Matching Belgians: RTT advertisements from the language divide

RTT matchbox Dutch
RTT matchbox Dutch

I do find the strangest things. It took me a while to understand what these were. It has to do with the peculiarities of the Belgian society. These same peculiarities had their effect on buying it too. Anyhow, I got these because they are a nice RTT advertisements: colourful, and breathing the atmosphere of days long gone.

The spelling and choice of words are nice and archaic: de Telefoon, altijd ter uwen dienste. Kostelooze plaatsing. And in French: le Telephone, toujours a vos orders. Placement gratuity. The telephone, always at your service. Installation free.

But what are these? And why is there a logo of a match manufacturer next to them?

Why buy things like this?

On hold
On hold

I do not just collect telephones, I also buy telephone paraphernalia too. And that is an endless category. I have a mechanical music box about which I blogged before , dial labels with advertisements on them, bakelite trays, a medal, a very nice paper weight indeed  and I even have some furniture like a wall console and a small metal cabinet which used to house service manuals and other documentation for a PTT exchange in the 1960s. And of course I have many more objects; there is no end to the telephone related objects you can find. But I do not hunt down every little thing, but when I see something nice or interesting I buy it. I buy these things mostly for decoration. Either to decorate my telephone room, or documents, pictures, adverts etc. to use on my website.

I keep running into RTT related stuff

RTT 56 Copper
RTT 56 Copper

I try to stick to phones from the Netherlands and red telephones from all over the world. Of course it is tempting to buy other interesting stuff. That said, I try to avoid RTT phones. Like I try to avoid Deutsche Post phones. But Belgium is next to the Netherland and RTT-phones turn up here every now and then.  And RTT chose, unlike the Deutsche Post, not to destroy their surplus materiel but sold it. So now Belgian phones are everywhere and available in great numbers. As I buy a box of phones every once in a while I keep getting kettle phones and ATEA 600s and parts for them. And I get many questions about them too by people owning one and of course people keep asking me to restore their Belgian telephone. So I might as well write something about them on my website. And colourful illustrations are welcome additions, of course.

Is it België? Or la Belgique? Belgian peculiarities

RTT Logo

Belgium is an extraordinary country, devided in language areas. The 2 biggest parts, Flanders and Wallonia make up the majority of the country. These language areas are strictly separated and addressing somebody in Wallonia in Flemish or vice versa may result in being ingnored, at best. The so called language struggle has been going on throughout the history of Belgium. Because of this constant battle everything needs to be bilingual. So, in the case of telephony the acronym RTT was chosen because it means exactly the same in Dutch (Flemish) and French, in the same order: Régié des Télégraphes et des Téléphones and Regie voor Telegraaf en Telefoon. On Belgian phones the terminal for the ringer has the letter S, where it has the letter W in the Netherland. S on Belgian telephones stands for schel and sonorie. So everything in the one language, has to have a counterpart in the other. Otherwise there will be trouble.

Matching adverts

RTT matchbox French
RTT matchbox French

So, there they are, two matching adverts. One in Dutch (Flanders) and of course there is another one in French (Wallonia). I found the Dutch one first. When I saw it, I had to have it. So I bought it. Contact with the seller was a bit troublesome. He did not use common courtesies like starting a message with an greeting and the wording of his messages were blunt at best. I wasn’t sure what it was, the seller having described it simply as “label; de telefoon union match”. Only when I received it, I realised it was an advert on a match box label. I had never seen that before. And by now it dawned on me the seller did not speak (or write) any Dutch at all and used some kind of automatic translator. I guessed there would also be a French version of the advert and wondered if I would ever find one, when I noticed the same seller indeed had one in French.

RTT matchbox Dutch
RTT matchbox Dutch

Sigh, if only he had taken the initiative to point that out to me. Please mind that in the signature of my emails there is a reference to my website and a statement that I collect telephones. This often triggers people to tell me about other telephone related items they have for sale. But that was a little bit too much to expect this time. Oh well, let’s put that down to that infamous Belgian language divide.

I’m happy to have found these two nice and colourful adverts. So please enjoy them.

And please leave a comment if you like them…..or not. In any language. 😉

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Это очень интересно. Я тоже собираю телефоны и все что имеет отношение к телефонам. Очень интересно находить старые документы, описание, схемы. Бывает попадаются даже упаковки (коробки) от телефонных аппаратов. В СССР рекламы было очень мало и все было засекречено. Даже книги и учебники издавались в специальных военных издательствах. Нет никаких каталогов или фотографий.

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