Contraband and smugglers’ objects

Objects used by smugglers, confiscated goods and contraband also form part of our collection. From shoes with false soles to specially made smuggling clothing and fake articles that cannot be distinguished from the real thing. The history of the world of customs, borders, smuggling and inspections delivers many ‘exciting’ items. And behind every object there is a story, like the ‘drug toilet’.

Smuggler’s bicycle

Object: bicycle, smuggling medium

This smuggler’s bicycle dates from the 1930s. Alcohol was smuggled to Belgium in the hollow mudguards. Cigarette rolling papers were brought back in the hollowed-out saddle. At the time, there was a separate tax on rolling papers in the Netherlands.

Smuggler’s coin

Object: one cent coin, smuggling medium

This hollowed-out one cent coin was used to smuggle opium in the Dutch East Indies. The Netherlands had established an opium production monopoly.

Tortoise shell

Object: tortoise shell, contraband

The museum acquired this tortoise shell from the Rotterdam Customs Office. Regarding the import and export of endangered species, the new Dutch Nature Conversation Act (2017) contains provisions for exemptions, certificates, derogations and permits.