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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Scott Bonaminio
Scott Bonaminio

The cover with the Hindenburg on the left side of the envelope does not look like a rubber stamp, since it is of two colors, silver of the Hindenburg, and blue of the background. Is this envelope a “stationery envelope of the Hindenburg? I have the same envelope cover, and… Read more »

Paul Voller

Hi Dan, I have several philatelcally inspired Zeppelin covers from the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics addressed to New York. They are addressed to different people, but both addresses are the same – ‘354 Fourth Avenue’. I see you also have a cover with the same address but a different recipient.… Read more »

Ken

354 Fourth (now Lexington was the home or office of F.W. von Meister, the Zeppelin representative – his assistant Roytner also lived there. I have seen zep covers to both, and one now to a GW Bartlett, in the auto parts business – he could have had some business servicing… Read more »

Paul Voller

Hi Ken, Thanks for the information, very helpful. I have three covers to Mr K.H. Royter and another three to F.W von Meister so they tie in nicely with your comments. Do you know how this setup worked? If a collector sent a cover on a Zeppelin to this address… Read more »

Mark R Phillips
Mark R Phillips

I have an envelope (complete, front and back sides) postmarked New York, May 9th, 9 AM, 1936. It has the Hindenberg airship stamp (denomination “50”), a stamp of Hindenberg,(denomination “1”) and four stamps (the same) of Otto Van Guerricke with the denomination of “6” on each one. They are green… Read more »

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 »