Hungarian airmail – the great Turul

Hungarian airmail – the great Turul

A couple more nifty Hungarian airmail stamps for today’s offering – 1927-1930 airmails (Scott’s C12-17). I’m missing C14, so I’ll have to go hunting for it this week. I picked these today because of the interesting Hungarian mythology behind them. That’s one of the powerful draws for stamp collecting – the history, country mythology, politics, and culture you can cull from the images. These stamps show Turul, the great bird messenger from Attila (or the gods, depending on which myth you read) and involves birth myth of the Hungarian people. Turul figures prominently in Hungarian mythology, and you can see his image on various buildings and statues around the country. The most well-known to many tourists is the one is on the bridge spanning the river dividing Buda and Pest. But if you collect Hungarian stamps, you’ll see Turul on a lot.

Here’s one version of the Turul origins legend:

The first legend of the Turul tells the story of Princess Emese, consort of a Scythian king, who once had a dream in which a Turul appeared to her. In this dream, a crystal-clear stream started to flow from her, and as it moved Westward, it grew into a mighty river. This dream represented her symbolic impregnation by the Turul and meant that she would give birth to a line of great rulers. Emese later gave birth to Álmos, who was the father of Árpád, the great leader of the Magyars and founder of Hungary.

Another view of Turul

In the second legend, the leader of the Hungarian tribes had a dream in which eagles attacked their horses and a Turul came and saved them. This symbolized that they had to migrate, and when they did so, the Turul helped them to show the way and eventually led them to the land that became Hungary.

Because of these legends, the Turul became a symbol of Magyar identity that has been represented throughout history and is still used today including on the coat of arms of the Hungarian Army and the Office of National Security.

From <>

Hungarian airmails depicting Turul the Messenger.

These stamps have a lot of symbolism packed into a small space – Turul, the divine messenger, a blazing sun in the distance with a Hungarian Double Cross shining in the light. (I’ve also seen the cross referred to as St. Stephen’s cross in a few articles).

The series is interesting and not expensive. You can scoop a set for under $10 on a good day. The problem I’m having is getting just C14. No one wants to break up their set, so I’ll end up purchasing a full set, unless my trusty stamp store has a single, I can buy. I need to get it soon; my OCD rears up every time I look at the incomplete display and whispers in my ear “you can buy them all online …. Psst… go… buy a set”.

Hungarian Airmail - TurulHungarian Airmail - Turul
Hungarian airmail - TurulHungarian airmail - Turul

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Hungarian Zeppelin Airmail – C24 C25


Hungarian Zeppelin Airmail – C24 C25

Hungarian Zeppelin Airmail – C24 C25

I recently acquired a small collection of Hungarian Zeppelin Airmail stamps from a friend who fled Hungary during the ’56 Uprising. When he was preparing to leave Hungary, he combed through his stamp collection, picking the ones that were most valuable. He hoped, when they were safe over the border, he could use them for quick cash to pay for necessities. Nothing large could be taken, no luggage, no oversized bags or anything that would tip off authorities they were fleeing. Everything had to be small, portable and easily hidden. Stamps filled that order. He told me about going through his collection, picking what he hoped would be the most valuable and easily sold.

When he was safe in Austria, he went around to various shops trying to sell the stamps and was heartbroken to find out they were no longer worth as much. So many Hungarians had done the same thing, Austria was awash in them and the prices crashed. He didn’t have the heart to throw them away or sell them for next to nothing and hung on to them. He was attached to them – one of his few possessions that had made it over the border, everything else had been abandoned. The stamps crossed the frontier, tucked into an inside pocket, remained with him through his refugee claim and uncertain times waiting for resettlement and finally all the way to Toronto, Ontario Canada.

58 years later, he still had the stamps, tucked on a shelf, buried, not forgotten but rarely thought about. I was about the only stamp collector he knew, and he gave them to me last month. I was and am thrilled to have them. I’m keeping the collection together, with a note about how they found their way to me, in hopes, the next owner, understands how valuable they really are. Sometime, the value can’t be found in a catalogue.

Graf Zeppelin Airmail Issues C24 and C25

Hungarian C24 Zeppelin stampHungarian Zeppelin Airmail

These two Hungarian Zeppelin overprints were part of the group of stamps. Scotts cat C24 and C25 were issued to celebrate the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin’s visit to Hungary 29 March 1931. Well centred, used pair go, per set, for about $70 to $80 (Cdn). Mint copies are worth slightly less (unhinged mints of course bring a premium). This is one of those cases were used stamps, with good cancels are more attractive than mint ones. You can find a Zeppelin covers for as little as $60, with appropriate cachets and to well over $400. Always look at the cancels – I spotted one recently that had a 1927 cancel, so the C24 and C25 stamps and Zeppelin cachet were added years after the cover was sent. I only spotted it because I love cancels and am always peering at them carefully.

The 1p is orange with a black overprint, the 2p is dull violet with a bright green overprint.  58,598 pairs were printed, and a small number of imperforate sets were issued. I believe about 10,000 imperf pairs were printed, so they are worth more. I’ve never seen a pair offered for sale, so I’m not sure what the market price would be. Scotts pegs the price around $300 for the pair but there is always a weird disconnect between catalogued price and market price. The stamps were made available a few days before the Zeppelin’s arrival and were a hit.

The Route

LZ 127 over Budapest 1931 Hungarian Zeppelin Airmail

The flight left its base in Friedrichshafen South Germany on 28 March @ 11pm and was spotted over Székesfehérvár the next morning at 7:15am. It reached Budapest 45 minutes later, landing 8 am, amid great excitement, at the Csepel Airport. The Mayor of Budapest and other dignitaries were on hand to welcome the crew, along with 20 – 30 thousand people according to contemporary journalist Miklos Magyar. Hard to say what the real number was, but judging by the photos, thousands made the trip to see the LZ-127. It always generated huge interest, wherever it went.Zepplin over Budapest

On Monday March 30, the airship flew passengers northeast to Miskolc, then direct south to Kisújszállás and off North West to Vác and finally back to Budapest. The day trip carried several notable Hungarians including author and journalist Frigyes Karinthy, Miklós Horthy’s son István, Defense Minister Gyula Gömbös, a few journalists and Count László Almássy who’s name will be familiar to anyone who read or watched The English Patient. After the visit, the LZ 127 flew on to Děčín Czechoslovakia for a whirlwind tour.

If you collect airmail or anything flight related, you can always find a few fine copies of these Zeppelin airmail stamps on eBay or at auction.  If you hit the right auction, you can often scoop one for under listed price. But, like all auctions, it depends on who is there. If a collector of Zeppelin material shows up, expect to spend too much.

If you enjoyed this article, try one. It was fun to research and write. Don’t forget to support Bitter Grounds via Buy me a Coffee (to the left), PayPal (in the footer) or by merch. You can now subscribe to my newsletter and get new posts directly to your inbox. You can now like and share articles using the pop-up box on the right. 

See more great Hungarian airmails: 

Hungarian Zeppelin Airmail – C24 C25