South Dakota

South Dakota License Plates

South Dakota issued its first license plate in 1914.  None of the state issued South Dakota license plates were made of porcelain.  Except for the years 1913, 1914 and 1915, all south Dakota license plates were dated.

The first slogan on South Dakota license plates was: RUSHMORE MEMORIAL which was embossed on the bottom of the 1939 license plate.  In 1987, the dates 1889-1989 were added to commemorate the state’s centennial in 1989.  A decal with the slogan CELEBRATE THE CENTURY was available to be placed on the upper edge of license plate.  The 1991 plates had the slogan GREAT FACES, GREAT PLACES at the lower right and this base was used through 2011.

The first graphics on South Dakota license plates was the illustration of Mount Rushmore and this basic design of mount Rushmore is still in use in 2011.  The 1976 South Dakota license plate celebrated the nation’s bicentennial with red, white and blue colors.  The stars was replaced by the Mount Rushmore art and there were three red stripes to the right of the Mount Rushmore art.  The license plate number was embossed and painted in red.  On the bottom of the plate the caption: 19 South Dakota 76 was screened on.

For a low population state, South Dakota has an interesting selection of unique license plates.  From the screen print of mount Rushmore to the colors which includes: White, Red, Black, Brown, Dark Tan, Olive Green, Cream, Green, Dark Blue, Gray, Tan, Silver, Light Blue-Green, Dark Red, Light Green, Yellow, Blue, Aluminum, Orange, Cream, Maroon and Reflective White.  South Dakota was a pioneer adopting Retro-Reflective sheeting for its license plates.  The year was 1957.  That is just one year after Minnesota adopted reflective white sheeting –invented by 3M in St Paul, Minnesota.  Large states like New York, California, and Florida adopted retro-reflective sheeting for license plates many years later.


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Jan L - Johnson City, NY

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David -

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