A zeppelin story
Among the classics of German philately is a series of airmail stamps depicting a zeppelin contemplating the Earth below. This series, issued between 1928 and 1933, deserves a closer look because there are quite a few variants of note.
The historical context surrounding the issue.
This stamp was issued for the first time between the two world wars, just before
the global financial crisis of 1929.
At the time, the zeppelin was the new master of the skies. From 1928 to 1937, the
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin carried passengers, even circumnavigating the globe in 1929.
In fact, it flew over Berlin much to the astonishment of the city’s inhabitants.
What better way to show off our national pride than on German airmail stamps?
This is how the first issue in 1928 came about. It is made up of three different stamps: the 1M red, the 2M ultramarine blue and the 4M sepia.
These show the Zeppelin airship flying above the planet.
The next issue in 1930 featured the inscription «Südamerika-Fahrt» (South American
Journey) in the top left-hand corner of the 2M ultramarine blue stamp.
The 1931 issue coincided with another zeppelin expedition, this time to the Arctic.
So instead of «Südamerika-Fahrt», the overprint «Polar-Fahrt 1931» (Polar Journey)
appeared on the 1M red, 2M ultramarine blue and 4M sepia stamps.
Finally, the last issue in 1933 announced the arrival of the zeppelin in Chicago in the
same year. The «Chicagofahrt Weltausstellung 1933» (Journey to the Chicago
World Expo) overprint can be found on all three types of stamp.
In 1933, when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, production of these zeppelin stamps was stopped. The zeppelin itself was used as a propaganda tool in 1936, raining down leaflets on the public from above. The last remaining zeppelins were destroyed in 1940 on the orders of Herman Göring.
What are these stamps worth today?
The 1933 series recently sold on Delcampe for €140, which is a good deal for buyers, as these stamps had previously fetched a much higher value. What’s more, their catalogue price is well above this value.
A year earlier, the Polar Expedition stamps in mint condition were sold for €235. This is also well below the official rate. The year before that, the three stamps from the 1928 issue fetched a price of €110.
Of course, some mail carried these stamps, which travelled at the time, giving them value, both financially and historically!
Would you like to know more about other «zeppelin» stamps and letters from Germany? If so, Delcampe is at your service!