Unique collector’s items: The Liebig chromo collection


Let’s go back into French history, to the mid 19th century in Paris, where the warehouse “Au Bon Marché” thought of a new way of promotion (quickly followed by other brands): they offered children pictures, showing nature, history, science or art, all of them on coloured lithographed cards (7 to 11cm). The cards were added to the packaging for “Liebig’s Extract of Meat” products. Given this way to customers, made people want to have the whole series, collections. The birth of the Liebig Collection of chromos was a fact: loads of pictures showing different scenes were Liebig’s promotion campaign for their beef extracts.

We all know Oxo meat extracts or beef stock cubes, well Baron Justus von Liebig, a German organic chemist, developed and promoted industrial production of beef extract, making sure that the essential nutrients and flavour of the beef was preserved. The name Liebig became forever connected with the stock cubes.

Imagine 1871 collections, 11 500 pictures; collections each containing 6 pictures (some series do have 12 or even 18 pictures) all from 1872 (first two rare and desperately wanted series) and 1975 and guess, who has Flemish Liebig cards in the house: me!


They’ve become collector’s items, because of their quality alone, showing 12 colours, perfect images, they were Liebig’s new unique form of publicity (even menus or some additional comments where to be found on them). Collectors of stickers wanted to have complete albums.


Later, other new series were published in different languages. These cards are a real collector’s item, well made by artists, with a sublime technique and an eye for detail. Each week held the promise of some new pictures, making people buying the product even more. Mum had some free recipes, the kids an album full of chromos.

Most of the early pictures show the little Liebig pot but from 1930 on, the discrete signature of the founder, Baron Von Liebig, could be found in one of the corners.


Loads of interesting facts covering a wide diversity of subjects, started to appear on the chromos. The connection with the product became weaker or even non- existent, as collectors knew exactly they wanted them, preferably in perfect condition (sharp not rounded corners, smooth non cut edges, free of stains, not torn). The older the series, the more worth they are! So this one isn’t worth anything:


Coming from the Flemish part of Belgium, it would have been nice to have had the serie ‘Churches of Belgium” from the 1930’s, as that were the first ones printed in Flemish. About 700 series were printed in Dutch. I got them through my parents, have had them for years, some of them still with the paper cover and series number on it. Don’t ask me why I kept them in a lost corner of my desk, but I did.


I like them, for their images, the history or information they provide and of course, because they are heirloom.

Nice to know is that they were made in a stone printing office, using fat in the drawing material and ink. The drawings were transferred onto limestone, the stone was then wet and the drawing material replaced by printers’ ink to make the process ready for printing on paper. Twelve colours on the picture, meant twelve stones to transfer one picture onto paper. There is even an existing collector card, showing the whole production process.

Am curious whether people reading my blog, would contact me to buy them

Always living in hope


Will post the exact numbers and series I have in my possession, in a post apart, in case collectors wonder which ones I have in the house.

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