State law drove another change in Washington’s plates. The 1919 plates were manufactured with six slots surrounding the state name, date, and vehicle class, with the intention of using a tab to renew the plates in future years. As registration volumes continued to increase, the process of issuing plates centrally from Olympia became too costly and inefficient, and in 1935 Washington adopted the practice used in many other states and implemented a county code system. It was pointed out that the old plan of issuing number plates whenever a license application was made did not require purchasing more plates than could actually be sold.”. The prison plate shop would not reopen until the production of the 1958 plates began. Only the number was furnished; the owner was responsible for displaying it. You will receive the actual plate pictured. This was the first instance of a design used for many years, and still present on Washington’s plates today. The first full calendar year licenses were white on brown, and once again made by the Irwin Hodson company in the same format as the gray 1921s. A second 1921-dated plate was issued for the remainder of the year, expiring December 31, 1921. Washington State License Plates Barbara Jo Birt offers a brief history and photos of old plates from the Evergreen State. Outcry over the “Wash” abbreviation was widespread enough that in 1965 the state legislature passed a law stating: “Vehicle license number plates issued by the state of Washington commencing with the next general issuance of such plates shall be so designed as to designate the name of the state of Washington in full without abbreviation.”. Green and white once again became the dominant colors, with the only other major changes being a yearly switch in the location of the state name and year from bottom to top and back. Washington State Patrol License Plate used during 1976. I kinda like the patina. This page is still under construction at times. Please do not reproduce without permission. (B) Expiration February 28, 1921 (C) Valid between March 1, 2021 and December 31, 1921. On September 14, just five days after the fire, a contract was signed with the Screw Machine company of Portland, OR, which at the time was also making plates for Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, and other jurisdictions. The Big Three counties (King, Pierce, Spokane) received letters A, B, and C, respectively, with the alphabet progressing through the remaining counties. Common methods used metal house numbers mounted to leather or cardboard, but some licenses were custom-made out of metal, or sometimes merely painted directly on the vehicle. As explained in the Seattle Times, “In the working out of the law, it was reported to the appropriations committee, the state is losing about $25,000 during a biennial period. Vehicle owners submitted licensing applications to their county auditor and received county-issued paper or cardboard temporary licenses pending their plates’ arrival from Olympia. New, narrower number dies also debuted in order to facilitate six-digit registration numbers. This system would remain in use through 1935. After the jubilation of 50 years of statehood subsided, the 1940 issue kicked off more than a decade of fairly standardized designs. In 1946, however, the state reverted back to a windshield sticker in lieu of plates, so no passenger plates were issued this year. With metal production being diverted to the war effort, none was available for license plates. A license … Washington’s first laws regulating automobiles were effective June 7, 1905, and required that all motor vehicles be registered with the Secretary of State’s office, at which time the motorist would be assigned a registration number to be displayed on the rear of the vehicle, preceded by the abbreviation “WN.”. A limited number of non-passenger plates, for example trailers, were made as well. All of the license plates and related ephemera pictured are from the collection of the author, unless otherwise noted. Personalize your license plate or get a plate with a special background design. The “Centennial Celebration” slogan was in place two years before and after the 1989 centennial: in 1991, it was removed, but the design was otherwise unchanged. All of the renewal tabs had to be made prior to the start of the licensing year, which meant producing matching sets of tabs for every single number issued in 1919, since there was no way to identify which licenses wouldn’t be renewed due to sale of the vehicle, moving out of state, etc. 1930's - 1940's (A) New registrations only. Paint quality was also a struggle for the Pacific Coast Stamp Works during its multi-year run as license plate supplier, with 1917 being the low point. Starting in 1956, all license plates in the United States and Canada were standardized to a common size (6″ x 12,” the dimensions still in use today), based on a agreement reached between motor vehicle administrators. After 83 years of state-issued license plates, Washington for the first time displayed the state motto, Evergreen State, on its plates. This cost-savings effort was doomed to failure from the start, and the plates had already proved unpopular before the end of the 1919 licensing year, with a Seattle Times editorial deriding the 1919 plates as a “cheap yellow form of construction that has aroused the resentment of every automobile owner who displays it.”