75 years Richard Sellmer Verlag: Advent calendar from Stuttgart to the world.
“Advent calendars as beautiful as they were in childhood.” Even the American presidents Nixon and Eisenhower had their photos taken with Sellmer calendars. The diverse publishing program includes around 140 calendars in different formats.
Around 50 percent of the business is now on the international market, and there is even a sales office in England. Sellmer Verlag has also replaced manual work with automation in many areas, but this has not changed the loving design and care with which the popular products from Stuttgart are manufactured.
It is such a beautiful product, the enthusiasm for it has been passed on over the generations, ”explains Annette Sellmer, why all family members have remained loyal to the Christmas calendar during the company's 75-year existence. Frank Sellmer's wife is responsible for the publisher's public relations. The nostalgic cityscapes, cozy Christmas scenes, romantic snowy landscapes with Santa Claus and the religious motifs of the Advent calendars, which are especially popular in England, have one thing in common: They are designed and manufactured with care and great attention to detail.
"According to our company philosophy, what is shown behind the door must match the content of the motif on the front of the calendar," says Annette Sellmer.
Already the first Sellmer calendar with the motif "The small town" - which was reissued as a reprint - shows this careful attention to detail and the sophisticated, handcrafted design. Richard Sellmer had made it by hand in the living room of his house on Schmellbachstrasse, opposite today's Sellmer company building. It was the first German provider where customers could order Advent calendars.
The American occupation authorities granted permission to print in 1946. Although a good part of the Advent season of the first post-war year was already over, Sellmer's calendar was a huge success, so that he gradually expanded the program in the following years.
|Here you can see some interesting documents from our archive
American presidents promote "the Home of Advent Calendar"
Richard Sellmer quickly established contacts with American customers through international trade fairs. The advent calendar, which until then had been completely unknown in the USA, also found enthusiastic buyers there. American customers could now also buy Sellmer's Advent calendar . Sellmers Verlag was soon referred to as "The Home of Advent Calendar".
So that the impression does not arise that only the Americans have used Christmas calendars from Stuttgart to do good: Richard Sellmer himself financed the restoration with the proceeds from the "Old Stuttgart" motif. The opulent photo albums that document the company's history contain black and white photos from early production as well as some letters from children from all over the world, addressed to the “Secretary General of Father Christmas” or to “Santa Claus”.
The fact that US Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon had themselves photographed with their families as part of a charity campaign with a calendar from Stuttgart-Rohr also boosted the popularity of Sellmer products. The fact that a “Miss Christmas Town” - the advent calendar - queen was crowned annually as part of that charity campaign in the USA - visited the publishing house was seen as a nice recognition. One of the best-kept memorabilia is a Christmas card from Bill Clinton: The President personally thanked him for the copy of a custom-made Advent calendar from the 1950s with the “White House” as a motif that Sellmer had sent him.
UK sales office: International matters
Sellmer now accounts for around 50 percent of sales on the international market. When it comes to demand, the British are amazing. That is why a sales office was set up near Birmingham in 2001. But even in countries without a noteworthy Christian tradition, such as Japan, demand is growing steadily.
The production of custom-made products has become a very important area. Most of them are promotional gifts that companies send to their customers and employees. In addition to simple designs, in which an existing motif is provided with a sticker, there is also the production according to individual templates - as well as the popular chocolate calendars . The fashion chain H&M, for example, commissioned a special chocolate advent calendar from Richard Sellmer Verlag in a magazine look, printed with a cover girl dressed for Christmas
Online sales are increasing among private customers.
While buyers and users think of Christmas calendars at the earliest a few weeks before the start of Advent, the production of the paper jewelry at the manufacturer takes the whole year. From the end of January three major trade fairs will be visited - the Nuremberg Toy Fair, Paperworld in Frankfurt am Main and the spring fair in Birmingham. The first overseas shipments are already on the ship in March, followed by delivery to wholesalers in Europe and finally to retailers and private customers. The calendars for the following year are designed from September and are printed right after Christmas.
|Here you can see how we produce advent calendars .
In the early days of the publishing house, almost everything was laboriously manufactured by hand. Today, production and packaging run automatically with the exception of a very few work steps; there is even a machine for applying mica. After Richard Sellmer's death in 1969, his son Tim was responsible for rationalizing production. His measures made the large numbers that are required today possible in the first place. Tim Sellmer died in 2008, his sons Frank and Oliver Sellmer continue to run the publishing house in his sense.
The Sellmer publishing program currently includes around 140 motifs, around 15 newly designed ones are added every year. Some motifs have been in the range without interruption since the 1950s; Reprints are particularly popular - more like advent calendars for adults. Whether in the common A4 format, whether as a postcard, whether three-dimensional with backdrops to set up - as different as the preferences of the customers may be: Silver glitter and nostalgic romance are simply a must for Advent calendars - certainly not just for Americans.
|The history of the advent calendar can be found here
Interestingly, the advent calendar is a relatively new phenomenon - the first copy was made in 1904. It only became popular across the board in the 1950s. At that time it became an inexpensive mass-produced item - and the Stuttgart-based Richard Sellmer Verlag, which is the only publisher in Germany to concentrate exclusively on the production of Advent calendars , played a significant role in this.