The Stories Behind 4 KLM Posters

Advertising is more than just a pretty picture intended to seduce potential customers into buying a product or service. It also says something about the company or the era in which it was made, revealing cyclical patterns, images and ideas that keep returning. This certainly goes for KLM’s advertising. In this blog, I’ll discuss a selection of posters that each have a story to tell.


This isn’t really a poster. It’s a display that travel agents or ticket offices could put out in their window. Back in those days, window displays were given a great deal of attention. This one, dating from 1929, confirms that KLM was already cooperating with other airlines in the early days, using and supplementing each other’s networks. The Swedish carrier ABA was founded in 1924 and was later taken over by SAS. Cooperation was important, because it wasn’t always possible for carriers to serve specific routes alone. The KLM-ABA partnership operated on the Amsterdam-Malmö route. This display made it clear, at a glance, that passengers could catch connecting flights to Paris, London, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki (which the Swedes call Helsingfors). In short, the Nordic region was made accessible to people in regions south, and vice versa.

New aircraft

Judging by the silhouette, this is a DC-2. The poster dates from 1933 and actually precedes the arrival of this aircraft type. KLM’s first DC-2, the Uiver (Stork), wasn’t delivered until September 1934. KLM founder Albert Plesman was so enthusiastic about KLM’s first full-metal aircraft, however, that he wanted to have advertising material ready and waiting. It is highly likely that this poster was, in fact, designed at the request of the KLM office in Paris. KLM’s outstations often approached their local market in their own way. This is confirmed in the margin, at bottom right. If you look closely, you will see the words “Poster Nova Paris”, which was probably the printer. This poster was designed by Satomi, a Japanese graphic designer who lived in Paris. His signature is in the middle, on the right. Back in those days, flying from Paris to Amsterdam in two hours and twenty minutes was superfast, which was obviously something that needed to be more widely publicised.

Take care of the pence

For many years, KLM’s service between Amsterdam and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) was the world’s longest intercontinental route. KLM charted this route itself and it became an important link between Europe and Asia, as well as all the places in between. It was much like an airborne Silk Route and it featured in vast quantities of promotional material. This poster dates from 1937. Thirteen years had passed since Captain Van der Hoop and his crew had completed the inaugural flight. A historical journey, which had people on the edge of the seats. The route to the East Indies did very well in the 1930s. There was growing demand and flight frequency kept increasing. This poster is testimony to Dutch frugality. To avoid having to print a new batch every time, KLM came up with a smart solution: the figure at bottom-right can quite simply be replaced, allowing flight frequency to be simply and cheaply updated. In short, take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves.


No destination on this poster, but a sign of hope. It dates from 1944, when the Netherlands was still occupied and KLM really only existed on paper, apart from its operation in the West-Indies. Even the brand-new offices in The Hague had been rented out. At the time, Plesman suspected that the war wouldn’t last much longer and therefore contracted several designers to come up with posters expressing the hope of a better future and a swift return home, after many years of displacement. Plesman had experienced this personally, because, after his arrest in 1941, he had been forced to take exile in a village out in the province of Twente. It was not until 1945 that he was able to return to The Hague.

Homebound was the theme. Plesman eventually chose this design, which also inspired him to write an extended letter, in which he put his vision to paper in minute detail, convinced that it would ultimately be implemented. I’m not sure if the sun is rising or setting in this poster, but I suspect it is the former, expressing the hope of a new beginning.

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

André Immel

Glad to to be able to read the KLM blog. The posters bring back a lot of memories. We all were so proud on KLM ( I am still) . I flew many times with KLM and will make use of KLM on my flight to Vancouver on the 23th December this yesr

Frido Ogier

Dear André, thanks for your nice comment! Here the same. Hope you’ll have a pleasant flight.

Best regards,


Walter Fokkens

Hi Frido,

Als ik je naam boven je stukkie zie, weet ik dat het weer een mooi verhaaltje wordt!

