New York state was the first state in America that required the new-fangled horseless carriage to carry a license plate, back in 1901. The vehicle owner was responsible for making his or her own plate, and usually just put their initials on it. The earliest ones were made out of tooled leather or stamped tin.
Two years later the state of Massachusetts began issuing numbered license plates for all vehicles, in 1903. And the very first plate issued, to a state highway commissioner named Frederick Tudor, had just the number “1” stamped on the metal plate. That was pretty distinctive, and certainly the first ‘vanity plate’ ever issued for a motor vehicle in the United States. The Tudor family still has their private number plates, which are still registered in Massachusetts.
Thus began the personalized plate war that has engulfed motorists throughout the land now for over a hundred years. There’s nothing quite as distinctive and classy as a personalized plate on a car or truck — even if the vehicle is slightly used and carries a few bumps and dings! Every state in the Union now allows for vanity plates or personalized plates, reserving the right to reject any that are considered too offensive or give a false impression of the driver — such as “Doctor” on the plate of a convenience store clerk’s car. Fees for personalized plates range from twenty to two-hundred dollars, depending on the state. In most states it is a one time fee, not an annual one.
If you’re looking for ideas on a cool message for your personalized plate, here are the favorite ones being put on plates in 2020.
Your name, or nickname
If you have an unusual name, such as Axel or Sadie, that is enough to draw attention to your plates. But common names like Bob or Shelly need some fixing up. One way to do that is to use your nickname, if it’s not too long or too obscene.
How about advertising your hobby or interests?
“Cat Owner” or “Bird Watcher” can create a lot of interest and lead to some new relationships, if you’re open to that.
Brag about your Ph.D on your personalized plate. Attorney. MD. CPA. You can even mix things up a bit by bragging about blue collar work, such as “Warehouse Worker” or “Grocery Clerk.” In today’s Pandemic world, such people are considered heroes.
That special date
Birthdays. Anniversaries. Whatever date is meaningful to you, have it put on your plate. It’s a great conversation starter.