The License Plate


License Plate also referred to as a Vehicle registration plate was first issued in France back in 1893. In 1901 the State of New York mandated the issue of license plates and Massachusetts followed in 1903. In the beginning, license plates were made of leather, steel, porcelain, copper (Arizona), acrylic (mostly in the United Kingdom), and finally, Aluminum which was later laminated with a 3M retro-reflective sheeting for safety enhancements. Soybean material license plates were issued during World War 2 to save metal for the war effort. Unfortunately, the soybean license plates were not durable and few remain today. In the United Kingdom, a license plate is referred to as a number plate. States like California and the Principality of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates are have launched digital license plates which are same as having an iPad or a Tablet replacing the traditional license plate. These new electronic license plates are expensive and can be hacked with a maintenance fee which can run US $10/month. Car owners are reluctant to adopt this new digital license plate because of government tracking and the “Big Brother” syndrome. The UK is the only country where the front license plate are reflective white and the rear license plate reflective yellow.

UK White

UK front reflective white license plate


UK Yellow

UK rear reflective yellow license plate


Leather Iowa

Leather license plate issued in Iowa

Porcealin Conn

Porcelain license plates issued in Connecticut

Copper AZ

Arizona copper license plate (most were smelted when copper prices were high)


1944 Illinois soybean material license plate

In most countries of the world, license plates are issued in pairs. In the United States, there are 19 states which require only a rear official license plate. These states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia. In these states and also in Canadian provinces like Alberta and Quebec requiring one license plate in the rear, car owners may install a custom, personalized, vanity or novelty license plate. These license plates can range from a company logo license plate or a custom creation.

Here are some examples:

Rivers Nautical Army Coke
The design selected by car owners for vanity or customized license plates are endless and our e-commerce website has created and manufactured the most exotic designs for customers.

For most classic car collectors, the only license plates which are selected are year of manufacture versions. These are license plates which, when made by are virtually identical to the originals. These plates are embossed (stamped or pressed) with raised letters, numbers, symbols and borders. These vanity license plates are installed for car shows, classic car auctions and classic cars exhibits in museums. The license plate which are Year of Manufacture (YOM) creations are made with virtually identical letter and number fonts, colors (hues) and layouts when compared to originals. Most of the license plates issued before 1963 were steel and few survived the ravages of salted roads during the winter months or the salt of the oceans. Also, most steel license plates were smelted during World War 2 so few survived today. Automobile enthusiasts are now able to order YOM license plates from e-commerce stores like for accuracy and quality in authentic look reproductions.

A license plate can be officially issued by a government authority or be purchased for vanity or novelty. The YOM license plate is becoming more popular as more cars are deemed classics (25 -30 years old based on individual states). As the children and grandchildren inherit classic cars and trucks, these individuals see their hobby also as an investment which goes up in value as the motor vehicle age. There is a new generation seeking a vanity license plates which is now termed as a year of manufacture license plate.

Here are some examples of YOM license plates:

al il la


Consultant for over 30 years to museums, Hollywood movies and classic car collectors. I manufacture Year of Manufacture (YOM) license plates for the United States, Europe and the rest of the world. I have engineered a library of license plates colors/hues and fonts for (YOM) license plates.