Bill's Licence Plates
THIS PAGE IS INTENDED TO BE SEEN ON A COMPUTER SCREEN, NOT YOUR PHONE!
Last updated April 9, 2021
This page is intended on one hand to display my licence plates collection, and the history surroundiing it. It also may serve to show items that I have available for sale or trade.
Here I will use the preferred Canadian spelling "licence", even though in marketing on-line I use the American spelling "license".
I have been interested in licence plates for as long as I can remember. Certainly I have forever noticed the plates from different jurisdictions on cars around me. I also readily see double and triple numbers and letters, and in fact went out of my way to obtain such a plate for my own vehicle (NS CPP-111). I have not actively been collecting until quite recently, and most of the plates I now have are inherited from my father. He was a plate collector on Vancouver Island beginning in the mid 1950's and was an early member of ALPCA. His collection was not vast, as it was really just a sideline amongst many other collecting interests. This page includes photos of the early collection, mounted outside on a shed wall, something that no collector would do nowadays.
My specific interest now is to have and maintain a passenger run from British Columbia from 1936 (the first year of smaller plates) and a run from Nova Scotia that ideally will start with 1918. The BC run is complete, but some plates are open to upgrades to better quality. The Nova Scotia run ideally will start in 1918 but my earliest plate is from the mid-20's. Again, even for the plates I do have, some are of a quality where I would be open to upgrading. I have no major desire for particular numbers, though I will buy a good number over one that is less so. I also have secondary runs of sample plates for these two provinces.
In addition to the two runs, I aim to have a vintage and a modern plate from each other province and the territories. As well I would like to have a plate from each US state and possession, but in this case I will just go with at least one and it could be modern or older, mostly if the design or something about it strikes my fancy.
On this page you may see plates from other countries, and in general these are either available for sale, or have just been sold or traded away. I have kept some of the sold plates on display here as historical mementoes, but have made it obvious that I no longer have them.
A Family History Note
As far as I can recall my father started collecting licence plates in the same manner that many others have, by holding on to the plates removed from the family car. On arrival from Scotland at the very end of 1947, with no driver's licence and no vehicle, it took a while for there to be a family car! The first was in 1949 or 1950. It was an old Studebaker, approximately a 1926 or so, but that did not last and lay derelict at our rural homestead for years. The first car of consequence was a Dodge Business Coupe, approximately a 1940, but perhaps a bit older. I am looking for old photos that show the plates used on this car, but for sure I do have the 1952 plate from this vehicle. That car was used for a trip around down to Oregon and the interior of Washington, something that was unusual in those days, and certainly not something I recall my friends ever getting to do. After that Dad moved on to a small dark green Austin, which was our car for a trip to San Francisco in I think 1953. Next was a newer Austin, perhaps also an A-40. That car was used in a 1958 trip to Los Angeles, including to Disneyland, at that time situated in the middle of orange groves! That car not long afterwards disintegrated in Chilliwack, BC, and via the friendly fellow operating the repair shop we moved on to a 1956 Morris Oxford Traveller. This was a woody in the real sense, as it actually did have wood strips on the body. That was to be our vehicle through to the mid-60's and was the one on which both my sister and I learned to drive. The first new car was the 1964 Rambler American 330 station wagon, which I also drove as a teenager. By around 1960 my mother had obtained her drivers licence and had taken on ownership of a flower and gift shop, so then began the two-car family life. She started with greenish Ford Consul, and after a collision moved on to a similar bluish one. I drove both of these as well as the Rambler. At the age of 16 or 17 I bought my firsst vehicle, a 1964 Honda 90 trail bike, which was street legal but really designed for travel on back trails and roads. I spent a lot of time on the logging roads of Vancouver Island, most of the time on my own, and as I look back many years later I feel lucky that nothing happened to leave me stranded or worse in a place where no one could find me, in an era without cell phones. All of these vehicles had licence plates. For most of its life with us, the Morris Oxford had the 896 plate, which carried on to the Rambler. I only have one 896 left in my possession, that being a 1967. It may be that one or two of the plates in my BC run could also have been family plates but without the appropriate photographs I am not sure.
