Ross Verlag was first know as "Ross" Bromsilber Vertriebs G.m.b.H (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung [company with limited liability]), which basically means "silver bromide (the photographic postcard process) selling company Ltd."   Originally, Ross operated as a distributer of postcards, but soon became a publisher (verlag).

The Ross name first appeared on card number #225 in a continuation of the numbering of the Film Sterne line.   These transitional cards had both the Ross Verlag name and the RPH symbol with a horse on the front of the card.   These cards were smaller in size than the typical Ross postcard.   They only ran from #225 to #232, although they also showed up on the first few film scene cards around #568.

The first series number card with the Ross name on it.

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.   Verlag is the German word for publishing company.   SW stands for Southwest and 68 is an area code in that region of Berlin.

At first, these cards also had the Film Sterne logo printed on the back of the cards.   It did not appear on all the cards and it did not last past around #400.   Then the Film Sterne/Rotophot logo was dropped completely.

Many of the earlier cards had an NBC logo in the stampbox.   NBC stood for "Neue Bromsilber Convention" -- this was a group of postcard publishers joining together in an attempt to reach an agreement on the pricing of cards.   The postcard market in Germany had become very competitive in the early 1900's and many companies were undercutting prices which forced other companies out of business.   This cartel had started in 1909.   It was still around in early 1930's, at which time Heinrich Ross was the group's president.   (This information taken from "The Postcard Album" Issue #23 )

Both the Film Sterne and the majority of the Ross Verlag cards are numbered.   The Ross Verlag card 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 first set of cards with "Verlag "Ross" Berlin SW68" printed on it that ran from #233 to #256 only had a series number with no slash or following card number.   (For example, there was card number 234, but no 234/1 or 234/2.)

Early Pola Negri card #234 with no slash/number.

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   --   see below).   Usually a set of cards of one or more actors would be from the same film (although not always) or photographer.   Some of the film scene cards go as high as 20 cards to a series, but generally each series had far fewer cards.   The majority of the cards probably had only one card to a series, especially in the later years.

Around card number 1930/1 (in the year 1928), the Verlag "Ross" Berlin SW68 on the cards changed to simply "Ross" Verlag.

Until about card A 2660/1, the cards said "Ross" Verlag with many of the cards having a mixture of English and German spelling of the words "Reproduction verboten" printed on the front of the cards.

After A 2660/1, the cards say Ross-Verlag without the parenthesis and with a dash.

"Reproduktion verboten" is also now printed stictly with the German spelling.

At around A 3427/1 in 1941, The Ross-Verlag name changed to Film-Foto-Verlag, which it remained for the rest of the run.   The cards stopped being published around 1944.

The Film-Foto-Verlag logo was applied for on March 4, 1942, and the registration granted on November 7, 1942.   Thanks to Klaas Dierks for his great sleuthing in discovering this information!

A 3427/1 Lil Dagover
First card with Film-Foto-Verlag logo?
(It's possible different press runs had either
Ross Verlag or Film-Foto-Verlag for awhile)

Around the 5500 to 5900 series, about 1931, the card stock changed from a white or browntone color to yellow or chamois. The reasons for this is unknown.

White or browntone stock on left and yellow or chamois stock on right

Some cards were printed with both stocks.
Liane Haid 5689/1

Some of the non-yellow, browntone stock postcards end up with a bluish tint to the cards.   This seems to be a defect of the paper stock, or the chemical process of developing the photos.   There are various degrees of how much of the bluish tint shows up on the card.   Perhaps this was one of the reasons Ross changed to the yellow card stock.

May Murray card with bluish tint

Back of card with bluish tint

Although most of the Ross postcards were printed in black and white (browntone), a few were color tinted.   The hand coloring occured mainly with the white stock and rarely with the yellow.

Collector Richard Minns has created a list of known tinted cards by performer and card number, to which I have added my own and any others that are brought to my attention.   The list can be found if you click here.   Thanks Richard!

Browntone card stock untinted and tinted

Yellow card stock untinted and tinted

Ross Verlag was a Jewish run business.   When Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party (the Nazis) came into power, the goverment began its persecution of Jewish citizens.   Soon, Jews were forced out of business by the Nazi's, and their companies taken over by non-Jews.   Heinrich Ross, the founder of Ross Verlag, suffered the same fate, but was fortunate enough, at least, to eventually escape to America.   Postcards of known Jewish performers were no longer advertised for sale, although they were still being sold.

Around 1937, the Ross Verlag firm was apparently a subsidiary of a film company known as Tobis Filmkunst G.m.b.H.   Although there is a Tobis Filmkunst G.m.b.H in existence in Germany today, it has no connection to the original Tobis.   The foundation that handles the archives of the original Tobis has no information on Ross Verlag.   They believe that most of the records were probably lost in the war.

During WWII, all film companies in Germany were owned by the government, so more than likely Ross Verlag also came under Nazi control.   The Ross Verlag name does appear on propaganda postcards related to the war effort.   It is surprising that they retained the Jewish owner's name for several years, but that probably had to do with their not wanting to lose the contracts they held with the studios for reproduction rights of the images.   Also, they would not have wanted to renegoiate their distribution contracts through out the world.   They changed to Film Foto Verlag after the USA entered the war in 1941.

The propaganda postcards were published as an "R" series, with over 300 cards.   For a more indepth history of these cards, check out this fascinating website:  




Front and back of some WWII military propaganda Ross Verlag R series postcards


Adolf Hitler appeared on some of the postcards.   Ironically, when Hitler was pursuing his art career before his political ambition, he reportedly hand painted postcards to sell.

Although the children of Royalty and film stars had often been portrayed on postcards, it seems really creepy to see the child of a infamous Nazi leader pictured the same way.   Postcard of Hermann Goerings daughter, Edda, probably sometime around 1939-40.   Goering was the second in command to Hitler.   Hitler was also Edda's godfather.   Photographed by Rosemarie Clausen, famous German photographer.   Edda is reportedly still alive.

Some of the German actors appeared in military uniform on the postcards, usually for a role they were playing in a film.   It is possible though, that some of the actors were posing in their own military uniforms.   The postcards below shows Rolf Moebius in a German military uniform with the swaztika symbol, and Gustav Fröhlich in what is probably his own military uniform.   (Thanks to Robert Noss for this photo.)


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.


American stars first appeared on Ross cards in 1922.   Since many international stars also had careers in the United States, it is difficult to say exactly which American star was first.   Pola Negri's career was based in Germany when her cards were first published.   Charlie Chaplin appeared on an early Pola Negri card (although British, Chaplin's career was based in America).   Priscilla Dean seems to be the first American actress to appear on a Ross card.   Towards the end of the run, during the war years, the cards were predominately German actors, although American stars still occasionally appeared.   When the USA entered WWII, cards of American stars were no longer published.   The last American star to be featured on the card was Randolph Scott (A 3200 in 1941).   There were also non-film related subjects who appeared such as Charles Lindbergh, Albert Einstein and Miss Poland 1930.

Charlie Chaplin and Poli Negri card 453/2

First American star on Ross card
Priscilla Dean   518/1

Charles Lindbergh

Miss Poland 1930 Zofja Batycka

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