We’re all too familiar with the small Delft Blue KLM houses handed out to business class travelers. The iconic miniature replicas of dutch historic houses and national monuments decorate many desks, windowsills and cupboards all over the world.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started presenting their liquor-filled houses in 1952 and outsmarted every other airline in the business. It’s prohibited by law to give passengers gifts in order to keep the competition between airlines fair. When the other companies started complaining about KLM giving away gifts they simply replied with “there’s no law that states how we should serve our drinks”, and the tradition was born.
The houses are filled with the famous Bols Jenever, but because of the alcohol prohibition in the Middle East, KLM had some special house made that functioned as ashtrays: numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23 ,25, 26, 27. KLM knows what they’re doing.
Some Cool Facts About The KLM Houses:
- Up till 1994 the houses were issued quite randomly, in 1994, on KLM’s 75th “birthday” they issued 15 more, bringing the total to 75. From then on they issued 1 new house each year. Currently the count is on 96.
- Each year up to 800.000 houses are given to World Business Class passengers.
- There was a period were KLM gave the “Paleis op de Dam” and “Gouden Waag” houses to newlyweds that went on their honeymoon flying with KLM.
- Up till 1995 the Delft Blue houses were made by Koninklijke Goedewaagen, but they moved to Drenthe in 1984, so they weren’t actually produced in Delft.
- Bols ended their contract with Koninklijke Goedewaagen because the houses were “bad quality and leaking”. Koninklijke Goedewaagen sued them saying they ended the contract because the costs were to high. Bols moved the production to Singapore, and Koninklijke Goedewaagen kept making the houses but without “Bols” or “KLM” on them. Bols sued Koninklijke Goedewaagen and they are no longer aloud to produce the houses.
Little Kingdom By The Sea
Little Kingdom By The Sea | A Celebration of Dutch Cultural Heritage and Architecture
It gives you an exclusive peek into the lives and inhabitants of the KLM houses and it sure has some great stories! Like the one about house #31, located on Koornmarkt 87 in Delft, that is actually inhabited by students: “The students Tom and Sjors and their two goldfishes. Day in day out, the fishes are swimming among delftware replicas of the student house in which its tank stands.”
Or about Oscar Carré, the founder of the Royal Theater Carré: “Why did Oscar Carré kill his horses?” – According to the retired circus director, he shot his beloved horses after their farewell performance. Oscar Carré: “I didn’t want them to fall into the hands of anyone else!”, he confessed to a journalist. “I could have sold them for good money, had I wanted to. But I imagined the poor animals perhaps having to pull a cart. I simply couldn’t bear the thought.”
And the amazing story behind house #8, Damplein 8 Edam: “The tall tale of a captain homesick for the sea and a giantess with shoe size 19” is most certainly interesting to read.
It’s not just these stories that make this book so cool, it also describes walking tours among the houses in Amsterdam and Delft, and even a historical pub crawl in Amsterdam, which I’m certainly going to try myself!
How’s your KLM house collection looking? Do you actually drink the jenever? Interested in reading Little Kingdom By The Sea? Let us know!
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