Nels was founded by Edouard Nels in 1898. His goal was to spread geographic knowledge while producing maps, guide books, and photographic and printed souvenirs.

They soon became the largest producer of postcards in Belgium and published many cards of the Congo. Nels actively sought the work of amateur and professional photographers and also counted large missionary societies and their photographers amongst his clients. Early postcards were printed in black and white and were also available hand-coloured.

Ernest Thill, who had been the manager of the firm took over from Nels in 1913 and added his name to the company. In the 1960’s to 1975 they were purchased by a French firm, but they are now publishing postcards under their own name again, though for the most part they are now printed in Italy.



  • In and Out of Focus: Images from Central Africa, 1885-1960 – Christraud M. Geary