Bill's Licence Plates Page
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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.

My father's first driver's licence, obtained at the age of 35. 
Up to then, and in his life in Scotland he had relied on walking, bicycle and transit,
but that was not going to work on rural Vancouver Island!

The first car was an old Studebaker that quickly broke down, and later that year he bought a less-old Dodge Business Coupe.  This did good service for a couple of years, and took us on our first
camping trip down into Washington and Oregon.

 


Here is our first car.  Talk about olden times.  This was a Studebaker
from the 1920's and this is our rustic home in the woods. This car
did not last long and was soon relegated to sit deteriorating
in the back yard, until it became valuable years later!  I do
wish I could see the licence plate on this car.  The grassy looking area just to the right of the fence is the driveway, and farther
right just out of the photo is where the garage was located,
later the spot where the licence plates were displayed.


Myself in front of our Dodge Business Coupe,
with 1950 licence plate 41-052, with 1951 tab. No,
I do not have this plate, but it does appear on the wall in the photo just below.

 

 

 

 


 

My mother and sister in front of our new to us Austin A-40 Devon. These cars were made in England from late 1947 to 1951... what model year this car was I am not sure but most likely a 1950 or 1951, Note the 1952 plate, which I still have.  This car took our family of four to San Francisco in 1953.  Though was only five at the time, I still recall almost getting blown off the Golden Gate Bridge by the high winds in this small car. It had a cartop carrier with our tent, to help catch the wind. Note the QB topper that was first on the Dodge and then on the next few cars we had. 

 

 

Myself and my uncle in front of our second Austin, a 1952 A-40 Somerset, somewhere on a road trip in Washington in 1957.  Note the Qualicum Beach and BCAA toppers.  I don't have this 1957 plate either.  It wasn't until 1958 that Dad started receiving the 896 plate annually.  This is the car in which we went to Los Angeles the next year, in 1958. 

 

 

The 1952 base plate still in my own collection that was on the first Austin.  This plate (with a 1954 tab) can be seen in the 1957 photo below. The deterioration comes from the fact it was used for three years and as well held the QB  topper and perhaps also a BCAA topper. 

 

Here is our ramshackle garage with the beginnings of Dad's licence plate collection.  i would say that this is in early1957 as the latest BC plate showing is a 1956. This garage only occasionally had a vehicle in it, as it was usually filled with sawdust used in our kitchen stove.  Those were the old days for sure! And by the way, I guess this does prove that we did in fact get snow once in a while in Qualicum Beach!

I still have the Nassau Bahamas plate seen prominently in the middle, as well as the BC 1913, and one of the 71-427 BC 1952 base plates. I think that is about it. 

 

BC 1913 plate that is seen in the photo above.  Not the greatest condition but it is a 1913, and, apart from holding on to plates off our own cars, this may well have been the inspiration to start collecting. Hard to even comprehend that when I first saw this is 1957 it was only 43 years old.   Now almost all the plates in my collection are at least 50 years old and this one is 108 years old!

 

 

I wish this was clearer.  This is myself driving our 1956 Morris Oxford Traveller on Long Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island of all places.  That is the 1963 version of our standard 896 licence plate. 
At 15 years of age this was my first time to drive at any appreciable speed. Up to then I had only driven slowly around our own field at home.   Long Beach was ideal back then, as it had no one else on it, and it was (and is) 12 miles long!  This was long long before it became a national park, and even before there was a paved highway to reach the area.  This car was coming to the end of its life with us, to be replaced the next year soon after I received my licence.

 

 

Here I am in 1965 on my brand new Honda Trail 90 motorbike, in the middle of the Japanese motorcycle craze.   I took this bike along the maze of logging roads of Vancouver Island, but also used it to go to school, and even drove it across the US border on a little adventure while only 18 or 19 years old.   Much later I took this bike across the country on the back of our 1974 Plymouth Duster, and it sat unused and in disrepair for many years in our garage in Nova Scotia.  Eventually in the 90's it was donated to an interested person in Ontario, and maybe it is restored today, but who knows?
The big thing here of course is the licence plate display in the background.   This was out in the weather, which does account for the condition of some of my plates. This display was there for anyone happening upon our house at the very end of Fern Road to see.  I still have just a couple of these plates.  And yes, that is a 1961 N1 right behind my shoulder!

