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KLM miniature houses, highly prized celebrate 100 years

Christian Fernsby ▼ | October 29, 2019
While some other airlines are long gone, KLM celebrates its 100th birthday. And KLM miniature houses are collectors’ items among passengers for more than half a century.
KLM house
Europe   Back in 1952, KLM began giving its first-class passengers a gift
Back in 1952, KLM began giving its first-class passengers a gift of a miniature Delft Blue pottery house portraying a historically or architecturally significant Dutch building.

Swapping is popular and there’s a robust secondhand market and prices range from about $15 for the common houses to upwards of $550 for some of the rarer editions.

The first miniature KLM Delft Blue Houses were given to passengers, almost certainly, in 1952. Production was random until 1994; a number of houses were produced one after another, then none for several of years.

An extra 15 houses were produced in 1994 in honour of KLM’s 75th anniversary. This brought the number to exactly 75. The number of houses in the series has kept pace with KLM’s age ever since.

The first houses were filled with Bols Genever in the 1980s. Prior to that they contained a liqueur or gin from the long-established Dutch distilleries Rynbende and Henkes.

Given the alcohol policies in a number of destinations in the Middle East, KLM handed out house-shaped ashtrays for a little while. A fun detail in these ashtrays was that, when a cigarette was placed in the back of the ashtray, the smoke came out of the chimney.

Around 725,000 Genever-filled and 79,000 unfilled KLM Houses are loaded onto KLM aircraft each year.

Apart from the standard series of houses, a few miniatures have been issued without a number. The Royal Palace Amsterdam, Goudse Waag cheese weigh house in Gouda, Paleis het Loo in Apeldoorn, Koninklijk Theater Carré in Amsterdam, and the Hall of Knights in The Hague all have a limited-edition, KLM version of themselves.

The maximum size of a miniature is 5.5 cm x 10 cm. Royal Palace on Dam Square in Amsterdam and the Goudse Waag cheese weigh house in Gouda were given to newlyweds flying KLM on their honeymoon.

Apart from the early ones, KLM Houses are always replicas of buildings of special historical and architectural interest.

KLM Houses are handed out to passengers who travel World Business Class.