I was asked recently how to tell a genuine, used Yemen 1986 series plate from one of the hundreds of sample plates that came straight out of the factory in Germany.
I was told by a collector that in 1987 Hoffmann sold their business to Utsch and the manufacture of Yemen plates moved to the Utsch factory. The collector in question was in Siegen and managed to get about 200 unused plates from the Hoffmann factory after the transfer.
There are maybe 200 unused Yemen plates in collections (he traded nearly all of them) and maybe 10 genuine used plates in collections.
The big problem with these Hoffmann unused plates is that about 50 or 60 of them have impossible numbers as they were test plates or test designs and not surplus stock that could have gone to Yemen.
There are 5 kinds of plate: blue private vehicle plates, orange bus plates, red commercial vehicle plates, white tax free vehicle plates and yellow taxi plates. For the genuine plates, private vehicles were: first series up to 5 numerals only, the second series the letter B ب and up to five numerals and the third series (in Sana’a only) J ج and up to five numerals. Commercial plates only ever had the first two series, and that only in the big governorates, buses and taxis only got above four digits in Sana’a and tax free plates never got above four digits.
There is no problem with the Hoffmann plates that have correct type registrations but there are 50 or 60 out there that have impossible registrations and people believe they are genuine, used plates sadly.
The way to tell if it is a genuine used plate is from the holes in the plate. Genuine plates were always riveted on to the vehicle and have a very unique hole pattern. The Hoffmann plates originally had no holes but many collectors have put holes in them and the hole pattern is wrong.
Genuine Yemen plates NEVER had no holes (they did not use plate frames). They were ALWAYS riveted on without frames by the police.
I will not put a picture here of the correct hole pattern for a genuine plate as I do not want crooked collectors/dealers trying to fake Hoffmann rejects into genuine plates. Sorry, but if you want to know if your plate is genuine used, just ask me.
All these in this picture have impossible registrations or the design is wrong in some way.