The Making of the RPWO Historic Archive

November 26, 2019

TEHA website

Below is a typical page from our collection of 1920s-1970s albums created by that pioneer collector, Hollander Karel Stoel.         There are thousands of such pages!

About half  have now been dismantled into single images* and catalogued for easy access and comparison for future students of the historic plates period.       Naturally, most of the typescript in the albums is in Dutch;  maybe one day some English translations could be added.        This is one of the USSR pages:

These pictures* are all part of the big Europlate Historic Archive, which is now at about the half-way point to completion.    The period covered is from the first registrations up to the late 1970s.     The photos and press-cuttings from which it is derived have been edited and sized with modern digital techniques and given explanatory titles which give the reader the

International circulation code for the country of origin, and –
the state, area or city therein,
the period during which that series was issued and
the exact year of this example if it can be divined,
the purpose for which the vehicle was licenced to operate,  (by default, standard/private plates are not marked, as they are the most common),
the registration,
the plate colours where we thought they were needed,
the make of vehicle if known,
the place and time of image capture,
the identification of the image owner and
the last editor of the image.

Plus any other info of interest – so – quite long file-names – but it should save us all constantly looking-up details later.

18-month’s work has been done in the archive to date (2017)and great care taken to identify all these old registrations accurately.        But there will have been many errors and the editors will be pleased to receive amendments and additional info from you all.

The website ‘key’ is now available to all current EUROPLATE members and the site remains accessible to you while you remain a subscriber.   It is now re-named – and Blog members will find it by clicking on: 


TEHA website

There are 18,273 images so far, in 517 folders, and taking 14.8 Gigabytes of space on Dropbox (2017).     You do not have to subscribe to Dropbox – the key above gives you full access to VIEW it – but if you wished to download it for any reason, you would need considerable memory capacity in your computer (at least 16Gb.), or you would subscribe to a ‘Cloud’ memory system, such as Dropbox or Google.     Most members will be happy to VIEW only, on demand.    Saving the link as a shortcut on your desktop could be a good idea……..

We sure hope you enjoy it – it contains plate types we have only read of, and of types never previously known to exist, so it should amuse!

Just leave a message here on the Blog, if you would like to make observations of any sort.

Or email Vic Brumby on

VWB  Eu0038

The Europlate Historic Archive – your access….

November 25, 2019

Click here to visit 40,000 pre-1980 plate pics.

TEHA website


January 9, 2019

This special-issue plate was spotted on Tortola, BVI, on Christmas Eve 2018, by Eu871.      It commemorates the 90th  birthday of the Queen.   Plate no. 9.

Four were spotted touring the island – uncommon sightings, although some had serial numbers of up to four digits, presumably according to the preference of the user, who paid a surcharge for the variant.

It had not been recorded on RPWO as of  Feb 2019.    Must remedy that……

Thanks to member Richard Mathers, Eu871

His other shots below show  current and former series:

Early Africans unearthed

December 13, 2018

Members – Visit the 

TEHA website

Revised 24 Nov 2019        Part one – unfinished

Pioneer Europlate member Jacques Lambin, an adventurous and very well-travelled Frenchman, has donated some of his collection of worldwide shots to our Europlate Historic Archive (TEHA2) so greatly increasing our picture coverage of the  Equatorial and West African territories which formed part of the French empire.    An unexpected, marvellous benefit to us all!

In the process of identifying each photo, slide or negative so that each could be given an accurate title, some of these rare plate formats were difficult to decide, and even after research, a few still remain to go under the scrutiny of our readers, who may be able to finish the job!      Of course, Jacques was able to help with many of them, but so many years having passed since they were photographed, not all were fresh in his mind!       Some of the pictures shown here are from our existing TEHA2 collection……

An interesting example of such difficulty was that of Cameroun, the former French Trust Territory adjacent to Nigeria, which France administered after Germany surrendered it to the League of Nations after WW1, and brought it through to independence in 1963.    Cameroun started with a simple white-on-black numeral and a ‘C’ suffix letter, in about 1919.   

(We don’t know if there had been a German system in use before that.)

