Vintage Trailer Supply

Wally Byam's Caravan Etched Plate (1951 to 1962)

Vintage Trailer Supply

Wally Byam's Caravan Etched Plate (1951 to 1962)

Product Code: VTS-815


Back in the early 1950s, Airstream founder Wally Byam personally led caravans of Airstreamers all over the world.

Some time around 1951 or 1952, some Airstreams participating in Wally's caravans started bearing a plaque above the front window that said "Wally Byam's Caravan." Originally the plaque was oval, but just a few years later (no later than 1954) the rectangular plaque pictured above became the official plaque of Airstreamers going on caravans sponsored by Wally.

In 1955, the first Wally Byam Caravan Club was founded. At that time, a requirement was instituted that all club members, whether or not they were participating in caravans, must display this "standard plaque" above the front window and preferably above both the front and back windows. The plaques were furnished to each club member without charge. In 1962, the club changed its name to WBCCI and this plaque disappeared from usage.

Originally, the rectangular plates were made of etched aluminum with a red background, just like our reproduction. It is believed there were also some blue aluminum plaques that may have been anodized or painted without etching. We have yet to see an example of the blue aluminum plates, but we suspect this because of anecdotal reports and the existence of bare rectangular plates that were not etched. By around 1960, the club had stopped issuing the aluminum plaques and was instead issuing similar aluminum foil decals in red or blue (we are unsure of why there were two colors).

The original etched plates are extremely rare but we were able to borrow one just long enough to make an exact reproduction of the plaque. We were also able to color match the original red from unfaded areas under several of the rivet heads.

According to the instructions distributed with the plates in the late 1950s, "...directly over the front and rear window will be the Wally Byam Caravan plaque. Directly over the plaque will be the number. Directly above the number will be the Caravan Club decal."

Originally, some plates were riveted on the trailers and some were attached with double-sided tape. Our reproductions come without rivet holes.

Plates are approximately 8-1/2" wide and 3-3/4" high.