Funny Dutch License Plates
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In the spring of 1994, I was involved in a discussion in the USENET newsgroup nlnet.misc about the existence of certain Dutch car license plates. The common Dutch car license plates consist of three pairs of alpha-numeric tokens, for example FR-15-BY and DR-SP-95. We reached the conclusion that certain characters (vowels) were not present in the plates and that the pair 00 was never used. We were wondering if certain plates had been left out of the sequence. For instance, some people wanted to know if sequences with four equal characters existed. It was easy to find a plate with three similar characters but the plates with four identical characters were rarely seen.
It turned out that the four-equal-characters plates exist and this page contains some images of such plates to proof this. Photographing car plates already was a hobby of me which was caused by an article on palindrome car plates by Jules Welling, columnist of the Dutch linguistic magazine Onze Taal.
The problem of finding out which license plates do and which do not exist was solved by Dik T. Winter who managed to get his hands on the plate-issuing policy of the Dutch government. The Dutch car license plate format was CharChar-DigitDigit-CharChar until 1991 when it was replaced by CharChar-CharChar-DigitDigit. When this sequence ran out in 1999, it was replaced by DigitDigit-CharChar-CharChar, a sequence which is expected to be full in 2006. The most recently issued plate can be found on the site of Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer.
The license plates collection
Well, here are the images which we have collected over the last few years:
Palindrome license plates
One out of every 3179 license plates of sequence 4 (see rules) is a palindrome. If you want to know more about palindromes, check out Wikipedia.
Four-equal-characters license plates
One out of every 4913 license plates of sequence 4 (see rules) is a four-equal-characters plate. For sequence 5 this is true for one out of 3375 plates. Only one out of 54043 plates of sequence 4 is a palindrome four-equal-character plate.
Abbreviation license plates
The pictures of the plates BB-BB-71, FF-FF-48, GG-GG-35, GG-GG-69, HT-TP-02 and LP-88-PL were supplied by Frank Hoogervorst. The image for LL-LL-99 was submitted by Berend Drent. Reza Lazrak provided the picture of 09-GR-GR. Thanks!
Help me to find...
If you are able to make a photograph a Dutch car with a four-equal-character plate, a palindrome plate or a plate that contains a special abbreviation, you can send it to erikt(at)xs4all.nl . I will include the photograph here. At this moment I am especially interested in abbreviation plates. These are the hardest to find. I would love to find cars with the abbreviation DR-SP (a Dutch entertainer: Drs P), GT-ST (a popular Dutch soap: Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden, found!), HP-SG (a grammar from computational linguistics: Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar), JN-HS (Dutch USENET abbreviation for the USA: Je Naait Het Steeds, found!), JZ-NZ (a popular Dutch soap: Ja Zuster, Nee Zuster) and PV-DD (Dutch animal rights party: Partij voor de dieren). Furthermore I am looking for a four-equal-character company car plate (VV-??-VV). Actually, I saw VV-41-VV driving in Utrecht, The Netherlands and the car belonged to the cable TV company Casema, so it should be possible to find that one.
In June 1996 I spotted a green VW beetle with license plate 33-EE-33 in the Kalverstraat in Groningen, The Netherlands. But I had no camera with me so I have no photo to prove it. Sigh. If you know the whereabout of the car please let me know.
This page has reached the papers!
I was very surprised to find out that an article in the San Francisco Chronicle has mentioned this page. In his article Holes Started to Show in Internet's World Wide Web of Thursday, February 9, 1995, Robert Rossney said:
"...And what are we to make of the unlikely Erik Tjong Kim Sang, who collects and distributes photographs of palindromic Dutch license plates?..."
Robert van Weperen has written an article about this page in the February 1996 issue of the Dutch magazine Net (page 23). The title of the article was Hahahaha. Hm, I guess that one does not need to be translated.
This page would never have got this amount publicity had it not appeared on the Useless WWW Pages. I want to thank Paul Phillips for supplying the link.
Paul Beukelaar has sent a picture of his French car with the palindrome license plate 29XX92 to me. Here is the photo (53kB) which was made under the Eifel tower. Palindrome plates can also be found in Belgium (very rare) and Luxemburg. I was stunned when I discovered this German BMW in front of the home of my parents in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Reini Nitzsche mailed me that this is a BMW from Berlin and the B-MW plates issued by Berlin have been reserved for BMWs.
In June 1995 I was walking through the city of Oldenburg in Germany with a friend who's name is Jan Brat. To our surprise we discovered this car. ``That's my car!'', Jan Brat said but unfortunately it was not. Well, the picture is a nice memory of his car.
Perhaps Dutch visitors will appreciate the German plates that have been provided by Jeanne de Bont and Henk Lamers (67kB) by Rob Coenen (61kB) and by Arne (29kB). There are also equivalent Swedish plates (49kB), Austrian plates (36kB, supplied by Eric Hos) and nice plates from Greece (10kB, supplied by John Koldijk), Bolivia (35kB, submitted by Richard Zuidhof) and Spain (39kB, provided by Alex van der Beek).
If you have images of palindromic license plates from any country, you can send them to me! If you're interested in license plates: there exists a 800-page catalogue which describes license plates of many countries in the world. The title of the book is Registration Plates of the World and it's written by Neil Parker, John Weeks and Reg Wilson. ISBN: 0 9502735 4 6 (paperback) and 0 9502735 5 4 (hardback).
Leon Pool's Vanity License Plates page is worth a visit for everybody that is interested in bizarre license plates. If you are a license plate collector then the collectors sites from Francoplaque and De Nummerplaat (in Dutch) might be interesting for you. Information about foreign plates can be obtained from www.pl8s.com. Lists that tie plates to the cities or regions of their origin are available for plates from Germany: ,  and Spain: . People that spot a car with a strange character combination on the bumper sticker can use the Dork's list for finding out from which country the car is coming. If you collect general license plates can take a look at Josh Friedman's Platesmenistan. You can also visit the site of Australian Prestige Plates or the Oval plates page by Dik T. Winter (also includes country codes). Extensive information about license plates can also be found at Wikipedia (Dutch plates).
Last update: November 12, 2006. erikt(at)xs4all.nl