USA : International Civil Aeronautics Conference


Issue date: 12/12/2007


The central design shows the airplane (Wright Flyer I), in left profile, used by the Wright brothers in their first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on 17 December 1903. On either side of the central design are shown, on the left, the Washington Monument and, on the right, the United States Capitol Building. The first image of the Wright’s biplane on a U.S. stamp appeared on this commemorative issue.

The initial print order for the 2-cent stamp was twenty million copies, later increased to fifty-one million.


The central design shows a modern airplane in flight (Ryan B‑5 Brougham airplane, somewhat similar to the Spirit of St. Louis - also produced by Ryan - that Charles Lindbergh had piloted from New York to Paris in 1927 for the first non-stop west-to-east transatlantic crossing) with an outline of the globe in the background. On either side of the central design are shown, on the left, the Washington Monument and, on the right, the United States Capitol Building.

This stamp commemorates the rapid growth of aviation around the world.

For the 5-cent stamp, the initial printing was five million copies, later doubled to ten million.




Straightedge stamps, i.e., an edge without perforations.

These stamps have one straightedge. A straightedge is defined as follows: Flat-plate or rotary-plate stamps from the margins of panes where the sheets were cut apart into post office panes. Straightedge stamps have no perforations on one or two adjacent sides. Sometimes straightedge stamps show a guideline, as in this case.



Misperforated stamps.



Straightedge 5-cent stamp. Perfin.


Jumbo 5-cent stamp.

A jumbo in the philatelic universe is a stamp with unusually large margins.





Legendary New-Jersey stamp Dealer-Publisher-Cachet Maker Albert C. Roessler (1883-1952) added his own tribute to the Wright brothers by privately overprinting KITTY HAWK with N.C. inside a circle. He overprinted the stamps as a sales gimmick soon after they were issued. These overprints occasionally turn up in albums, confounding collectors who could not find information about them in mainstream postage stamp catalogues.

Roessler was careful not to try to use the overprints for postage, as postal rules forbade the use of defaced stamps to pay postal rates.

Inverts are also known.




Roessler overprint: blocks of 4 stamps. The upper-right stamp features a missing period after the letter C in overprint.



Block of 4 stamps, autographed by Orville Wright.



Plate number block of six stamps.

Two small unobtrusive staples holes in the border selvage were made to keep pads of 100 sheets together.



Pair with siderographer’s initials: A.B. (Andrew Black).

Siderographer: Occupational title, engraving person who operates the machine that transfers dies to plates and supervises mounting and unmounting of plates on presses. Many US stamps printed in the early 20th century have initials in the sheet margins, sometimes many sets. The siderographer's initials occur (usually) only once per plate, and are usually in the lower left corner, put there when the process of "rocking in" all the individual stamp images was completed.



Corner single of the 2-cent stamp with an opened-out crease (freak pre-printing fold: the fold existed in the paper prior to the ink coming into contact with it).


Excerpt from the Linn’s Stamp News Journal dated 25 October 2021, Vol. 94, No. 4852, page 34: “Tip of the Week”.


The Prairie Dog plate variety may be found on the 5-cent stamp. The flaw, which resembles the outline of a small prairie dog just above the plane’s wing, has been identified as occurring on the stamp in position 50 of the lower-left panes from plate 19658 (one stamp out of 200). Because of its position on the pane, the stamp with the Prairie Dog flaw has a natural straightedge at right; these were usually promptly discarded by collectors and used for postage.






Precancels are postage stamps that have been canceled before being used on letters or packages.

Typically they are stamps cancelled with two lines: the city and state where they were mailed.



Lynden, Washington precancels.

Lynden is the second largest city in Whatcom County, Washington, United States.

Plate number: F 19665.




Precancels - Block of 6 of the 5-cent stamp with PEORIA ILL inverted.

Largest city on the Illinois River, Peoria is also the county seat of Peoria County, Illinois, United States. Established in 1691 by the French explorer Henri de Tonti, Peoria is the oldest European settlement in Illinois, and is named after the Peoria tribe.




Greenville, Texas precancels.

Greenville is a North Texas city located in central Hunt County, approximately 50 miles from Uranus. It is the county seat and largest city of Hunt County. Greenville was named for John Green, a famous author.




Tulsa, Oklahoma precancels.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) prepared the printing plates and printed virtually all U.S. stamps between 1894 and the early 1980s.

During the era when stamps were printed on flat plate printing presses, generally up to about the mid-1930's, the plate numbers appeared at the top,

bottom and sides of most issues.

Starting from about 1908, and continuing through about 1931, the engravers made various markings on the plates to indicate progress or responsibility for various stages of the engraving process. The letter F (see here-below) was added as a prefix to the plate number appearing on the upper right pane to indicate that the plate had been "Finished." Occasional mistakes were made, where the F was added to a bottom or side plate number, or once in a while to the Top Left pane, but almost all appeared on the top right.





