Four Remarkable Photos from KLM’s Historic Archives

One of my tasks for KLM is to search for suitable historical images, on request and within the scope of other endeavours – such as for this blog. In my quest, I sometimes run into photos I can’t immediately place. What do they actually depict? Or, at a second glance, are they perhaps quite remarkable? Either way, I end up doing a ‘double take’. I’ve included a couple of them for you in this blog.

1947 Van Gogh in DC-3 LOGO

Vincent

Take a look at this one: a man removing a painting from a crate in which it is being transported. At least, that’s what the photo shows. The photographer must have asked: “Hey you, let’s have a look at that painting, it would make a great shot.” And the man was so kind as to do just that. Open the crate and take the shot. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s done by a very famous artist – none other than Vincent van Gogh. People travel to the Netherlands from far and wide to admire his works. Two venues are ideal: the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller Müller Museum in Otterlo. The painting in the photo comes from the latter collection and was evidently lent out in 1947. But can you just imagine doing so nowadays: you’re transporting priceless art and you let a photographer have a look at it for a minute. Without gloves! Not that anything happened to it, though. It’s still hanging on the wall in Otterlo. But just the thought of it…

1961 Piano aan boord opening Ierse fabr Rippen LOGO

Playing the piano

Back in the day, ‘Rippen’ was a renowned Dutch piano manufacturer and many a Dutch household would have owned one of them. With its compact dimensions and beautiful sound, the Rippen is an ideal instrument for any Dutch living room, but how does it perform in an aircraft? Isn’t it fantastic that a stewardess volunteered to display her skills on this instrument; certainly something different for a change. But, I digress. The photo dates back to 1961 and can only be assumed to have served as a form of inflight entertainment. That, I’m afraid, is untrue, although certainly plausible. The real reason was that the Rippen establishment had opened a new factory in the Irish town of Shannon and a sizeable group was flying with KLM to this new location to admire it in the flesh. And what could be more fitting than to take along a good example of your product to demonstrate its beauty during the journey. And that’s not the last time a musical instrument was played in an aircraft.

1931 vertrektijden op SPL LOGO

A piece of chalk

I guess the young man in this photograph would be around 15 years old. He is fashionably dressed for 1931, plus-fours and all. His shoes are dazzling. Here he keeps track of which aircraft depart when and for where, whether there is cargo on board and who the pilot is – with but a piece of chalk. The first detail recorded is the destination, not the departure time. That’s because they’re mixed up. The flight to Batavia leaves at 07:00 hours. The legendary KLM pilot Parmentier also had a flight: the one to Paris, departing at 14:15 hours. The closer you look, the more flight details you see. For example, the number of passengers bound for where and once the flight had departed, there was a diagonal line through the left field. Basically just a picture, but one that tells a resonating story about a day of flight at Schiphol in 1931.

1947 KLM koks LOGO

Pots and pans

My mother once owned a cookbook that belonged with the first stove that stood in our kitchen. She didn’t like the cookbook; filled with irritation, she once remarked that the woman on the cover of the book was stirring empty pots and pans. And this was true, so it could never have been a good cookbook. She didn’t want to be taken for a fool. This photo also calls such an association to mind. It dates back to 1947 and was taken at Schiphol when it was located in the barracks. As were the KLM kitchens. Meals were prepared there for passengers, as well as for other establishments in Amsterdam that received meals from the KLM kitchens. In my opinion though, they don’t seem to be too busy cooking when this shot was taken. The pots and pans are shiny and everyone seems to be posing with vigour for the photographer. Yes, it’s true, steam is rising from some of the pots. And while the young man on the right appears to be doing something with a skimmer, his purpose is still somewhat obscure. It’s simply difficult to make posed photos look ‘natural’. But the speckled enamel of the robust AGA stove is certainly great to see.

Undoubtedly, these are not the only remarkable photos in KLM’s extensive historic archives. Once I’ve found a few more, and have worked out what’s on them, I’ll share the gems.

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Stephen

I would truly love to see a plane that was still furnished for the early days of aviation.

Does KLM have any of the items from the old interiors?

I enjoy every sunday waiting for your blog!

Frido Ogier

Dear Stephen,

I suppose there might be some small items, but a complete historical interior doesn’t exist at KLM? But there are still some transport museums with historical aircraft and their interiors like Aviodrome in Lelystad in the Netherlands.

Thanks for your compliment!

Best regards,

Frido

Vivienne Pratt

Absolutely fascinating.. thank you very much for sharing! I must admit to thinking the Lady Flight Attendant playing the Piano bears a striking resemblance to our, As then young Princess, Queen Elizabeth !
Best regards… Vivienne

Frido Ogier

Thanks Vivienne! If you take a quick look, you might be right :-)

Kind regards,

Frido

Rick Payne

Thank You for taking the time to share these moments of History from KLM’s past! I find them fascinating and very informative!!! The piano story is GREAT!

Frido Ogier

Thanks Rick! When I first saw the piano photo I did some research and found this story. Quite remarkable.