 

 

In 1968 the Morris Oxford had been gone for four years and the 1964 Rambler American station wagon was the main vehicle.   The blue 1954 Ford Consul was my mother's car, having replaced a similar greenish one.   I cannot explain how it was possible that the Rambler has the 1967 896 and the Consul has the 1968 896 plate.   

896, Our Family Plate Number in the late 50's to 1969

With the introduction of Alphanumeric (AAA-000) plates in 1970, low number plates like this came to an end.

And here is the upside down of the above.  Not an error, just another plate,
belonging to someone else.   But both are now in my collection.

 

In 1972 I was in the navy and this was taken during a short visit home.   The main family car back home was a white 1970 Chevy II Nova. 
In the middle is my recently-acquired 1971 Capri.  Both of these cars seem to have A series plates, indicative of Victoria issues.  On the right is the 1967 Vauxhall Viva that had been mine but was at this point passed over to my mother to replace her old Consul.   This car has the KHH-411 plates I had obtained from Trail via some friends there.   I had gone to that trouble back in 1969 so that I would have unusual plates for where I was living, in Victoria.  When this photo was taken in 1972 the Viva had not long before taken me across the country to Quebec, and back again in the middle of winter by myself.  The Capri in the very latest days of this year would take me even farther all the way to Halifax, where I was destined to permanently live. 
Note the plates still on display in the background. This was the final months of my parents living here in the woods at the end of Fern Road.  Soon they would be off to a new home nearer the centre of Qualicum Beach, and that would be the end of the outdoor plate display.

 

 


In December 1979 personalized ("vanity") plates were introduced in British Columbia.  Dad was one of the early partakers of this modern phenomenon,    He and my mother were the two Scots, and they had this plate on their vehicles for the remainder of their driving lives.  This example is from the back of the car.  The front one shows many years of weathering.

 

MY BRITISH COLUMBIA RUN FROM 1936 TO PRESENT

The following is my BC run of passenger plates from 1936 to the present type.  1936 was the first year of the shorter plates, not much different in size from modern North American plates.  I had a few of the previous longer plates, in generally poor condition,
but gave them up to help me complete what you see here.   My aim has been to have a basic run, so for example I am
not looking to have the longer versions of the 1949 or 1950 plates, nor the various letter prefixes used for passenger
 plates in some areas in the 1940's and to 1954.  For a very comprehensive and interesting full description
of the many types and varieties of BC plates, go to 
https://www.bcpl8s.ca/

 

 

Note that my 1945 was in much better shape before I sprayed it with Fantastic
to get rid of mildew! I think the mildew might still be there, but most of the
paint is gone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From 1970 onwards British Columbia has periodically issued base plates with annual validation
stickers.   New base plates were issued in 1970, 1973, 1979 and 1985. These base plates are in my run, but I am not endeavoring to
include plates with the different annual stickers.    In the run below, the KHH-411 was a Trail issue that I obtained specially,
just to be different while living in Victoria, where practically everyone else had plates starting with A or B.  I picked Trail,
partly because K was the "highest" first letter at the time, but more so because I was boarding in Victoria with an
Italian couple from Trail, and with several other boarders from Trail, so a connection was made to get this plate.

 

CLEANING PLATES

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:

As Purchased After Cleaning

MY NOVA SCOTIA RUN INTENDED TO BE FROM 1918 TO PRESENT.  Passenger plates preferred but commercial used when necessary.

