Hanse and Lisa: the companies
by Valérie Braun, English translation by Julie Plovnick, with additional research by Rebecca Green
Hanse of Scandinavia was a Danish firm which made dolls houses in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. We don’t know when production of dolls houses started or finished, but a Danish local history society has published an article with information on the founding of the firm:
(Tranbjerg Tidende, 2011/4 p. 29).
Map of Denmark showing the locations of Hanse in Horsens (blue marker), and the Lisa factories in Tranbjerg (red marker) and Brabrand (yellow marker). Created in Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/asQYR
It was started as a suitcase factory in 1930 by a man called Holger Hansen, at Gartnervænget 1 (1 Gartner Road), in Tranbjerg, about 12km from Aarhus on the eastern side of the Jutland peninsula in central Denmark. In 1934 Hansen began producing toys, including prams or baby buggies, bobs tables, and wooden cars. The factory expanded and moved down the road to Gartnervænget 15, and Holger Hansen’s son Ejnar Ringive Hansen joined the firm.
Above: View of Tranbjerg with the Hanse factory in the foreground. Below: detail of the Hanse factory, Tranbjerg. Photo courtesy Tranbjerg Lokalhistoriske Samling.
An undated Hanse catalogue also shows line drawings of the Hanse factory - and a house on which the name Hanse also appears:
Catalogue courtesy Tranbjerg Lokalhistoriske Samling
Hanse listing in the catalogue of the 1976 Nuremberg International Toy Fair. Scan © Rebecca Green
Ejnar R. Hansen attended the Nuremberg International Toy Fair in 1976, showing wooden toys, dolls houses and dolls house furniture. He also exhibited at the 1977 Nuremberg International Toy Fair, and in the year between these two fairs, Hanse had changed its name and its location: in 1976, the firm was called Hanse Legetøj A/S, and was based in Tranbjerg. In 1977, the name of the firm had become Hanse of Scandinavia, and it had moved to Brabrand (at Grimhøjvej 15), about 8 km from Aarhus.
Hanse listing in the catalogue of the 1977 Nuremberg International Toy Fair. Note the change of name and the new logo. Scan © Rebecca Green
As well as E. Ringive Hansen, the 1977 fair was attended by P Tinglev-Hansen. A Poul Tinglev-Hansen died just 6 months ago, aged 75. He had been a sales and marketing manager with Dan Hill Plast A/S, a plastics manufacturer which produced toys and dolls before moving into technical moulding of plastics. Perhaps he was Ejnar’s brother?
Hanse products can also be found marked as “HANSE made in DENMARK.” A box from a Hanse wood and plastic toy construction set reads, “K-E MATHIASEN A-S, DK 8220 in Brabrand.” K-E Mathiasen A/S, later Norstar, now Top-Toy Group, is a Danish toy retailer and distributor, also based in Brabrand, and this labelling suggests that Hanse products were sold through K-E Mathiasen.
Hanse, like Lisa, may have been bought out by Lundby in the 1980s.
Lisa catalogues, and boxes of Lisa furniture are marked with an address: Loui Kiesbüy, Rosenvænget 1, 8700 HORSENS, DENMARK.
I emailed the town hall in Horsens, and asked if they knew anything about the company and where its factory was located. I thought at least the buildings must remain. Lisa exported its toys worldwide, so it must have had considerable facilities. I also asked if they could put me in touch with anyone who had worked at Lisa. So far they haven’t replied. I also contacted the Danish embassy in Paris. A very lovely lady told me she had never heard of the Lisa brand; she also said that “Loui Kiesbüy” didn’t sound very Danish [Rebecca adds: it seems to be a name from the Schleswig area of southern Denmark and northern Germany]. The lady at the embassy was nice enough to contact several Danish organizations for me, including the Ministry of Labor and the Business Archives, who all told her the same thing. It’s as if Lisa of Denmark never existed on paper!
In Google Earth I found a “Rosenvænget” street in Horsens—smack dab in a residential neighborhood! No trace of a factory or warehouse in the area, nothing at all! Lisa boxes are also marked with a phone number: 05 62 70 43. I didn’t dare call, as I assume the number has been out of service for many years.
Another address (or at least the name of another town) appears on the box for a Lisa chalet from 1984.
Box of Lisa chalet 521 © Elisabeth Lantz
Vejle is south of Horsens - you can see it on the map above too. Had Lisa moved there before being bought by Lundby in 1984, or did Lundby move the factory to new premises in a more industrial area? We don't know - Lisa remains a true mystery!
If you have more information on Lisa or Hanse, we would love to hear from you!