What is Sanke

Willy Sanke was the most organized and prolific producer of early aviation photo-postcards in Germany. Located in Berlin, his production began to flourish around 1909-10 and ceased with the end of the First World War in 1918. His cards were organized into a series that produced 600-700 numbered cards and an additional 100 to 200 unnumbered cards. His early cards featured Germany's first successful pilots (including women pilots) and their flying machines including the early zeppelins. The cards usually printed the name and rank of the pilot, the aircraft model or the event depicted on the card. The first 300 cards frequently have the caption "Flugplatz Johannisthal" - the airport at which some of the largest early airshows took place.


Sanke used the talents of many photographers to produce the pictures. Franz Fischer, Nichola Perscheid, A. Krauth and others along with the Rotophot Company and Gustav Liersch collaborated to create these photo-postcards. Their names and trademarks sometimes appear on the card along with Sanke.


As Germany entered the First World War the cards began to show aviation from the military perspective. The latest production airplanes and their new features were a highlight of the cards. Captured aircraft of other countries were also shown on the cards. Also, the first successful combat pilots or "aces" were popular cards - especially winners of the Pour Le Merite - Germany's highest award for military service. Max Immelman and Oswald Boelke were the earliest flying recipients of the award and together comprised about 20 of the early cards. As the war progressed the emphasis was increasingly placed on the successful pilots or heroes of the war; some cards commemorated the death of the pilot.


Most of the cards are numbered in the sequence of their production and go up to the 1070's. Many gaps occur in the sequence of numbers possibly due to lack of communication with the manufacturer (s) censorship from the government, and possibly Herr Sanke simply choosing to skip some numbers to start new or different subject material.


If you have any cards you are willing to sell I usually pay more than a postcard dealer because I am a collector of the cards. Or if you would like to ask questions or correct some of my information, you can contact me at my home or office in Houston, Texas.


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