. Plates are currently provided by the Driver & Motor Vehicle Services branch of the Oregon Department of Transportation. Both these plates issued only to new registrants. Washington License Plates. The state of Washington officially got into the business of issuing license plates when the new auto law was passed in January 1915, effective June 10. In fact, the 1963 plates, and all others issued thereafter, remained in use through 2000. As supply constraints prevented adequate stocks to be issued to each county, a non-county coded plate was produced that could be shipped to counties as needed. These Oregon-sourced plates differed from the pre-fire plates in size, metal (aluminum vs steel), and dies. Tweaking odometer readings. Visit An Office, Bring Your Application, Plates, Title and Payment. 1954 motorcycle plates were slightly larger and used different dies. Three varieties of license plates were used for the 1920 licensing year. Official state license plates were issued for the first time in 1916. With the adoption of staggered registrations, a month sticker was added and validity was determined from the date of original registration. Validated for 1956 and 1957 in the same manner as for 1954–55 plates. AAA0000 to AZZ9999), so any variety on Washington bumpers will have to come from the growing number of optional graphics. Formats for license plate numbers may be consistent within the state. The 1968 base was issued until 1982, but had several minor design evolutions, the most notable being a change to smaller, crisper dies on the state name in 1978. license plate type: … Follow this Link to our Project Samples Gallery. The 1998 design, which ironically contains no green whatsoever, was a mild rework of the original Centennial plates. Washington, D.C. See District of Columbia, above. Check out our viewer for Washington State Plates. The state of Washington officially got into the business of issuing license plates when the new auto law was passed in January 1915, effective June 10. 1941 would be the last year an embossed, painted border was used on passenger plates. The 1916 issue was quite large (6 1/4″ tall and 16 1/2″ wide), and non-passenger types such as trucks or for hire vehicles had an additional 1 ¼” of height added, as the vehicle class was spelled out in large letters at the top. Commemorated Washington's 50 years of statehood. For 1958 through 1962, all regular motorcycle license plates carried the "MO" prefix followed by one to four digits (no leading … The original plan for ’54 plates was to issue them as singles, for cost-saving reasons, made of steel and in the same format as the 1950 plates, with a reversed color scheme. 1936 was the only year a split date was used with a centered state name. Exempt license plates. All images are items from my collection or scanned images of historic photos I own, unless noted otherwise. The department shall offer to owners the option of retaining the current license plate number when obtaining replacement license plates for the fee required in … When the new law went into effect June 10, 1915, the handmade license plates on all vehicles in the state expired. Embossed green serial on unpainted aluminum plate; "WASHINGTON 1949" at top, Embossed green serial on white plate; "WASHINGTON 50" at bottom. Washington used this method in 1947. All types of vehicles, regardless of class (car, motorcycle, truck, government-owned, for hire, etc.) Click Here for our Washington State Plate Gallery. The state created a design contest for the new plate. A Brief History of Washington State License Plates 1905. Representative Hubbell explained that this is one of several bills to make auto laws confirm with laws of adjacent states.”. “Some nice old lady holding a state office has picked lavender,” was a snarky comment in the Lynden Tribune. Plates from 1916 through 1920 were issued on a March-to-March basis. These narrower dies also allowed the use of seven-character personalized plates for the first time. Go. The winner was Eric Booth, a high school senior in Bellingham, beating out more than 2,000 other designs. For 1919, the state began an experiment with multi-year plates, modeled after the practice used by California. 