Rijwielbelastingplaatjes

Last year´s visit to Belgium left some traces – in my memory, on this blog and also in my glasscase. When visiting Ypres, I chanced upon an antiques store who sold a great number of old Belgian bicycle tax plates. That´s BTW what the word in the title of this post means. Couldn´t really call them discs, because they look like this, for instance:

This one was the oldest I bought, I think it says 1923. Given the fact that those plates were introduced in Belgium in the 1890s, successively by the Province Governments, it´s not very old, but compared to the scrap that was available in the box at the dealer´s, it´s definitively one of the nicer ones. Prices reflected the sad state of most of the plates, so I could afford a goodly selection.

Thing is, they are made from real enamel, and of course having been fixed on a bike for a year, and very probably having served as a plaything afterwards (nice and kleurig, colourful, and just the right size too), many were reduced to a very sad state indeed. Those I skipped, and I bought these:

Dating from the 1930s, these are already simpler in shape – but still, real enamel.

That stopped during the war. I got this 1943 one, too,

which seemed unused, and discovered only at home that it actually had a twin stuck underneath it:

As you can see, 090409 was on top all of those years, its colour having changed a bit, and 090544 is as good as new. So I owe the antiques dealer one.

Them being war production, they are also made from re-used sheet metal:

If you look closely, you can see that there´s a “V” next to the Hainault “H”, and if one turns the thing round it becomes obvious that in its first life the plate used to be a West Vlaanderen one from the year before.

The Belgian system of those plates was quite sophisticated. If you look round on the net you see plates that were for the unemployed, coming free, but also those for childrens´ bikes – a thought I can´t really warm to. The plates in the end were too expensive to make, some it is said even were more expensive than what they brought in tax, so they were discontinued in the eighties. These two which I was given by a cycle dealer who I stopped at en route to the first classic RVV must be among the last ones issued.

Also I imagine those sharp metal edges jutting from the bikes must have been considered a risk by the eighties.

Once we´re at it, here are some Dutch plates I bought years and years ago in Haarlem, also for a song like those in Belgium last year:

Although they´re much simpler made, I also think they´re nice to look at. On the 1940 one it says “RWB” which must be Rijwielbelasting – Tax on Bicycles.

And lastly something I found in a fleamarket right in the middle of Germany:

Nothing to do with tax at all, this badge was worn by someone who took part in some editions of the Landelijke Fietsdag, nationwide bicycle day, organized as from 1973 by the ANWB, the largest club in the Netherlands with 4 million members and in charge, among other things, of all Dutch road signposting, and the VVV, the Dutch organization of all tourist information offices. No idea if the Fietsdag still exists, but I don´t think so. It´s a witness from a bygone era, too, when cycling events were organized by motorist organizations.

So it´s a good thing we don´t have to use any of the above.

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