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    

Nystamps Us Plate Block Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og Nh $1850 P#12 Arrow Two TopsUs $2.60 Zeppelin, 1930 Sc C15 Ognh Cat Value $975Momen: Us Stamps #c15 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og H $575 Lot #1044Stamp / Stamps Lot: Mint Graf Zeppelin Issue Never Hinged, 1930Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C13 Mint Og Nh $275U.s. #c15 Choice Mint Superb - 1930 $2.60 Graf Zeppelin ($575)Us Stamp:via Trans-uss Black Hawk Air Mail Stamps Cover Shanghai, Japan, ManilaUs 24c Curtiss Jenny, 1918 Sc C3 Ognh Cat Value $140Momen: Us Stamps #c14 Graf Zeppelin Used $375 Lot #1206Momen: Us Stamps #c14 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og Nh $650 Lot #936Momen: Us Stamps #c15 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og Nh $975 Lot #934Nystamps Us Plate Block Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og / Nh $265 P#4Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C14 Mint Og H $400Us 65c Zeppelin, 1930 Sc C13 Ognh Cat Value $400Momen: Us Stamps #c13 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og Nh $275 Lot #932Nystamps S Large Old Us & Bob Air Mail Sd Parcel Stamp Collection Scott AlbumPhilippines Usa 1941 Registered Air Mail Cover To Turkey Double Censored DemagedMomen: Us Stamps #c14 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og Nh Vf $650 Lot #933Momen: Us Stamps #c14 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og H $400 Lot #1046Momen: Us Stamps #c13 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og H Xf $210 Lot #1180Us Stamp:-canal Zone- #c13 40c 1931-49 Air Mail First Flight Cover To AustrailiaNystamps W Old Us Bob Air Mail Stamp Collection White Ace AlbumMomen: Us Stamps #c13 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og Nh Vf/xf $325 Lot #931Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og $70Vintage Stamp Scott # C14 , Us 1930, Zeppelin $1.30. Pse F-vf 75 Mint OgnhCkstamps : Fantastic Mint & Used Us Stamps & Airmail, Covers Collection In AlbumMomen: Us Stamps #c13 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og H $180 Lot #1045Momen: Us Stamps #c4-c6 Mint Og H Vf $165 Lot #1280U.s. #c3 Mint Nh Beauty - 1918 24c Jenny ($140)Nystamps U Old Us Bob Air Mail Sd Parcel Due Stamp Collection Scott Album PageMomen: Us Stamps #c2 Mint Og H $70 Lot #1110Nystamps Us Block Air Mail Stamp # C25-c31 Mint Og Nh / Mint H $87Momen: Us Stamps #c15 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og H $575 Lot #1047Us C13 Mint/f-vf/lh Fresh Original Gum; Scv $180.00Nystamps S Mint Old Us & Bob Air Mail Stamp Block & Plate Block Collection NhMomen: Us Stamps #c1-c3 Mint Og H Vf $205 Lot #1214Nystamps Us Plate Block Air Mail Stamp # C11 Mint Og Nh $55 P#6Momen: Us Stamps #c3 Mint Og H $75 Lot #1132Us, Airmails, Excellent Stamp Collection Mounted On Scott Specialty PagesMomen: Us Stamps #c14 Graf Zeppelin Mint Og H $400 Lot #1048Us German Sea Post Ss Leviathan Adams Airmail Pick Up 1929 Cover W/ C11Us 24c Airpost, 1923 Sc C6 Ognh Cat Value $140C133-c150 Airmail Collection Mint Xf-nhMomen: Us Stamps #c1 Mint Og H Vf $65 Lot #1119Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og Nh $85Momen: Us Stamps #c3 Used $35 Lot #1131Rare 1937 # Ce1 Airmail Stationery Wmk 33 Used From Puerto Rico To Usa Cv$7507us Stamp:-canal Zone- #c4 10c On 50c 1929 Air Mail Cover To Costa RicaMomen: Us Stamps #c6 Mint Og H $75 Lot #1039Drbobstamps Us Scott #c15 Mint Og Nh Sound Well Centered ZeppelinNoblespirit~no Reserve~my/674~scarce Mellone's #c18-5c Baby Zeppelin Cover $350#c132 William T Piper 40-cent Airmail Sheet Of 50 Stamps Fv $25 MnhNoblespirit~ No Reserve~ (scm) Excellent Zeppelin Photos & Postcards Collection!Philippines 1936 Klm Dutch Airmail Cover To Switzerland Plate Number SingleMomen: Us Stamps #c18 Mint Og Nh Vf $85 Lot #929#c18 Us Airmail (baby Zep)-mint-vlh-fine-vf-ogMomen: Us Stamps #c5 Mint Og H $70 Lot #1127British Airship R-100 R100 Montreal Air Mail Postal Cover 1930 DirigibleScott#c3 24c Air Mail 1918 Mint Nh Og Never Hinged Little Crease On Gum SideScott#c2 16c Air Mail 1918 Mint Nh Og Never Hinged

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

The Stigma of Welfare in White Working Class America (1/2)
The Real News Network, October 28th

Previously, she was as an on-air reporter for New York tri-state cable outlet Regional News Network, where she worked before the 2010 earthquake struck her native country of Haiti. From March 2008 - September 2009, she lived in Egypt, where her work ...Read more

For $100000, You Can Clone Your Dog
Businessweek, October 22nd

As of this September, though, the lab exists as a collection of architectural drawings and a plot of land selected for optimal feng shui, so Hwang and his surgical team will make do with the temporary facility tucked into a wooded hollow. ... He was...Read more

Wonkbook: What we know about Ebola's air-travel risks
Washington Post (blog), October 16th

Welcome to Wonkbook, Wonkblog's morning policy news primer by Puneet Kollipara (@pkollipara). To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. To read more by the Wonkblog team, click here...Read more

Hot air balloons and carrier pigeons: how a unique correspondance took place ...
Bournemouth Echo, October 15th

“I've always been interested in postal history and stamp collecting,” said Mr Lawrence. “A friend alerted ... On September 23, the first of 67 hot air balloons left Paris carrying post for the outside world, with a letter of Mr Brown's among the mail...Read more

Man licks his hobby addiction
Rio Rancho Observer, October 11th

NewMexPex stamp collector Larry Reynolds works on his sizeable postage assembly at his home. ... “I'm a worldwide stamp collector,” the 61-year-old Air Force retiree says. “I collect anything and everything.” Although the huge collection was actually...Read more

Kalamazoo Undersheriff stamps out crime
WWMT-TV, October 9th

"Most people know me as the Kalamazoo County Undersheriff," says Pali Matyas, who enjoys collecting stamps in his free time. "I started stamp collecting with my older brother when we were about eight or nine years old. My dad would take the stamps off...Read more

2014 Voter Guide
Moab Sun News, October 8th

We know that 14.9% of Grand County residents live below the poverty level; 534 multiple-person households receive food stamps and government assistance; 49.8% of our kids are on the free lunch program. We're .... Hawks: Before consenting to any new...Read more

At museums this fall: Art and science, civilization and extinction
Washington Post, October 3rd

At National Air and Space Museum. Through July 25, 2015. “Herblock Looks .... An exhibition exploring the relationship between the United States and China through the study of stamps and mail from 1860 to 1980. At National Postal Museum. Through Jan...Read more