Overseas Personalised Number Plate History
It was 1980 when legislation was passed to allow Illinois drivers to order vanity and personalized license plates. As defined then, vanity plates contained up to six letters or the numbers 1 to 999. Personalized plates had a combination of desired letters and numbers. In the very first year, 24,000 state residents decided they wanted to pay extra to show off their vanity to fellow motorists.
Drivers were displaying personalized plates long before 1980 however.
There was no law that he could find before 1980 authorizing such plates. Instead, he figures it likely was a typical case of not what you knew being important, but who you knew.
There’s no question, however, that it was 1907 when the Motor Vehicle Act, which required motorists to register with the secretary of state’s office, became law. For a one-time $2 fee per vehicle, motorists received a round aluminum disk with a registration number to affix to their vehicles. (Drivers had to furnish their own plates until 1911. The disks were dropped in 1917.) From July 1, 1907, to June 30, 1909, the state registered 20,224 vehicles. Sidney S. Gorham, of LaGrange, was issued license plate number 1.
As you might guess, that “one-time fee” didn’t last long. Probably realizing they had a cash cow on their hands, the state began charging an annual fee in 1909 and re-registered all vehicles.
More interesting plate trivia: In 1912, front plates were perforated so more air could flow through a car’s radiator. Aluminum license plates were issued for the first time in 1950. The slogan “Land of Lincoln” debuted in 1954, although a requirement for showing Lincoln’s image was dropped because it was deemed impractical at the time.
Purple and white plates were issued in 1964 to honor both McKendree College and Rockford College (as they were known then). In 1966, for the first time in 30 years, fees were increased 50 cents to pay for a new reflective coating. In 1977, drivers were able to complain about lousy photos on their licenses for the first time. The discontinuation of annual plates in 1979 ended a 67-year run, the longest in the United States. In 1985, all vehicles were charged the same fee ($48) rather than one based on horsepower.
How much similar registration plates have sold for recently and in the past: it is always worth looking at what has been going on in the private registration plate market recently to add extra weight to the valuation of your own number plate. It is a market that is not immune from trends, so keep a close eye on what has been selling well and see if your plate has any similar features
The age of the plate: older plates tend to attract higher prices and dateless number plates (the first ones ever issued) normally call for the highest prices on the market
The plate’s rarity: if a lot of similar registration plates were issued, your plate may be less valuable. So, the relative rarity of older, dateless number plates makes them more valuable, as a whole, than newer, dated plates. Similarly, having a private plate with a word or name spelled out on it gives it a degree of rarity that would raise its value.
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