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Postal History

Zeppelin Hindenburg Flights
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These covers are problematic. The handstamped Guatemalan cancel is May 18. It has a boxed registration marking on the front. Amazingly, it has a Friedichshafen May 23 marking. That is to suggest that a registered airmail cover from Guatemala arrived in Germany 7 days after being posted. The term 'courtesy mail' could I suppose refer to several things. One, it has no U.S. cachet or other postal marking, and it thus apparently did not enter the mailstream there. Two, there is no evidence that in Germany it was treated as registered mail. Three, as a returned registered cover it should have had Guatemalan markings on return. Perhaps the term 'courtesy mail' refers, instead, to the possibility that these covers were sent in a sealed container to Germany, with instruction to datestamp them, and then returned in the same container to the sender in Guatemala. That would explain both the lack of flight cachet, and lack of U.S. or German registration markings. Registered mail would never have been handled the way this cover was handled.  If these were favor cancelled in Friedrichshafen they may also have been favor cancelled in Guatemala.
 
Michel Zeppelin Catalog mentions that on the Second North American Flight "approximately 50 Guatemalan covers" were transported from Lakehurst, NJ to Europe. I don't have a solid base to say if that is true or not, but at the same time I don't think Michel Catalog editors have a solid base either.

There is another strange information in the Michel catalog, regarding the Second North American Flight of the Hindenburg: "For Guatemala & Mexico, this flight was the first official mail transport". As far as I know, the Guatemalan Government did not sign a contract with the zeppelin company to transport mail, and as a consequence is considered as "courtesy mail", so I don't understand what do they mean by "official mail tranport". I was able to see in the same catalog Guatemala covers for the following North American Flights:1,2, 3, 7, 8, 9 & 10. Regards Gabriel
 

Hello Andrew, Is impossible to say how many covers from Guatemala were carried by the Hindenburg on each North American flight. Some years ago I published an article in "El Quetzal" and I destroyed the myth of "50" Guatemalan covers carried on the first North American flight, and established the rate charged in Guatemala. The number "50" is the number listed in Sieger & Michel Catalogs for the first North American flight. Before writing my article I wrote to the Sieger Company in Germany, and I received a letter signed by Elsbeth Sieger (I have the letter on my hands), mentioning that the catalog started to be printed in 1922, and since then the number "50" has been mentioned. All the records from the Sieger Company were destroyed during WWII.


I know about a Guatemalan cover carried on the 10 North American flight that is on sale at a bargain price: 1,200 euros!. I have the Michel Zeppelin catalog in my office. I will check tomorrow if they mention something about it. Regards Gabriel

 
I've read the estimated number somewhere. Have you checked the El Quetzal cd Index for articles on this topic?
 
Showing here is the 2nd return flight (18 May 36) of the airship Hindenburg "Seiger" FFC. This is harder to find than the First flight or the third flight. I wish to know the following info:-
  1. How many commem. covers like these did Sieger send on this flight.
  2. Did he send any on fourth and subsequent flights?
 

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