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Not to be confused with airmail etiquette.
First official airmail stamp, issued by Poste italiane in May 1917
1949 Irish 1 shilling airmail stamp

An airmail stamp is a postage stamp intended to pay either an airmail fee that is charged in addition to the surface rate, or the full airmail rate, for a piece of mail to be transported by air.[1]

Airmail stamps should not be confused with airmail etiquettes, which are affixed to mail as an instruction to the postal authority that the mail should be transmitted by air.



1877 Buffalo label affixed to balloon cover

With aviation developments, several countries started to experiment with flights, and postal authorities considered flying the mails. Initially flights were unofficial, but some flights such as the 1877 Buffalo balloon flight,[2] carried mail, to which stamp-like labels were affixed. At the beginning airmail letters cost more than surface mail.

Both airmail stamps and stamps surcharged for airmail were issued, though some countries restricted the use of airmail stamps only to letters sent by airmail, while others allowed them to be used for other mail services.[3]

The 20-cent U.S. Parcel Post issue of 1912 was the first stamp in the world to show an airplane, and its caption specifically labeled it as an example of how mail could be carried, but it was not issued for that express purpose. It was several years before an actual airmail stamp was issued. Several of the early ones were produced by surcharging other stamps with overprints; at first in 1917, Italy used express stamps; regular stamps were used by Austria in 1918, Sweden used official stamps in 1920.[3] Some other examples are the use of fiscal stamps, telegraph stamps, postage due stamps, and parcel stamps by other countries.[3] Airmail stamps have been issued for extra services, such as registered airmail, express airmail, airmail fieldpost, and even with welfare surcharges.[3]

A new branch of collecting[edit]

1935 First flight cover from New Zealand to England with three denominations of airmail stamps paying the 2 shilling and 4 pence rate

In the 1920s and 1930s, when many countries issued airmail stamps to publicise their new airmail routes, a new branch of stamp collecting started. This led to an expansion that includes the collection of covers, and other postal items carried by aircraft.[4] Airmail items from the early days are expensive due to the popularity of this collecting area.[5] Specialised catalogues and albums are produced for collectors of airmail stamps and other aerophilatelic items.[6] Many airmail stamps feature aviation themes[1] that are an area of topical stamp collecting.[7]

Types of airmail stamp[edit]

Official airmail stamps[edit]

1918 US Inverted Jenny airmail stamp

The first official postage stamp to be issued for an airmail flight was in May 1917 when Poste italiane overprinted their existing special delivery stamps.[8] The following year, the United States Post Office Department issued the first airmail stamp specifically issued for the purpose;[9] while it does not have "airmail" or "air post" printed on it, it illustrates a Curtiss JN-4 airplane.[8] One pane of 100 stamps were found to have an invert error, known as the Inverted Jenny, because the airplane image in the centre is inverted relative to the outer frame.[10] The error is one of the most well known airmail stamps.[9]

Semi-official airmail stamps[edit]

Semi-official airmail stamps are not issued by the postal authority but have official sanction[11] and are sometimes used for local posts, they are more accurately referred to a labels rather than stamps.[12] For example, as noted above the privately produced 5¢ Buffalo balloon stamps were used on June 18, 1877, for a balloon flight from Nashville to Gallatin, Tennessee.[2] The Vin Fiz Flyer, an early airplane, also carried semi-official stamps on its 1911 flight across the United States.[13]

