The post about the 787-10 flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi sparked an interest in the Delft Blue miniature Dutch houses that KLM gives as gifts to world Business Class passengers. A bit of internet sleuthing revealed much that I’d never known about these intriguing collector’s items. Unfortunately perhaps, those who read this post will have to suffer through a summary of those findings.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) is the privately owned flag carrier of The Netherlands. As it flies passengers to more than 125 destinations worldwide, KLM also promotes Holland and Dutch culture. Delft Blue collectibles are one way in which KLM supports this secondary mission.
What Is Delft Blue?
Delft Blue is a form of elegant pottery. Holland.com provides this description:
Delft Blue is the world-famous pottery that has been produced in the city of Delft since the 17th century. Between 1600 and 1800, it was popular among rich families who would show off their Delft Blue collections to one another. Although the Delftware potters preferred to call their pottery “porcelain”, it was only a cheaper version of the real Chinese porcelain. Delft Blue was not made from the typical porcelain clay, but from clay that was coated with a tin glaze after it was fired. In spite of this, Delft Blue achieved unrivalled popularity, and at its peak, there were 33 factories in Delft. Of all of these factories, the only one remaining today is Royal Delft.
While the heyday of the Delft Blue industry may be long gone, the stylishness of this pottery remains. The mantle of my fireplace is where I display houses I’ve managed to acquire and retain over the years.
Here are some interesting facts about KLM Dutch houses.
- KLM began issuing replica Dutch houses to passengers in 1952.
- KLM got around a competitor’s complaint that the houses violated a rule that limited the maximum value of gifs to passengers to $0.75 by asserting that the gin-filled houses were actually drinks in a to-go container. This explanation was accepted by a court, and the practice continued.
- A new house is issued every year on the anniversary of KLM’s founding, October 7, 1919.
- In 1994, the 75th anniversary of KLM’s founding, 15 houses were issued to bring the total number issued to 75. Issuing a new house each year keeps the total number the same as KLM’s age.
- KLM houses aren’t all houses. Other are buildings of historical or architectural interest are also part of the collection such as the Heineken brewery, the former KLM headquarters, and even a painting by Johannes Vermeer. Some houses never existed.
- All houses are in greater Holland but only 50 of the them stand in Amsterdam. House No. 85 is a model of the Penha building, the most famous house on Curaçao, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
- Most houses contain Bols jenever, a popular juniper-flavored gin made in Holland.
- KLM annually stocks its flights with about 725,000 gin-filled houses and 100,000 that are empty. Empty houses are used for flights to destinations that prohibit alcohol.
- The Royal Palace on Amsterdam’s Dam Square and the Goudse Waag cheese weigh house in Gouda were limited editions given to honeymooners in the 1970s and 1980s, and 1995-2005, respectively.
- KLM Dutch houses have value beyond the contents, and there is a market for them. Values range from $15 – $20 to several hundred dollars and more.
Being a history junkie and a fan of travel, I find the story of the KLM Dutch houses to be intriguing. Each of the houses I’ve collected has an interesting background that I may share in future posts. I’m glad the KLM flight to Nairobi sparked my interest in learning about these items. Usually, I just pick a house that looks interesting. Next time, I’ll consult eBay before I fly.