The 1930 Graf Zeppelin stamps are classic examples of single-color engraving, which was for many years the primary method of printing for U.S. postage stamps. In single-color engraving, one ink is pre-mixed to a specified color and the stamps are printed in that color.
The Graf Zeppelin stamps of 1930 were created to send mail on a special flight that spring by the German airship Graf Zeppelin. The itinerary included Friedrichshafen, Germany; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Lakehurst, New Jersey, south of New York City. You can see all three locations on the $1.30 stamp. The other two stamps commemorate the airship’s previous feats; for example, the $2.60 value recalls its trip around the world in 1929.
The “Zepps,” as they are affectionately known, were designed to appeal to collectors and mailers eager to send mail on the famous airship. But the prices were too high for Depression times. Less than a tenth of the projected number of stamps was ever sold, increasing their rarity today.
Die Proofs of 1930 Graf Zeppelin Stamps