On April 25, 1903, New York became the first state to issue automobile license plates. Don’t let that little bit of trivia mislead you, though: while the first plates were issued 110 years ago today, they weren’t the first required ones. Starting in 1901, Massachusetts required that all vehicles carry identification plates; the difference, however, is that Massachusetts car owners created their own plates, generally with their initials.
The first license plates weren’t the metal ones we’re all familiar with: they were originally porcelain, and weren’t a standard width – the plates grew larger as the numbers on them increased from single digits to triple digits and beyond. In an effort to conserve metal during World War II, Illinois issued plates made of a paper composite. Unfortunately, plates that weren’t eaten by the elements were chewed up by goats (seriously!).
Whether it’s antique license plates or vintage dinner plates, check out Collectibles and Antiques & Rare Items. We’ve got a full plate of Antique Autos & Parts, too, if you’re in the market for a home for that old plate.