Guinness revokes licence plate record

An Esquimalt man can no longer boast owning the world’s oldest licence plate, as certified by the Guinness World Records.

In October, John Roberts celebrated the news that Guinness approved his claim to fame. He bought his Victoria-issued number 6 licence plate a few years ago, and his research suggested it was issued in 1884 to a commercial horse and buggy driver.

As quickly as the news hit about the world record, controversy erupted among the licence-plate collector community.

Historian and hobbyist Christopher Garrish outlined the contradictory evidence in an article published by the Automobile License Plate Collector's Association. Victoria city bylaws from that era suggest Roberts’ plate was issued in 1913, he wrote. Garrish also presented evidence of older plates, including the number 1 and 2 plate from Roberts’ plate line.

Meanwhile, Roberts sought to sell his plate.

On Nov. 21, the Gulf News reported that Roberts sought a purchaser in the United Arab Emirates to buy his plate for $7.9 million.

To date, it has not sold.

Last week, a representative from Guinness confirmed its decision to retire the record category of oldest licence plate, due to the difficulty in dating the plate.

When contacted, Roberts was not aware of Guinness World Records’ decision.

“I can only imaging that Guinness was inundated with new claims over the oldest licence plate that they had had enough,” he wrote in an email to the News.

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