RCB stands for the Repertorium van de Belgische Handelscatalogi (Directory of Belgian Trade Catalogues). It is an online aid to trace trade catalogues published in Belgium before c. 1950, in public collections.The RCB has search entries via title, company name, town, period, year of publication, RCB code and keyword.
Trade catalogues can provide information about both the producer and the seller or the products. As far as products are concerned, you can find advertisements about anything: tools and machinery, household goods, clothing, church furnishings, food etc. Apart from the name of the item advertised you will often also find a picture of it, as well as details (measurements, weight, materials), its price, and so on.
The trade catalogues are therefore essential historical sources. The problem is that comparatively few have been preserved and this makes it difficult to consult them. To help you do this the MOT offers free access to the RCB via our website www.mot.be.
The museum library of the MOT in Grimbergen contains more than 9.300 trade catalogues, making it probably the largest public collection in Belgium. You will find all practical information on consulting our library in the regulations for visitors. We are continually updating our collection. Gifts of old publicity material are always welcome.
In 2008, with the support of the Flemish Community, the MOT was able to start putting the RCB on line and so open up the Belgian Trade Catalogues from our own collection. But we hope eventually to expand the list with titles from other public collections.
Do you know of any Belgian trade catalogues from before c. 1950 in public collections? If so, please let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org . We can then add them to the RCB directory. With your help we hope we can trace and include all catalogues surviving in public collections.