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b Miller, Rick. "Have airmail stamps fallen victim to success?". Linn's Stamp News. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  2. ^ a b Lynch, Maureen & Chris (2006-05-18). "Arago: Air Post Semi-Official Issues". National Postal Museum. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  3. ^ a b c d Hornung (1970), pps. 94–95
  4. ^ Williams, Leon Norman (1990). Fundamentals of philately, Rev ed. State College, PA: American Philatelic Society. p. 15. ISBN 0-933580-13-4. 
  5. ^ Hornung (1970), pp. 258
  6. ^ Hornung (1970), pp. 262
  7. ^ Solarz, Sanford (2008-09-18). "Scanning the Horizons:Collecting Aircraft on Stamps". American Air Mail Society. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  8. ^ a b Baadke, Michael. "Airmail collecting can take you anywhere". Linn's Stamp News. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  9. ^ a b "Fad to Fundamental: Airmail in America: U.S. Airmail Stamps". National Postal Museum. Archived from the original on 26 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  10. ^ "Fad to Fundamental: Airmail in America: Inverted Jenny". National Postal Museum. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  11. ^ "Arago Glossary". National Postal Museum. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  12. ^ Miller, Rick. "Another world: semiofficial airmail stamps". Linn's Stamp News. Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  13. ^ The Vin Fiz Flyer Semi-official Air Post Stamp
Further reading
  • Gomez, James; Ariel Books Staff (1996). U.S. Airmail Stamps. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-8362-0989-3. 
  • Newall, Alexander S. (1990). Airmail Stamps: Fakes & Forgeries. Newall Consultants. ISBN 0-904804-96-8. 
  • Vachon, Georgette (1974). Goggles, helmets, and airmail stamps. Irwin: Clark. ISBN 0-7720-0619-9. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airmail_stamp — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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147 news items

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel
Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:44:50 -0800

In 1918, the Postal Service released its first 24-cent airmail stamp, which featured a Curtiss JN-4H biplane, but 100 stamps in the original 2.2 million run were printed upside down and immediately became collectors items. When the postal service ...

Rio Rancho Observer

Rio Rancho Observer
Sat, 13 Feb 2016 15:11:49 -0800

She also has the envelope, with its postmark and six-cent airmail stamp, addressed to Nora in Cobb's handwriting. Author Charles Leerhsen, in his 2015 biography of the baseball hall of famer (“Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty”), tells how Ty Jr. attended ...
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 08:52:30 -0800

According to the U.S. Postal Service, the original 1918 Inverted Jenny 24-cent airmail stamp is one of the world's most collectible stamps because a sheet of 100 misprinted stamps showing an upside-down biplane was accidently sold to a customer. In ...

Linn's Stamp News

Linn's Stamp News
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 14:18:45 -0800

This 1938 6¢ airmail stamp, Scott C23, is described in the Scott catalog as “dark blue & carmine” for the normal issue. Also listed is C23c, described as “ultramarine & carmine.” Having never seen the latter, I can't say that it exists, but it is a ...

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune
Tue, 19 Jan 2016 11:19:15 -0800

The yellowed, wrinkled envelope was postmarked July 15, 1945, at the Gary Post Office with a 6-cent airmail stamp. It's addressed to U.S. Army Pvt. Ben Doxtater, who was serving in Europe during World War II at that time. It's penned by his wife ...

Linn's Stamp News

Linn's Stamp News
Sat, 30 Jan 2016 00:33:03 -0800

Many nations issued stamps that show Roosevelt working on his stamp collection, including a 50-centime violet airmail stamp from Monaco in 1947 (Scott C16), and a set of three stamps plus a souvenir sheet issued by the Philippines in 1950 (542-544, C70).

Linn's Stamp News

Linn's Stamp News
Fri, 22 Jan 2016 06:37:30 -0800

The last New Zealand stamp issue overprinted for use in Cook Islands was a 1966 New Zealand £1 postal-fiscal converted into a Cook Islands airmail stamp (Scott C9) with a three-line overprint showing an airplane, “COOK ISLANDS.” and “Airmail.

Linn's Stamp News

Linn's Stamp News
Wed, 21 Oct 2015 06:07:30 -0700

In 1972, Guinea issued a set of two se-tenant blocks of four airmail stamps and a single 1,200-franc airmail stamp (Scott C116-117 and C118) on gold-color metallic foil commemorating President Richard M. Nixon's trip to China. The 2016 Scott Standard ...

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