Posted by Terry Hammer on 9/28/2021 to
What is the rarest license plate? As the owner of ShopLicensePlates.com, your trusted supplier of real, old, vintage, antique, rare and collectible license plates to collectors from around the world, this is one of the first questions that people ask me when they discover this is my passion and area of expertise. And since I've buying, selling and trading license plates since 2003, this question has come up a lot!
So, let me dive in here and take a crack at answering the question from my perspective. There are so many facets to both this question - and my answer to this question when I am asked.
Some immediately assume that I will talk about the hardest to find license plate varieties, where only a few are known to exist. Sometimes the rarity is reflected in the price, but this is not always the case. What I mean by the hard-to-find varieties are the typical suspects that folks think of, like the 1913 Mississippi license plate where the license plates were issued for maybe 90 days, only to be collected and destroyed. Or, the elusive 1921 Alaska license plate where only a handful are known to exist and it was the first year that folks in Alaska were required to register their vehicles.
Some believe my answer will be related to the high price or "worth" of a license plate, meaning that it is purely a financial consideration. The most expensive plates are worth the most, right? For me, this isn't really the answer either. License plates that fit into this category and come to mind are also some familiar suspects. Like the license plate #F1 in the U.K., which is estimated to be valued at $20 Million USD. Or, the $675K Delaware license plate #11. Of course, the high price answer is nuanced as well because in both of these instances, it isn't really the physical license plate itself that the person is buying. Rather, they are purchasing the rights to register a vehicle with that plate number assigned to it.
My take on the answer is actually a bit more simple than all of the "noise" that surrounds availability and price related to both old and new license plates of all kinds. To me, and to many of my customers who want find and collect only real, used and expired license plates, it is a license plate that has a meaning to us for a whole host of other reasons.
It can be the joy of finding, touching and being able to display a license plate that you've seen or heard about but have yet to find one to add to your collection. Or maybe you see a type of plate that you did not know existed. It could be that you've seen a license plate that looks "cool" when on a road trip and it reminds you of your great experiences when you were on the trip.
The other day, I had a customer who was on a business trip to New Mexico. She called me and told me that when she was there, she saw the cool graphic New Mexico Chile license plate and bought one because it just looks so awesome. To me, the fact that I had one for her to purchase makes the license plate priceless.
Picture this: imagine the year is now 1968. On February 27, 1968, a Postman walks up to the residence of Mr. John Washco, who lived on Corduroy Road, in Mentor, Ohio. He had a special package that he was delivering to the family, and the return address was the US Naval Station in San Francisco. The Father, John, had asked the military for a license plate from Guam to add to his Son's collection. With great anticipation and huge eyes, they opened the package together to find a 1966 license plate from Guam inside. Somehow, the family and this license plate were separated over time. Can you picture one of the Sons or another family member being reunited to this license plate? This provenance makes this license plate priceless.
Because we pride ourselves in carrying a wide variety of only genuine and authentic license plates from the US, Canada, Mexico and the World, chances are that you will see or find a license plate that you take a look at and that you'd find to be interesting. We have everything from Dealer license plates to School Bus, Taxi, College & University, Bicentennial and Semi license plates. Everything that we offer is real, the genuine article. If you are looking for an awesome splash of color, we have lots of newer graphic specialty license plates that would make a great addition to any collection or arts & crafts project at affordable prices. It is the excitement and anticipation when you place your order for license plates, and the thrill of tearing the package open to see your plates. This feeling and experience makes all the license plates you collect priceless.
So these rare license plate gems may not be the "rarest" or the "most expensive" by some definitions - and it does not mean that you need to break the bank. Rather, these are the types of rare but "daily driver" license plates that are, in fact, priceless.