The green 65-cent Graf Zeppelin stamp of 1930 depicts the German rigid airship flying eastward over the Atlantic Ocean. The Graf Zeppelin was 775 feet long—much longer than two football fields placed end to end. Silver fabric covered its lightweight duralumin girder framework, and, inside, gas cells were filled with flammable hydrogen. The Graf Zeppelin flew safely from 1928 to 1937 under the command of Dr. Hugo Eckener, and was dismantled in 1940.
This stamp paid postcard rates, combining the regular postage and the zeppelin fee, for flight legs on the May 1930 Pan American flight from Germany to Brazil and the United States. The stamp could be used as a single franking, with another example, or in combination with the $1.30 stamp. The Pan American flight departed from Friedrichshafen, Germany, on May 18, 1930, and returned there on June 6.
The first day of issue for the Graf Zeppelin set was April 19, 1930, in the District of Columbia. These stamps were available on April 21 at selected post offices throughout the country. The post office withdrew them from sale on June 30, 1930, and destroyed all remaining copies. The $4.55 cost of a mint set during the Great Depression was so high that many stamp collectors could not afford to add them to their collections at that time. As a result, they are treasured today.