general information

This census of Ludwig Staehle zeppelin cachets is compiled from THE ZEPPELIN COLLECTOR , a quarterly newsletter that appears in The Jack Knight Air Log, January and July 2009 issues. Send additions or color copies to upgrade the B&W examples to: .

The article is also available as pdf file: staehle_master.pdf .

Note: There are only two exemplary Staehle cachets illustrated in this online edition, the pdf-edition of the article and the printed edition from the THE ZEPPELIN COLLECTOR have all known cachets illustrated.



Cheryl Ganz reports
Ludwig W. Staehle Cachets on Zeppelin Mail

Ludwig W. Staehle drew the zeppelin and hand lettered the text around it. Dispatched from New York and flown by "Graf Zeppelin" on the Pan American Flight of 1930 Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst at the $2.60 letter rate (note the cover indicates to Friedrichshafen but the rate is insufficient).


Ludwig W. Staehle’s (1893-1967) hand-drawn cachets on zeppelin mail are highly prized by both collectors of original art on mail and zeppelin collectors who appreciate decorative covers. Staehle’s cachets evoke the era’s passion and enthusiasm for airships. In recent auctions, some outstanding examples realized $700 to nearly $2,000 each.

As a young man in Germany, Staehle worked as a designer apprentice in interior decoration and then studied design in college before being drafted in World War I. When he returned home after spending seven years as a prisoner of war, life had changed dramatically, and opportunity was limited. In 1927, he emigrated to the U.S., where he had relatives. He soon found work as an interior designer in New York City and, later, in commercial arts.

Staehle cachet on the Graf Zeppelin 1929 world flight, flown Lakehurst to Lakehurst on the complete trip, is the earliest known zeppelin cachet by the artist that has been recorded through this census.


One year after he arrived in America, the Graf Zeppelin made its first flight over New York. As a 35-year-old German immigrant, he must have taken pride in its arrival. Staehle was a stamp collector, and he used his artistic talents to create covers for himself and friends for the Graf Zeppelin 1930 Pan American flight. He went on to create covers for special flights of the Graf Zeppelin and many of the Hindenburg North American flights. Some of his later zeppelin designs did not make the flights for which they were intended, receiving instead alternative airmail services.

By 1936, he was designing cachets to be printed on U.S. first day covers, and he created cachets until the last years of his life. A study of these designs illustrates his patriotism’s shift away from his homeland and to America. In 1941, he created the artwork for the American Air Mail Society’s twelfth annual convention. In the margin of the exhibition’s cinderella, he proudly listed his AAMS membership number 2001.

References and Sources
M. Douglas Parks, The Cachet Catalog of Staehle and Knapp, 1981.
Harmers of London Auction, November 11, 2008.
Heinrich Köhler 333rd auction, The Gerhard Wolff Collection, May 21, 2008.
Nutmeg Stamp Sale 177, November 13, 2008.
Robert A. Siegel Sale 950, December 19-20, 2007.
Superior Stamp & Coin Stamp Auction, June 23-25, 1997.
The author is grateful to Robert Knecht, Dieter Leder, Mary Logan, Daniel Piazza, and Gerhard Wolff.