Zeppelin Flown Covers of the World
From Stamps of the World
A Zeppelin was a type of rigid airship named after the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin who pioneered rigid airship development at the beginning of the 20th century. Zeppelin's notions were first formulated in 1874 and developed in detail in 1893. They were patented in Germany in 1895 and in the United States in 1899. After the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the word zeppelin came to be commonly used to refer to all rigid airships.
The first zeppelin to carry mail was LZ 4, in July 1908, followed shortly by LZ 3. The early flights did not use any special markings; the first was an oval reading "LUFTSCHIFF / SIGNALPOST" around the edge and "Z III" in the center, used on LZ 6 (Z 3) from August to October 1909. By 1911 a number of different postmarks were in use; a typical example was a circle reading "AN BORD DES / ZEPPELIN / LUFTSCHIFFES", with a date in the center and the name of the zeppelin at bottom. These were actually applied on board the zeppelin while in flight, at a small postal station.
The zeppelins were taken into military service in 1914, and thereafter did not carry civilian mail, although military commanders had special handstamps applied to their mail. Zeppelins were first flown commercially in 1910 by Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG), the world's first airline in revenue service. By mid-1914, DELAG had carried over 10,000 fare-paying passengers on over 1,500 flights. During World War I the German military made extensive use of Zeppelins as bombers and scouts, killing over 500 people in bombing raids in Britain.
In the following years after WWI, Graf Zeppelin undertook trips around Europe; and following a successful tour to Recife, Brazil in May 1930, it was decided to open the first regular transatlantic airship line. This line operated between Frankfurt and Recife, and was later extended to Rio de Janeiro, with a stop in Recife. Despite the beginning of the Great Depression and growing competition from fixed-wing aircraft, LZ 127 transported an increasing volume of passengers and mail across the ocean every year until 1937. The ship made another spectacular voyage in July 1931 when it made a seven-day research trip to the Arctic. This had already been a dream of Count von Zeppelin twenty years earlier, which could not be realized at the time due to the outbreak of war. Eckener intended to follow the successful airship with another larger Zeppelin, designated LZ 128. This was to be powered by eight engines, 232 m (761 ft) in length, with a capacity of 199,980 m3 (7,062,100 cu ft). However the loss of the British passenger airship R101 on 5 October 1930 led the Zeppelin company to reconsider the safety of hydrogen-filled vessels, and the design was abandoned in favour of a new project, LZ 129. This was intended to be filled with inert helium.
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin had a long and celebrated career. Within weeks of its first flight in September 1928, the Graf Zeppelin carried the first airmail to go directly from Germany to the US and vice versa. Germany issued special 2-mark and 4-mark stamps for the occasion. On the return trip, the zeppelin carried almost 52,000 postcards and 50,000 letters. In 1929, Graf Zeppelin circled the globe, with stops in Tokyo and Los Angeles. By the time it was taken out of service in June 1937, the zeppelin had made 590 flights, each flight carrying up to 12 tons of mail to and from dozens of countries around the world.
Although LZ 129 Hindenburg is most famous for its fiery end, for the 14 months of its existence, it carried considerable amounts of mail overseas, and many of those are readily available today. Most of the 17,609 pieces of mail on the last flight were destroyed in the fire, but a handful were recovered, and today are highly prized crash covers.
The LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II was the last of the zeppelins to carry mail; it was in civilian service for only a few months, from October 1938 to August 1939, and made only 30 trips, all within Germany.
Zeppelin covers are highly collected and some have great rarity value, others can be picked up for a few dollars, making them both great Postal History on a affordable starter scale.
Countries that have issued stamps for use on Zeppelin mail were those where the airships went on route and picked up and dropped off mail. They are as follows:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cyrennaica, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Leichtenstein, Paraguay, Russia, San Marino, Tripolitania and the United States of America. Adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeppelin_mail and other wiki sources.
- 1 Flugpost am Rhein und Main - Luftschiff "Bodensee" LZ-120 and Aircraft "Gelber Hund"
- 2 Luftschiff "Nordstern" LZ-121
- 3 ZR 3 "Los Angeles" LZ-126 / ZR-3)
- 4 1928 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 5 1929 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 6 1930 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 7 1931 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 8 1932 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 9 1933 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 10 1934 "Graf Zeppelin-Condor" LZ-127
- 11 1935 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 12 1936 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 13 1937 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
- 14 1936 "Hindenburg" LZ-129
- 15 1937 "Hindenburg" LZ-129
- 16 1937 - 1939 "Graf Zeppelin II" LZ-130
Flugpost am Rhein und Main - Luftschiff "Bodensee" LZ-120 and Aircraft "Gelber Hund"
The "Bodensee" participated in an early air mail event in the summer of 1912 along with an airplane called the "Gelber Hund" ("Yellow Dog") Special stamps were issued but standard German postage was also required for delivery after carriage by the "Schwaben" or "Gelber Hund." The event was called the Flugpost am Rhein und Main (Airmail on the Rhine and Main).
Luftschiff "Nordstern" LZ-121
ZR 3 "Los Angeles" LZ-126 / ZR-3)
Built by the Zeppelin Co. as a war reparation for the USA after the First World War, the ZR-3 was re-christened "USS Los Angeles" after being turned over to the US Navy.
"USS Los Angeles"
Whilst the renamed ship was in service it sometimes rarely carried mail.
1928 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
1929 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
In 1929 Graf Zeppelin, William Randolph Hearst an American Newspaper publisher partly funded the "Round the World" flight (Weltrundfahrt 1929). The route was New York, Friedrichshafen, Tokyo and Los Angeles before returning to Lakehurst, New York.
1930 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
1931 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
1932 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
1933 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
1934 "Graf Zeppelin-Condor" LZ-127
1935 "Graf Zeppelin" LZ-127
The Graf Zepp (127) replaced the series of flights from Germany down the West African coast and across to South America for 2 brief periods. Otherwise, DLH ran that route with land- and seaplanes