Medal – 1929 German Zeppelin Commemorative in Gold

This gold medal celebrates the first circumnavigation of the globe by airship. In 1929, the Graf Zeppelin airship flew all the way around the world carrying passengers at a time when airplanes were still only flown by daredevils and could only make short hops. It was a momentous event that made front page news around the world.

German Medal - 1930 - Around the World Flight - Gold : Obverse with 3 busts shown in profile

German Medal - 1930 - Around the World Flight - Gold : Obverse

German Medal - 1930 - Around the World Flight - Gold : Reverse with flightplan and dates of landfall marked

German Medal - 1930 - Around the World Flight - Gold : Reverse

Identification Notes: Kaiser-511.3

Date: 1929

Country of origin: Germany

Composition: 90% gold

Weight: 6.58 grams (0.20889 oz of AGW)

Size: 22mm in diameter

Description: The obverse of this medal shows 3 busts in profile; Count von Zeppelin (the namesake of the airship), Dr. Hugo Eckener (the pilot and driving force behind building the airship), and Ludwig Dürr (chief engineer). A legend runs around the border, identifying each man and his role: “Zeppelin – Der Schopfer * Eckener – Der Fuhrer * Durr Der Erbauer“. That loosely translates as ‘Zeppelin: the visionary / Eckener: the leader / Durr: the builder’.

The reverse shows a map of the world with the flightplan and dates marked. The legend reads “* 1929 * I. Weltfahrt Des Luftschiffs >> Graf Zeppelin <<” which translates as ‘1929, First Round the World Flight by Airship, Graf Zeppelin’.

Other details: This medal was produced in Germany to celebrate the first around-the-world flight by airship (completed by the Graf Zeppelin on August 29, 1929). Notable stops are marked on the reverse, including Newhurst, Friedrichshofen, Tokyo, and Los Angelos.

The circumnavigation of the globe was a publicity stunt sponsored by William Randolf Hearst. Hearst insisted that the flight begin and end in the United States even though the Graf Zeppelin’s homebase was in Germany. So, the Graf Zeppelin flew from Germany to the US before ‘starting’ the voyage. This added quite a bit of distance to the “around-the-world” flight.

The official voyage from Lakehurst, New Jersey and back to Lakehurst took 12 days and 11 minutes. The entire voyage took 21 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes. The airship travelled 49,618 km (30,831 miles) in total, but the eyes of the world were on the ‘mere’ 31,400 km flight (19,500 miles).

I tried to research this medal, but information is scarce. While looking for articles about the flight, I found similar medals listed for sale in the New York Times edition of March 3, 1929.  The ad lists a “Gold 900 fein” coin that sold for $25. Based on the date, that medal may be the similar Kaiser 510.2. Even so, if the engraver is the same, then this medal was designed by Joseph Bernhart.

Estimated Value: $500-650. This is a rare medal and it is hard to find comparison sales. This is one of the most recent sales (possibly in a higher grade), and this listing seems to include catalog errors. Before gold began it’s stratospheric rise in price, one sold for $257 in Europe. I believe this is the auction where I made my purchase.

I also have this medal in silver.

Kaiser-510.2Kaiser 510.2.

6 responses to “Medal – 1929 German Zeppelin Commemorative in Gold

  1. gene magocky

    The commemorative gold medal of the Graf Zeppelin that you feature is identical to the one that I have in my possession. I am interested in the value of the medal and also, possibly selling the medal. Please advise.

  2. I’ve done my best to gather recent auction information on the site (down at the bottom of the page).

    Since these medals are fairly scarce, they tend to carry a premium over their metal content. Your best bet would be to have yours graded by a slabbing service and then list it with one of the major auction houses (ie; Heritage). Their fees are high, but they generally pay for themselves and then some.


  3. Rosemary Parker

    what is a 1929 Zepplin commemorative coin worth and whom should I
    contact to sell it? I might it is a gold coin

  4. Rosemary –

    The value depends a lot on the condition (even minor wear on the surface can drop the value by $100 or more). Can you send me a picture so that I can try to grade it? If you’re new to coins, I would advise you to avoid touching the medal (use cotton gloves and only touch the rims if you need to handle it) and keep it in a dry, temperature controlled place.

    This is a rare piece, which means that when it does come on the market there aren’t a lot of other sales to compare prices to. The price can swing widely based on a variety of factors (when the medal is sold, how well the auction house promotes the sale, where it is sold, what the gold market did the day before, what the weather is like that weekend, if there’s a big sporting event on at the same time it goes up for bid, etc).

    Without seeing your piece, I would give guidance on the value between $300 and $500 ($300 is approximately its melt value today). Slabbed, graded proof examples may be worth twice that (or more).

    I can put you in touch with someone I know from the Dallas Coin Club who works at Heritage Galleries (an auction house in Dallas that specializes in rare coins) – they would probably be the best bet for getting top dollar for your medal.


  5. Hello: Just ‘How-Many’ of the Gold-Zepplin-Coins were made? Are they ‘All-1929′? …’Thanks’: Steve

  6. I don’t know the mintage number, but would love to find out. As far as I know, all were made in 1929.

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