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    

Scott National Album Us Stamp Collection Early Mint Used AirmailUs, Includes Airmails, 1000+ Mint(many Nh) Stamps In StockpagesUs Stamp:air Mail Letter Hong Kong To Hololulu Hong Kong Stamps+us Postage DueUs $2.60 Zeppelin, 1930 Sc C15 Ognh Cat Value $975Drbobstamps Us Scott #c14 Mint Og Lh Well Centered Sound ZeppelinRare Zeppelin High Value First Day First Flight CoverNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og $70Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c3 Mint Nh Og Cv$140Zeppelin Air Mail Cover To Sweden 1929Us Airmail #c15 2.60 Zeppelin Mint Nh Og Excellent CenteringC133-c150 Airmail Collection Mint Xf-nhCkstamps : Us Stamps Scott#c13 65c Airmail Graf Zeppelin 1930 Mint H/og Cv$180Us C18 M/xf/nh Po Fresh Original Gum; Scv $125.00Us Stamp:#c18 50c Green 1933 Graft Zeppelin Air Mail Cover #5Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c18 Mint Nh Og Cv$85Usa , 1930 , Scarce Full Set , Zeppelin ( Sc. No. C13-,c15 ) Very Fine Used !! Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C13 Mint Og $180Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c3 Mint H Og Cv$65Drbobstamps Canal Zone Graf Zeppelin From Miami To Chicago Postal History CoverJun 3 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp Pa To CanadaUs Plate Block Scott #c7 Mnh Air Mail StampsRare Graf Zeppelin Block Four Fdc First Day Cover Ff First FlightUs Stamp:#c18 50c Green 1933 Graft Zeppelin Air Mail Cover With Post Card #6Lot Of 2 Us Plate Blocks Scott #c20 And #c22 Air MailUs Stamp: Pan American Clipper First Flight Hawaii - California 1935 CoverMay 15 1918 First Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp To Camden Nj NorsCkstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c6 Mint Nh Og Cv$150Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c4 Mint Nh Og 1933 Extremely Fine Graf Zeppelin Flight Germany To U.s. Chicsgo!Us 65c Zeppelin, 1930 Sc C13 Ognh Cat Value $400U.s. #c1-3 Choice Mint Vf Set - 1918 Airmails ($195)Ckstamps: Lovely Mint Most Nh Us Airmail Pb Stamps Collection ( Face Value $90Us Stamp:#c18 50c Green 1933 Graft Zeppelin Air Mail Cover #4U.s. #c4 Choice Mint Vf/xf Nh - 1923 8c PropellorMint Nh Postage Stamp Mix - 10ct To 40ct Values - Air-mail Issues - Face $25.17Nystamps X Many Mint Old Us Bob Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott Album PageC18 50c Baby Zeppelin....fvf Og Nh W/plate # Cv$85++ -start@99cFull & Partial Sheets: Valley Forge, Yorktown, Washington, Airmail.Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c6 Mint H Og Cv$75Us Stamp: U.s.s. Akron, Zeppelin Cachet 8c Stamped Air Letter 1944(only 40 Made)Us Stamp:via Trans-pacific Air Mail Co Verguam-hawaii-texas-san Francisco-manilaU.s. #c5 Choice Mint Vf Nh - 1923 16c Emblem ($130)U.s. #c18 Choice Mint Vf Nh - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($85)Us Stamp: U.s.s. Akron Zeppelin Cachet Cover 1932, 1939 With Stamps (rare)Japan Us Stamp: 6c Us Air Mail Stamp Cover 1945 Tokyo Bay To Usa + LetterUsa 1918-1923 Airmail Mint Selection, Seconds, 3 Stamps.Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c2 Mint Nh Og Cv$140Us Scott C6 Old 24c De Havilland Biplane Air Mail M/nh/og/vf Cv $150Us Stamp: U.s.s. Macon Zeppelin Cachet Cover 1933 (15 Made) With 2c StampUs Stamp:# U.s.s. Akron, Zeppelin Cachet Cover With Special Delivery StampUs Stamp: Clipper Mail Last Pre-war Flight Of American Clipper Air Letter 1941Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c2 Mint H Og Cv$70Noblespirit~no Reserve~1600/1a~rare Us #c11 Vignette Shift Error Selection W/key1929 Graf Zeppelin Lz127 Flight Postcard Depretis Ct To Germany Usa To Germany 1929, $95, Zeppelin, Good Flight Ppc New York To DeutschlandCkstamps: Large Mint & Used Us Stamps & Bob, Airmail Collection In Binder & BookUs Bob Airmail Lot - 40 Blocks Of 4 Or Plate Blocks Fv $29.20 Much Better BvUsa To England 1939 Early Wwii Clipper Airmail Card Chicago To London , Judaica8 Us Canal Zone Airmail Stamps C5 Through C10 + 6 & 30 Cent Nh Og NoreserveUs Stamp:#c10a 10c Blue 1928 Air Mail Booklet Pane Of 3 Mh/og Stamp

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

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

Open Thread || October 19, 2014
White House Dossier, October 19th

I was chatting with a guy who worked for me of Mexican heritage and Tim really upset him when I mentioned that they took Speedie off the air and the reason was because of the town drunks. I will never forget him ranting .... So all these Haitians will...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

An Post put their stamp on retro video-games with latest collection
Irish Independent, October 16th

Some of the most iconic video game images over the last few decades feature in the latest Irish postage stamp collection. The four stamps include Bandai's Pac-Man, Namco's Space Invaders and iconic videogame stars Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario...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

A sticky business
Sydney Morning Herald, October 10th

The voluntary detective work is regularly posted on an internet forum devoted to philately, the collection and study of postage stamps. The resulting conversation has offered an almost unanimous hypothesis: the bulk of forgeries in Australia are the...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