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    

Dec 23 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C1 6c C2 16c C3 24c Airmail Stamps NorScott # C14 , Us 1930, Zeppelin $1.30. Never Hinged. Cat: $850.Scott # C15 , Us 1930, Zeppelin $2.60. Never Hinged. Cat: $1200.May 15 1918 First Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsUnited States Zeppelin $2.60 Scott C15 . Never Hinged. Sc $975Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C14 Mint With Gum $460Ckstamps : Exceptional Mint & Used Us Bob,airmail,pd, Sp.d Etc Stamps Collection1930 Us Zeppelin. $2.60 Sc C15 . Never Hinged. Cat $975Scott # C13 , Us 1930, Zeppelin 65c. Never Hinged. Cat: $400.United States Zeppelin $1.30 Scott C14 . Never Hinged. Sc $650Us Sc# C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 The First 6 Us Airmail Stamps - Mint H MhMay 16 1918 First Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsUnited States Zeppelin 65c Scott C13 . Never Hinged. Sc $275May 16 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsScott # C3 , Us 1918, Curtiss Jenny 24c. Never Hinged. Cat: $140.Us - Nice Zeppelin Postcard Lot # 1Ckstamps : Outstanding Mint & Used Us Stamps & Airmails Collection In 2 AlbumsUnited States Stamp Lot Zeppelin Set From 1930 Unused Mint (c13-15)U.s. #c13 Choice Mint Vf W/cert - 1930 65 Graf Zeppelin ($180)1930 Us Zeppelin. 65c Sc C13 . Never Hinged. Cat $2751941 First Flight Nigeria Africa Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp PairScott # C3 , Us 1918, Curtiss Jenny 24c. Never Hinged. Cat: $150.May 23 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsJune 9 1918 Early Trip Cover Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsMay 25 1918 Early Trip Front Cover Piece Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp Nors#c13: 1930 Graf Zeppelin Stamp 65c Vf/xf Nh MintU.s. #c1 Choice Mint Vf Nh - 1918 6c Jenny ($120)Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c6 Mint Nh Og Cv$140Noblespirit~no Reserve~us Mint Plate Block & Airmail Singles 2 Vol AlbumsNystamps X Much Mint Old Us Bob Air Mail Stamp Collection Album With NhScott # C15 , Us 1930, Zeppelin $2.60. Never Hinged. Cat: $1200.U.s. #c15 Unused Beauty - 1930 $2.60 Graf Zeppelin ($600)Scott # C6 , Us 1923, Airpost 24c. Never Hinged. Cat: $140.Us - Nice Zeppelin Postcard Lot # 2United States Zeppelin 65c Scott C13 . Never Hinged. Sc $275Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c18 Mint Nh Og U.s. #c18 Mint Nh Beauty - 1933 50c Zeppelin ($85)C23 Eagle Air Mail 2 Nh Plate Blocks Of 10Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c2 Mint Vlh Og Cv$65 1918 Us Curtiss Jenny. 24c Sc C3 . Never Hinged. Cat $560Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C13 Used $165C23 Eagle Air Mail 4 Lh Plate Blocks Of 10C23 Eagle Air Mail 4 Nh Plate Blocks Of 10Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c11 Plate# Block.6 Mint Nh OgC23 Eagle Air Mail 3 Nh Plate Blocks Of 10May 18 1918 Early Trip Cut Piece Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp NorsUs - Nice Zeppelin Postcard Lot # 31918 Us Curtiss Jenny. 16c Sc C2 . Never Hinged. Cat $130Noblespirit~no Reserve~my/451~exciting 2 Vol. U.s. Airmail Fdc CollectionUs C10a Lindbergh Stamp Booklet Pane Nh Og & Outer BookletMay 15 1918 First Trip Cut Piece Curtis Jenny C3 24c Airmail Stamp Via New YorkNoblespirit~no Reserve~my/304~gem C10a= $120 Cv V.f. /x.f. Mnh BookletDrbobstamps Us Scott C15 Used Sound Zeppelin StampNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og Nh $85U.s. C3 Mint Fnh, Cv $140 (for Vfnh)Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c1 Mint Lh Og Cv$65Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c4 Mint Nh Og #c2 & #c4, #c5, #c6 Mint Original GumUs Early Stamps Airmail Blocks Sets Bob Mint Used $66.12 Fv1946 Airmail Sheet, Dc-4 Skymaster, Sc# C32

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Gov. Walker worried about unacompanied ...
Pierce County Herald, July 26th

There was extensive damage to the front end, three tires were falling off, the air bags had deployed and fuel was leaking onto the ground. .... According to the most recent Marquette Law School poll, 33-percent of registered voters say they've been...Read more

Holy month of Ramadan is a big boon for retailers
Lake Wylie Pilot, July 25th

In this Wednesday, July 16, 2014 photo, exhibition hall contractors fix the Ramadan Night Market banner at the entrance of the market hall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. About 75,000 to 100,000 visitors over 11 days attend the Ramadan Night Market...Read more

Indian teen has 232 'teeth' removed from jaw
WHNS Greenville, July 25th

Ashiq had surgery on Monday, where two dental surgeons and two assisting surgeons removed the 232 “denticles” from his lower right jaw. (Source: MarlinBrown17/YouTube). The "teeth" pulled from 17-year-old Ashiq Gavai's mouth on Monday. (Source: ...Read more

What's happening Friday in the north valley
Enterprise-Record, July 23rd

Fresh foods, free garden exchange, CNAP (food stamp) EBT accepted. Free stall spaces for ... Chico Air Museum: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Chico Municipal Airport adjacent to tower; 11 aircraft, some airport-type vehicles, indoor museum, gift shop. Free. RSVP for...Read more

Accent on New Paltz: Ohioville sojourn
New Paltz Times, July 22nd

I entrusted some old coins and stamps to his keen eye and mastery of the on-line auction domain and have been very happy with the result. I enjoyed the process of sitting down with him, having each item reviewed, and receiving his recommendation about ...Read more

It's Just Lunch
Wall Street Journal, July 21st

Increasing the food-stamp threshold to make her eligible--the obvious "solution," though not one, so far as we know, that the president has expressly advocated--would give her short-term relief, but it would also create a disincentive for her further...Read more

A luxury holiday by the lake
Colombo Gazette, July 21st

The Lake House is managed by Ceylon Hotels Corporation (CHC) and was recently restored to portray the inherent characteristics of the Resort Collection, a tribute to all things traditional, with a modern feel to it. CHC operates a collection of resort...Read more

What's Driving Global Demand for Rare Stamps?
ThinkAdvisor, July 20th

Meanwhile, prices on Twentieth-Century stamps decreased 0.2% over those 12 months ended April 30, though airmail prices were up 3.2% for the period. From an ... The first—no surprise here—is demand from wealthy Chinese collectors and investors...Read more