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. Cost savings were minimal, and offset by production waste and administrative burdens. 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 … 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. Please visit Washington State License Plate History. 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. In 1937, the state name was shifted to the left, with the expiration year following. 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. Special plates. Plate numbering restarted with a seven-character registration number, beginning with AAA0000. By embossing the first year on the plate, the state claimed it would save $50,000 by not making 1963 stickers. Non-passenger vehicles had their class type spelled out, and were not county-coded. In 1997 the size of the hyphen was enlarged, starting with 000-HYB. 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 began an enormous effort to manufacture a second plate for every number and ship them to registrants across the state. Please visit our SERVICES page to see what we have to offer, pricing and a listing of some of the plates we have available for restoration. The plate size was reduced and a letter code was introduced to designate the vehicle class, with “X” being issued to private passenger vehicles, “T” denoting trucks, etc. These plates were only issued to new registrations; the 1963 plates were not replaced and continued to be revalidated by year stickers. 14" x 4 1/2" Just found these today. With in-state production impossible until the mill was rebuilt, the state launched a frantic search for an alternate supplier. 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. Additionally, paint adherence was poor, resulting in bare numbers. The plate colors changed through the years, see Washington Passenger License Plate Colors. 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. The state’s Golden Jubilee was commemorated by the dates of statehood and the one-time designation of the “State of Washington”. For example, Delaware and Rhode Island were formerly able to use six-digit all-numeric serials due to their low respective populations; both now use five-digit serials, with Delaware using a letter and four digits, and Rhode Island using two letters and three digits. Interested in learning more about license plates? Other nonpassenger vehicle classes such as trailers and trucks did receive dated plates. These narrower dies also allowed the use of seven-character personalized plates for the first time. T = Truck E = Publicly Owned Vehicle Representative Hubbell explained that this is one of several bills to make auto laws confirm with laws of adjacent states.”. Narrower dies were adopted in 1985, also introducing a hyphen in the registration number, starting with number LLL-000. Aside from 1928, which had one of the boldest color years, colors alternated between green and white. Plates are currently issued by the Washington State Department of Licensing. The plate mill at the Walla Walla Penitentiary caught fire and was burned to the ground, destroying all of the plates that were on hand. Production for these plates had been underway for most of 1953, when disaster struck on September 9 of that year. With the adoption of staggered registrations, a month sticker was added and validity was determined from the date of original registration. 1941 would be the last year an embossed, painted border was used on passenger plates. License plates from this era, before state-issued plates, are known as prestates. Toward the end of the licensing year, as stock of the porcelain plates ran out, full metal plates were produced, again with matching color formats. Currently it has taken the state five to six years to run through a complete letter series (e.g. Single plate issued only to new registrants. You will receive the actual plate pictured. The Division of Motor Vehicles was created by the Legislature and placed under the direction of the Secretary of State. 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.”. Codes were assigned by population, in descending order. These Oregon-sourced plates differed from the pre-fire plates in size, metal (aluminum vs steel), and dies. 1930's - 1940's (A) New registrations only. For military personnel May have … AN for Asotin, SJ for San Juan). With age, these look sort of yellow and black. Registrants provided their own license plates for display until 1907, when the district began to issue plates. A Brief History of Washington State License Plates 1905. Revalidated through February 29, 1920 with white porcelain tabs. “Some nice old lady holding a state office has picked lavender,” was a snarky comment in the Lynden Tribune. Altered documents and fake titles. AAA0000 to AZZ9999), so any variety on Washington bumpers will have to come from the growing number of optional graphics. An additional complication arose late in 1954. About special design plates Learn the history of Washington license plates and how to request a new background design. Click Here for our Washington State Plate Gallery. Plate has some rust but could be nicely. Henceforth, none of our replica license plates may be used in lieu of county issued, state issued, country issued or officially (government) issued license plates. Size: 7" x 3.5" 1958 - The Washington State Penitentiary plate factory in Walla Walla reopened in 1957 (following its destruction in an October 1953 fire), and is the location where 1958 and later plates were produced. 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.”