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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World War II hits the Central CoastLompoc Record, May 24th
All amateur radio stations were ordered off the air and all planes were grounded except for those used for national defense and regular airway companies. Within a ... The general ration books were generally kept in a safe place inside the house, with...Read more
West Side News & NotesAkron Leader Publications, May 21st
The collection sites include: Cuyahoga Falls, Norton and Springfield administration buildings, the Stow Police Department, the Tallmadge Fire Department, the Barberton YMCA, the Quirk Cultural Center in Cuyahoga Falls, the Veterans Service Commission...Read more
David Letterman 'lover' Stephanie Birkitt gets written out of Late Show historySydney Morning Herald, May 20th
The young woman often introduced into comic skits as "Dave's assistant" – before she was revealed in real life to be Dave's apparent mistress – Birkitt was an absolute comic highlight of Letterman's third decade on the air. ... It's even tricky to find...Read more
Stephanie Birkitt has been written out of Letterman's 'Late Show' history, and ...Washington Post (blog), May 19th
The young woman often introduced into comic skits as “Dave's assistant” — before she was revealed in real life to be Dave's apparent mistress — Birkitt was an absolute comic highlight of Letterman's third decade on the air. .... It's even tricky to...Read more
Good Morning!KWTX, May 13th
Good morning, it's Wednesday, May 13, the 133rd day of 2015. There are 232 days left in the year. We'll start the day in the mid-60s with clouds and a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Heavy rainfall is possible this afternoon as temperatures...Read more
Slideshow: Today In History, May 13Madison.com, May 13th
In 1918, the first U.S. airmail stamps, featuring a picture of a Curtiss JN-4 biplane, were issued to the public. (On a few of the stamps, the biplane was inadvertently printed upside-down, making the "Inverted Jenny" collector's items.) AP. On May 13...Read more
Today in History: May 13WHDH-TV, May 12th
In 1918, the first U.S. airmail stamps, featuring a picture of a Curtiss JN-4 biplane, were issued to the public. (On a few of the stamps, the biplane was inadvertently printed upside-down, making the "Inverted Jenny" collector's items.) In 1935, T.E...Read more
Today In History, May 13th10TV, May 4th
In 1918, the first U.S. airmail stamps, featuring a picture of a Curtiss JN-4 biplane, were issued to the public. (On a few of the stamps, the biplane was inadvertently printed upside-down, making them collector's items.) In 1935, T.E. Lawrence was...Read more