License Plates

Hawaii

Hawaii License Plates

In 1922, several counties in the Territory of Hawaii consolidated the issue of license plates. The counties of Hawaii and Honolulu issued license plates annually from 1915 to 1921. Motor vehicle laws were written in Hawaii as far back as 1903, and in 1911, the laws allowed homemade license plates. Examples of the Hawaii homemade license plates are scarce and few have been seen in public displays except for a wooden Kauai license plate. The 1915 and 1916 Hawaii license plates ( Hawaii and Honolulu counties) were made of porcelain. The 1917 plates were embossed steel with expiration tags shaped like swordfish, automobiles and surf rider).

The slogan ALOHA was stamped (embossed) on Hawaii license plates from 1957 to 1960.  Hawaii became an official state of the United States in 1959 , so in 1961, the slogan changed to ALOHA STATE through 2011. The first graphics on Hawaii license plates were embossed or stamped on the plate in a special font of the territory’s name laid out vertically. The look was a south Pacific font.

Hawaii first introduced reflective white ink on embossed plate in 1957through 1961.  Retro-reflective yellow foil was first used in 1969 for the manufacture of Hawaii license plates.  The 1976 Hawaii license plate was the first to have print on retro-reflective foil. The graphic consisted of a red anthurium on the upper left and a pale red image of a Hawaiian warrior, palm trees and Diamond Head lightly screened on background of license plate number.  The 1981 Hawaii license plate was reflective white with the face of a Hawaiian warrior in orange.  HAWAII (top center), ALOHA STATE (bottom center) and embossed number in brown.

Hawaii license plates were made famous in the TV show Hawaii Five-0 in 1968 through 1980. The license plate number was BOOK EM (black on reflective yellow).  Later, the TV show Magnum P.I. (1980 to 1988) featured the warrior Aloha State license plate with the number ROBIN 1 on red Ferrari 308 GTS.