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ALPCA's Best Plate of 2014

Winner: Alberta

Image of Alberta plate

ALPCA members only: See the voting results.


by Gus Oliver

After a very close race, Alberta's Support Our Troops License Plate won the Best Plate Award for 2014. The Alberta plate was nominated by Jean Monfette (10826), Marsh Pysar (11118), Adriaan Bergink (8278) and Brent Kirchner (6148) and the only plate to receive more than 2 nominations. Paul Frater (9726) cast the first vote in the contest putting Alberta in the lead. Although the plate in the lead changed frequently, Alberta finished with a small margin of safety.

As stated in Alberta's July 2014 press release, this optional license plate gives Albertans a new way to show their respect and appreciation for Canada's brave service men and women. The cost is a one-time fee of $75 plus a $9 registry agent fee. The Support Our Troops program which is administered by the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services receives $55 of this amount. The design bears artwork titled "Fallen Comrades of the PPCLI", which pays tribute to the first four soldiers, all members of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Alberta, who died in April 2002 during Canada's mission in Afghanistan. It was created digitally by renowned Canadian artist and photographer Silvia Pecota by combining photography with painting. The symbolic Yellow Ribbon was added to this original artwork for the design of the plates which are only available in a pre-numbered format.

When notified of the award, the artists responded "What I find so amazing and impressive is how powerful artwork can become when used on a license plate. What I hope this image can achieve is to make an impression - a symbol of Remembrance of our Fallen. And what better time to reflect upon this when stuck in traffic and seeing in front a vehicle with this plate. It can put all into perspective. Ms. Pecota is very passionate about her artwork and spent time imbedded with troops in Afghanistan to better capture the reality of war.

Although most of ALPCA's members are United States residents, many identified with the cause. Scott Giorgianni (4647) probably stated it best "The lone soldier, with head slightly bowed beneath the flag, the standing weapons with helmets draped on top, and the broad vista underneath a moody sky all combine to create a powerful sense of honor and duty. The yellow ribbon is a nice touch and the serial (number) clear." Justin Mattes (6748) commented "the contrast of the (Alberta) plate strikes the right balance between appeal and legibility and the fact that it supports the troops is an added bonus." Stephan Feuk (771) from Sweden said "Easily legible. Elegant design. Nice flag. Good cause."

Ironically on the ALPCA Discussion Forum in response to my call for nominations, Roger Haynes (2104) said "I can see with our strong USA Memberships that a US plate would be the winner, but others deserve the recognition." Stephen Feuk echoed that remark "a so-called "foreign" plate would never win the Best Plate Award, regardless of its qualities, as most US collectors / voters are not the least interested or knowledgeable about such plates." I am glad to say that our members proved these concerns to be unwarranted. Alberta now joins the list of Canadian jurisdictions that have won the Best Plate Award in the past: Northwest Territories in 1970, Prince Edward Island in 1973 and Nova Scotia in 1989 (tied with Oklahoma).

Several expressed that my suggestion to view the photos of the plates from a distance changed their opinion about the legibility of a few plates. According to the contest rules, the plate must be both legible and attractive. We generally all have a similar concept of legibility but attractiveness is a very subjective term. One sees the Virginia plate as clean and uncluttered while someone else sees it as boring and plain. There is no right or wrong way to vote. I appreciate everyone who took the time to vote and especially those who nominated plates. My apologies for failing to acknowledge nominations by Leroy (Roy) Harvill (8369) of the Washington 4H plate and Fred Agree (2951) of the Alaska Iditarod Finisher plate. Unfortunately neither were eligible for this year's award as they came out prior to 2014. Every year there are many eligible new plates so it can be difficult to know about all of these plates, particularly those with low sales. However, plates are only eligible to compete in the year they were introduced (except for ones first issued in late December which can be nominated for the following year).

