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”)



Bob Allen's beautiful and well organized catalog of US stamps from 1847 to 1970 is a fantastic resource for all US … [read review or visit site]

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    

Drbobstamps Us Scott C13, C14, C15 Used Sound Zeppelin Stamp SetNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C14 Mint Og $400Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C13 Mint Og $180Ckstamps : Excellent Mint & Used Us Airmails Stamps & Plate Blocks CollectionDec 23 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C1 6c C2 16c C3 24c Airmail Stamps NorScott # C14 , Us 1930, Zeppelin $1.30. Never Hinged. Cat: $850.Scott # C15 , Us 1930, Zeppelin $2.60. Never Hinged. Cat: $1200.May 15 1918 First Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp Nors1930 Us Zeppelin. $2.60 Sc C15 . Never Hinged. Cat $975Scott # C13 , Us 1930, Zeppelin 65c. Never Hinged. Cat: $400.Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C14 Mint With Gum $460Scott # C3 , Us 1918, Curtiss Jenny 24c. Never Hinged. Cat: $140.May 16 1918 First Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsMay 16 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp Nors1930 Us Zeppelin. 65c Sc C13 . Never Hinged. Cat $275Scott # C3 , Us 1918, Curtiss Jenny 24c. Never Hinged. Cat: $150.May 23 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsNoblespirit~no Reserve~colossal Retail Value Us Airmail Mint Sheet ExtravaganzaCkstamps : Exceptional Mint & Used Us Bob,airmail,pd, Sp.d Etc Stamps CollectionC23 Eagle Air Mail 3 Nh Plate Blocks Of 10Us Sc# C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 The First 6 Us Airmail Stamps - Mint H MhC23 Eagle Air Mail 2 Nh Plate Blocks Of 10Scott # C15 , Us 1930, Zeppelin $2.60. Never Hinged. Cat: $1200.June 9 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsU.s. #c15 Unused Beauty - 1930 $2.60 Graf Zeppelin ($600)1918 Us Curtiss Jenny. 24c Sc C3 . Never Hinged. Cat $560Us C1-c11 Air Mail Stamps - Unused Us C10 1927 Plate Block Of Six Lindbergh Stamp Nh OgRare 1933 Germany Graf Zeppelin Flight Cover To Us With Nice Stamps 01C133-c150 Airmail Collection Mint Xf-nh1941 First Flight Nigeria Africa Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp PairMay 18 1918 Early Trip Cut Piece Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsMay 25 1918 Early Trip Front Cover Piece Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsUs C18 Plate Block Of Four Nh Og 'baby Zeppelin' Stamp 1933U.s. #c22 Choice Mint Nh Plate Block - 1937 50c Clipper ($90)C23 Eagle Air Mail 4 Nh Plate Blocks Of 10Scott #c25 Through #c31 Transport Plane -- Air Post Stamps **1941-44***mnh** 15 C Special Delivery Not Accepted As Postage On Air Mail Card To Sweden 1951U.s. 1930 $2.60 Zeppelin Air Post High Value Of Key Set Vf Centered HingedScott # C6 , Us 1923, Airpost 24c. Never Hinged. Cat: $140.#c13: 1930 Graf Zeppelin Stamp 65c Vf/xf Nh MintU.s. #c18 Mint Nh Beauty - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($85)Nystamps H Many Mint Us Bob Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott Album PageJapan Us Stamp: 6c Us Air Mail Stamp Cover 1945 Tokyo Bay To Usa With LetterCkstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c18 Mint Nh Og 1936 Zeppelin Hindenburg Ff Cv To GermanyU.s. #c1 Choice Mint Vf Nh - 1918 6c Jenny ($120)Sb1 Stamps - 1930 Plate Block Of 6, 5c Winged Globe; Sc. C12; MhUs Sc# C10 1927 10c Airmail - Plate # Block Of 6 - Mint Nh (1 Stamp Is H) OgU.s. #c18 Mint Nh Beauty - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($85)U.s. #c13 Choice Mint Vf W/cert - 1930 65 Graf Zeppelin ($180)C7 C8 C9 Plate Blocks Mint Never Hinged - 1926 1927 Air Mail StampsUs C18 Block Of Four Nh Og 'baby Zeppelin' Stamp 1933Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og $50U.s. #c28//c46 Nh Plate Blocks - 15c - 80c Airmails ($77)Scott # C5 , Us 1923, Airpost 16c. Never Hinged. Cat: $130.U.s. #c19//ce2 Mnh Plate Blocks - 6c - 80c Airmails ($98)1918 Us Curtiss Jenny. 16c Sc C2 . Never Hinged. Cat $130U.s. #c7 Choice Mint Xf Nh Plate Block - 1926 10c Map Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C2 Mint Og $70

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

Boy with inoperable brain tumor asks for cards for his birthday, thousands ...
The Week Magazine, July 22nd

Danny Nickerson is turning 6 on July 25, and for the price of a Forever stamp, strangers can make his birthday wish come true. Last October ... He gets lonely, his family said, and one of the highlights of his day is going to the mailbox; now that he...Read more

Accent on New Paltz: Ohioville sojourn
New Paltz Times, July 22nd

I entrusted some old coins and stamps to his keen eye and mastery of the on-line auction domain and have been very happy with the result. I enjoyed the process of sitting down with him, having each item reviewed, and receiving his recommendation about ...Read more

It's Just Lunch
Wall Street Journal, July 21st

Increasing the food-stamp threshold to make her eligible--the obvious "solution," though not one, so far as we know, that the president has expressly advocated--would give her short-term relief, but it would also create a disincentive for her further...Read more

A luxury holiday by the lake
Colombo Gazette, July 21st

The Lake House is managed by Ceylon Hotels Corporation (CHC) and was recently restored to portray the inherent characteristics of the Resort Collection, a tribute to all things traditional, with a modern feel to it. CHC operates a collection of resort...Read more

What's Driving Global Demand for Rare Stamps?
ThinkAdvisor, July 20th

Meanwhile, prices on Twentieth-Century stamps decreased 0.2% over those 12 months ended April 30, though airmail prices were up 3.2% for the period. From an ... The first—no surprise here—is demand from wealthy Chinese collectors and investors...Read more

Fox News catches John Kerry in hot mic moment on Gaza: 'Hell of a pinpoint ...
The Week Magazine, July 20th

A frustrated Secretary of State John Kerry was caught Sunday on a live mic speaking candidly about the situation in Gaza. Kerry was in between interviews he was conducting for a media blitz when Fox News picked up his brief phone conversation with an ...Read more

John Kerry: 'Enormous amount of evidence' tying Russia to Flight 17 crash
The Week Magazine, July 20th

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said Russia was in part to blame for the downing of Flight 17 because it had provided anti-air weaponry to separatist rebels in Ukraine. ... Speed Reads is's continuously updated collection of the...Read more

Obama: At least one American citizen killed in Malaysia Airlines crash
The Week Magazine, July 18th

Obama also confirmed reports that the plane had been brought down by a surface-to-air missile, and that the missile appeared to have been fired from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. ... Speed Reads is's continuously updated...Read more