LZ 129 Hindenburg is perhaps the most famous of the German airships, not for the more than five dozen successful flights it made, but for catching fire and burning while landing in New Jersey in 1937.
Specialists highly prize crash mail recovered from the Hindenburg’s wreckage following its accident, but mail flown on earlier flights is also collectible. This cover bearing two copies of the 14¢ American Indian stamp was carried on one of those flights.
Although the year in the Richmond, Virginia, postmark is not clear, the date—July 13—most certainly is. Since the Hindenburg was in service only from March 1936–May 1937, the cover must have been flown in July 1936. This places it on the Hindenburg’s 29th flight, which traveled from Lakehurst, New Jersey, to Frankfurt, Germany.1
The two American Indian stamps are accompanied by a rotary press printed 12¢ Grover Cleveland stamp, also from the fourth Bureau issue. This is a somewhat late use of the American Indian stamp from the flat plate printing, as the same design was printed on rotary presses in 1931.
The front of the cover bears both a typewritten “Via Airship ‘Hindenburg’” notation and a purple “Via Air Mail” handstamp.
J. C. Muller, Inc., of Richmond, Virginia, a German owned company which later manufactured pumps for the U.S. Navy after the government seized its assets during World War II, mailed the envelope to Mr. Disp. E. Malmgreen of Stockholm, Sweden.2 A partial July 18 Stockholm postmark was stamped on the reverse.
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- Grossman, Daniel. Hindenburg Flight Schedule. Airships: The Hindenburg and other Zeppelins. Accessed 16 Nov. 2010.
- United States Alien Property Custodian. Annual Report, Office of Alien Property Custodian (1944). 1977 reprint ed. New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1977. Accessed 16 Nov. 2010.