Inter-war Czechoslovakia
The Austro-Hungarian system of license plates was adopted by the authorities of new Czechoslovakia. The size and shape of letters was defined more strictly, military used inverted colour plates; other than that, everything remained the same. Only when the impractical alphanumerical system was to collapse into countless variations (such as N XXXIV 321), the authorities introduced a brandnew registration system of so-called register plates. Each of the historic lands of the country had its own one-letter code (È for Bohemia, M for Moravia and Silesia), Prague had P, and railways and post had a specific code, too (D). A dash followed, pursued by a block of natural order numerals 1-99.999, divided by a dot after thousands. Motorcycles and tricycles had the same system, only in a reversed order. Military had codes without numbers. Again, the shapes of letters were not really given, only the dimensions were defined. From the beginning, the international code CS had diacritics — a hook above C. The black-andwhite plate had a required rim, and, for example, in aerodynamic sports cars, the plates were applied on foil. The plates with bevel upper corners remained popular, same as the double-sided ones placed on the front fender of a motorcycle. Temporary registration plates in inverted colours were newly introduced, border guards or customs officials and foreign vehicles also had special plates. Special license plates issued for diplomats were also planned, however, the evolution was interrupted by the war.

The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia had certain formal attributes such as the flag, emblem, currency, and government institutions, however, this was about it. Czechoslovak register plates were valid until the end of June 1940, but only with a “journey permit” in the form of a yellow stamp issued by a particular office, and with a “fuel ration permit” which looked like a yellow label in the shape of letter V. The citizens of protectorate, confronted with the grim reality of rationed economy, mischievously nicknamed it “Victoria”. During the war, only doctors and few other selected occupations necessary to keep the state running were allowed to operate a private vehicle. The abrupt shift towards the needs of the German oppressor meant immediate introduction of German standards wherever it was considered necessary. The new highway code paradoxically modernised the whole road transport, introduced driving on the right, and with it came also the new protectorate license plates (which was also their official name), complying fully with the Third Reich system. Plates with white background and black frame contained two-letter regional or institution code (PA=Bohemia, PB=Moravia, PC=railways and post, PD=Prague, PS=police and gendarmery, PV=state administration and military), a dash with a block of order numbers 1-999 999 followed, with no dots or dashes. The Third Reich’s journey and fuel ration permits were also adopted, in the form of a red stamp and sticker. Rough guide to license plates was also published, which shows that, for example, the president had a plate number PD 1. The manufacturing method was novel, utilising stencils with DIN standard letters. The vehicles from Protectorate lands did not have their own international code plate and for foreign journeys, vehicles were to be fitted with an oval D at the back of the vehicle, illuminated same as the license plate itself.

Author: Petr Marinov, Translate: Olga Neumanová
Published by TYPO (typography · graphic design · visual communication)
TYPO.28 - August 2007