. There was enough metal supply to manufacture plates (in singles, not pairs) for new registrations. Visit An Office, Bring Your Application, Plates, Title and Payment. By the time this system ended in mid 1915, numbers were being assigned in the low 40000s. Bought a new car or motorcycle and want to keep your current license plates? The format was largely unchanged for 1918, although a more legible white on black color scheme was used. 1943 Washington State Special Use Plate During the "WAR" years the State issued Victory Vehicle plates to those businesses who had vehicles directly involved with the war effort. Revalidated for 1952 and 1953 in the same manner as for 1950 plates. 1952 was the final year windshield stickers were used in Washington. 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. Washington used this method in 1947. When the new law went into effect June 10, 1915, the handmade license plates on all vehicles in the state expired. The decision to issue only a single plate for the rear of the vehicle had been controversial from the start, but trouble identifying a bank robber’s getaway car in Seattle was the tipping point for public outrage and law enforcement pushback, so at the end of 1954 the Department of Licensing acquiesced to demands for a front plate. King County registrations had become so large that the system could no longer be adapted to accommodate the necessary amount of letter combinations. 1950's - 1960's The U.S. federal district of Washington, D.C. first required its residents to register their motor vehicles in 1903. The location of the name and date would migrate between top and bottom over the next decade and a half. 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. “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. Many changes were implemented in the state’s second year of issuing plates. This base was undated, providing enough room for validation stickers. 1916 1928 also saw the date and vehicle class designator moved to the same line as the state name. 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. For a period, there were no plates available at all, and only a windshield sticker was issued to new applicants. These could be seen on buses that transported troops and other similarly used vehicles. This is probably the most sought after Washington State plate by collectors. A license … These would be the last non-graphic plates issued in Washington. The 1942 plates were revalidated by windshield stickers in 1943 and 1944. The U.S. state of Washington first required its residents to register their motor vehicles in 1905. Washington State Patrol License Plate used during 1976. Proposals to use the state prison system to manufacture license plates, a practice used in many other states, had been floated at various times since the license law was passed in 1915. 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. Additionally, the tools indicates the possibility of car theft and repossession. WASHINGTON: Passenger Run, 1916-2008. A brand-new numbering system came with the new design, starting at 000-AAA. Embossed green serial on unpainted aluminum plate; "WASHINGTON 1947" at bottom. Please do not reproduce without permission. This exception worked for 1935 and 1936, as King was the only county with a vehicle population large enough to reach six-digit registrations. Bjorn Larsen P.O. Big changes were in store for 1954, some planned and some not. This method saved money and materials, and offered a numbering format that allowed for a greater combination of numbers to be issued. Unpainted aluminum plates were used again for the 1949 issue, but this time they were sandblasted with steel grit to dull the background and eliminate the bright reflection caused by the shiny metal background at night. 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.”. A nice pair of matching plates. Washington’s 50 years of statehood was marked by its first (and only, until 1987) use of a slogan. Below is an overview of Washington’s license plate history that I’ve compiled and illustrated with examples from my collection. Plates were slow to arrive from the factory: only the first 400 licenses had been issued by June 15, and by July 15, only a total of 15,753 had been issued, with an estimated 20-25,000 still pending. Washington License Plates for Sale Home « Washington Plates Browse By Location Year. Prior to this, registrations all expired on December 31 of each year. After the plate mill was destroyed late in 1953, any additional plates needed before the end of the calendar year had to be sourced from the alternate supplier in Oregon. No more annual issues or metal renewal tabs. Washington State 1919 Antique License Plate #21969. Exempt license plates. Plate History 1900's - 1920's (A) Black on white tab expired 2/29/20 and new registrations received black on yellow and white 1920 plates. The county coding system was finally abandoned during this era. All images are items from my collection or scanned images of historic photos I own, unless noted otherwise. The plates were designed with slots over the date, which would be used to apply metal tabs, a practice common in other states. Back in 1922, a Mrs. W.B. For 1958 through 1962, all regular motorcycle license plates carried the "MO" prefix followed by one to four digits (no leading … In response, in 1965 the design was altered to spell WASHINGTON in full. Embossed white serial on green plate with border line; "WASHINGTON" centered at bottom, Embossed green serial on non-reflective white plate with border