Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Graf Zeppelin

Did You Know Stamp Collectors

Kept the Graf Zeppelin Afloat?

Before airplanes became practical,
Giant, lighter-than-air craft known as
Dirigibles ruled the sky.
And the king of all dirigibles was
The Mighty Graf Zeppelin – LZ 127.

Named after its designer,
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin,
The Graf
(which means “Count” in German)
was an aluminum-framed,
lighter-than-air ship.
It was 776 feet long and had a
maximum diameter of 100 feet.

The craft was filled with hydrogen
Gas which filled 17 cells.
Five powerful Maybach motors
Gave it power.

This engineering marvel could
Fly at over 70 miles per hour
And was the only such
Airship to circle the earth.

This airship and its history are
Especially important to us
Stamp collectors,
as The Graf Zeppelin resulted
in the creation of four of
America’s most prominent stamps.

The Graf Zeppelin issue #C13-15,
and #C18, Affectionately known
to collectors as the “Baby Zep,”
wouldn’t exist without
this technological wonder.

But, what many collectors
may not know is that these historic
U.S. stamps were absolutely essential
to the financial success of
the Graf flights.
In fact, the flights wouldn’t
have happened without them.

U.S. Stamps Were Key to the
Zeppelin’s Financial Success!

Some flights were financed wholly
by the money derived from
stamp collectors.
Stamps were absolutely essential
to the Graf Zeppelin’s
financial success.

Here’s a quote from Dr. Hugo Eckener,
the legendary commander of the Graf:

“How could we finance this flight?
Not an easy problem to solve.

We could carry about 200 kg mail.
I put my hope in the philatelists,

who had contributed so much
to the round-the-world flight....”

Dr. Eckener was referring to the
Historic 1929 global flight.
It turns out stamp collectors
Contributed about $115,000.00
To The Flight’s Finances.
And 75% of that money –
About $86,250.00 –
Came from American collectors.

Here’s the Little-known Story
Behind the Issue #C13-15...

A Postmaster General’s
Stamp-Collecting Wife
Made It Happen!

The Graf depended on
the support of
stamp collectors.

So six weeks before the
1930 Europe-Pan American
flight took place,
Dr. Eckener requested that
the U.S. issue stamps supporting
the Zeppelin’s flight.
It was too late
To plan such an issue.

What happens next
Is the really neat part.

Postmaster General
Walter F. Brown heard of
Dr. Eckener’s predicament.
The Postmaster General
then went home and
told his wife,
Mrs. Brown, about it. Mrs.
Brown was a stamp collector
and specifically, a Zeppelin fan.

Upon hearing the news Mrs. Brown
said, “Dr. Eckener has to
have his stamps!
That ought to be possible!”
Apparently she had Mr. Brown’s
ear because the U.S.
issued the set of three
Graf Zeppelin airmails
(U.S. #C13-15)

This a amazing –
if the Postmaster General’s
wife hadn’t been a
stamp collector,
we probably wouldn’t have
the Graf Zeppelin stamps today!

U.S. philatelic mail brought
the Zeppelin Company
more than $100,000.00.

It was a major factor in financing
the flight. Records show that U.S.
collectors provided about 50%
of the total amount of postal
money raised worldwide for
the 1930 Pan-American flight.

Now you may be wondering how
the Zeppelin Company actually
got the money which was paid to
the U.S. Post Office.
The answer is simple:
the Post Office forwarded
every single penny
of the money collected!

The 1933 Century of
Progress Flight
Wouldn’t Have Happened
Without #C18!

The relationship between the
Zeppelin’s flight to the 1933
Century of Progress flight,
#C18 and collector mail
is even more direct.

Dr. Eckener said the Zeppelin
would make the trip under
two conditions.

One, they needed a formal invitation
from the World’s Fair.

Second, they needed assurance
of an
American commemorative
Zeppelin stamp.

This resulted in the creation
of #C18, the “Baby Zep.”
In this case,
the Zeppelin Company
received 85% of all
the proceeds collected
by the U.S. Post Office.

Interesting aside:
Stamp collecting President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
was furious the
American government and public
were funding a vessel
that was, by that time,
flying Nazi swastikas
on its tail fins.

Roosevelt would have quashed
the stamp if its issue
had not already been
internationally publicized.

Let me know what you

think about this post.


Happy Stamping.


Blogger Misty said...

Buddy. eally interesting.. good piece... I enjoyed reading it..Michael cddstamps

12:40 AM  

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