Post - Thursday, January 12, 2023
Posted by Denny Hatch
Exclusive Private Clubs
Beretta .25 Automatic Pistol. Manufactured by the privately held Pietro Beretta Weapons Factory in Italy, the oldest firearms company in the world, founded in 1526.
Dialog from the Movie of Ian Fleming's Dr. No (1963)
MAJOR BOOTHROYD (Peter Burton)
(to M, referring to Bond's Beretta)
"Nice and light... in a lady's handbag."
M (Bernard Lee)
(to James Bond)
"Any comment, 007?"
JAMES BOND (Sean Connery)
"I disagree, sir. I've carried the Beretta
for ten years, and I've never missed with
"No, but it jammed on you last job, and you spent six months in hospital in consequence. When you carry a 00 number, you have a license to kill, not get killed. Furthermore, since I've been head of MI6 there's been a forty percent drop in casualties, and I want to keep it that way. From now on you carry the Walther... unless you'd rather return to standard intelligence duties."
"No sir, I would not."
"Show him, Armourer."
(Showing Bond the Walther pistol)
"Walther PPK, 7.65 millimeter, with a delivery like a brick through a plate-glass window. American CIA agents swear by them."
——Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather, Screenwriters Dr. No.
When President John F. Kennedy told a reporter that he was reading "From Russia With Love," the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming took off like a rocket. Young Sean Connery wannabes sidled up to bars all over the world and ordered a "vodka martini, very cold, shaken not stirred, served straight up."
Straightdope.com surmised, "James Bond has probably created more martini drinkers than all the gin joints in the world."
Over 60 years the Bond franchise has spawned 27 movies with a combined worldwide gross of $7.8 billion. Bond's Beretta .25 automatic pistol also took on mythic status among firearms cognoscente. It is a terrific weapon. After all, Beretta has been making guns since 1526, so it should know what it is doing.
What is remarkable about the Beretta company is that it is not only a family-owned business but has been in the same family since its founding 496 years ago.
In researching Beretta, I stumbled across a truly extraordinary exclusive club—the Henokiens. These are 51 family-owned businesses that are still going strong and in the hands of the same family for over 200 years!
Two Other—Much Smaller Exclusive Private Clubs…
Club #1. Living American ex-Presidents.
Club #2. The Grand Masters of the 8 Royal Palaces of Europe.
The 51 Unpublicized, Fascinating Henokiens
I stumbled upon the Henokiens in 2005 when I was president, publisher editor and reporter at the now-deceased Target Marketing Magazine. Somebody mentioned the most exclusive club in the world was living ex-Presidents of the United states.
The roster of U.S.ex-Prexies 2005 was a group of four: Ford, Carter, Bush 41 and Clinton.
In 2023 the number is up to 5: Carter, Clinton, Bush 43, Obama, Trump.
What might be other exclusive clubs in this world I wanted to know?
Exclusive Club #2: The Grand Masters
In the 1953 class at the Andover prep school was a low-key, wonderfully likeable, smart as hell Dutch exchange student named Floor (Florentius Willem) Kist. Over the years we kept in touch. On graduation from university Floor went into the Netherlands diplomatic service, kept his head down and his work ethic up. At some point Floor was assigned to work in The Hague at the Royal Palace. Still on the upward trajectory, Floor became "Grand Master of the Household of Her Majesty the Queen."
His job: running the show for Queen Beatrix at home and honchoing all her foreign travel. At some point I asked him if he would tell l me a little about royal palace grand masters.
Floor Kist's email to me of August 5, 2005:
Yes, you told me you were starting a newsletter. I remember Peggy telling us that work behind the computer seemed to make you happy. So even if you don't get rich, you already bagged the happiness.
Now for the question. Yes, in the meantime the Grandmasters of the Courts of Europe have decided to meet once a year, every year in a different capital. The countries are: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg (the family of the Grand-Duke is considered a Royal Family), Great Britain and Spain.
Notes are compared every time. Maybe now they have even dared to embark on the question what the integration of Europe is going to do to the Royal Heads of State of the participating countries.
(The answer to this one is probably that the Royal Houses will be here for a long time to come. Why? Integration is slowing, the states are not likely to melt together and even if integration were more successful would probably lead to more need of expressing the various national identities, which is exactly what Royal Houses do).
Let me end by presenting you and Peggy with three Scandinavian anecdotes I told a few years ago in a dinner speech. I quote:
To conclude I want to tell you about three experiences in my work for the Queen. When I had become Grandmaster of the House of the Queen, I had annual meetings with the eight colleagues working for the other crowned heads of Europe. In these meetings we exchanged experiences and compared notes. In 1992 we were meeting in Stockholm and the Swedish King and Queen received the group for a drink. When we were ushered in the room, wearing a simple grey suit, we saw the Royal couple standing there in full attire, the Queen in a striking evening gown and the King in the gala uniform of the Swedish Royal Navy, wearing all his decorations. After we had shaken hands there was a small silence. It was broken by my British counterpart, the private secretary of Queen Elisabeth, who said to the King and Queen: you make us feel slightly underdressed. The King hastened to explain that they were going to a very formal officers dinner that evening and were already dressed for it because there would be no time to dress after meeting with us. "Ah," my British colleague said, "I thought it might not be for us."
We realized the King and Queen were in for a long dinner with many toasts. That is one thing you have to know about Sweden: during dinners they do an awful lot of toasting to each other. The hostess is supposed to drink to the health of all the guests, who after a little while have to return the compliment to her. At the same time all the guests at the dinner are supposed to drink to the health of all the other guests one by one, who one by one also have to return the toast. To remember who has already toasted you and who hasn't, is a full evening's work. One thing is certain: in Sweden there is no such thing as a relaxed dinner. On the other hand in no other country can one enjoy health that is so often drunk to.
Toasting is not only a Swedish custom, we find it in all Scandinavian countries. During our Queen's state visit to Norway in 1986 I sat at the gala dinner in the royal palace on the first evening of the visit. King Olav the Fifth was still alive then and was our host. It was a very formal affair. The men were in white tie with decorations, the ladies wore long evening gowns, also with decorations if they had them. Early in the main course there was a tap on my shoulder. I stiffened and looked behind me. A waiter, also in full formal dress, had a message for me. Now it was clear to me that no one would interrupt the formality of the occasion without having a very good reason. This had to be an emergency. Probably someone had died or something else terrible had happened (war had broken out somewhere). The waiter bent over and whispered to me: His Majesty wishes to toast you. I bent forward to get a view of the King, who was a certain distance away, and indeed, His Majesty was looking at me, gave me a kind nod, smiled and lifted his glass, drinking my health. I smiled back and from far away also drank his health. We were both happy. But let me tell you: up to this day that tap on my shoulder is the most frightening moment I have had in my professional life.
All the best,
(Left) Floor Kist, Peggy Hatch. (Right) Lyda Kist, Denny Hatch
Takeaways to Consider
• To be continued next week… The Henokiens.
The saga of 51 family-owned business—all over 250 years old—still profitable… and still run by the same family.
•The oldest… family-owned business in the world:
Hoshi Hotel in Ishikawa, Japan, which first opened its doors in 717—a whopping 1305 years ago. Yep, it’s still being run by the same family!
And yep, you can book a room. Phone: +81 761-65-1111
Word count: 1531
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Denny, this was a lot to get your arms around. Good job! And thanks for a very interesting read.