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Ask the Experts: Hindenburg menu is a seldom-seen treasure

A uncommon relic from the famous Hindenburg airline of the early 20th century prompts Ask the Experts panel member, Susan Mullikin, to provide a brief history lesson about the iconic airliner.

Q I have what I think is a very rare and unique item. It is a menu from the Hindenburg, dated May 12, 1936, which would have been the famous airship’s return to Frankfurt, on its very first flight to the United States.


Although everyone recalls the fiery demise of the Hindenburg on its first 1937 flight, few know that it made 10 routine trips to the U.S. in 1936. I wonder what the value of this piece might be?
— R.W.
Rochester, Ill.

A You definitely have a unique and rare piece of memorabilia from the May 12, 1936, voyage of the Hindenburg: a dinner menu.

The Hindenburg was the first airline ever to provide regularly scheduled service between Europe and North America and with its many technological achievements it was the fastest and most comfortable way to travel in its day. On the “A” deck of the Hindenburg, there was the ship’s dining room, lounge, writing room, port and starboard promenades, and 25 double-birth inside cabins. The dining room alone was spacious, approximately 13 feet by 47 feet, and was elaborately decorated with paintings on silk wallpaper by professor Otto Arpke. The table and chairs were fashioned out of lightweight tubular aluminum with chairs upholstered in red, designed by Professor Fritz August Breuhaus.

Cooking proved challenging when dealing with an enormous balloon full of highly flammable gas. During a three-day voyage, 440 pounds of meat, 800 eggs and 40 gallons of milk were consumed by 60 crew and 40 passengers. No breakfast menu existed, the fare was continental style but at lunch and dinner a proper menu was offered to guests who many times consisted of the elite, sports or film stars or government leaders. The menu offered French, German and English cuisine and dinner was elaborate, with many separate courses offered.

Your two-page menu shows the front cover with “Speizer-Karte” meaning “menu card” in English and the actual page of the courses served that day dated May 12, 1936. I feel your most unusual and rare menu would appeal to not only those who collect Hindenburg artifacts, as well as museums, but also to those who collect early unique menus. From the photos provided, the menu does look authentic, but it may be a good idea to have it authenticated as to age, with many reproductions out there these days. I would place a value on your menu of $250-$325.


Q Our son found this “rock” by a creek in Northwestern Virginia in the 1970s.
It appears to be a scoop of some kind. I hope you can tell me if it is an Indian relic or maybe older. It’s probably only a rock, but before I leave this world, I’d love to know. Many thanks.
Sylva, N.C.

A Thank you so much for asking Antique Trader magazine to evaluate the “rock” your son found in the ’70s by a creek in Northwestern Virginia, that is approximately a little more than 7 inches in length and appears greenish in coloration with perhaps some spots of decoration.

When appraising possible Indian artifacts in regards to authenticating them, pictures can only provide so much information. Your item in the form of a scoop needs to be examined up close. Native Americans did use a variety of materials including the shell of gourds in crafting utensils and did add painted decorations when finished. Gourds were carved into large dippers for serving foods. Your scoop does look crude in shape in comparison to other dippers and scoops that actually had a defined handle.


To determine if your scoop is Native American, and how old it may be, I would contact a specialist in your area, or perhaps, who specializes in Indian artifacts and offers a comprehensive service specializing in authentication, grading and artifact appraisals. Also I would check out the June 10 issue of Antique Trader magazine for the feature article, “Trappings of Expansion,” in regards to auction houses that may be of help as well.

About our columnist:
Susan Mullikin, owner of Mother and Daughter Vintage Clothing and Antiques is an honors graduate of the Asheford Institute of Antiques. For the last 25 years she has specialized in assisting clients across the U.S. in regards to fine antique garments, textiles, and ladies accessories. She was published as part of a “Child in Fashion 1750-1920,” and her business was honored at George Washington’s birth night ball. She provides conservation, restoration and appraisal services.


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