In the previous posts in this series on license plates, we saw two different types. Those attached to the head tube in License Plates ①、and, those attached to the back of the rear fender in License Plates ②． Another unique and interesting concept was a form of the license plate attached to the handlebars.The interesting point is that the design incorporated an anti-theft device. Let's take a closer look.
Notice the license plate below bears the numbers 11506. Also, if you look closely, there appears to be a strip running across the middle of the numbers. This strip is actually a removable sliding plate.
In the 1950s bicycles were still the primary source of private transportation. Bicycles were prized possessions, cost two months' salary and were not that difficult to steal so anti-theft was important. Notice that when the sliding plate is removed it leaves a red blank shown in the photo below.
The intention was that when the owner arrived at the desired destination, after locking the bicycle, the owner removed the sliding plate and took it with them.
This is the sliding plate that the owner would take with them.
When they returned to the bicycle they inserted the sliding plate.
If, while they were away, someone were to steal the bicycle the red blank was a beacon for the authorities that the bicycle was stolen. So anyone seen riding a bicycle with the red strip showing would be suspected of being a bicycle theif.
Note this plate bears the year Showa 31 (1956).
Like many things in life, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but was unpractical as the owner could easily lose the sliding plate and be mistaken for having stolen his own bicycle!
In the final installment of this series on license plates, we will take a look at another very rare and unique license plate design.