Pioneering airship maker’s death a century ago remembered on a new silver coin from CIT

Every year at the World Money Fair in Berlin, collector favourite coin producer CIT (Coin Invest Trust) release their eagerly awaited annual entrants in the Tiffany Art and Mongolian Wildlife Protection series. While these rarely disappoint, we usually find that it is elsewhere in the release catalogue that our favourite new coins appear. Last year brought us the innovative Space-Time Continuum, (followed up this year by the beautiful Time Capsule,) and the impressive Great Tea Race, a superb early example of the benefits of smartminting.

This year has seen some equally impressive launches. As well as the aforementioned Time Capsule which we’ve already covered, there’s a fine Scarab set and a well-timed Castro coin to come, but here its an unexpected new one-off that impressed me the most. Commemorating a century since the death of airship pioneer Count Zeppelin, this is a fine example of how smartminting copes with rapid changes of level.

The reverse face carries a bust image of the Count and it’s a brilliant piece of work, one of the best renditions of a historical figure we’ve ever seen sculpted on a coin. A small Zeppelin airship flying over a landscape completes the background. There’s a nice layered look to the design, almost as if the Count is posing in front of a window. Inscriptions, including a facsimile of his signature, are well placed and not impeding on the main artwork. The obverse is of an equally high standard. The angled coin image lower down shows it better than the face on picture, but this face has an extraordinary level of depth to its design, helped in no small measure by the polar bear at the bottom. The level of relief of the airship is high and the overall sense of perspective is spot-on.

On the obverse also sits, unusually for this face, the inset feature and it’s a very cool one. A small fragment of actual Zeppelin skin is mounted in a small struck frame, giving the coin a truly historical significance. The obligatory Cook Islands effigy of the Queen and the coin denomination etc. are kept clear of the artwork. As you may have guessed by now, I like this one a lot. It looks great in the hand, has a pretty unique subject matter, is artistically bang on target and as usual, is expertly struck. Supplied in a latex skin ‘Nimbus’ frame and supplied with a certificate, this three-ounce silver coin will have a maximum mintage of 499 pieces.

Shipping in April and selling for around €300, most of our sponsors sell CIT stuff so just check out the ad bar for some good links. If you’re looking for something in gold and substantially cheaper, CIT have yet again produced a minigold (0.5g) version which features reverse face artwork similar to the big silver. It’s an increasingly popular format that CIT have long championed.



Count Zeppelin was born on 8 July 1838, the scion of a noble family and the son of Württemberg Minister and Hofmarschall Friedrich Jerôme Wilhelm Karl Graf von Zeppelin. In 1853 Count Zeppelin left to attend the polytechnic at Stuttgart, and in 1855 he became a cadet of the military school at Ludwigsburg and then started his career as an army officer in the army of Württemberg.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin served as an official observer with the Union Army during the American Civil War. During the Peninsular Campaign, he visited the balloon camp of Thaddeus S. C. Lowe. Von Zeppelin then travelled to St. Paul, MN where the German-born former Army balloonist John Steiner offered tethered flights. His first ascent in a balloon, made at Saint Paul, Minnesota during this visit, is said to have been the inspiration of his later interest in aeronautics. After his resignation from the army in 1891 at age 52, Zeppelin devoted his full attention to airships.

On 2 July 1900, Zeppelin made the first flight with the LZ 1 over Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen in southern Germany. The airship rose from the ground and remained in the air for 20 minutes, but was damaged on landing. Zeppelins were first flown commercially in 1910 by Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG), the world’s first airline in revenue service. By mid-1914, DELAG had carried over 10,000 fare-paying passengers on over 1,500 flights. During World War I the German military made extensive use of Zeppelins as bombers and scouts, killing over 500 people in bombing raids in Britain.

The principal feature of Zeppelin’s design was a fabric-covered rigid metal framework made up from transverse rings and longitudinal girders containing a number of individual gasbags. The first Zeppelins had long cylindrical hulls with tapered ends and complex multi-plane fins. During World War I, following the lead of their rivals Schütte-Lanz Luftschiffbau, the design changed to the more familiar streamlined shape with cruciform tail surfaces, as used by almost all later airships. They were propelled by several engines, mounted in gondolas or engine cars, which were attached to the outside of the structural framework. Some of these could provide reverse thrust for manoeuvring while mooring.



Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin pioneered airship construction and flight in the late 19th century. Despite many setbacks, Zeppelin perserved and continued to develop airship flight until his death in 1917. His legacy lead to the construction of the Graf Zeppelin airship LZ127 built in his honour.

The Graf Zeppelin was not only the largest airship at the time of its completion, but also started the first commercial flight service between Europe and the Americas.

Among the most spectacular of its 590 flights that covered over 1.7 million kilometers were around-the-world flight in 1929 and the polarflight of 1931 which is depicted on the obverse of this commemorative coin along with a fabric fragment that covered the LZ127 prior to being scrapped in 1940 by the German military.

The 3 oz smartminting© coin is presented in an elegant see-through display case.





DENOMINATION $20 Cook Islands $5 Cook Islands
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 93.3 grams 0.5 grams
DIAMETER 50.0 mm 11.0 mm
FINISH Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS Inset Zeppelin skin fragment None
MINTAGE 499 15,000
BOX / COA Yes / Yes No / Yes