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]

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]

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

Most watched eBay auctions    

Ckstamps : Us Stamps Scott #c15 $2.6 Graf Zeppelin 1930 Airmail Mint H/og Cv$575Us, Complete Trans-miss, 1869 Pictorials, C13-c15, Columbians To $2, Excellent Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C14 Mint Og H $400Ckstamps : Us Stamps Scott #c14 $1.3 Graf Zeppelin 1930 Airmail Mint H/og Cv$400Us, Airmails & Others, Incl C18, Excellent Assortment Of Stamps On Pages, GlsCkstamps : Us Stamps Scott #c13 65c Graf Zeppelin 1930 Airmail Mint Lh Og Cv$180Us Scott #c13 F-vf Og Lh Scott Value $1805c Coils On 1937 Clipper Air Mail San Francisco Ca To Manchukuo ChinaNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og H $70Zeppelin Hindenburg 1936 Mixed Franking - Double Flight Cover 2. Naf Here & BackUs, 20th Century, Includes Airmails(1 Box), 1000's Of Used Stamps In 9 BoxesUsa 1928 Indian Cycle Agency Green Bay To Milwaukee Via Oshkosh Airmail CoverUsa, 1929 ' Too Late For Garf Zeppelin Despatch' Cover Missed Flight To TokyoNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C2 Mint Og Nh $130United States 1929 Used Stamps On Zeppelin Air Mail Flight To Germany......c21531928 Lz 127 Zeppelin Card With Plate Number Single Beacon AirmailNystamps Us Canal Zone Air Mail Official Stamp # Co5 Co6 Mint Og Nh $35U.s. #c21-22 On Ff Cover To Hong Kong - 1937 20c - 50c ClipperUs Scott #c15 Vf Used Scott Value $600Ckstamps: Us Stamp Collection Scott#c18 Mint H OgNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C14 Used $400 On CoverCkstamps: Us Stamp Collection Scott#c3 Unused Nh Seems RegumNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C1-c3 Used $100Nystamps M Much Mint Old Us & Air Mail Stamp Collection Minkus AlbumCkstamps: Us Stamp Collection Scott#c3 Mint H Og Cv$65U.s. #c1//ce2 Used Collection Of Airmails ($210)Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c3 Mint H Og Cv$65Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Used $80 On CoverNystamps Us Canal Zone Air Mail Official Stamp # Co1-co4 Mint Og Nh $391928 Graf Zeppelin Lz127 Flight Cover Lakehurst To Friedrichshafen GermanyZeppelin Hindenburg 1936 Complete Set Washington Bicentennials Scott 704-15Graf Zeppelin Century Of Progress Expo, Oct 2, 1933, Scott No C18 SingleNystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C18 Mint Og Nh $85Usa Huge Collection Worldwide Seals Stamps Airmail On/off Paper Mixture ScarceUs Stamp:#c18 50c Green 1933 Graft Zeppelin Mnh/og Stamp U.s. #c31, 46 Mnh Plate Blocks - 50c - 80c Airmails ($67)Airmails, Including C1: Mint, Never Hinged, Original Gum, See ScansDr Jim Stamps Us Cover Airmail First Flight Boston Scott C4/627 1926?United States 1936 Used Stamps On Zeppelin Air Mail (content) To Germany...c2675Nystamps Us Canal Zone Air Mail Official Stamp # Co7 Mint Og Nh $20Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c6 Unused RegumUnited States 1925 Used Stamps On Zeppelin Air Mail To Germany.............c2671Ai028 Cover India/ Usa 1932 " Dharamtalla/ Paris/ Habana/calcutta " AirmailUsa India 1942 Censored Airmail Consular Diplomatic Pouch Cover To New York Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C13 Used $350 On CoverU.s. #c4//ce1 Mint Nh - 1918-40 Airmails ($137)C133-c150 Airmail Collection Mint Xf-nhMomen: Us Stamps #c46 Diamond Mint Og Nh** Plate Block $ Xbf #5657U.s. #c2, C5 Mint - 1918-23 16c Airmails ($130)Nystamps Us Canal Zone Air Mail Stamp # C15-c20 Mint Og H $83Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C3 Mint Og Nh $140Nystamps Us Canal Zone Air Mail Stamp # C21-c26 Mint Og Nh $26Washington Precancels: Dc-3 Air Mail Booklet Pane (# C25a)Ckstamps: Us Air Mail Stamp Collection Scott#c1 Mint H Og Cv$65Dr Jim Stamps Old Us Air Mail Scott C6 24c Biplane Unused Og Hinged No ReserveDr Jim Stamps Us Airmail Fdc San Fran Pacific-asiatic-africa Scott C36 1947Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C20-c22 Mint Og Nh $23St. Louis Mo Oct. 5 1911 Pioneer Airmail PostcardUs Curtiss Jenny 24c Sc# C3 Nh Sc $560U.s. #c1 Mint (x5) - 1918 6c Jenny ($300)

Recent News: Airmail Stamps

Source: Google News

Police blotter July 1
Appleton Post Crescent, June 29th

A man reported receiving a letter from a collection agency for past due bills on a Comcast account. He said he never opened a ... A man reported arriving home to find the air let out of his tire and the back door to the house open. Lights were also...Read more

Want to go
Washington Post, June 29th

A exhibition chronicling the African American experience through stamps and mail includes letters carried by slaves and a selection of original artwork from the U.S. Postal Service's Black Heritage stamp series. National Postal Museum - Smithsonian ...Read more

Ouachita Life: You'll never forget the Chennault Museum
Monroe News Star, June 27th

He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, his image was printed on a U.S. postage stamp and his memory is very much alive both in the United States and China. Today, the Chennault ... Also included is a Delta Air Lines collection. Delta was founded...Read more

Australia Post's future is no longer in the mail
Sydney Morning Herald, June 26th

The group has about 36,000 employees, and 23,000 of them work in a letter collection, sorting and delivery business that is being crushed by the relentless expansion of internet-based communication. ... Changes announced by the Abbott government in...Read more

The beauty left behind The author says good-bye to gardens crafted over 40 years
GazetteNET, June 25th

My garden was never worthy of a public tour although I wrote about it in this column. It was my private collection of favorite plants. I was able to move just a handful of plants to my postage stamp gardens at the new condo. With knee and eye problems...Read more

Could The Masterpiece Be A Fake? Profit, Revenge And 'The Art Of Forgery'
WFAE, June 23rd

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross who's off this week. If you had the artistic talent to create impressive paintings or sculpture, could you imagine devoting that skill to copying the work of past artists and trying to pass your...Read more

Don't gravelscape LA
Los Angeles Times, June 13th

All over the city — and especially in park-poor areas, where postage-stamp lawns may be the only relief from pavement — we have to think before we act. Will exchanging a living, breathing yard for a ... Plants and trees provide shade and transpire...Read more

Hedgehog Toothpicks and Other Everyday Objects From North Korea
New York Times, June 10th

A 3G USB air card from Koryolink, North Korea's mobile phone service provider. In March 2013, North Korea began to allow some foreigners to carry their mobile phones into the country and connect to their local service provider to send and receive data...Read more