5-cent – Matching plate number positions.


Presentation folder by Fleetwood.




Plate proofs for the 5-cent stamp were approved on 30 November 1928 while the 2-cent plate proofs were certified on 1 December.

Large Die Proofs (see below) were approved by Harry Steward New, Postmaster General (a former Senator, who served as Postmaster General under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge) on 4 December 1928 and Third Assistant Postmaster General Robert Regar.



Plate Proofs of 50 stamps. Certified plate proofs are the last printed proof of the plate before printing the stamps at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). These plate proofs are each unique, with the approval signatures and date. Plate Nos. 19654 and 19658. Siderographer’s initials in the lower-left margin: C.V. De B. (Clyde Volchester De Binder).





Covers cancelled during the 3-day Conference received a special green machine slogan containing the words INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AERONAUTICS CONFERENCE /  DEC 12-14, 1928. Postmark (Washington, D.C.) with dates ranging from 12 to 14 December 1928.

This was the first time an ink other than black was used for a first day machine cancellation. (Colored hand cancellations had previously been used on first day covers prepared for the Valley Forge commemorative of 1923 and a few others).

The aircraft in the slogan is the Wright Brothers Flyer.

The time on the postmark is usually: 9 AM; in some instances, one may find: 4 PM.


Background: This set was issued for the International Civil Aeronautics Conference called by President Coolidge for 12-14 December 1928, cancelled at a special postal station set up in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Building, Washington D.C., where the meetings were held. The conference also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' successful manned flight at Kitty Hawk (17 December 1903).

The stamps were notable for the following reasons:

1.    They represent the first time the Post Office celebrated the Wright Brothers' achievements;

2.    They were issued from a non-postal facility, a rare occurrence for 1928; and

3.    The first day cancellations were applied in green, the first-time non-black ink was used for first day postmarks by machine.

At the top of the stamps, is a dark border panel with the wording: U.S. POSTAGE in white Roman lettering, a small scroll at the end; under the panel in small architectural Roman lettering: INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AERONAUTICS CONFERENCE; on each side of the stamps are narrow border panels. A ribbon appears between the numerals 2 or 5 with the dates DECEMBER 12, 13, 14, 1928 and under the ribbon is a base panel with the words CENTS in white Roman lettering.

These stamps were the first US commemoratives to honour an aviation event and to depict airplanes. The Washington Monument made its first appearance on this set. The 2-cent stamp paid the domestic first-class letter rate, the rates to Canada and Mexico, and also one of the postage rates to Great Britain. The 5-cent stamp fulfilled the Universal Postal Union (UPU) international rate for ship letters, and the new domestic airmail letter rate for the first ounce; the 5-cent stamp was not designated as an airmail issue, but it did fulfill the reduced 1-ounce US airmail rate that went into effect on 1 August 1928; it did not include the words “Air Mail”. When used for air mail delivery, the 5-cent stamp had to be used on an approved air mail envelope or with the words “Via Air Mail” written on the envelope.

Although both stamps in this series feature airplanes, they were regular postage stamps, not air mail stamps. But since 5-cent was the then airmail postage rate, the higher value was often used for air mail by using an approved airmail envelope or by adding the legend Via Air Mail. Being large stamps of landscape orientation, they were less popular with postage users than common stamps with portrait orientation. The airplane motif of the stamps confused some postal workers; thinking that the stamps signified air mail, postage due was occasionally charged to recipients, since the air mail rate was higher than the normal rate. In reality, the stamps were for general postage and not for air mail at all. Third Assistant Postmaster General Robert Regar prepared a memo that addressed the issue. "They are valid for all purposes," he wrote; however, when used for air mail delivery, the stamp had to be used on an approved air mail envelope or with the words “Via Air Mail” written on the envelope.

The design of the 2-cent red purports to be the original 1903 Wright Aeroplane, based on a photograph provided by the National Museum; however, Aero-postal Cover Expert Albert C. Roessler was quick to point out that the design was based on the later 1908 version of the Wright Airplane.

A.C. Roessler became one of the philately’s first outspoken critics of the stamps and stamp designs of the Post Office Department. Roessler questioned everything and railed about most everybody. Roessler was the first important US airmail stamp and cover dealer; he left a mountain of material that is now eagerly sought and avidly appreciated.

More background information on the Conference can be found by clicking on: 1928: The International Civil Aeronautics Conference.