The International Oval 1919-63 was TC for Trust Territory-Cameroun, and nearby Togoland was allocated TT on the same basis.        The 2619-C photo comes from our former president, Bernt Larsen E somewhere back in Europe, on a Plymouth coupé

Cameroun commercial/public service vehicles ran on black-on-white plates.  Black-on-white 3421-C and 3423-C below, in service in the 1930s, using Mercedes chassis with local bodywork  and not French marques, as as might be expected!

In 1932, it is thought that 1-9999-C was exhausted, and a serial suffix number was added, starting at 0001 C 1 – though not necessarily using lead zeroes – it was not a strict regime…..

Then, from 1932 until 1963 the serial number changed each time the registration number reached 9999 and ran up from C1 to C8, when a new system was introduced after 1963 independence.    No pictures of a C8 have yet been found.

A Fiat 1500 Sports seen in Juan-les-Pins, summer 1960 by VB.

The International oval changed in 1963/4 and used a variety of codes, including RFC and CAM,

settling now on CMR, built-in to the current plates.


The new 1963/4 series used a regional code, 0-9999 numerals and one serial suffix letter, which was later changed to two as required by increasing registration needs:.

W=Western Region, Buea

N=Northern Region, Garoua

C=Central Region, South


All well and good, we might say.   BUT –  Jacques hurried to explain to the Blog that French Congo (Brazzaville)(AEF) once used an identical system and that a few Congolese had been mixed up with our Camerouns.           The guilty parties in the above line-up are the C7 and C9 pics, which are guaranteed Congolese by Jacques – because that’s where he took the pictures!     

You will see that all have now been placed in their correct countries within TEHA2, at Link:

TEHA website

While we contemplate such duplication in world plate issues, we might remember that the Cameroun’s first plates,

were the same as Tahiti’s

and of Madagascars

AND of the Comores Islands (but no picture!)

– so if you saw such plates as these as you wandered round 1950s Paris, for example, you wouldn’t know where they had come from, especially as they would all have carried an ‘F‘ International Oval, IF they carried one at all…….

I have just realised that if you HAD been in 1950 Paris as a 15-year-old plate-spotter, you would be reading this at the age of 84.          Anyone left out there??


Unknown Bosnia Herzegowina

October 15, 2018

Does anyone know what that plate was used for ? It is now in my collection.BiH

Trade Plates – Dealers, SGP, EAZ & ADN

August 24, 2018
revised 201808242048

The wondrous contents of the Stoel albums reveal plate types previously both unknown and not illustrated – and for those of you who haven’t yet opened up your member’s exclusive link to the (click)

TEHA website

the Blog brings you a few of the extraordinary images which Karel Stoel amassed over 50 years.    This August 2018 Blog page refers to some unusual Trade Plates and related specials…..

(EAZ 49c)(dlr)_1_(r.w)_MorrisMO.vbKS copy

Previously unknown, a dealer plate on British Zanzibar in circa 1949 has a large number ‘1’ probably in red on a white ground, as it awaits its normal plates. RPWO archive

(EAZ 49c)(dlr)_1_cf_(r.w)_MorrisMO.vbKS copy

The Zanzibar Dealer 1 close-up.

And while we’re in Zanzibar…….

(EAZ 50s-60s)(gv)_ZG 316_AustinJ2van.vbKS

(EAZ)  —  ZG 316 – Zanzibar Govt. – Who knew that the Zanzibar Government had its own issue?    ZG 316 is inspected by the army in the 1960s.   It’s on a Morris J4  minibus, surely an unsatisfactory model for the tough conditions of that unpaved island….


(ADN 50s)(dlr)_GEN 24_Hill.Minx.abgKS copy

(ADN)–GEN 24 —  About 1951, a new Minx awaits permanent registration as it is collected from the docks in transit to the Hillman dealer.     We can guess that the plates are white on red, in the GB style. and that the ‘GEN’ abbreviates General (use), one of two dealer plate types used in Britain, the other being the Limited (use) type, which was red on white.

(ADN 50s)(dlr)_GEN 3_c_MMinor.csKS(ADN)–GEN 3 — A second example of that hitherto-unknown Aden plate type is seen on a Morris Oxford MO, sporting GEN 3.     Note the wide panel to accommodate the numberplate, pressed in to the boot panel, a feature formerly unknown to The Blog.   (export spec, mayhap?)

