Zeppelin Mail

Zeppelins carried a great deal of mail, mostly because zeppelin first flight covers and other philatelic covers were prized by stamp collectors and the postal revenue from these items financed much of the cost of operating the zeppelins.

Hindenburg CoversZeppelins were the fastest way to send mail across the ocean in their day, and so some commercial mail also exists, especially on the South Atlantic route.  LZ-127’s service to South America cut mail time from weeks to days and was especially popular among businessmen.

Hindenburg’s 2-1/2 day service was the fastest way to send mail between Europe and North America in 1936, when ocean liners took five days or more to cross the Atlantic.  Hindenburg’s irregular schedule made the service unappealing for most business uses, but no faster way to send mail existed until May, 1939, when Pan American Airways inaugurated airmail service across the North Atlantic in Boeing 314 Clipper flying boats.

Zeppelins did have mail competition across the South Atlantic beginning in 1934, when the German airline Deutsche Luft Hansa began a multi-leg airmail service between Europe and South America which crossed the Atlantic at its narrowest point, between Gambia in Africa and Natal in Brazil, offering a coordinated mail service between zeppelins and airplanes.

First leg of

Graf Zeppelin Covers

Graf Zeppelin carried a great deal of mail, including first flight covers and other philatelic covers desired by stamp collectors (who provided much of the...
First flight from Europe to South America, March 31-April 4, 1936.  (Sieger 402A)

Hindenburg Covers

Hindenburg transported large amounts of mail and valuable freight in addition to providing passenger service.  Hindenburg’s maiden flight to North America included 1059 kg of...
Flight to Eger, August 13, 1939.  (Sieger 462)

LZ-130 Graf Zeppelin II Covers

First flight covers and other postal history of the LZ-130 Graf Zeppelin II.  Graf Zeppelin II conducted spying missions and propaganda flights, but never carried...
First Flight of USS Macon, autographed by Charles E. Rosendahl

Akron / Macon Covers

First flight covers and other postal history of the U.S. Navy airships USS Akron and USS Macon. I welcome comments and emails, but please note...
zep-mail-34244a

Recent Zeppelin Mail Forgeries

Information about new zeppelin mail forgeries was presented at the American Philatelic Society Stamp Show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 8, 2009. In a presentation...

10 Comments on "Zeppelin Mail"

  1. I sold my collection od Zeppelin envelopes and accidently included something the resembled all of the other red, round postmarks saying Sudamerika etc. Except, this one seemed to be Hermann Siegels’ personal postmark. It had his name on it and I don’t think I want to know its value because I am sure it has some significant value due to the scarcity .Any thoughts?

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  2. Have a German stamp dated 13.2.1930. Most of the franking shows…
    “Amerikanische-……….. Within the circular franking are “Bremen- New York”.

    Doubt its a Zepplin, but what is it then…plane? V. doubtful. Possibly ship? Not had any luck yet on the web, but I’m not used to this sort of search, so can anyone advise, please?
    Cheers, John Rollando

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    Roger Stanley-Smith Reply:

    Full transcript probably reads “Deutsche-Amerikanishe Seepost – Bremen-New York”. If it’s a double circle most probably the Bremen or Columbus (Europa not commissioned at that date), if single circle could be any of the other NDL or Hapag steamers serving the North Atlantic route.

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  3. David Mielke | April 9, 2015 at 5:46 am | Reply

    How does one obtain information on particular flights. I am interested in tracing a route and information about how many passengers, the amount of mail carried on each leg, etc.

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    Dan Grossman Reply:

    Let me know which flight and I will be glad to provide the information.

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    ian peddie Reply:

    Rio de janeiro 28-10-1832 to Freidrichhafen 3-11-1932

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  4. william m goldberg | April 21, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply

    My wife has a post card showing the Rauchsalon(sitting area) on the LZ 129 Hindenberg with two stamps one of which is the 50D with a picture of the Hindenberg on it.It was sent from the Hindenberg to her aunt and it is post marked LUFTSCIFF HINDENBERG,25.6.1936 .The post card descibes the senders view over Gatwick England,Amsterdam and down the Rhine to Frankfurt-I thought this might be of interest and obviously am questioning as to how unique it is-WMGoldberg

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  5. The latest English version of a Michel Zepplin catalog I can find is a 2003 copy. Has a newer edition been published and could you recommend a source?

    Thanks!

