John Roberts with his No 6 porcelain licence plate. The plate was issued in Victoria, British Columbia. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: The world's oldest number plate — number ‘6' — is on sale for Dh29 million ($7.9 million), and its owner is looking for a buyer in the UAE.

John Roberts, a 69-year-old Canadian resident, bought the plate in 2006 and said he recently had it categorised by the Guiness Book of World Records as the Oldest Licence Plate in the World.

"I have been researching a licence plate that I purchased in 2006 that was issued in 1884 to a horse-drawn carriage. This plate was issued in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, Canada. The feeling of jubilation was astonishing when Guinness World Records mailed me the official certificate. The plate, showing No 6 is stored in a bank vault in Victoria, on the west coast of Canada," Roberts told Gulf News via email from Canada.

Roberts said he is hoping the plate will fetch the price tag, because it is in "a world class of its own with nothing to compare it with".

The British expatriate, who moved to Western Canada in 1975, has been a collector of expensive license plates for 30 years: he also said that there are only 4,000 licence plate collectors worldwide.

Collector's item

"I have never owned a classic vehicle, preferring to collect the plates that adorn them," he continued.

Roberts drives tour buses for a living, which takes him through the Canadian Rockies during summer months.

Collectable licence plates can be big business. In February 2008, at an auction in Abu Dhabi, businessman Saeed Al Khoury, 25, broke the world record for purchasing the most expensive plate in the world. He paid a whopping Dh52.2 million for licence plate No 1, after fierce bidding.

Similarly, No 5 cost its buyer Talal Al Khoury Dh25.2 million in 2007.

Flashback: Distinctive tags

Licence plates in Victoria, Canada, were first issued before 1913. In 1884, a new law was passed — licensing hackney carriages and express wagons.

The distinctive plates included an official seal of the city of Victoria, according to www.porcelainplates.net, baked into the enamel in the top of the plate. According to the site, there are only about 12 of these in existence.

Roberts claims that his plate dates from 1884 - however, according to the Canadian Times Colonist newspaper, other collectors are disputing this.

Ron Garay, national president of the Vintage Car Club of Canada, says Victoria by law No 1313 from 1912 describes the licence plates like the one that Roberts owns, in great detail, the newspaper reported. A historian quoted in the same article states that the No 6 plate looks very similar to 1913 provincial motorcycle plates.