Psst – have a spare 8 grand for a slightly damaged postal cover?

Psst – have a spare 8 grand for a slightly damaged postal cover?

Here’s something you don’t see every day:

Photo of a badly burned salvaged cover from the Hindenburg Zeppelin disaster - cover courtesy Vance Auctions

A badly burned salvaged cover from the Hindenburg Zeppelin disaster

Have you figured out what it is? Here’s a hint: Think Zeppelin mail.  This chance to own a piece of history is coming up at the next Vance sale Aug 22, 2018. (Auction item 687)

C54, Tied on part of a charred cover from the 6 May, 1937 HINDENBURG ZEPPELIN DISASTER. Addr to C. Ford in San Francisco with centrally struck red Zeppelin flight cachet. Wrapped in the original cellophane by the Post Office and with P.O. Department Officially Sealed label on reverse. Has 1993 Germany Philatelic Society Certificate and 1993 Dr J. Simon Certificate. A VERY RARE EXAMPLE OF A HINDENBURG CRASH COVER FROM THE MOST FAMOUS AIR DISASTER IN HISTORY

The cover, from one of the most famous air disasters in history, was one of only 372 salvaged from the 17,000 letters the Hindenburg carried on its last flight. Out of those 372, 176 suffered no damaged because they were being held in protective pouches. The rest (this one included) were pieced together afterwards by diligent US postal officials, sealed, and sent on to their destination.  This one has an authentication certificate, which is mandatory given the high number of forgeries about.  It’s unusual to see one come for auction and it’ll be interesting to see what the final price is.

If you look closely, you can just make out an address and post mark. The original US post Officially Sealed stamp is in place along with the salvage wrapping. It originally carried the C54 Swastika, Sun, Globe and Eagle German airmail stamp – 100pf, like the one below, but I couldn’t spot it. I think it’ll take a careful examination to see the remnants.

Scan of 1934 German airmail stamp

1934 German airmail stamp

Note: the number of covers that survived varies between 358 to 372.  Zeppelin authority Dieter Leder from the Zeppelin Study Group pegs the number at 372, which is the one I use in the article.

Hindenburg Crash Mail – 
Burned mail from Hindenburg crash to be auctioned (link no longer available. Looking for another one)
Zeppelin Post Journal is the one of the best magazines on the market for Zeppelin related information –

Over 100 Zeppelin LZ 127 covers coming up for auction this month

Over 100 Zeppelin LZ 127 covers coming up for auction this month

I spotted a couple of interesting covers up for auction. If you’re a Zeppelin collector, Daniel F. Kelleher auction house might be worth a quick look. Hell, even if you aren’t looking to buy, go look anyway.

The first one is a nice US Lakehurst to Lakehurst cover with an excellent US airmail/ Zeppelin cancel and Eckener cachet.  The current bid is sitting at $100 with the estimates between $200 and $300. The cover lacks Zeppelin stamps but the cachet and cancel make it worth a bid. If you’re just starting your Zeppelin collection, this would be a great starting point.

Zeppelin cover US Lakehurst to Lakehurst - image Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions

The one that floats my boat is Lot 5015 – Zeppelin mail to Canada airmail by way of the US. Ok, a bit convoluted so I’ll let the catalogue do the talking:

Canada, 1930 (May 18-31), Europe-Pan-American Flight, Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst (Michel 66 G), cover franked with 15¢ Canadian postage canceled Vancouver, 15 Apr, flown to New York where U.S. $2.60 Zeppelin was applied and canceled 29 Apr; German & U.S. flight cachets, backstamped green Lakehurst Zeppelin receiver; then returned by Airmail to the sender/addressee in Vancouver; 5¢ Canadian Airmail with corner neatly replaced, otherwise Very Fine. Sieger 64 Ib.
Sieger €2,000 ($2,120).

Zeppelin cover to Canada by way of US - image Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions

Kelleher puts the the estimate at between $1,000 and $1,500. But look at that beauty – both a US Zeppelin stamp and a Canadian airmail,  and absolutely brilliant cancels and cachets. Be still my beating heart. That’s the cover of Canadian airmail collector’s dreams. As of this writing, the opening bid is already $500.  I’ll be watching this one.

Kelleher Auctions has a large number of Graf Zeppelin LZ 127 flight covers available.  Even if you aren’t looking to bid or these are beyond your stamp budget, check the offerings out anyway. It’s a great way to see what’s out there and learn more about this specialty.

I’d love to be in Danbury, Connecticut to watch this lot go on May 18-19, 2017.

** Both cover images courtesy Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions.


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