Rhode Island Around the World - Air Mail Covers
May 5, 1929 Flown Graf Zeppelin Cover
Friedrichshafen, Germany to Providence, RI

This cover was flown on the Graf Zeppelin in 1929. The stamp is the German 2 Mark - Air Mail stamp "Graf Zeppelin crossing the Ocean" issued in on September 20, 1928. The color is "ultra" and it is listed as C36 in the Scott Catalog. It lists for $90.00 on cover.

This philatelically sent card has an interesting history. The cover is dated May 12, 1929 on the reverse and was sent from Karl Becker in Germany. It is addressed to Adolf Heller in Providence, Rhode Island. From the message on the reverse it is probable that the card was sent either as a favor or from a dealer. The card was originally posted at Friedrichshafen on May 15, 1929 and placed in the Graf Zeppelin mail. This would have been the first trans-Atlantic flight of 1929, however the Graf Zeppelin developed engine problems over France and the flight was aborted.

I don't have a date for when the flight was rescheduled, however the Graf Zeppelin arrived in Lakehurst, New Jersey on August 4th of that year as indicated by the New York - August 5, 1929 Receiving Cancel. The cover was then sent via inland mail to the recipient in Providence, Rhode Island.

What makes the events surrounding the delay of this card even more interesting, is that William Randolph Hurst had financed an "Around the World Trip" by the airship to begin in Lakehurst, New Jersey on August 8, 1929. This card was carried on the trip from Germany to Lakehurst, which was not officially a part of the globe circling effort as the official trip was to start from American soil. Three days later on August 8, 1929 the Graf Zeppelin departed on her historic around the world trip. The airship made only two stops on this trip; Tokyo, Japan and Los Angeles, California before returning to Lakehurst, New Jersey on August 29th.

The Zeppelins are named after Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin, who built the first successful rigid dirigible airship; the LZ-1 which was first flown on July 2, 1900.

The Graf Zeppelin was constructed in the mid 1920s after Germany was allowed to return to civilian aviation. (Treaty of Versailles). Her first trans-Atlantic flight was conducted on September 28, 1928. She logged over 1 million miles in flight during her ten years of service including 144 Atlantic crossings. She was retired from service in 1938 after the horrific crash of the Hindenburg in 1937 effectively ended the era of the Airships.

Friedrichshafen was the German terminus for the flights of both the Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg. It was also the home of the airship company that built them.  The town is located on the northern shore of Lake Constance in southern Germany and near the borders of both Switzerland and Austria. Population in 2004 was estimated at 57,680.

SEE ALSO: 1936 United States Issued - 50 Cent Baby Zepp 

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