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Mail Ships

Hindenburg's Post Room

As a sub-post office of the Frankfurt post office, Hindenburg offered mail service during flight. The postmaster changed the date stamp daily to postmark mail with the special onboard marking. Because no photograph of Hindenburg’s post office room survives, curator Cheryl Ganz worked with illustrator Bruce MacPherson to create an accurate drawing of the post room space.


Hindenburg Uniform Service Badge

Hindenburg uniform service badge
Hindenburg uniform service badge, 1936-37 (#5)

Navigator Max Zabel’s uniform bore the rank insignia for Hindenburg third officers. Worn low on the sleeve, the branch of service badge showed the globe in blue enamel with a silver airship. He wore one gold sleeve stripe (which would have been on the shoulder boards for his white jacket), and a thin gold cord interwoven with black adorned his hat.


Hindenburg Salvaged Postmark Device

Hindenburg salvaged postmark device
Hindenburg salvaged postmark device, 1937 (#6)

Crew member Rudolf Sauter salvaged the remains of this postmark device, one of the two onboard, from the wreckage. The red wooden handle, rubber stamp lettering, and movable date type burned or melted.


Hindenburg Disaster Card

Hindenburg disaster card
Hindenburg disaster card, 1937 (#7)
Courtesy anonymous

Passenger Burt Dolan sent several postcards during the flight to his family and business contacts. Several pieces of his mail survived, all with the May 5 onboard postmark. He died trying to escape the flames.


Salvaged Hindenburg Postal Scale

Salvaged Hindenburg postal scale
Salvaged Hindenburg postal scale, 1937 (#8)
Courtesy anonymous

K. Hans Royter, the U.S. assistant special representative to the zeppelin company in charge of its U.S. mail operations, salvaged this onboard postal hand scale from the wreckage. The tools that the postmaster used included the date canceller, a black ink pad, a pair of lead seal pliers, a wooden box with padlock and key, supplies of bags, pouches, lead seals, airmail labels, and a postage stamp folder.


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