-1970 94 Items Including Artcraft & Airmail# 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 First Day Covers Fdc # Uc 18 Air Mail Embossed Envelope 1950 Lot Of 2Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og H $70Us Fdc First Day Cover # C 33 Air Mail 1947 Plate Block Cachet Craft Ken BollNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og Nh $90Us 1941-4 Mnh 6-50c Twin-motored Transport Plane Set Sc# C25-c31Scott #c1-c2 Mint 1918 Airmail Stamps Gum Gloss Cv $140.00#c13-c15 Full Set Graf Zeppelin Issues F/vf Og H. Cv $1155.00U.s. Scott C14 Zeppelin Mint, Very Fine [id:8828]

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

Canada's monopoly health-care system is financially unsustainable
The Globe and Mail (subscription), March 1st

If you answered “none of the above,” you probably recall the days when hooking up your telephone, sending a package or even travelling by air offered few or no choices. Today, we have a wide variety of competing providers that offer higher quality...Read more

Chelsea v Tottenham, Capital One Cup final: as it happened (blog), March 1st

Their players have been up to collect their runners-up medals, and have got the hell out of there, as you would. ... E-mail As a Chelsea supporter, I'm pretty nervous because I remember what happened last time out, but as a Costa fan, I'll just offer...Read more

Letter from Birdland: Unveiling the cracks in egg definitions
Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette, March 1st

They love to dig in the leaves that collect in piles on the leeward side of the shed. ... Long and Alterman accuse the American Egg Board of being conveniently vague in their definition of "true free range eggs," and the definition the article quoted...Read more

Stamps worth $450000
AsiaOne, February 28th

He is a member of more than 10 Facebook groups of stamp collectors, with whom he exchanges stamps. Since 2000, he has been mailing postcards with bird stamps and Singapore's airmail stickers to his friends, who are from countries such as France and ...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