Resource of the Month – American Air Mail Catalogue

First edition of the AAMC in 1940

Of all the specialized collecting interests that philately affords one of the more popular areas of the hobby that combines both the intrigue of stamp and cover collecting with the thrill of flight is aerophilately. Aerophilatelists, as they are known, specialize in the study of all aspects of airmail. Through the collection and examination of philatelic material collectors of airmail document and study the development of mail transported by air from the very beginning of airmail service to the present day. Many countries have philatelic societies and organizations devoted to the study of airmail. Here in the United States the American Air Mail Society, founded in 1923, is one of the oldest American specialized philatelic societies and the longest continuing organization devoted to aerophilately in the country.

CAM Flight #2 showing map of flight route

One of the publications for which the AAMS is best known is the American Air Mail Catalogue [HE6238 .A512ac]. With its first edition published in 1935 and the most recent in 2017, the AAMC lists and identifies 47 different categories of collecting in the field of aerophilately. Among the more well known areas for collecting and philatelic study covered in the AAMC are Foreign Air Mail (FAM), Contract Air Mail (CAM), crash mail covers, air mail stamps, pioneer flight covers, airport dedication covers, first flight covers, glider flights, Canal Zone air mail, Canadian air mail, balloon flights, catapult flights, air mail fields, government flights, jet service, rocket mail and trans-Pacific / trans-Atlantic mail.

Color illustrations of flight covers from CAM #1

Many of the listings for the aforementioned flights in the catalogs include information for departure/arrival dates, departure/arrival location, trip data, flight/route maps, known flight pilots, flight numbers (CAM/FAM),  volume of mail carried, flight cachets with values as well in some cases illustrations of the flight covers and their  cancels. The AAMC has grown from a one volume first edition to a five volume fifth edition and progressed from black and white illustrations in the earliest editions of the catalog to now color illustrations in the latest seventh edition. The catalogs also include chronological listings which enable the researcher to find specific flights by date and location in the various volumes.

For those interested in airmail and those experienced aerophilatelists the AAMC is a must for identifying and researching airmail in this country and in related subject areas. The AAMC is available for borrowing by APS members and scans can be made from the volumes by contacting the APRL at library@stamps.org.

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