14 August 2011

Ross Verlag Postcards

Ross Verlag was a German publishing company that produced many, many star postcards from the late 1910s till the early 1940s. Ross Verlag, which can be translated as Ross Publishers, is named after Heinrich Ross. Today's post is about the history of this legendary postcard publisher and its founder whose life ended in tragedy. Much of the information below is borrowed from the incredibly interesting website Ross Verlag Movie Star Postcards, edited by Mark Goffee.

Jack Oakie, Clara Bow, Maurice Chevalier
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5749/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Paramount on Parade (1930, Dorothy Arzner a.o.) with Maurice Chevalier and many other Paramount stars.

Rina de Liguoro
Rina de Liguoro. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3902/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Pinto Roma.

Hanni Weisse
Hanni Weisse. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1383/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Fox.

Heinrich Ross
The founder of Ross Verlag , Heinrich Ross, was born in 1870 in Rokytno, Austria-Hungary (now a part of the Czech-Republic). Sometime around 1905-07, he began to work at the Rotophot postcard publishing company in Berlin. In 1919, he started the postcard company that bore his name, Ross Verlag. After Adolph Hitler came into power in 1933, the persecution of the Jews in Germany began. By 1937, Ross Verlag was no longer in its Jewish founder's control, having been forced out by the National Socialists through their Arisierung (Aryanization) program (no Jews could own a business.) Interestingly enough, they retained the Ross Verlag name until 1941.

Iwan Mosjukin
Ivan Mozzhukhin. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3948/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Ufa.

Hans Albers, Der Sieger
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 714, 1932. Photo: Ufa. Hoppla! Jetzt komm ich was a song from the comedy film Der Sieger (1932, Hans Hinrich, Paul Martin) with Hans Albers.

Ross Verlag
The more familiar Ross Verlag logo first appeared in the early 1920's. On the front of the card were the words: Verlag "Ross" Berlin SW68. SW stands for Southwest and 68 is an area code in that region of Berlin. The majority of the Ross Verlag cards are numbered and the numbers went up to 9997/1 and then started over again with the letter "A". These cards began at A 1000 and continue to around A 4096. The numbering system includes a series number, then a slash followed by a card number (for example: 3112/2). The card numbers of a specific series would be of one particular actress or group of actors or a film (for example, 1028/1, 1028/2, 1028/3 and 1028/4 all show actress Lya de Putti). Usually a set of cards of one or more actors would be from the same film (although not always) or photographer. Around card number 1930/1 (in the year 1928), the Verlag "Ross" Berlin SW68 on the cards changed to simply "Ross" Verlag. Ross Verlag seemed to disappear by the end of the war, but the Film-Foto-Verlag name did reappear in the early to mid 1950's for a short while. It soon changed to UFA/Film-Foto. Whether this company had any links to the original Ross is unknown.

Anna Pavlova
Anna Pavlova. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3187/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Lafayette, London. An example of a non-film postcard by Ross Verlag from our own collection.

Die Nibelungen 1: Siegfried
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 673/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Decla-Ufa-Film. Publicity still for Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924, Fritz Lang). Siegfried (Paul Richter) in the forest.

La Jana
La Jana. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1910/2, 1937-1938. Photo: Atelier Schneider, Berlin / Tobis.

On his website, Mark Goffee tells the company's history, and he created checklists of the Ross postcards. We use these lists quite often for this blog, e.g. for the dating of our Ross postcards. But there is much more to discover on the Ross Verlag Movie Star Postcards site. Mark presents many great postcards from his own collection, and he gives a lot of facts and feats. (We knew already that there are also heartshaped photos on certain Ross cards (see above), but we did not know that a few opera stars appeared on cards in roles they were famous for.) The website also presents great bloopers: a few mistakes that were made on the cards, and it shows that some cards were actually drawings. And the website offers many interesting links. Check it out, and enjoy!

Rudolph Valentino in Blood & Sand
Rudolph Valentino. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4987/2, 1929-1930. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Blood and Sand (1922, Fred Niblo).

Dolores del Rio
Dolores del Rio. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3905/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Fox.

Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4696/2, 1929-1930. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Collection: Egbert Barten.

Source: Ross Verlag Movie Star Postcards.

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