Collecting Airmail Stamps
The history of postage stamps is a fascinating mirror to the greater narrative of human progress through the ages. Postage stamps reflect political and geographic shifts as well as technological innovation. Perhaps one of the reasons why U.S. Airmail stamps are so collectible today is the nostalgia they evoke for a time when flight was still regarded with a sense of wonder. Whatever the reason may be, collecting U.S. Airmail stamps remains a popular specialization within American philately.
Rare Airmail Stamps
The United States Postal Service began offering air delivery on May 15, 1918. The initial route ran from Washington D.C to New York, passing through Philadelphia on the way. Air mail rates were 24 cents an ounce. To mark the beginning of service, a new stamp in this denomination was commissioned by Congress. In the rush to design and print it, however, one of the most famous errors in the history of philately was made.
On May 13, 1918, the Inverted Jenny — a Curtiss “Jenny” biplane appears upside down — was produced. Approximately 100 were printed that day and only a handful now survive. Today, Inverted Jennys have been known to sell for anywhere between $100,000 and nearly $1 million at auction.
Collectible U.S. Airmail Stamps
Though the Inverted Jenny is the most famous, there are plenty of more accessible entry points for beginning a collection of U.S. Airmail stamps. In 1930, a special set of Graf Zeppelin stamps, featuring the eponymous airship, was printed for the collector’s market. Unfortunately, due to the Great Depression, fewer than 7% were sold, making them highly sought-after today.
Domestic airmail service continued until 1975. International service continued until 1995. Airmail stamps have been printed in a wide range of denominations — mint condition first and second issue stamps can easily fetch upwards of $100 at auction.
Where to Buy U.S. Airmail Stamps
Apfelbaum, Inc. frequently has U.S. Airmail stamps of all ages for sale through our Public Auctions, Buy It Now Sales and online stamp store. To find out about upcoming sales, or for more information about a specific stamp, contact our team today by phone or email.