German Boys' Headwear: Zepplin Caps

Figure 1.--These two German boys had theirportraits taken at the Tietz Department Store in Berlin. The portrait is undated, but we would guess was taken about 1910. The younger brother wears a sailor hat while his older brother wears a Zepplin cap. Image courtesy of the MD collection.

Zepplins were the lighter-than-air dirigibles invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. The LZ1 made its initial flight at the turn of the 20th century from a floating hangar on Lake Constance, near Friedrichshafen in Southern Germany, on July 2, 1900 before the first flight of an airplane by the Wright Brother in 1903. The Zeppelins were used for both commercial and military purposes. The huge, graceful Zepplins captured the public imagination. Many boys at the time were captivated by them. Thus some boys wore caps based on those of the crew, although we have not noted very many of them. The reputation of the Zepplins were tarnished during World War I when they were used to bomb English cities. After the War, the Zepplins were used for aerial excursions in Germany. They proved o successul hat regularly scheduled passenger flights began across the Atlantic to Brazil and the United States. In demonstration flights, the Graf Zeppelin traveled to the Arctic and to Palestine, and also circumnavigated the globe. The U.S.Navy acquired a Zeppelin as part of its own dirigible program. Zeppelins logged in over a million miles of passenger travel without loss of life. The passengers traveled in luxury accomodations. The tragic explosion of the "Hindenburg" (LZ129) on May 6,1937, and the onset of World War II ended the Zepplin program, although some new smaller Zepplins were built in the 1990s.

A German reader writes, "As you can see on the cap the name is Zeppelin, not Zepplin. The name is from the very part of Germany where I live (Mecklenburg), and there are villages with this name, some with one, some with two pīs."


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Created: November 18, 2002
Last updated: November 24, 2002