Gilded copper Amsterdam ‘bodebus’.
A bodebus was a distinctive sign carried by messengers who were employed by government bodies as provinces, municipalities and water boards (bodies charged with managing water barriers, waterways, water levels, water quality and sewage treatment in their respective regions).
This bodebus is connected with three chains to a small oval plaque on which a koggeschip (cargo ship) is depicted. The bus itself consists of two standing lions with an Imperial Crown: between the lions we find the Amsterdam coat of arms behind a round piece of glass: a red shield with a black belt with three white St Andrew's crosses. One of the two buckles carries the mark IHS.
In the standard work on the bodebus "de bodebus in de Lage Landen" by M. Achterberg (1980-1985 edition) only one identical bus can be found, without mentioning its present owner. Achterberg dates that bodebus as early 18th century. There is no further similar Amsterdam bodebus to be found in literature or museums. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam owns one bodebus; this one, however, dates from the 16th century and is in silver.
The history of the bodebus goes back to the Middle Ages. A bode (messengers), who had to convey messages, kept his documents in a bus attached to his belt. Later, a shield to those bodebus was added with the arms of the body which they represented. The bodebus changed during time from a real bus to an (often richly decorated) insignia worn by the messenger on his coat. The bodebus gave the messenger several privileges such as free use of transportation (coach or ship) or stay in an inn.
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