1936 Hindenburg Ashtray

Value (2006) | $8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction

APPRAISER:
It's funny to have an ashtray on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, but there's something special about this ashtray.

GUEST:
It's an ashtray that was given to my grandfather on October 9, 1936, for a special ten-hour flight of the Hindenburg that left Lakehurst, New Jersey. It went up the coast to Boston, back down, I believe, over Washington and Baltimore and landed that evening back in Lakehurst.

APPRAISER:
And who was on this flight?

GUEST:
Uh, roughly 50 executives, politicians, bankers, uh, media.

APPRAISER:
And everybody on the flight got this ashtray?

GUEST:
Everybody was given an ashtray, from what I understand, yes.

APPRAISER:
Okay. The ashtray is made of forged aluminum. Do you know who made it?

GUEST:
It's made by a company which I believe is still in business in Western PA called Wendell August.

APPRAISER:
Right. And this... model of the Hindenburg is filled with the fuel that drove the four huge engines--

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
--that propelled the airship. So on October of '36, a group of about 50 people went up on the Hindenburg on what's called the Millionaire's Flight. And some of the names were, like, Rockefeller, and…

GUEST:
Uh, Eddie Rickenbacker--

APPRAISER:
Eddie Rickenbacker.

GUEST:
--was on the flight as well.

APPRAISER:
Wealthy and influential people.

GUEST:
Correct.

APPRAISER:
Then the Hindenburg flew, I believe, down to Brazil on its regular route.

GUEST:
Correct. Right.

APPRAISER:
And then over to Germany. Then it came back to the United States.

GUEST:
The following May.

APPRAISER:
And of course, when it got to Lakehurst in May of '37, it caught fire and 36 people died.

GUEST:
That's right.

APPRAISER:
When the Hindenburg was first-- the flight to the United States, they asked if they could use helium, because all the helium came from America at that point.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And they were denied it because it was a strategic element. So they were forced to use hydrogen, which is extremely flammable. Now, the irony of the ashtray is that... there was smoking, actually, on the Hindenburg.

GUEST:
Isn't that funny?

APPRAISER:
They had a smoking room and each person had in front of them a bowl of water. And there was a crewmember assigned to the room to watch full time, to make sure that not one ash fell away from the bowl of water. And you have a diary here.

GUEST:
Right, this is my grandmother's diary from 1936 and '37. And she just happens to mention in the diary that my grandfather was leaving the next day for this one-day flight.

APPRAISER:
I would think that if this came up at auction, you would be looking at a value of between $8,000 and $10,000.

GUEST:
Oh, great.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Heritage Auctions
Los Angeles, CA
Appraised value (2006)
$8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction
Event
Philadelphia, PA (August 05, 2006)
Period
1930s
Form
Tray
Material
Aluminum

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