If we were counting only first place votes, this contest would have been a virtual tie with Michigan's redesigned Mackinac Bridge plate but the Alberta plate received somewhat more second and third place votes than the Michigan plate. The original Mackinac Bridge plate won this award for last year. However, although photos in our magazine of the original plate appeared legible to our members last year, police complained that the white lettering was not legible from a distance particularly at night. The plate was then redesigned with black lettering on a yellower background. As a major revision, it was eligible to compete in the contest for 2014 although several expressed concerns.

Minnesota's redesigned Critical Habitat Moose plate was third with only 58 points behind Michigan. West Virginia Wildlife Bear plate and Alabama's new general issue plate came in at fourth and fifth place respectively with only 4 points separating the 2 plates. These 5 plates got over 87% of the total points.

We are still in the process of coordinating the presentation of the award to Alberta. Details will be posted on the ALPCA website on the arrangements have been finalized.

The Annual Best Plate Award Contest

by Gus Oliver

alabama alberta michigan minnesota rhode-island tennessee virginia west-virginia

Eight license plates were nominated for the best new license plate of 2014. This was a sharp contrast to a total of 24 plates which were nominated last year. The decreased number of nominations was the result of limiting each member to only one entry. Therefore, it was not necessary to have a committee narrow the choices as in the past 2 years.

Prior to 2012, only new plate designs were considered for US states, Canadian provinces and their territories. The contest was then opened up to include new plates from any jurisdiction in the world but no plates from other areas were nominated this year.

Criteria for this contest are both legibility and attractiveness. Even the most attractive plate fails to serve its basic purpose of identification if the plate number or name of the state cannot be read. Of the plates nominated, the Alabama plate is the only one that is a true standard, general issue plate. The redesigned Michigan Mackinac Bridge plate is alternate plate from which motorists may choose. (The old design won plate of the year for 2013 - see more below.) Optional plates that were nominated are the Alberta (Canada) Support Our Troops, Minnesota Critical Habitat - Moose (new design), Rhode Island Breast Cancer Awareness, Tennessee Arts, Virginia Peace Begins at Home and West Virginia Black Bear Wildlife.

Ironically last year's winner was redesigned as the result of poor legibility from a distance. The plate looked fine up close. To avoid a similar situation in the future, I would suggest that you view these plates from across the room to get a more realistic perspective of how the plates would appear in real circumstances. This would apply to not only the legibility but the attractiveness as well.

Several of the nominations lacked quality photos of actual plates. The images were improved as much as possible. Rather than excluding any plates, we have used photos of samples. Although photos of real plates are preferred, I ask that you judge each plate on the contest criteria and not let your vote be affected by which plates are samples. The photos will also be posted on the ALPCA website along with a copy of this article.

Enclosed with this issue is a Best Plate Award ballot with the instructions. Please vote for your first, second and third choices. Your first choice will receive 5 points, your second choice receives 3 points and your third choice 1 point. The plate with the most points wins. Feel free to vote for only one or two plates if you choose. Either vote by email at OR by returning the paper ballot. If you vote both ways, neither of your votes will be counted. Feel free to comment on any or all of them as I enjoy sharing as many of your comments as possible in the article with the results. Due to time constraints I will however not be able to reply. I would suggest those overseas to vote by email to avoid missing the deadline due to postal delays.

I would like to thank the following members for participating by either nominating a plate and/or supplying a photo: David Andre (11578), Adriaan Bergink (8278), Chris Buonanno (11984), Jeff Heget (7552), Ralph Herbst (2970), John Kelly (3883), Brent Kirchner (6148), Marsh Pysar (11118), Joe Sallmen (7100), Bruce Schmicslag (5265), Brian Sawyer (9571). If I omitted your name, please let me know and it will be included in the announcement article.

This program is one of the few ways we can have a positive impact on the DMV officials so I encourage everyone to vote. The deadline for me to RECEIVE your ballot by regular mail or email is midnight, CST, on March 1. Due to publication deadlines, I regret that any ballots received after that date cannot be included in the official results. Once the results are tabulated and the winning state has been notified, the results will be released on the announcement and discussion lists along with posting on our website. I thank you in advance for your participation.

Last updated: Friday, 10-Apr-2015 14:47:41 UTC

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