New Czech Stamps on Historical Vehicles

Czech Republic has issued a set of two stamps featuring historical vehicles – Z4 Passenger Car, Zbrojovka Brno and Passenger Paddle Steamer František Josef I.

\"czechZ4 Passenger Car. The Z4 automobile, from the manufacturer Zbrojovka Brno, was made in 1936. It had a two-stroke water-cooled four-cylinder engine with a volume of 980 cc with an output of 25 hp, a maximum speed of 100 km/h and an average petrol consumption of 8 liters per 100 km. The 810 kg convertible had a three-speed transmission and front-wheel drive. It had a ladder-type frame and all wheels were independently suspended by leaf springs and hydraulic lever shock absorbers. Drum brakes were fitted on all wheels. The two-door closed body of the automobile was made of sheet steel attached by screws to a wooden frame. The floor of the Z4 was made of wooden planks as well. The spare wheel was located on a huge mount behind the automobile and the trunk had access from inside, after the rear seat backrest was removed.

The Z4 automobile was first introduced in April 1933 at the Prague Motor Show. The automobile, with its front-wheel drive, soon became a popular model. It also had successes in racing – in 1934 it was the winner of the 1000 mile race between the Czechoslovak cities of Prague, Brno and Bratislava, with an average speed of 92 km/h. The automobile also had social achievements. In Prague, there was a Z-club for owners of the Z’s; one of its members was the famous comedian and actor, Vlasta Burian.

(the yellow car in the picture is the automobile from Vlasta Burian’s collection that has survived to the present day).

František Josef I. The largest and most prominent of the six paddle steamboats built in Prague was the passenger (saloon) steamboat, the Franz Joseph I. A new acquisition, the third large-scale ship of the Prague Steamboat Company (PPS), was inspired by a notable increase in the interest of passengers on the Prague–Zbraslav–Štěchovice line after 1880 (particularly in the extremely successful year of 1884). In mid-1886, there was a competition which was entered by several shipbuilding companies: The First Bohemian-Moravian machine factory, the KETTE D.E.G. shipyard from Dresden and the Prague Joint Stock Engineering Company, the former “Rustonka”. The Prague company eventually won the competition and delivered a modern steamboat with a full capacity of 800 people for 55,000 guldens. The large capacity required of the paddle steamboat led the shipyard to come up with a new design. The steamboat, with regard to the turning basin of the Vltava river in Prague at that time, could not be too long, but at the same time it had to have a low draft (0.72 meters). It was therefore necessary to increase the displacement of the ship using a fairly full bow. However, that required more powerful machinery. Therefore, the steamboat got, for the first time in the history of the Vltava–Elbe passenger transportation, a horizontal steam engine with an output of 120 horsepower.

In addition to the richly furnished lounges with wallpaper and blinds, it also had a small upper deck accessible to passengers in the space between the paddle wheels. That was much earlier than with the ships of the Dresden steam navigation company, whose steamboat with the upper deck called the “Oberdeckdampfer” (Upper-deck steamboat) sailed up the river in 1896, a full nine years later. Interestingly, despite the use of the upper deck, the steamboat did not have a steering system on the bridge; its directional control, the same as with other Prague paddle steamboat, was a manual helm from the stern.

The newly built steamboat was initially deployed on the route from Prague to Zbraslav, which was then the most crowded line of PPS. Hundreds of people from Prague used the steamboats for trips to Chuchle (then far from Prague), Modřany and to the summer resort Zbraslav. For example, in 1889, the paddle steamboat performed 136 trips to Zbraslav, 86 to Štechovice and 65 to Davle. The steamboat was also used for sightseeing tours with prominent guests, such as the one on 10 June 1920, in which the first Czechoslovak president, T.G. Masaryk participated.

The steamboat sunk under tragic circumstances, but was raised up and repaired. After 1918, it also changed its name twice to Zbraslav (in 1918) and Praha (in 1929).

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