line; "WASH. 63" centered at bottom, As above, but with "WASHINGTON" centered at bottom, As above, but reflective, and with "WASHINGTON" at top, offset to left, As above, but with "WASHINGTON" screened rather than embossed, Embossed dark blue serial on reflective white plate with light blue, "Centennial Celebration" screened in red centered at bottom, As above, but without dark blue border line, and with "WASHINGTON" screened in red at top, offset to left, "EVERGREEN STATE" screened in red centered at bottom, Debossed white on green with border line; "WASHINGTON" at top, offset to left, Embossed green on white with border line; "WASHINGTON" at top, offset to left, Similar to 1987–98 passenger plates, but with "Washington" offset to left and no slogan, Similar to current passenger plates, but without slogan, This page was last edited on 13 January 2021, at 03:38. Replace your license plates. 1919 licenses had expired the day before, on February 28, so with the late change in the law, a one-month grace period was granted for 1919 licenses, making them valid through March 31 without a 1920 renewal. However, most of the original run of 1954 plates was destroyed in the fire, so the vast majority of 1954 plates issued to vehicles were sourced from Screw Machine. West Virginia The state name briefly reverted back to the old design in 1980. Few changes in design or processes occurred for the next several years. An owner or the owner's authorized representative may apply for a replacement license plate or plates at any time the owner chooses. 1953 saw the 1950 and 1951-dated plates renewed with dated ’53 tabs. The X indicates a passenger vehicle. Legibility was not a strong suit for white numbers on a lavender background. In fact, the 1963 plates, and all others issued thereafter, remained in use through 2000. Black serial on yellow and white porcelain plate; "WN X-20" on white section at left, 144001 to approximately 157000, with gaps. All plates are authentic and in original condition unless noted otherwise. Some of the original plates had already been shipped to county auditors (mostly in Pierce and Spokane Counties), and in these cases were issued to the public as planned. Things were primitive at the start. Naturally, car dealers want you to believe that the mileage is less than it really is. Check out our viewer for Washington State Plates. 1954 motorcycle plates were slightly larger and used different dies. 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. Revalidated for 1948 with windshield stickers. These plates were plagued by weak paint on the numbers. Revalidated for 1951 with silver tabs, for 1952 with windshield stickers, and for 1953 with green tabs. 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. 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. In 1967, the legislature passed a law stating that “All vehicle license number plates issued after January 1, 1968 […] shall be treated with reflectorized materials designed to increase the visibility and legibility of such plates at night.”   This resulted in another new baseplate in 1968, which again did not replace any plates currently on the road. The B prefix indicates a state owned vehicle and the D prefix is a city owned vehicle. A county owned vehicle would have a C prefix. Personalize your license plate or get a plate with a special background design. The 1998 design, which ironically contains no green whatsoever, was a mild rework of the original Centennial plates. (B) Expiration February 28, 1921 (C) Valid between March 1, 2021 and December 31, 1921. The tab system died after only one year in use. 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. wrote to the Seattle Times: “I am good and peeved because on a trip taken by my husband and me this last summer, back through the South to Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and back—I am peeved because no one the other side of the Idaho line knew what ‘Wn.” stood for on our car license plate. All of Washington’s license plates until 1925 were embossed with WN and the year of issue. The DMV issued the first metal plates, with blue background and white letters. Both these plates issued only to new registrants. Washington was still using the 1954 base with renewal tabs, so while existing registrations kept their original plates, all newly-issued plates were in the new dimensions, with a design that mimicked the originals. For ten years, this was the extent of vehicle licensing in the state of Washington. As registrations lapsed over time, older dead numbers were recycled by the state. Many cars are resold, change ownership, taken out of the state or are traded in. 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 the very least, 500 people inquired as to where “Wn.” was located. License Plate Info: 2004 Washington license plate - 562-GMU 1987 Rainier base (Evergreen State) (Pair, Gold Rush, 1987 base, Auction, Unusual Sticker, 2004 pass.) 1923 Washington State License Plates . “X” marks the plate: introduction of vehicle class codes. With age, the blue paint tends to fade to black. 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. In March 1922, the license plate shop was established at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. State law drove another change in Washington’s plates. Manufacturing was awarded to the Western Display Company of Minneapolis. Another development was the introduction of a staggered registration system in 1977. 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. 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