The Holland America Line Collectors Reference Library
Ceramic Tiles

4/8/2014: Latest update with new acquisitions and contributions from other collectors. New tiles in "other".

The Holland America Line has issued ceramic tiles to celebrate events or to give to customers as a welcome gift since the early 1900-s. Little is known about these first tiles, like quantities and occasion at which they were issued. The early tiles we are aware of are made by the Plateel bakkerij Zuid Holland (PZH) from Gouda, The Netherlands. They are full color handpainted images of some of the early Holland America Line ships, such as the ss Rotterdam IV that is depicted in the earliest tile chapter on this site. The tile is 6" x 6" and has only the logo of PZH on the back.

The next tiles we are aware of are modeled after the 17th and 18th century classic Blue Delft tiles with the text "Compliments of the Holland America Line" and originate most likely from the 1960-s. Again, we know very little of the quantities and occasions of the production of these tiles. Finally in the early tiles we count the Delft Blue tiles of the 1970/1980 era, where we find different texts on the on the reverse side and the tri-wave logo used by the Line in the era.

After this first series, there seems to have been a before the Holland America Line started two new programs which involved ceramic tiles:
  1. The first program was the Inaugural Voyage program, where each passenger that participated in the Inaugural Voyage of a new vessel received a 6" x 6" Delft Blue ceramic tile. The first tile in this series was the Statendam Inaugural tile of 1993 and the program still continues with the issue of the latest Inaugural tile celebrating the newest Nieuw Amsterdam addition to the fleet in 2010.
  2. The second program was the World Voyage program, where each passenger that participated in the World Voyage of that year received one of a series of mostly four, sometimes three 6" x 6" Delft Blue ceramic tiles. The first set of tiles in this series was issued during the 1993 ss Rotterdam World Cruise. The World Voyage tile program seems to have been discontinued in 2008, to be restarted in 2012 with the ms Amsterdam World Voyage..
When it was clear that the passengers liked the tiles, the Mariner Society which had existed since the first ss Statendam World Cruise of 1958, started to award her members with a 4" x 4" Blue Delft ceramic tile upon completion of each voyage taken with the Line's vessels. This program still exists today and is extremely popular with collectors.

Each tile has an indication if  it is in my collection. I appreciate any offer of tiles I currently do not have. A lot of the information and images of tiles come from Captain A. J. Schoonderbeek of the Holland America Line, who's knowledge of every aspect of the history of the Line is legendary.

A 75 - 100 page book about the Holland America Line ceramic tiles is in progress and is expected to see daylight at the end of this year. The image on the right shows a concept layout of the front cover. Anyone interested in wanting to know more about it or obtaining a copy of this first Collector's Reference Library volume can contact me at my email address.

Comments, additions and suggestions are welcome, please email me at tiemen @ halpostcards . com.
To see the currently known tiles in each category, please click on the appropriate tag on the top of this page.

Happy collecting

Tiemen T. Spits.

Copyright Tiemen Spits 1999-2013