From the Collection of William E. Grigg
(member Wheelmen & ALPCA)
Years of issue shown: 1897, 1899,1902,1907,1937
Years of issue shown: 1901, 1913, 1935, 1944, 1976, 1981
On March 25, 1897 the City of St. Louis Municipal Assembly adopted ordinance 18858 modifying ordinance 17185 passed April 7, 1893.
In part the new ordinance read: “There shall be annually levied and collected a license tax upon all kinds of vehicles, including bicycles, tricycles and velocipedes, used in the streets or public ways of the city for trade, traffic, pleasure or any other purpose.”
The license fee was one dollar per bicycle, tricycle or velocipede payable annually prior to April 1 of each year except 1897, the year the Ordinance was adopted.
Children under the age of 12 were exempted from the licensing requirement as were non-residents of the city.
The new Ordinance was reported in the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper on April 25, 1897 in a lengthy article titled Must Pay A Dollar Tax. Included in the article was a hand drawing of the metal license bearing the letters BTP representing Bicycle Tax Paid. This license is shown in the accompanying pictures. With many cyclists riding in St. Louis it was estimated that $25,000 would be added to municipal revenue.
The Ordinance created the position License Commissioner with four deputies to enforce the licensing requirement including issuance of a paper license receipt and the metal tag. The tag was to be displayed clearly on the bicycle stem just below handlebar. The first five licenses were issued to the Mayor, Uncle Henry Ziegenhein and his family.
A follow-up article appearing in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on August 12, 1897 titled Bicycle Riders reported that 19,041 licenses had been issued and the enforcement efforts would cease with 1,320 arrests for non-compliance issued that day resulting in licenses being issued.
Licenses were issued each year through the 1980s and possibly later. The design of the license varied each year as shown in the pictures with the standard metal format beginning in 1937, also shown. During World War II the licenses issued in 1943, 1944 and 1945 were made of a compressed non-metal fiber material.
For the collector the most challenging years to find are the decade beginning in 1910 as well as the licenses issued in the 1950s, 1960s and 1980s.