1918 16¢ Curtiss Jenny
Issue Date: July 11, 1918
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Flat plate printing
The first airmail stamps were issued in 1918. The U.S. Airmail Service was born that year, when two feeble 90-horsepower Curtiss Jenny airplanes departed from New York and Washington. Due to a faulty compass, the Washington flight landed way off course (Maryland as opposed to New York). But the New York flight was flawless, and Airmail Service began.
The Act of May 6, 1918, authorized the Post Office Department to carry the mail by airplane. This ruling necessitated a new stamp – one of distinctive design and color. A red frame and blue vignette (design) on white paper created a patriotic “red, white and blue” airmail issue (the 24¢ Curtiss Jenny). The airmail rate was set at 24¢ per ounce and thus the first airmail stamp was born!
In accordance with a new order in June of 1918, the airmail rate was reduced to 16¢ for up to the first ounce (this charge included a special delivery fee) and 6¢ for each additional ounce. This rate change produced a new stamp which reflected the same design as the original, but was done in only one color instead of three (16¢ Curtiss Jenny).
In the latter part of 1918, the airmail rate was again reduced. The fee was 6¢ per ounce (eliminating the additional 10¢ special delivery charge of the previous stamp). The original airmail design was used once again, but the single color was changed from green (on the 16¢ issue) to orange (6¢ Curtiss Jenny).