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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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
GOP-controlled House nears vote on budget to erase deficitsLynchburg News and Advance, March 25th
WASHINGTON (AP) — Normally quarrelsome House Republicans are lining up to pass a boldly conservative budget that relies on nearly $5 trillion in spending cuts to eliminate deficits over the next decade. It also calls for repealing the health care law...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
Hollywood Regency and the Woolf PackAdvocate.com, March 19th
The Palos Verdes Art Center is mounting the first-ever exhibition of Woolf's collection of drawings, schematics, and renderings, which have been housed at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The exhibit opens Friday and runs through May 29...Read more
Poem of the Week: World Trade Center/Mail Runner/'73 by Peter BalakianThe Guardian, March 9th
Later, in the collection's central sequence, A-Train/Ziggurat/Elegy, Balakian summons Ovid: “Omens … are wont to wait upon beginnings”. The events and images of 9/11 are inextricably present in World Trade Center/Mail Runner/'73. Even for readers...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
Stamps worth $450000AsiaOne, 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