As for the collecting of plates, one must remember that in those days licence plates were normally good for one year, then removed and replaced by the next year's plates, one on each end. In the time period I am speaking of, there was a plate for 1950, renewed with a tab for 1951. Then there was a 1952 plate renewed with a tab in both 1953 and 1954 After that, through to 1969, there were entirely new plates each year. This means that there were lots of plates removed and discarded, and in our case Dad started to tack them up on the garage wall, and I mean the outside of the garage. We lived at the very end of a gravel road and while there was not a lot of traffic, the people who did come down the road, usually by mistake or to see what was there, would see the plates on the garage. I do not know how this collection began to expand, but I am sure that my father's very significant collecting gene kikced in and somehow he began acquiring plates from other jurisdictions, and they appeared on the garage. I would esteimate this to be around 1958. He was never a huge lcience plate collector, as it was just a collecting sideline for him, but he did over the years acquire a few very nice plates. Strangely he did not acquire a BC run, which is too bad as it may have been much easier in those days, keeping in mind that 1938 was only twenty years back from 1958! One thing he did do was acquire plates from issuing offices who took in out of province plates from newcomers who turned them in to get the BC plates they needed. He also developed an "in" at the Esquimalt naval base and acquired over time many of the special N plates used by their vehicles, including several N1's used on the admiral's officiall car. He also had a plate from Princess Elizabeth's car used on her 1951 trip to Vancouver Island. This plate is now on loan to the Qualicum Beach Museum. Later on Dad developed a friendship with Len Garrision, an outstanding licence plate collector who had runs of numbers, runs of years, runs of everything to do with BC licence plates. They certainly traded back and forth, and I am fairly certain that many of Dad's N plates made the transition over to Len as time went on. Following my father's decline and eventual passing in 1993 I acquired what was left of his licence plate collection. I enjoy them very much, but have not done anythng with them. I am a keen observer of licence plates, and unusual numbers and letters immediately catch my eye, and of course I pick out out of province plates as a matter of course. On quite a few occasions, driving down the huge parking lot lanes at DisneyWorld and similar places I have at least half my attention on the plates I am passing by!
As of 2021 I have decided to do two things with my plates. One is to to what I always wanted to do, and that is to acquire a run of plain old BC passenger plates, which is what I should have done many years ago. I had a few, including a chipped 1913 porcelain, but those in the 20's and 30's were in poor condition. I have now decided that it will be sufficient in my advancing age to have a run from 1936 onwards. 1936 was the first year for plates that approximate the now-standard 6" by 12" North American plate. BC reverted to longer plates in the 1952 to 54 series but since then has followed the 6 X 12 standard. I have disposed of my older BC plates with the exception of the 1913. I am now putting together my 1936 onwards run. It is nothing special from a serious collectors viewpoint but as I said, something I wanted to have.
Below I am first going to show some plates from Dad's collection that I had until recently but are now gone to good homes elsewhere. While I was never a real collector, these plates all mean something to me, as I can recall them years ago coming into Dad's collection. Then I will show my BC run plus a few other plates that I am intending to hold onto. Finally I will show some or all of my plates that I have but am willing to at least entertain offers on, but am not necessarily in any rush to sell.
And here is
the upside down of the above. Not an error, just
MY BRITISH COLUMBIA RUN FROM 1936 TO PRESENT
From 1970 onwards British
Columbia has periodically issued base plates with annual
I have had some successes and some disasters in cleaning vintage licence plates. It should be safe to wash plates in warm water with dish detergent, as certainly they encountered much worse when on the vehicle. The biggest problem with old plates is rust. Rust can be removed but removing rust does not repair the paint or the pits in the metal. Still, I have found so far that it is usually is beneficial to at least try to get rid of some of the rust. The huge risk in using any chemicals on your plates is that you may dissolve or soften the paint, and you end up losing colour intensity or even complete layers of paint. I myself have on the whole found good success by letting my rusty plates lie in a bath of Metal Rescue. I wish I had taken before and after photos of all my attempts. Here is one fairly good result:
MY NOVA SCOTIA RUN INTENDED TO BE FROM 1918 TO PRESENT. Passenger plates preferred but commercial used when necessary.
MY NOVA SCOTIA SAMPLES
SOME OTHER PLATES IN THE COLLECTION
The following are some of the more interesting plates that were in my collection when I began this page in early 2021. As items are sold they will receive the yellow background or have another indicator of their status.
First, here are plates from the four micro-nations of Europe. All of these are from the 1960's. The only one of these that I have set foot in, is Liechtenstein.