How much are my vintage or collectible license plates worth?
Have you recently inherited or purchased a vintage or collectible license plate and want to know its value? Mearto provides quick and affordable online appraisals of license plates. All you have to do is click on the “Start Appraisal” button above and follow the steps to send us information about and images of your license plate. One of our qualified and experienced specialists will review and get back to you with a fair market and insurance value, typically within 48 hours.
Have questions about the valuation provided, or would you like some advice about selling your license plate? We are here to help! Our platform allows you to chat back and forth with a specialist to ensure that all of your questions are answered.
When were license plates first introduced?
The history of the license plate can be traced back to the late 1800s, when the first automobiles began to appear on public roads. As more and more vehicles hit the roads, concerns arose about how to identify them and hold their owners accountable for any violations or accidents.
The first license plates were simple metal plates with sequential numbers issued by individual states. New York was the first state to require drivers to register their vehicles and display "the separate initials of the owner’s name placed upon the back thereof in a conspicuous place, the letters forming such initials to be at least three inches in height." Massachusetts was the first state to issue license plates in 1903, followed by Pennsylvania in 1906. By the 1920s, every state in the US had some form of license plate requirement.
Over time, license plates evolved to include more information, such as the state name and a combination of letters and numbers that could be used to identify individual vehicles. In the 1950s and 60s, some states began to use slogans or images on their plates as a way to promote tourism or celebrate local industries.
Today, license plates serve as a means of identifying vehicles, ensuring that they are properly registered and insured, and helping law enforcement officers enforce traffic laws and identify stolen vehicles. In addition to their practical purposes, license plates have also become a popular collectible item and can be used for practical purposes such as decorating a garage or car showroom, or even as a unique piece of wall art in a home or office..
What are the different categories of collectible license plates?
There are several categories of collectible license plates, each with its own unique characteristics and appeal to collectors. Some of the most common categories include:
Antique License Plates: Antique plates are typically defined as plates that are at least 25 years old. These plates can be highly sought-after by collectors due to their rarity and historical significance.
Vintage License Plates: Vintage plates are typically from the 1930s through the 1960s. These plates often feature unique designs and colors that make them popular with collectors.
Special Interest License Plates: Special interest plates are issued for specific purposes, such as commemorating a particular event, promoting a charitable cause, or supporting a particular organization. These plates can be highly collectible due to their limited availability and unique designs.
Vanity License Plates: Vanity plates are customized plates that feature a personalized message chosen by the owner. These plates can be highly sought-after by collectors due to their uniqueness and the personal touch they provide.
Foreign License Plates: Foreign license plates can be highly collectible due to their rarity and unique designs. These plates can also provide a glimpse into the history and culture of different countries around the world.
Sample License Plates: Sample plates are issued by state DMVs to demonstrate the design and format of the license plate. These plates can be highly collectible due to their limited availability and unique designs.
Error License Plates: Error plates are plates that were issued with mistakes, such as misspellings or incorrect colors. These plates can be highly collectible due to their rarity and unique nature.
What was the most expensive collectible license plate ever sold to date?
Not to be confused with government issued license plates, which can sell for millions, such as the Abu Dhabi "1" license plate sold to Emirati business man Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri for $14.3 million in 2008, vintage and collectible license plates are often sold at specialized automotive auctions and can go for up to tens of thousands of dollars depending on their rarity, condition, age and historical significance. A few examples include:
What factors determine the value of a vintage or collectible license plate?
While some plates may be worth a few dollars, others can fetch thousands at auction. Here are some of the factors that we take into consideration when we determine the value of a collectible or vintage license plate:
Rarity: License plates that were produced in limited quantities or have a unique design are more desirable and valuable. For example, license plates from a specific state or year may be rare if only a small number were produced.
Age: Generally speaking, older license plates are more valuable than newer ones. This is because older plates are typically harder to find and have more historical significance.
Condition: The condition of the license plate can have a significant impact on its value. Plates that are in excellent condition with no rust or damage are worth more than plates that are bent, scratched or have other imperfections.
Historical significance: Plates that are associated with a significant event or historical figure may be more valuable than those that are not. For example, license plates from World War II or plates associated with a famous person may be highly sought after.