Vehicle registration plates of the United States for 1901

Vehicle registration plates of the United States by year
Vehicle registration plates of the United States for 1900 Events of 1901 Vehicle registration plates of the United States for 1902

At this early point in the history of license plates in the United States of America, none of the 45 states, territories, or the District of Columbia, was issuing its own plates.[1][2][3][4] In this year New York became the first state to require vehicle owners to register their vehicles. The owners of these early New York vehicles had to provide their own license plates with only their initials on them. Plates were often made of metal letters on a thick leather background or on a steel base. This system of using the owners initials lasted until 1903 when a change to using a number provided by the state began.[5]

While New York may have been the first state to require license plates for their vehicles, there were already cities that required plates. The city of Chicago passed an ordinance in 1899 that required their owners to pass a health test, an oral test, demonstrate their capability to operate the type of vehicle they owned, such as gasoline, steam, or electric, and mandated that the owners place a registration number issued by the city on the back of their vehicle. While this Chicago ordinance took effect in 1899, the first tests were not held until February 17, 1900.[6][7]

Passenger baseplatesEdit

In the table below, a light green background indicates that the owner of the vehicle was required to provide their own license plates. These plates are called "prestate" by most collectors. In the prestate era many states only provided the license plate number on a small disc or on paper, and the owner was required to have their license plate(s) made. These early license plates were created from kits that could be purchased at a hardware store, may have been available from automobile clubs or associations, they were forged by blacksmiths or other tradesmen, or the owner may have made their own plate with whatever materials they had on hand. Prestate plates were made from a variety of materials, but most often were made of leather, steel, or wood. The prestate era officially ended in 1918 when the state of Florida began to officially issue license plates.

Legend: Prestate era plate(s) No plates issued by state or territory
Image State Design Slogan Serial format Serials issued Notes
  Alabama
  Alaska
  American Samoa
  Arizona
  Arkansas
  California
  Colorado
  Connecticut
  Delaware
  District of
Columbia
  Florida
  Georgia
  Guam
  Hawai'i
  Idaho
  Illinois
  Indiana
  Iowa
  Kansas
  Kentucky
  Louisiana
  Maine
  Maryland
  Massachusetts
  Michigan
  Minnesota
  Mississippi
  Missouri
  Montana
  Nebraska
  Nevada
  New Hampshire
  New Jersey
  New Mexico
New York Owner's initials None AB or ABC None Registrations were numbered 1 to 954, but the number did not appear on the license plate.
  North Carolina
  North Dakota
  Northern Mariana
Islands
  Ohio
  Oklahoma
  Oregon
  Pennsylvania
  Puerto Rico
  Rhode Island
  South Carolina
  South Dakota
  Tennessee
  Texas
  Utah
  Vermont
  Virginia
  Washington
  West Virginia
  Wisconsin
  Wyoming

State registrationsEdit

The following chart shows the year each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia began to require license plates (prestate) and when they started to provide license plates. In some cases locations did not issue any prestate plates or no prestate plates are known, and this is indicated by the table cell not having a date. Clicking on a state name or a year in the table will take you to those articles.

First  Year  of  License  Plates
State Prestate year First year State Prestate year First year
Alabama 1911 Montana 1913 1915
Alaska 1921 Nebraska 1905 1915
American Samoa 1924 Nevada 1913 1916
Arizona 1912 1914 New Hampshire 1905
Arkansas 1911 New Jersey 1903 1908
California 1905 1914 New Mexico 1905 1912
Canal Zone 1910 New York 1901 1910
Colorado 1913 North Carolina 1909 1913
Connecticut 1903 1905 North Dakota 1911
Delaware 1905 1908 Northern Mariana Islands 1944
District of Columbia 1903 1907 Ohio 1908
Florida 1905 1918 Oklahoma 1915
Georgia 1910 Oregon 1905 1911
Guam 1916 Pennsylvania 1903 1906
Hawaii 1922 Puerto Rico 1912
Idaho 1913 Rhode Island 1904
Illinois 1907 1911 South Carolina 1917
Indiana 1905 1913 South Dakota 1905 1913
Iowa 1904 1911 Tennessee 1905 1915
Kansas 1913 Texas 1917
Kentucky 1910 U.S. Virgin Islands 1917
Louisiana 1915 Utah 1909 1915
Maine 1905 Vermont 1905
Maryland 1904 1910 Virginia 1906
Massachusetts 1903 Washington 1906 1915
Michigan 1905 1910 West Virginia 1905
Minnesota 1903 1909 Wisconsin 1905
Mississippi 1912 Wyoming 1913
Missouri 1907 1911

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Fox, Jams K. (1997). License Plates of the United States: A Pictorial History 1903-To the Present. Jerico, New York: Interstate Directory Publishing Company. ISBN 9781886777002.
  2. ^ Minard, Jeff; Stentiford, Tim (2004). A Moving History, 50 Years Of ALPCA. 100 Years Of License Plates. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company. p. 58. ISBN 1-56311-975-7.
  3. ^ Crisler, Bob; Crisler, Chuck, eds. (2007). License Plate Values (7th ed.). King Publishing Company.
  4. ^ Martells, Jack (1980). Antique Automotive Collectibles. Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc. pp. 128–145. ISBN 0-8092-7205-9.
  5. ^ Fox, Jams K. (1997). License Plates of the United States: A Pictorial History 1903-To the Present. Jerico, New York: Interstate Directory Publishing Company. p. 75. ISBN 9781886777002.
  6. ^ "To Test Automobile Drivers". Chicago Tribune. February 10, 1900. p. 5.
  7. ^ "Fit To Drive Autocabs". Chicago Tribune. February 18, 1900. p. 6.

External linksEdit