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