Ik heb de Amsterdam-Batavia poster nog eens bekeken: 12 passagiers, allen met ‘slaapstoelen’ en veel ruimte, 4 crew. Dat hebben we niet meer, he? :-)

Vr gr, walter

Frido Ogier

Hoi Walter,

Nee, niet in die mate. Maar toen was vliegen nog iets voor ‘the happy few’ en die tijd ligt ook al lang achter ons… :-)



Paul deMeurichy

Fantastisch, wat een schitterende posters (en het mooie verhaal erbij). Zijn ze nog ergens te koop?

Frido Ogier

Dag Paul,

Dankjewel :-) Heb even gezocht en er is inderdaad een set zogeheten retroposters te koop, wel weer andere dan deze. Dat is bij de online KLM-shop. Zoek op retroposter en de set komt in beeld. Kun je gewoon bestellen. Zit ik hier nu gewoon reclame te maken, geloof ik… Veel plezier ermee.




Wow Frido. I love sundays with your blogs. I do miss these posters. Would KLM ever think of releasing some to match their Retro Liveries? As in have them onboard the retro planes.

Frido Ogier

Hi Stephen,

As a matter of fact, KLM reissued some posters (other ones than these) and sells there is a set of six as far as I know. Maybe you can order this set at the online KLM shop. :-)

Best regards,


Jan Hemink

Good to read the story and look at these 4 posters from the past Frido, you found again an interesting aspect in the KLM-archive. Tks for sharing with us. Best regards.

Frido Ogier

Thanks again Jan!

Best regards,



Qué belleza! Qué materia tan valioso! Acaso sería el comienzo de una buena publicidad?

T. Verweij

Mooie blog! Ook ik ben benieuwd of de posters nog ergens te krijgen zijn – en dan met name de laatste ‘homeward’ – plaat.

Frido Ogier

Dankjewel! Helaas zijn deze niet te verkrijgen. Ik heb even gezocht en er wordt wel een set van vijf andere oude affiches verkocht. Ik heb het linkje naar de pagina bijgevoegd. Misschien is dat een idee?



Kathline Breuer


Ik ben opzoek naar foto’s uit 1962. Mijn moeder en ik en nog 7 kinderen . Vlogen destijds met de Kroonduif vanuit het voormalig Nederlands New Guinea. ( Papua) Mijn vader koos voor de
Noord Poolroute . Ik was 4 jaar. En kan mij nog heel veel herinneren. Wij zijn in het bezit van de tickets uit die tijd. En kleine kaarten van de
Noord Poolroute. Wij vertrokken op 21 Maart 1962.

Groetjes Kathline Breuer

Frido Ogier

Hallo Kathline,

Dat moet een mooie reis zijn geweest. Heb je mijn blog hierover gelezen? Met het vliegtuig over de Noordpool.Helaas voorzien de foto-archieven van KLM niet foto’s van passagiers. Ik ben dus bang dat ik je hiermee niet kan helpen.




Hi Frido, Thanks again for a great Blog! We have always had a copy of the ‘ Homeward’ poster in our office. It was and is one of my favorite posters here. It is nice to know the story behind the print! What a pity we have to leave this one behind because we will move to another office this week.


Thank you for this post I love all information because KLM has such a long history.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Jo!


Dag Frido – Een vraag over de Homeward poster – er staat dat dze uit 1944 stamt – maar de Lockheed Constellation die er op staat was toen nog niet onderdeel van civiele luchtvaart. Hoe kan dat? En is het mogelijk om die brief die Plesman hierover schreef te bezichtigen? Ik heb

Frido Ogier

Scherp gezien, Philip. Plesman heeft zich in eerste instantie vooral bemoeid met de boom, de lucht en de opkomende maan en ondergaande zon. Dit affiche zal ongetwijfeld pas gebruikt zijn na de bevrijding van Nederland toen de Constellations in bestelling waren. De eerste kwam in mei 1946 bij de vloot en zoals wel vaker gebeurt nam men er een voorschot op. De brief is helaas niet in te zien, maar op pagina 69 van ‘KLM in beeld’ is deze integraal opgenomen

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