 

1918 NOT YET ACQUIRED 1919 NOT YET ACQUIRED
1920 NOT YET ACQUIRED 1921 NOT YET ACQUIRED
1922 NOT YET ACQUIRED 1923 NOT YET ACQUIRED
1924 NOT YET ACQUIRED  

1925  



1926 HEAVY WEIGHT AUTOMOBILE
This plate may have been repainted.


1927 LIGHT WEIGHT AUTOMOBILE 
1928 NOT YET ACQUIRED
1929 COMMERCIAL
1930 NOT YET ACQUIRED 1931 NOT YET ACQUIRED
1932  



1933

1934 NOT YET ACQUIRED  


1935


1936
1937 NOT YET ACQUIRED

1938

1939

1940


1941 
1942 NOT YET ACQUIRED
1943 COMMERCIAL
1944 NO PLATE.
USED 43 WITH WINDOW STICKER

1945

1946 COMMERCIAKL
1947 COMING SOON


 

1949


1950

1951

1952
1953 COMING SOON

1953 52 WITH 53 TAB


1954 52 WITH 54 TAB

1955 52 WITH 55 TAB


1956 52 WITH 56 TAB


1957

1958


1959


1960
used also in 1961 with sticker


1962
used also in 1963 with sticker


1964
used also in 1965 with sticker

 

1966
used also in 1967 and 1968 with sticker

 


1969
used also in 1970 and 1971 with sticker


1972
Used with sticker until superceded by 1979 series, as late as 1981.


1975 revision
(reflectorized background) used to 1981 with stickers

1979 to 1989 (AAA-001 to BRS-999) and remaining valid today
There was an overlap period between 1979 and 1981 in which both the old numeric plates and these alphanumeric plates were valid.
 

1989 to 2011 (BRT-001 to FAD-999) and remaining valid today
This is the weathered plate off the front of my own vehicle.  This plate and its mate were registered in 1993.  The other one is still on the back of my vehicle after 28 years.
Revision removing border and one sticker panel, and changing font, commencing 2011 at FAE-001
NOT YET ACQUIRED
NOTE THAT IN APRIL OF 2021 THE ALPHANUMERIC PLATES HAVE ALMOST REACHED THE END OF THE LETTER G.   IT HAS TAKEN APPROXIMATELY 40 YEARS TO GET THIS FAR, SO DOES APPEAR THAT IT WILL TAKE MANY DECADES TO REACH ZZZ-999!

MY NOVA SCOTIA SAMPLES
 

   

 

SOME OTHER PLATES IN THE COLLECTION
OR RECENTLY DISPOSED OF

 

 

The following five plates are recently SOLD low number plates from the collection.  #16 was regularly seen around our home town of Qualicum Beach as it was owned by Charlie Darkis, who was the superintendent of provincial parks on Vancouver Island, and served as the mayor of Qualicum Beach for a spell in the late 60's.   The N1 was my last example of many.  Dad had an "in" at the Esquimalt Naval base to obtain the admiral's plate, as well as others in the N series.  

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.

Vatican City (Official)

(private passenger plates
do not have the S)

Andorra

San Marino

Sold March 2021
 

 

Liechtenstein

 

Below is a mixture of plates in no particular order.   With few exceptions these are from outside Canada and the USA
   
   
 
 

 

 

Cayman Islands

 

Porcelain plates

This plate appears in that 1965 photo of me on my Honda, right behind my head.
It does seem to be one of only two or three plates I still have from that display.
 

This plate is apparent in the outdoor display shown on my motorcycle photo

 

The United States operated a major communications station at Kagnew. 
Kagnew is now in the separate country of Eritrea but back when this plate
 was current, it was still in Ethiopia.  It was closed in 1977.  This station was well known
 to exist but its actual CIA-related functions were top secret.

This is a US civilian plate from around 1968. 
Control of the islands reverted to Japan in 1972.

I am not likely to part with this one, at least  not yet.
This island was a part of the American-administered
UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, but in 1978 became
part of the US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands

 

Like all other plates in the collection, this hand-made one was obtained
 in the very early 70's or before, so is very likely to be authentic.

Yap was post-World War II part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands,
but became part of the independent nation of Micronesia in 1986.

 



The Shell 4000 rally was held in the 60's, and involved a cross-Canada trip.
For more info go to http://shell-4000-rally.org/