And another rarity from Aden … a taxi

(ADN 60-63)(taxi)_L 5943_(b.w)_abgKS

(ADN)  —  L 5943  Reverse colours of black on white differentiated the taxi plates of Aden Colony from civilian white on black; this is the only known photo.   L 5943 dates from 1960-63 amd is on an Opel.                                                                        TEHA2

and, below, an Aden QUIZ picture…help!

(ADN)(cc 62-UK)_CC 23  (ADN)  —  CC 23 ADN –  Has anyone any information on this Consular Corps series from the ’60’-70s?     Never reported, nor otherwise illustrated.     Yet this is CC issue 23, so there must have been consulates for more than one country in what was then a British colony and protectorate………



(SGP)(dlr 50s-80s)_108 S_comp_(s.y)_Mazda.SGP)(dlr docks1966VB

(SGP)   108 S  —  Singapore trade plates used the scarcely-legible silver-on light yellow colouring until the 1980s, when the background changed to blue.   

In 1968, a new Mazda awaits collection from the wharf, as one of the early Japanese cars to come to the island, where all Nipponese brands met with great success in the forthcoming years.  

And also from Singapore, but long before…..1904:

(SGP 04-49c,04c)_S-1_Oz1904blogVB

(SS) — S 1 Straits Settlements. Now we have unearthed the picture of Singapore’s first registration, from a history published by ‘Singapore Tatler‘ and given as 1904.              Lady Annie Dare’s 2-cylinder Star car, which she named ‘Ichiban’, but which was called ‘The Devil Wind Carriage’ by the astonished native people, was driven all over the Malay Peninsular and Java, before being returned to England and Scotland in later years.

That’s all for now – more to be added later.   

Any comments are appreciated.    They indicate that someone reads these missives!   VB

Remember to click:

TEHA website

DON’T DOWNLOAD IT – its 28 Gigabytes!    Just VIEW it.   

No Costs,   No use of your memory, and the daily changes will show up seconds after they are made, so you will always be up-to-date!    DON’T DOWNLOAD unless you have a massive spare memory available – and remember – if you DO, that  your own download won’t receive the rolling updates/amendments……..

psssst –  Here’s another new discovery – Bahrein Dealer c 1950.   Austin A40 Sports (an export model made 1949-53).   1851 in arabic only.

(BRN 50c)(maybe dealer)_1851_(w.r m)_AustinA40Sports_c_vbKS


July 20, 2018


(NL) KM-73-20  —  Dutch Sint Maarten has a few Royal Netherlands Navy vehicles in service.    This pick-up/ute/bakke was seen by Philipsburg dock in 2016.     We assume the military plates which go abroad are not specially coded.   (Koninklijke Marine)                                                  Brumby archive.



(F)  224 WAL 24  —  Also at the dockside  there but destined for FRENCH St. Martin was a heavy truck using French temporary exit plates from the 1990s(?)

(F)  224 WAL 24


(PAK) PALITANA 1  —  Prince Shiv of Palitana was a lively socialite in the London scene in 1955.       His new, scarlet Ford Thunderbird was photographed by the Daily Mail newspaper and three nascent plate-spotters jumped on a train from the English midlands, to search for the subject of this photo.      And we found it, in Berkeley Square!

Neither Terry Gray, Ivan Thornley nor the Blog  had a camera in those times and in the intervening 63 years, notebooks lost, we have wondered if we had dreamed it all, as we had no evidence – until a modern web search found the very shot.

Silver-on-red plates, as was the way with the Indian (and later, Pakistani) royal households’ plate style.



(GH)  GR 1000 E  —  Guy Lewis, stringer for the Blog ,spent a year in Nigeria in 2017 masquerading as an international banking plenipotentiary, and captured this Jaguar E-Type which had made its way over from Ghana – a rare sight in either country, one would think.

There was never anywhere to mount a front plate on an E-Type, so some enlightened countries permitted an adhesive Fablon format, which didn’t disfigure the aesthetics of that beautiful car.     Ghana seems to have become such a kindly place.

