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”)

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]

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]

Alphabetilately

Alphabetilately

First shown in 2008 to celebrate the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 15th anniversary, Alphabetilately is esse… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Us, Airmails, Parcel Post, C18(nh), Mint Nh Stamps In A Schaubek Hingeless AlbumCkstamps : Fabulous Mint & Used Us & Airmails Stamps Collection In 2 BindersNystamp Us Air Mail Stamp # C14 Mint Og Nh $650# C3 On 1918 Governmental Flight Cover Air Mail Service Wash Ny Phila Aamc 1011930 Us #c14 $1.30 Brown Graf Zeppelin Unused Vf Mnh Single Family OwnerCkstamps : Terrific Mint Us Stamps & Airmail Collection ( Face Value $130.00Drbobstamps Us Zeppelin Sc #c15 Valuable Postal History Cover (see Description)[/19] Usa 1930 Post Card W/ Scott#c13 First Flight - Zeppelin To HollandGraf Zeppelin Flown 1933 Cover C18 Century Of Progress Akron To FriedrichshafenScott #c18 - The 50 Cent Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Issue**1933**mnh** Drbobstamps Us Scott #c13-15 Sound Used Well Centered Set Stamps Nystamp Us Air Mail Stamp # C15 Mint Og H $575[/27] Usa 1930 Nice Cover With Scott#c14 +c15 First Flight - ZeppelinZeppelin Hindenburg Flown Cover 1936 First North America Flight To GermanyNystamp Us Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og H $701928 Usa To Germany First Flight Advertizing Zeppelin Cover Official Lz127 CardNystamp Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og Nh $851930 Us Zeppelin $1.30 Sc C14 Nh Cat $6251930 Us #c13 Air Mail 65c Graf Zeppelin Unused Vf - Mnh Single Family OwnerDr Jim Stamps Old Us Air Mail Scott C3 24c Curtiss Jenny Unused Og Nh No ReserveUs Mint Never Hinge C13 ZeppelinUs Curtiss Jenny Sc # C1-c3 1918 6c - 24c Mint Nh Cat $390Nystamp Us Air Mail Stamp # C13 Used $165Dr Jim Stamps Old Us Air Mail Scott C18 50c Graf Zepplin Unused Og HingedUs Sc# C1-c6 No C2 Unused 1918-23 IssueNystamp Us Air Mail Stamp # C1 Mint Og Nh $120Us Airpost Sc # C4-c6 1923 8c - 24c Mint Nh Cat $310Uncle Shelby's Really Old Stamps Lot #52929U.s. #c18 Mint Nh - 1933 50c Graf Zeppelin ($90)Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamps Collection Scott#c18 50c Mint Nh Og Cv$90U.s.a. # C5 Mnh ''air Mail'' Mog Nh...2 ScansNystamp Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og H $48Dr Jim Stamps Old Us Air Mail Scott C2 16c Curtiss Jenny Unused Og Nh No ReserveC24 30 Winged Airmail ; Louis Weigand - Large Photo Inside Olive R/p Frame Fdc Hawaii Statehood Air Mail Fdc Hand Painted W N Wright Cachet Scott C55Us Stamp #c7 Fdc 10 Cent Air Mail Feb 13 1926 $70 Worden CoverUs Fdc # C76 Air Mail First Man On The Moon 1969 NasaScott C15 Mint Graf Zeppelin Stamp Never Hinged Beauty Cv $975.00+ 7dm21 38Philippines Airmail C40 Block Of 20 W/ Plate Block ++ MnhScott C14 Mint Graf Zeppelin Stamp Never Hinged Beauty Cv $625.00+ 7dm21 39U.s. #c15 Mint Vf Nh - 1930 $2.60 Graf Zeppelin ($975)U.s. # C15--mint/slightly Disturbed Gum--blue---air-mail--graf-zeppelin--1930C14, Mint Nh. Sound, Nice Color, No Wrinkles Or Bends,post Office Fresh ZepplinDrbobstamps Us Zeppelin First Flight Postal History Lot (see Description)Noblespirit No Reserve (cvrns) Incredible 600+ Us Air Mail Fdc InventoryUsa Lakehurst Zeppelin Cover Japan Tokio 1929 1st Round World S#28b Back PlaneUs Stamps # C13 Superb Og Nh Scott Value $275.001930 Us Zeppelin 65c Sc C13 Nh Cat $275C13 Nice Mint, Never Hinged. Sound With Normal Zepplin Paper Wrinkles U.s. #c13 Mint Vf/xf - 1930 65c Graf Zeppelin ($190)Usa - Collection Of Airmails #c10a//c135 (1928-2000) Mint Nh On 27 Scott PagesUs Airmails 1918 Issues C1-3 Mint OgUs Airmail Sheet: C17 (1932 8c Winged Globe) Sheet Of 50 Mint, Never HingedDrbobstamps Us Zeppelin First Flight Postal History Covers (see Description)37 Fdcs - 1938 - National Air Mail Week - New Jersey - Various Cities - Seven W/Very Nice Mnh Us C-5 Block Of 4-very Sharp Color!U.s. # C13--mint/slightly Disturbed Gum--green---air-mail--graf-zeppelin--1930Scott C13 Mint Graf Zeppelin Stamp Mog Cv $190.00 7dm21 40Us Stamp #c8 Fdc 15 Cent Air Mail Cover Sept 18 1926 $85 Graf Zeppelin Flown 1933 Cover C18 Century Of Progress Chicago - Friedrichshafen