Banbury man’s most taxing collection

Harry Matthews, car tax disc collector, from Banbury. NNL-180210-125235009
Harry Matthews, car tax disc collector, from Banbury. NNL-180210-125235009

A Banbury man’s chance discovery inside a used car has led to a 50-year obsession with a document most of us would have thrown away.

Harry Mathews is well known in the world of velologists, the official name given to tax disc collectors, scouring the internet on a daily basis to add to his large collection.

Harry, 72, said: “I bought a car when I was 18 years old and it had about 12 tax discs one behind the other in the windscreen.

“I used to collect stamps and I thought I’d collect them. From those 12 I now have about 20,000.”

Harry has almost every tax disc since there creation in 1921, stored in a dozen or more folders each one dedicated to a year with a disc for every month of that year.

The more you learn about the world of velology the more fascinating it is as rare and nuanced discs are desired. Despite his collection’s size Harry still has a number of these rare discs he hasn’t hunted down.

He said: “Some of the small islands outside of Scotland have their own tax post offices and I need to collect them from those post offices.”

Among Harry’s more interesting discs are one from comedian Jimmy Tarbuck’s car featuring his iconic COMIC number plate; several from far-off nations and even certificates pre dating tax discs.

Harry said: “There is one for a motorbike for a pound dated 1917 and a tax disc for a horse drawn carriage from 1877 for two guineas for one carriage with four or more wheels.”

After 54 years of collecting Harry has no desire to stop.

“I go on eBay every day and if I see one I haven’t got then I buy it.”