1938 was the only year where the date preceded the state name, until the 1954 base was introduced. These plates were plagued by weak paint on the numbers. Have any that need a new home? Aside from 1928, which had one of the boldest color years, colors alternated between green and white. These plates were only issued to new registrations; the 1963 plates were not replaced and continued to be revalidated by year stickers. In an attempt to offer the broadest range of history sources for learning about pre-state license plates, we recently ran an internet search using a popular search engine with the search terms “pre state license plates history”; this resulted in over two million hits. Front and rear plates are required on all vehicles except for motorcycles. Shown below are photographs of Washington passenger-car license plates representing each year of issue, beginning with the first official state issue (from 1915, expiring February 29, 1916), and continuing through 2008. This method saved money and materials, and offered a numbering format that allowed for a greater combination of numbers to be issued. Naturally, car dealers want you to believe that the mileage is less than it really is. For over a decade, the Old license Farm has a developed a well-established reputation with collector/vintage car enthusiasts throughout the State of Washington. “At night headlights reflecting on the plate practically obliterate the numerals, the unpainted aluminum having the same characteristics as a mirror held to catch the sun’s rays,” complained the Spokane Safety Commissioner after the plates had been on the road only two weeks. Please contact me! These could be seen on buses that transported troops and other similarly used vehicles. Revalidated through February 29, 1920 with white porcelain tabs. Luckily, online VIN and license plate … Bjorn Larsen P.O. The state name briefly reverted back to the old design in 1980. AN for Asotin, SJ for San Juan). With the addition of the full state name, plates became larger, while still maintaining the letter-coding system to denote vehicle class, and a hyphen was added to registration numbers to enhance legibility. This is probably the most sought after Washington State plate by collectors. As a cost-savings measure, the original plan was for these to display the state name in full, followed by an embossed “63” to denote the first year of expiration, with adhesive year stickers used to renew for future years. 1923 Washington State License Plates . One common quirk of this situation is the inconsistencies in number layout, hyphenation, and spacing between the first batches of Oregon-made plates and the second batches of front plates. Eventually it will be an illustrated presentation of the many interesting aspects of the history of Washington state license plates. 1962 Vintage Washington Dealer License Plate 0494 A “Pre-owned used condition. There was enough metal supply to manufacture plates (in singles, not pairs) for new registrations. The format was largely unchanged for 1918, although a more legible white on black color scheme was used. License plates from this era, before state-issued plates, are known as prestates. The U.S. state of Washington first required its residents to register their motor vehicles in 1905. The plate colors changed through the years, see Washington Passenger License Plate Colors. Revalidated for 1946 with windshield stickers. Another development was the introduction of a staggered registration system in 1977. Existing registrations had a ’51 tab issued to renew the 1950 plates, but as supplies ran out, dated 1951 plates were issued. Standard plate issuance resumed for 1945, with the 1942 plates finally coming off bumpers after three years in use. Immediately after 1947 plates began appearing on the road, numerous complaints poured in about the bright reflection they generated. Single series of all-numeric serials used for all classes of vehicles, including trucks, vehicles for hire and dealer vehicles. The vehicle class code system (“X” for passenger, “T” for Truck) that had been in place since 1917 was finally abandoned in 1936. Embossed white serial on green plate; "54 WASHINGTON" at bottom, Revalidated for 1955 with silver tabs, for 1956 with white tabs, and for, As above, but to 6" x 12" size, and with narrower dies and border line. Transfer plates to another vehicle. Embossed white serial on black plate with border line; "WN" at left and vertical "X18" at right, Embossed black serial on yellow plate with border line; "WN X-19" at left. The location of the name and date would migrate between top and bottom over the next decade and a half. With in-state production impossible until the mill was rebuilt, the state launched a frantic search for an alternate supplier. King County registrations had become so large that the system could no longer be adapted to accommodate the necessary amount of letter combinations. In the instances where the original prison-made plates had been issued, this also resulted in completely mismatched sets of plates, where one car would have had a steel, Washington-made plate on the rear and an aluminum, Oregon-made plate on the front. Remove or invalidate the month and year tabs, bend the plates so they can't be used on a vehicle, and recycle them so they can't be confused with a valid Washington license plate. With windshield stickers used for renewing 1942 plates, metal plates for 1944 are scarce. Below is an overview of Washington’s license plate history that I’ve compiled and illustrated with examples from my collection. These plates looked quite different from the regular issues: they were smaller (made from leftover blanks of 1952 Hawaii plates) and used the same blocky dies as Oregon plates. 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