Kind regards,

Frido

Roseli Aparecida Wostog

Ola. Como estao todos, com Saude. KLM (Blog).
Como eu adoro musicas e todos os instrumentos musicais.
E tudo de bom musica. Adorei a talentosa pianista KLM, em suas partiras,
Musicais. Abraços a Todos. Atenciosamente RoseliAWostog.Brazil.

Michael Willis

I really enjoy your blog.
Have’t flown on KLM for many years.
I just wish some of our American flag carriers would have a blog like yours.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Michael for your nice compliment. Well, spread the word, maybe they start a blog like mine :-)

Best regards,

Frido

Stephen

Its a shame, The details you post really do want me to research KLM a lot more. I read a blog post about collectables and I have increased my collection. My desk at work is Katy Perry and KLM. Although Katy Perry is loosing space to KLM Now :)

I believe there is one in Manchester that has a complete interior although Non-KLM

Will you guys ever open up a museum? Being one of the worlds oldest airlines!

Frido Ogier

Well Katy is much younger than KLM so it’s a compliment to KLM that we have a bit more space at hour desk. :-) Te last jubilees KLM has had an exhibition. Depending on the number of the years we exister it was a small or a large one. Wait until we have our centennial…

Best regards,

Frido

Frank van der Voet

How fortunate we are that all throughout her 95+ year existence, KLM had someone take photos of events big and small. More important, that the company hasn’t thrown away the contents of the archives as a cost-cutting move . Thanks Frido.

Frido Ogier

You’re welcome Frank! KLM is too much proud of it’s heratidge, so I think we’ll keep it in good condition.

Best regards,

Frido

kees van Geloof

very enjoying keep it up and give us some more, yes KLM has a rich history.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Kees! Till next Sunday.

Best regards,

Frido

Lolita M. Balboa

The lady playing the piano was so simple and yet Beautiful.
I hope you will revive that KLM tradition of playing the piano in flight as one of the forms of entertainment. The flight is so long and we’re tired of watching those films in your tv monitor We want something different and i think it will be more entertaining especially during dinner time where classic music will be played.
Thanks for sharing.

Pieter Wierenga

Om even aan de getoonde Van Gogh te refereren Frido, met wat “vroeger” allemaal kon bij KLM zou je tegenwoordig op z’n minst de security in de gordijnen jagen. :-) gr. Pieter

Frido Ogier

Inderdaad Pieter. daarom liet ik deze foto ook zien, omdat het zo opmerkelijk is. Tijden veranderen… :-)

Groeten,

Frido

Marjon

Hallo Frido,
Dank voor dit enorme leuke Blog en foto’s! Ik werk sinds 1985 bij KLM, heb gevlogen tot eind 1998, (nu werkzaam bij Cabin Crew Management) dus ken Hotel Plaswijck ook , supergaaf! (ook van reizen met mijn vader mee ( oud purser Kees Broeks, helaas overleden) dan ocht je in het hoofdgebouw slapen. en hotel Midway ken ik ook. Zeer dierbare herinneringen aan beide hotels.
Zo leuk, die stewardess die bij de piano staat is mijn moeder: Hilda van den Brom, zij heeft in de zestiger jaren gevlogen. Groet, Marjon.

Frido Ogier

Hallo Marjon, leuk dat je reageert. Het fijn om eens een naam te hebben bij een gezicht op een foto, want dat is natuurlijk niet altijd vastgelegd en dus bewaard gebleven. Ik zal ervoor zorgen dat haar naam in de beschrijving wordt opgenomen. En uiteraard bedankt voor je aardige woorden, want het is altijd prettig om een compliment te krijgen :-) Midway House zal zeker nog eens terug komen. Nog even geduld :-)

Groeten,

Frido

Pippa scott (nee Farber)

I have just found a cutting iabout my late father who was a well respected manchester travel agent Jack Farber of Farber Travel, when he won a round trip of 13 days on the inaugural 10,000 mile trans-polar flight to tokyo,.
Are you interested in seeing this old article for your archives

Mrs Scott

Frido Ogier

Dear Mrs Scott,

Thank you for your kind message. KLM’s archives content lost of articles like these, as many kind people sent these to us. I think this cutting is a too nice memory to your late father to give away.

Kind regards,

Frido Ogier

John Willigen

Having recently joined the UIVER DC2 restoration memorial project and Holland being my birth place I am naturally interested in this blog and the history of the KLM AIRLINE

willem heitlager

when do we get our paper wolkenridder back this blog sucks

Peter Connon

Dear Frido,

I wonder if you could possibly help me in connection with my 4th book on the aeronautical history or the Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway region of the UK.

I am seeking the names of those lost in the crash of KLM’s Constellation PH-TEN on 20 October 1948. Pilot Koened D. Parmentier.

Regards,

Peter Connon

Frido Ogier

Dear Peter,

Hereby the link to the site where you can find all the information you need.
http://www.aviacrash.nl/paginas/nijmegen.htm

Beste regards,

Frido

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