GR 1000 E

G 1000 E


(USA)  T-687  ==  Jim Fox Eu 0095 is extending his deep historical researches in to US state and federal government-issued plates           (Fox archive)

Jim – would you care to fill us in with the background of this very unusual issue?     (Responses below.)

US/FWA   T-687



This looks suspiciously like Karel Stoel’s 1940s bedroom and perhaps his mother wondering how best to tidy it up!

Later the whole collection went on public display at a small transport museum in Holland.    In the 1960s, the museum had to close BUT the plates were, we believe, saved in the nick of time.    Who has the story?

STOEL  ==  Many of these classic, obsolete plates have found their way in to modern collections, fortunately.    If YOU have one or more, why not send in the current picture, for us all to share your pleasure?    (What’s the R/I X 5154???)


BN 1627  ==  When this picture first came to light in the Stoel albums which were acquired from careful long-term storage by Europlate in 2016, we defined it as a Libyan Benghazi plate of a previously unrecorded format.      Later, we came to recognise it as an Anglo-Egyptian Sudan issue from the Blue Nile registration office.        Wonders will never cease!

Fortunately, THESE wonders didn’t come singly.     Another four evocative shots from Sudan, pre-independence.

(ET)  BN 1089  —  Blue Nile province on a Morris Minor (sidevalve) convertible, suspected 1949, is shot in London.

K 4206 —  Khartoum, Sudan 1920s-58 series.

c.1947 Vauxhall HIX-type 12hp


(ET)  E 1100  —  and this 1950s Morris-Commercial LD5 minibus was registered in Equatoria Province of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.========================

(ET)  K.35  —  Hard to believe, but this enamelled 1920s Khartoum Dealer plate survives in a collection somewhere………


Khartoum 4KH 22477  —  And, though this is predominantly a Historic plate site, as the Blog got a shot of a current-issue  Sudani in Ethiopia in 2017, we might as well display it.     It’s a poor shot, because I was being arrested during the filming – apparently tourists cannot take pictures in Addis Ababa…..



For more plate photos, be sure to visit The Europlate Historic Archive:

TEHA website

An Italian United Nations curiosity-(completed)

July 18, 2018

(I)(dlr-mil 51-74).Forli_EI Prova FO 594_(g,r,b.w)(Mission in Lebanon 1982)_Fiat Campagnola.vbTG

Lapsed Member Terry Gray shot this Fiat Campagnola jeep in Italy(?) in the early 1980s.   (I) Dealer plates were always red and white on black, so this white example has long festered as a mystery in one’s mind.       So this week, July 2018, VB forwarded the image to specialist Marcello Gallina in Italy, to ask his advice:

(I)(dlr-mil 51-74).Forli_EI Prova FO 594_cu_(g,r,b.w)(Mission in Lebanon 1982)_Fiat Campagnola.vbTG
Hello, Marcello –
Please, is this a Dealer plate/Manufacturers’ plate/test drive plate from the 1950s-74 series or the ’74-82 series?
(Strange colouring!)
Hello Vic.
Yes, this plate is from the Military Dealer series, issued between 1951-1984.
The jeep is an Italian Army vehicle (Fiat Campagnola).    The white colour means that it is allocated to be sent to Lebanon for the Italian mission (1982).
There were known two early types of Italian Army trade plates.  They were a white variant of the regular  black dealer plates.
Old type, triangular shape. 
New type, as in picture,  square,  PROVA must be preceded by EI in green, maybe adhesive letters are gone.
(In 1984,, a new series came into use:  EI * p 0123. (EI red, green star, little p green, black digits  on white) 
Best regards,

Hi Cedric

Marcello has identified a Italian military dealer among our TEHA2 photos, and it has a Middle-East link, so I think you could be interested!


