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18 March 2015

Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V.

We restart our series on postcard publishers today with Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., located in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. This family firm already started in 1859, and became nationally known with their greeting cards and topographic postcards. After WW II, Spanjersberg, also known as 'Sparo', published many popular postcards with European film stars like Brigitte Bardot and Romy Schneider. With the rise of television, Spanjersberg followed the trend with postcards of popular TV heroes.

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam.

Romy Schneider
Romy Schneider. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 1020. Photo: Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Tempelhof.

Karlheinz Böhm
Karlheinz Böhm. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam; licence holder of Ufa, Berlin, no. 1004. Photo: Ufa.

Marion Michael
Marion Michael. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 1009. Photo: Ufa.

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam.

British soldiers


Gebr. Spanjersberg (in English 'Spanjersberg Bros' started to sell papers and postcards in 1839 in Rotterdam. The company grew rapidly and soon became one of the biggest postcard firms in the Netherlands.

In 1913 the company moved to the Grote Kerkplein in the centre of Rotterdam. Spanjersberg was now known as both wholesaler and publisher.

During the First World War many postcards were sent by British soldiers, who were stationed in a camp near Rotterdam At 14, Ronald Spanjersberg Sr. began to work in the family business.

After the war, Agfa en Gevaert - the main suppliers of photo paper in the Netherlands - could only provide very little paper. But in the 1950s, millions of black and white photo cards were sold.

Gina Lollobrigida
Gina Lollobrigida. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, no. 354. Photo: Herbert Fried / Ufa. Publicity still for Notre Dame de Paris (Jean Delannoy, 1956).

Walter Reyer, Romy Schneider
Walter Reyer and Romy Schneider. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 1060. Dutch licency holder for Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof. Photo: Ufa.

Romy Schneider and Magda Schneider in Venice
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg. Photo: Ufa/Film-Foto. The photo was made during the shooting of Sissi - Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin/Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress (Ernst Marischka, 1957).

Alain Delon
Alain Delon. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam, no. 1383. Photo: Unifrance Film / Ufa.

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam (licence holder for the Netherlands of Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof), no. 4640. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1962. Photo: Sam Lévin, 1956 / Ufa.

Christian Wolff
Christian Wolff. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 3846. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Bavaria / Schorcht Film.

Youth subculture


During the 1950s, youth subculture became a new phenomenon all over Europe with the film Rock around the clock and teen idol Elvis Presley. Young stars like Romy Schneider, Horst Buchholz and Brigitte Bardot were the new films idols and almost every teenager bought their postcards.

Gebr. Spanjersberg recognized the new trend and became the Dutch licence holder of the German film postcard publisher UFA (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), located in Berlin-Tempelhof. Ufa also had licence holders in France, Belgium and other countries.

In the early 1960s, the new teen idols were Conny Froboess in Germany, Cliff Richard in Britain, The Blue Diamonds in the Netherlands and Johnny Hallyday in France. A few years later. They were all surpassed by The Beatles and such other pop acts as The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and Nancy Sinatra.

Another new phenomenon was television. In 1963 the British TV series Ivanhoe was very popular in the Netherlands. All Dutch children loved the brave knight, played by Roger Moore. The postcards of the series became bestsellers and offered Spanjersberg a new young public. Grandparents started to send children cards of other TV series like Bonanza, The Beverly Hillbillies, Pipo de Clown and De Fabeltjeskrant.

Johnny Hallyday
Johnny Hallyday. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, no. 5871. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1962.

Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam.

Conny Froboess
Conny Froboess. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Sent by mail in 1962.

The Beatles
The Beatles. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg. Retail price: 20 cent.

The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam (SPARO).

Nancy Sinatra
Nancy Sinatra. Dutch postcard by Sparo (Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V.), Rotterdam.

Cityscapes


Gebr. Spanjersberg had a big hit in 1966 with a series of 360 postcards with old cityscapes of Rotterdam, printed using the original pre-war glass negatives. The price of the postcard was 50 cents. Of each card 4,000 to 5,000 pieces were sold. In total more than a million postcards. 180 cards of the series were reprinted in 1978.

At that time, a new generation of the Spanjersberg family lead the firm. Ronald Spanjersberg Jr.  was the business director and his younger John Spanjersberg was the artistic director. Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V. was by now the biggest publisher of greeting cards in the Netherlands with 72 co-operators. The company had moved from Rotterdam to Capelle aan den IJssel, a town situated on the eastern edge of Rotterdam.

Today Spanjersberg is a part of Hallmark Cards Continental Europe BV, still situated in Capelle aan den IJssel. The head quarters of Hallmark are located in Kansas City.

Roger Moore in Ivanhoe
Roger Moore in Ivanhoe. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Sent by Mail in 1963. Photo: still from the TV series Ivanhoe (1958-1959).

Bonanza
Bonanza with Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) and his sons Hoss (Dan Blocker), Adam (Pernell Roberts) and Little Joe (Michael Landon). Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: National Broadcasting Company.

Destiny Angel, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
Destiny Angel in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 6. Photo: Century 21 Ltd., 1968.

Pipo de Clown
Cor Witsche in Pipo de Clown. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam / Voka, Arnhem.

Herbert Joeks
Herbert Joeks in Pipo de clown. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Sent by mail in 1969.

Fabeltjeskrant, Ed en Willem Bever
Ed en Willem Bever in De Fabeltjeskrant. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions, 1969.

This was the first post in a new series on film star postcard publishers. For earlier posts, see the links at right under the caption 'The Publishers'.

Sources: several old newspaper articles in Delpher (Dutch).

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