This week we feature the Graf Zepplin Issue of 1930. The three stamps of this issue were printed by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving using a flat plate printing method. The United States Post Office produced a set of three airmail postage stamps that commemorated the Graf Zeppelin, the first European-Pan-American round-trip flight in May of 1930. All three stamps were first issued in Washington D.C. on April 19, 1930, one month before the historic transatlantic first flight was made. The stamps were also placed on sale at other selected post offices on April 21, 1930.
The sixty-five cent denomination applied to a postcard making the transatlantic trip. The one dollar and thirty cent denomination applied to a letter making that same trip and the two dollar and sixty cent denomination was for a letter to make a round-trip on the zeppelin.
A total of 1,000,000 of each stamp denomination was printed, but only 227,260 stamps in all were actually sold, or 7% of the total amount printed. The Zeppelin stamps were withdrawn from sale on June 30, 1930, and the remaining stocks were destroyed by the Post Office. (Why the Post Master General sold these for an unusually short time, and destroyed the unsold stamps, I have found no answer to.)
This short window of opportunity to purchase and selected locations had made this a valuable issue. Also, the $4.55 price tag to purchase all three was not affordable to most collectors in the depths of the Great Depression.
These factors, combined with the destruction of the unsold stamps, had outraged most stamp collectors. An avalanche of complaint letters to the United States Postal Service ensued.
This issue today is considered the rarest of all U.S. Airmail stamps.
Many thanks to Wikipedia, Mystic Stamps and the Scott Catalog for some of the information used in this post.