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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]

Several of the early airmail stamps 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] The privately produced 5¢ Buffalo balloon stamps were used on June 18, 1877, for a balloon flight from Nashville to Gallatin, Tennessee.[2]

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 2009-05-02. 
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.
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Linn's Stamp News

Linn's Stamp News
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:52:34 -0800

The United States issued an airmail stamp in 1972 featuring a tiki design (k'ki in Hawaiian), to honor the City of Refuge on the island of Hawaii (Scott C84). The stamp marked the national parks' centennial. The carved wooden image is of Ku, the god of ...

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

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Mon, 09 Nov 2015 14:55:07 -0800

In 1918, the post office issued its first 24-cent airmail stamp, marked with a red and blue design featuring the image of a Curtiss JN-4H biplane, otherwise known as the Jenny. In a rush to celebrate the first airmail flight with the stamp, 2.2 million ...

Linn's Stamp News

Linn's Stamp News
Fri, 30 Oct 2015 19:24:53 -0700

The error is the 1988 36¢ multicolor Igor Sikorsky airmail stamp with the intaglio red, blue and black ink absent, an omission that eliminates the text and numeral inscriptions, as well as the image of the 1939 VS300 helicopter that normally appears on ...

Ozark County Times

Ozark County Times
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 22:45:00 -0800

airmail stamp and was addressed to Albert's parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Hannaford. One letter was from Albert's older brother Marlin, who had served in the Army at the same time. Marlin's letter was dated Oct. 6, 1945, and was sent from Fort Warren, ...

Linn's Stamp News

Linn's Stamp News
Fri, 30 Oct 2015 10:51:21 -0700

Blunder is the author's term for a stamp rendered ridiculous by a sloppy and avoidable mistake in design. One of these is the 1947 50-centime Monaco airmail stamp (Scott C16) showing Franklin D. Roosevelt, America's foremost stamp collector, securely ...

Linn's Stamp News

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Wed, 21 Oct 2015 06:18:40 -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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Tue, 21 Jul 2015 08:53:28 -0700

The Postal Service defied its own policy when it created a rare stamp in order to generate demand for the product, says a July 15 USPS inspector general memo. In 1918, USPS issued a 24-cent airmail stamp that depicted a Curtiss "Jenny" biplane. The ...

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Fri, 16 Oct 2015 09:41:15 -0700

Central African Republic stamps depicting President Jean Bedel Bokassa: a 1967 30-franc stamp (Scott 77); a 1969 30fr stamp (118); a 1968 30fr airmail stamp (C51); and a 1975 50fr airmail stamp (C127). On Dec. 31, 1965, Bokassa led a coup and seized ...

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