    Member APS

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  6. William Bartusek | August 1, 2012 at 11:07 am | Reply

    I cannot find any information as to the postal rates for Zeppelin mail from the U.S. Why were there 65c, $1.30, $2.65 and 50c stamps? What rates did these pay?

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    Richard Reply:

    This is a hard topic to research, but as best I found out the 65c was for a postcard and $1.30 on one segment of the total flight, and $2.60 carried a letter all the way. $3.90 (and aren’t we lucky they didn’t issue another stamp for that?) would cover the round trip mailing of a letter. These were the 1930 rates. I see some covers with all 3 1930 stamps, but believe that was for philatelic reasons. As for the 1933 stamp, it carried a letter across the Atlantic for just 50c (it was, after all, deep in the Depression).

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  7. Scott Williams | November 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Reply

    I have a zeppelin cover posted from Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. Did a zeppelin land in Addis? I can find no confirming info about this. Thanks.

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    Dan (Airships.net) Reply:

    Mail was often dispatched from places not served by zeppelins; the mail was sent by traditional means to a zeppelin departure point (such as Frankfurt), from which it was dispatched across the Atlantic by zeppelin and then continued its journey to the final destination by traditional means if necessary.

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  8. Thanks for the information. I did not purchase the cover, and glad now that I did not. Sounds like questionable advertising. I appreciate your response.

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  9. I am considering the purchase of a postal cover whose cachet pictures a drawing of the “Hindenburg” and an unidentified single engine monoplane. Above the cachet are the words “Per Airship HINDENBURG”, and beneath that the word, “Registered”. The letter is franked with three 1936 Winter Olympic stamps and a Zeppelin stamp. The letter was postmarked on April 27, 1936, at Leipzig; and addressed to a person in Brooklyn, New York. One of the markings is a red, round stamp with the words printed in a circular
    format with the words, ” Deustsche Luftpost Europa Nordamerica.” My question: With a postmark of April 27, 1936, is it reasonable to assume that the letter was carried on the Hindenburg on its first flight to America? Thank you for your assistance.

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    Dan (Airships.net) Reply:

    For various reasons, I don’t offer advice about the authenticity of value of particular items, and I could not comment on the authenticity of an item without seeing it personally. (I would also need information about the backstamps to even guess whether it was carried on a particular flight). I am sorry I cannot be of more assistance, but thank you for visiting the site and posting your comment. 🙂

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    Ford U. Ross Reply:

    April 27th 1936 is the wrong cancellation date for a letter mailed on the First
    North American Flight . That flight ocurred on May 6 – 14 , 1936 and is the flight carried cover is listed
    in the American Air Mail catalog as Z-404, worth only about $30.00.
    Also something else is wrong. The German Olympic stamps were not issued
    until July or August 1936 and appeared on the envelopes of the August 5 to 11th flight of the Hindenburg. AAMS Cat. # Z-416 .

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  10. Hi, I have a lot of old Zep covers and post cards from different countries (mostly Germany, Norway, Switzerland, US). The Sieger Zeppelin catalog that I have is pretty old (’92). Where can I get the most current covers and post cards catalog?
    I’ going to sell the whole collection (about 200 pcs. overall) and I want to find out the latest catalog prices for the stuff I have.
    Thank you,
    Nick

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    Dan (Airships.net) Reply:

    @ Nick:

    You can get a more recent catalog from Hermann E. Sieger GmbH, but while these catalogs are an invaluable historical resource, and I highly recommend them for that purpose, they are not an infallible source of information about pricing, since pricing is affected by so many market factors. The best use of the catalog for pricing information is to give you a general idea of which covers are more valuable than others, in relative terms, but you can’t use the catalog to determine exactly how much a dealer or collector would pay for your collection.

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    Ford U. Ross Reply:

    There is another Sieger cataglog that was published in 2002, maybe
    even another one. Although it is still dated it is still the best catalog
    to use. Be sure and adjust your prices from the listed Euros to U.S. $$$.
    Ford U. Ross member Zeppelin Collectors Club and the AAMS.
    Does your collection include any flown U.S. NAVY or other BLIMP covers?
    You may email me direct at zccaams@tampabay.rr.com These are not
    listed in any printed catalogs.

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    Ford U. Ross Reply:

    You will have to check with a dealer for a copy the Latest Seiger, 2001.
    There is a later catalog, 2005 issue by FROST, It has their latest
    prices in it but some are high. zccaams@tampabay.rr.com
    Member AAMS; ZCC, etc.

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