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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China building island large enough for an airfield in disputed south sea watersDaily Mail, November 23rd
Chinese officials are building the first island large enough for its own airfield in the middle of disputed waters in the south sea. Satellite images revealed that since reclaiming the Spratly Islands in August, workers have expanded one stretch of...Read more
Love letters from war: WWII hero, local legend Diz Kronenberg unlocks his past ...Leader-Telegram, November 22nd
The accounts, as told to Warren Hermodson, mention a number of other Eau Claire military servicemen as well as a collection of other military tales. The book costs $15 and is available at the Chippewa ... I'll send some money for stamps.” • 11-6-42...Read more
Lives Lived: Robert Genn, 78The Globe and Mail, November 20th
He spent a boyhood collecting – mushrooms, photographs, rotting wood, stamps, old cars, bird specimens – for drawing. ... As a young man, he took road trips with his Brownie camera and plein-air easel, through B.C.'s Goldstream Provincial Park, Mount...Read more
What Makes Washington 'Imperial'?Huffington Post, November 20th
In fact, there has never been a power, no matter how "great," that has, in such a militarized way, tried to put its stamp of control on so much of Planet Earth. It has, for ... It has also conducted air strikes in countries ranging from Pakistan and...Read more
Lindsborg Post Office closedMcPherson Sentinel, November 18th
The Postal Service will install centralized mailboxes outside the Lindsborg Post Office to help make picking up the mail easier for those customers who have been traveling to the Salina Post Office to pick up their mail. ... The blue collection box...Read more
Operation Christmas Child to collect toys for needy childrenCharleston Daily Mail, November 16th
tom hindman/daily mail Pastor Gordon Killion of the Rand First Church of the Nazarene displays a shoebox with a small doll inside. ... National Collection Week is Nov. 17 to 24 for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse, the...Read more
The Gold and Silver Mine- Misprints can turn stamp values upside downShore News Today, November 1st
The Gold and Silver Mine- Misprints can turn stamp values upside down I've mentioned in the past that one of my favorite hobbies growing up was stamp collecting, and as a result I was good at history because stamps were issued to commemorate events in...Read more
'Don't throw traditional stamps into the [postal] dumpster,' former USPS ...Washington Post (blog), October 31st
During McGowan's tenure, the marketing office took took steps to enhance the visibility of new stamps, rankling collectors. Last year, for example, the Postal Service reprinted a version of a famous airmail stamp issued in 1918 with an error known as...Read more