Cedric responds:
Indeed, it is of interest and is a piece of UN history that is not mentioned in RPWO at all (and I certainly new nothing about). The peacekeeping force (Multi National Force (MNF)), according to Wikipedia, only existed from 1982 to 1984 and was totally separate from UNIFIL as a 4 nation only force.
“The four-nation MNF was created as an interposition force meant to oversee the peaceful withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization.[5] The participants included the U.S. Multinational Force (USMNF), which consisted of four different Marine Amphibious Units (MAUs); British 1st Dragoon Guards cavalry regiment; the 1st inter-arm Foreign and French Brigade, 4 Foreign Legion Regiments, 28 French Armed Forces regiments including French and Foreign paratroopers, units of the National Gendarmerie, Italian paratroopers from the Folgore Brigadeinfantry units from the Bersaglieri regiments and Marines of the San Marco Regiment. Additionally, the MNF was in charge of training various units of the Lebanese Armed Forces.[6]

The relatively benign environment at the beginning of the mission gave way to chaos as the civil war re-escalated following the assassination of President-elect Bashir Gemayel in September 1982. Subsequent political and military developments on the ground caused the MNF to be viewed not as a peacekeeper, but as a belligerent.[7] In early 1984, after it became apparent that the government of Lebanon was no longer able to impose its will on warring factions as they entered Beirut and hostilities renewed,[7] the MNF ended its presence mission in Beirut and went offshore before completely leaving Lebanon in July of the same year in the aftermath of the October 1983 barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. and 58 French servicemen.[8] It was replaced by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) already present in Lebanon since 1978 under the leadership of Ghanaian Lieutenant General Emmanuel Erskine.”




So we see here again how the sharing of our images and knowledge in the Club develops our understanding of this quite complex hobby.    Fresh from a 46-year-old photo now comes  info on a system we had not known existed.     Magnificent!    Thank you, Marcello and Cedric……..

Netherlands Indies-Schouten Islands

July 10, 2018

((NGN BIAK-MAP Schouten_Islands_(IN)_Topography

G 255 (IN)

Karel Stoel brings us more treats with this amazingly obscure island plate from BIAK, a distant Dutch outpost in the South Pacific Sea, North of Papua-New Guinea island.    Until lost from The Dutch Netherlands New Guinea territories in the early 1960s, code G was issued between 1950-59 and was the only NGN single-letter code.   (Could there have been as many as 255 registered vehicles on that spot of remote land?)

This is the only picture known to exist of that G series, depicted on an Auto-Union-DKW 1000 Sonderklasse F91,  an advanced German car of the period 1953-58.

(NGN 50-59)(Biak Is.)_G 255_f_(

(NGN 50-59)(Biak Is.)_G 255_CU_(

The more usual (??) issue of the 1950-59 Papua/Hollandia (now Jayapura)  plates, used the NG prefix and leading zeroes, probably on the white/Prussian Blue plates of mainland Holland.    This VW Beetle NG-04 is certainly using the Dutch dies AND as it carries the NGN international Identification oval, it would seem to have been photographed in Holland, having returned from service in the Papua territory.      Few people still living ever saw such a plate!

(NGN 50-59).Hollandia_NG 04_(NGN oval)_Beetle.plKS

(RI)(exp 37-50c)(IN)_X-451_(w.b)(IN oval)_plKS

X- 451 (IN)

Further west, in Netherlands Indonesia, those who returned their cars to Europe at the end of their work tour. were given a temporary plate with an X prefix, for the first many years in white on black, and later in black on white.     They almost always carried the regulation oval and it is thought many came back to Holland and tickled Stoel’s fancy.

(RI)(exp 37-50c)(IN)_X-554_(b.w)(IN oval)_Fiat500.plKS

Several pictures of the microcar Fiat 500 Topolino/Mouse exist showing us Indonesian plates.  Wholly unsuitable for the rugged conditions, one would have thought – but probably very cheap indeed, so a few sales were guaranteed.    X 554 is an example of the white version of the exit plate issued to vehicles leaving permanently from Dutch Indonesia.


There is confusion over the systems in use in NGN.    The 1950-59 series above was issued concurrently, it seems with another, below, using a prefix letter for the year (M=1955, N=56, O-57, P-58, R=59, S-60, T-61 and U=62.)    Then followed a suffix for the vehicle type – where A coded motorcycles,  B coded cars, c, lorries, D, buses and F, moped-scooters.       The serial number indicated the issuing offices, which were allocated batches of numbers.

These two types are said to have been issued (but partly overlapping?) between 1953 & 63.    Who knows anything which could clarify this matter?       

Unknown plate – still! (11/2019)(16/06/2020)

June 25, 2018

Does anyone know where this plate comes from ? The car was photographed in Bochum (Germany).