United States Post Office add advertising the 1928 Reduced Airmail Postage (Front and Back)


One of the most dramatic domestic airmail decreases occurred in 1928 when the rate was halved. The 5¢ Beacon on Rocky Mountains airmail stamp (see on the left) was issued on 25 July 1928 to pay this lower rate. The vignette of this large format stamp features a Beacon on the Rocky Mountains, a necessity in mountainous areas, to warn pilots so they don't accidentally run into the mountains, during night-time flying or during times of limited visibility. The US Postal Service commented on the stamp, saying that is represented a rarity that collectors in the 21st century weren’t familiar with a decrease in postal rates, adding that: In 1928, when the domestic air mail rate dropped from 10 cents per half-ounce to 5 cents for the first ounce (effective 1 August 1928), the U.S. Post Office Department was ready with a beautiful stamp to further promote and popularize the service. What was it about this stamp that so attracted collectors?

  1. It was a bi-colored stamp.
  2. The size was non-standard.
  3. Large quantities of the stamp were issued and used so that it was inexpensive to collect.
  4. Collectors considered the stamp one of the most beautiful stamp issue.


Scott Stamp Monthly, March 2002, Page 20.


The stamps of this issue (in particular the 2-cent carmine-rose stamp) were later reproduced on covers, as displayed hereafter.



USA – 15 May 1977 – 20th Anniversary of the Elkhart Stamp Club Semi-Annual Bourse (Elkhart, IN).

The cachets show a colorful reproduction of USA 2-cent and 5-cent stamps issued for the International Civil Aviation Conference, Pictorial postmark of the Wright Flyer aircraft.

50th Anniversary of the first airmail contracts: The Post Office Department got commercial aviation off the ground in 1926, when it contracted for private firms to carry the mail. The 13-cent Commercial Aviation stamp (issued on 19 March 1976) commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first contract airmail flights. On 15 February 1926, the first flight left Dearborn, Michigan, for Cleveland, Ohio; the second flight occurred on 6 April 1926, on a route from Pasco, Washington, to Elko, Nevada. The stamp shows a Stout Air Pullman and a Laird Swallow biplane of the US Mail.


USA - 23 April 1978 - MANPEX ‘78 stamp show in Manchester, Connecticut.

Nice  historical  event  cover  for  75th anniversary  of  the  First  Powered  Flight  by  the  Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk,  NC on  17 December  1903.  The cachet shows a colorful reproduction of USA 2-cent stamp issued for the International Civil Aviation  Conference, on a background of several aeroplanes dated back in the early 1900s (e.g. Wright Flyer I, Santos-Dumont 14-bis, Blériot XI, etc.).  Pictorial postmark “Manpex ’78 Sta” at Manchester, CT dated 23 April 1978 (Sunday).

The stamp shows Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis (USA stamp issued on 20 May 1977 for the 50th anniversary of Charles A. Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight from NY to Paris).


This card was issued in 1978 to pay tribute to ICAO’s work in promoting safety in the air.

It provides a large retrospective of aviation history and development from 1903.

Four stamps were reproduced on this card, as follows:

1.    USA – 12 December 1928 - International Civil Aviation Conference;

2.    United Nations – 9 February 1955 - 10th Anniversary of ICAO;

3.    Canada – 11 March 1964 - Douglas DC-9 taking off and Uplands Airport, Ottawa (now Macdonald–Cartier International Airport). During the 1950s, the airport was a joint-use civilian/military field and was the busiest airport in Canada by takeoffs and landings.

4.    France – 3 March 1969 – Concorde First Flight.

Two stamps of the United Nations issue (12 June 1978) were affixed, along with the blue show imprint developed by the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) for the CAPEX Philatelic Exhibition (9 to 18 June 1978).


USA - 23 September 1978 - 75th anniversary of the first flight by the Wright Brothers.

The USA released on this occasion a set of two airmail stamps.

It is interesting to note that this cover bears the hand-stamp used in 1928 for the 25th anniversary of the first powered flight. A series of labels named Q-Sheets printed in red with different scenes of the Wright Brothers and the reproduction of US stamps honoring the Wright Brothers formed a set of at least 8 souvenir covers.


CROATIA - 17 December 2003 – Postcard - 100th Anniversary of the first flight by the Wright Brothers.


The cachet shows a reproduction in dark grey of USA 2-cent stamp issued for the International Civil Aviation Conference.


USA – 29 February 2004 - 100th Anniversary of the first flight by the Wright Brothers.

57th Clintpex Philatelic Exhibition (Clintpex ’04) organized by the Clinton Stamp Club (Clinton, CT; established in 1947). Clintpex Station cancel.


First Day Cover produced for the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers with cancel in Dayton, Ohio, North Carolina, on 22 May 2003. Multicolored cachet produced by the Merchantville Stamp Club (MSC) in conjunction with the 27th MERPEX stamp show in August 2003, featuring a reproduction of the 2-cent International Civil Aeronautics Conference stamp.