Smithsonian to host lecture on U.S. zeppelin stamps

A retired chief curator of philately at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum will give a lecture on U.S. zeppelin stamps as part of the 20th Maynard Sundman Lecture in November.

Chery Ganz, the current president of the American Philatelic Society (APS) will speak on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 4 p.m. EDT at the museum and also online on Zoom. Admission is free, but reservations are required.

There are a lot of collectors of zeppelin stamps from the 1930s. But why did the Post Office Department issue four zeppelin stamps to subsidize a German aircraft’s operations during the Great Depression? Why were the values of these stamps so high and who received all that money? How did the rates and routes change from 1930 to 1933? Why were zeppelins important to transoceanic mail service?

The lecture audience can learn the stories about these zeppelin stamps that are so iconic to philatelists today. Ganz will trace the production of the issues at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing from source materials to die proofs to certified plate proofs with marginal markings. The first days of issue examples will cover the various city postmarks and private cachets. Finally, she will illustrate when and where Graf Zeppelin flew mail with U.S. franking and the many ways that passengers, crew and collectors sought to create varieties.


Dr. Cheryl R. Ganz, president of the American Philatelic Society and Curator Emerita Smithsonian Institution.

Ganz is a social/cultural historian and lifelong stamp collector. These two interests have directed her research in both local postal history and zeppelin posts.

Ganz is a Smithsonian curator emerita following her retirement. Besides serving as the APS president, she is also the USA North Central representative of the Royal Philatelic Society London and a member on the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee—the committee that selects subjects and reviews designs for U.S. postage stamps.

Ganz’s exhibits, publications and talks focus on her specialty of zeppelin posts and memorabilia worldwide, especially from U.S. airships, the 1933 Graf Zeppelin Chicago flight and Hindenburg. She founded and administers the Facebook group of Zeppelin & Airship Collectors and edited and co-edited “The Zeppelin Collector” for 37 years. In addition to zeppelin material, she collects Wisconsin postal history, Germany, Switzerland and China.

Her philatelic recognitions include the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, APS Luff Award for Exceptional Contributions to Philately, Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award, Writers Unit Hall of Fame, Alfred F. Lichtenstein Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Philately, Mortimer L. Neinken Medal, Carlrichard Brühl Medal, Carl Lindenberg Medal, Wisconsin Philatelic Hall of Fame, AAMS Aerophilatelic Research Award, RPSL Lee Medal, Nicolas Carter National Service Award, USPCS Distinguished Philatelist Award, Elizabeth C. Pope Lifetime Achievement Award, FISA Gold Medal, Canadian Aerophilatelic Society Award, Chris Hunt Award, Newberry Award and the Single Frame Champion of Champions.

Ganz earned a doctorate in U.S. history from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her publications include The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair: A Century of ProgressDelivering Hope: FDR & Stamps of the Great Depression, Fire & Ice: Hindenburg and Titanic, Favorite Finds, Pacific Exchange: China & U.S. Mail, Every Stamp Tells a Story: The National Philatelic Collection, Zeppelin Hindenburg: An Illustrated History of LZ-129 and U.S. Zeppelin and Airship Mail Flights plus more than a hundred articles.

The National Postal Museum’s Maynard Sundman Lecture Series was established in 2002 through a donation by Sundman’s sons, David and Donald. The Sundman lectures feature talks by authors and expert philatelists on stamps and stamp collecting.

The public can visit the museum’s website for additional information and registration instructions.

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