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 mail, primarily first flight covers destined for stamp collectors.  Later flights between Germany and North America carried between 90 and 236 kg of mail, including commercial mail as well as philatelic items, and flights within Germany and Europe also carried philatelic mail for collectors and zeppelin enthusiasts.

Note: The “Sieger numbers” mentioned below refer to the Zeppelin Post Katalog published by the Sieger-Verlag of Lorch/Wurttemberg.  The Sieger catalog is invaluable not just as a philatelic reference to zeppelin mail, but also as a historic resource, since the catalog contains a comprehensive list of all flights by German commercial zeppelins from LZ-1 through LZ-130.

First Flight to South America

First flight from Europe to South America, March 31-April 4, 1936. (Sieger 402A)

Hindenburg first flight cover, Europe to South America, March 31-April 4, 1936. (Sieger 402A)

First Flight to North America

Hindenburg carried its largest volume of mail (1059 kg in 60 mail sacks) on its first flight to North America.  The majority of this mail was philatelic (i.e., created as souvenirs, or for stamp collectors) rather than commercial, and because of the large quantity of mail, these covers are not generally valuable unless they are unique in some way, but they are wonderful (and easy to find) souvenirs of this historic flight.

Letter written by Lady Drummond Hay to Clara Adams, and posted on board.

Letter written by Lady Drummond Hay to Clara Adams, and posted on board.

Cover carried on Hindenburg's maiden flight from Germany to the United States. Sieger 406D.

Hindenburg first flight cover, Germany to the United States, May 6-9. 1936. (Sieger 406D)

Registered mail carried on Hindenburg's first flight from Europe to America (Sieger 406D)

Registered mail, first flight from Germany to America, May 6-9. 1936. (Sieger 406D)

hinden-sieger406d-2

First flight from Germany to America, May 6-9. 1936. (Sieger 406D)

Posted onboard Hindenburg during first flight to America, May 6-9, 1936. (Sieger 407)

Posted on board Hindenburg during first flight from Germany to America, May 6-9, 1936. (Sieger 407B)

First Return Flight from North America

These covers are also relatively common, as Hindenburg carried 824 kg of mail on this flight.

Hindenburg's (Sieger 409)

First return flight from America to Germany, May 12-14, 1936. (Sieger 409)

Carried on Hindenburg's first return flight from America to Germany, May 12-14, 1936. (Type III backstamp, Sieger 409C)

First return flight from America to Germany, May 12-14, 1936. (Type III backstamp, Sieger 409C)

Forged Hindenburg Cover

Forgeries of mail from Hindenburg’s first flight to North America are rare, because these covers are generally not valuable enough to justify forging.  But a well known forgery was created in 1938 by a German stamp dealer named Julius Bock, who claimed that these covers were flown to North America and back to Germany; in fact, they never saw the inside of a zeppelin.  Bock made the glaring error of franking the covers with the wrong amount of postage (.55 Rpf, a rate for printed matter that was not valid on this flight).  There are also errors in the lettering of the postmarks applied to these forged covers.

Forged cover sold by Julius Bock in 1938.

Forged cover sold by Julius Bock in 1938.

Genuine postmark on left, forged Bock postmark on right; notice shape of the "M" in Nordamerika and the "3" in 36. (click all images to enlarge)

Genuine postmark on left, forged Bock postmark on right; notice shape of the “M” in Nordamerika and the “3” in 36. (click all images to enlarge)

Sixth North American Flight

Frankfurt to Lakehurst, August 5-11, 1936, mailed from the Olympic Games in Berlin. (Sieger 428C)

Frankfurt to Lakehurst, August 5-11, 1936, mailed from the Olympic Games in Berlin and postmarked “Olympisches Dorf.”  (Sieger 428C)

Eight North American Flight

North America Flight, September 17-24, 1936. Posted at Nurnberg with NSDAP Party Day cancel, with enclosed letter. (Sieger 437B)

North America Flight, September 17-24, 1936.  Posted at Nurnberg with NSDAP Party Day cancel, with enclosed letter. (Sieger 437B)

I welcome comments and emails, but please note that for various reasons I don’t like to offer an opinion on the value or authenticity of zeppelin covers or other items of airship memorabilia.

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Gord
Gord

I have an envelope (front cover only) which shows detail similar to the item above “First return flight from America to Germany, May 12-14, 1936. (Type III backstamp, Sieger 409C)” I am puzzled by the fact it is dated May 11 in the U.S. and May 14 in Germany and… Read more »

George Hecht
George Hecht

I searched my father’s Zeppelin collection and found a Julius Bock forgery cover. Thanks for the information.

Robert Lee
Robert Lee

Hello, everyone! I like to collect stamps and covers, and l live in Beijing, China. There is a photo take more than 100 years ago, and on the back of it, there is a line of German words in handwriting, which I can’t recognize. Who can help me to spell… Read more »

Bruce Madden
Bruce Madden

I have been looking for the rate for a simple cover mailed from Germany to USA via the Hindenburg airship.
Perhaps I have missed the appropriate page in the Michel Zeppelin catalogue but I have been unable to find rate tables for this service.
Any help is appreciated.
Bruce

Inge Flynn
Inge Flynn

I have Hinndenburg stamp that says LZ 129 nachNordamerika. It went from Germany to NYC. The stamp is on an envelope (cover) which is not in great shape. It has the stamp of DeutschsLuftpost Europa-Nordamericka in purple across it. I could send a photo if you are interesteed. It was… Read more »

rene snijder
rene snijder

I have a nice envelope from Germany to my grandfather with 4 different zeppelin stamps. It was dropped on THE LAST FLIGHT of the Hindenburg above Rotterdam Any clue of its value or who might have an opinion?

Rene Snijder the Netherlands

Leif
Leif

Two part question. I’m looking at what appears to be a purely philatelic cover from the first North American flight. Top left corners says (in type) ‘Per L.S. “Hindenburg” Von Friedrichshafen’. Typical blue & green airship stamps but both cancelled May 4th in Friedrichstafen, which I understand was its home… Read more »

Collin Boyd
Collin Boyd

I have a letter, given to me by my mother, which travelled on the Hindenburg’s first return flight from Lakehurst to Frankfurt. Are there many such still circulating, or are they more rare.
Thank you
Collin

Richard Altman
Richard Altman

One thing I will never understand is the first flight of the Hindenburg only had 58 kg of mail and was 1st transatlantic trip and first to have the new c57-8 stamps made just for Hindenburg and next flight to America had 2500 lbs more of mail and no printed… Read more »

bill helbig
bill helbig

Limited supply does not necessarily translate to huge demand. If one collects coins however, having a coin which was produced only in 100’s of thousands results in far greater demand since people value coins way above first day covers. Its all about what people value. In the US few people… Read more »

Jim Graue
Jim Graue

LZ-129 1st SA Flight (H9) carried 61 kg of mail. LZ-129 1st NA Flight (H12) carried 1059 kg of mail. Why? In mid-1935, the Zeppelin South Atlantic service lost the rights to carrying regular letter mail (LC) to the much faster Deutsche Lufthansa (DLH) South Atlantic airmail service. The 61… Read more »

Colin
Colin

I have been looking all over the web to find out if this rare or not. I have this stamp book with many US stamps and the owner was in the postal service in the USA. This Zeppelin Cover I have has the description as follows not on the cover,… Read more »

Richard Altman
Richard Altman

easy go to the top of the page and click on Hindenburg and go to the Hindenburg page and it will list in order every flight the Hindenburg did incoluding all the rest flights around Germany and Switzerland and finally on march 31 they took it to s. Amer. as… Read more »