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The ALPCA Glossary of License Plate Terms

BALTIMORE NUMBERS - Numbers on the backs of plates manufactured by Baltimore Sign And Novelty Company, which identify the date of manufacture.

BADGE - Aluminum emblem attached to early plates from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which are stamped with the vehicle maker's serial number ("NONE" stamped for homemade vehicles). An early version of a VIN number.

BAD PAINT YEARS - Refers to certain years of plates from all states, which are difficult to find in even modest condition because of poor quality of manufacturing or paint. Also applies to porcelain plates.

BASE PLATE - A plate that is used for more than one year, revalidated annually by date stickers, metal date tabs or windshield decals or stickers.

BENCH STRENGTH - Term for the result of retaining valuable plates for future trading advantage.

BINGOBOARD PLATES - Apportioned truck plates with numerous partitions for stickers, which resembles a bingo card. Sometimes called waffle plates or checkerboard plates.

BOLT HOLE - Manufactured holes, where a plate was intended to be bolted to a vehicle. May be round, obround or slot.

BOOSTER PLATE - Plates that are not officially issued by a governing entity, which are used to advertise, promote or commemorate an event, group or commercial venture (see NOVELTY PLATE and SOUVENIR PLATE).

BOX WEAR - Damage resulting from improper storage or lack of care in transporting plates to swap meets (see SHELF WEAR).

CEREAL PLATES - Small facsimile plates made of various materials and distributed as premiums by cereal, candy, gum and other companies (see WHEATIES, TOPPS and GOUDEY).

CITY PLATES - Plates issued by specific cities, both pre and post state issuance of plates (see LOCAL PLATES).

COUNTY CODES - Letters or numerals, often a prefix, used to indicate the county of issuance.

CREST - Attachments, often made of cast aluminum or flat metal, designed to be attached to the top of a license plate. In most cases, those attachments promote tourist sites, auto clubs, insurance companies schools and automobile dealerships (see TOPPER).

DATE PLATE - A plate that has the date also reflected in the plate serial number.

DAV TAG - Small keychain license plate facsimiles, produced and distributed by the Disables American Veteran organization (see GOODRICH TAG).

DEBOSSED - A non-existent word, which refers to plates that have the serial number recessed (opposite of embossed). (see INCISED and INTAGLIO).

DIE TYPE - Refers to variations in dies, materials or formats of a specific plate (see VARIATION).

DIGIT - Reference used to describe the numerals used in a license plate serial number, ie., one digit, two digit, etc. Letters are not digits.

DASHBOARD DISCS or DISCS - Aluminum or brass discs, approximately two inches in diameter, which were issued in the prestate era of many states. Those discs were issued in lieu of license plates and bear the registration number assigned to the licensed vehicle and were usually attached to the wooden dashboards of vintage vehicles. Some states continued to issue discs in addition to state issued license plates.

DATE TAB - A metal device used to validate or revalidate a base plate (see RENEWAL TAB).

DATE STICKER - A self-adhesive sticker used to validate or revalidate a base plate (see RENEWAL STICKER).

DOG BONE PLATE - Refers to a long porcelain California prestate with a round shape at each end. Those were produced by the Southern California Automobile Club and sold to its members as owner provided plates.

DUG PLATE - A plate that was buried underground, often in a dump, which bears distinctive oxidation traits and other damage. Once exposed to oxygen, dug plates continue to rot away.

EMBOSSED - A plate that has the foreground raised higher than the background.

EPHEMERA - Other objects related to vehicles and vehicle licensing, such as driver's licenses, vehicle registrations, etc.

ERROR PLATE - A plate that exhibits a manufacturing error, such as misplaced or additional bolt holes, inversion of the serial number or numerals within that number, etc.

EX - A grading value that indicates Excellent.

FG - A grading value that indicates Fair-Good or Fairly Good.

FIBERBOARD PLATE - Non-metal plates issued by several states, particularly in the mid-to-late 1940s (see SOYBEAN PLATE).

FIELD - Describes the inside area of a porcelain plate to note damage other than to the edges or bolt holes.

FLY SPECKS - Term for the tiniest amount of plate damage visible to the naked eye.

G - A grading value that indicates Good.

GLASS BEAD REFLECTORIZATION - Older process of embedding ground glass into wet paint to achieve reflectorization.

GLOSS - Refers to the finish on porcelain plates, often qualified by "high", "medium", or "low".

GOODRICH TAG - Small brass keychain license plate facsimiles, produced and distributed by the B.F. Goodrich Company from 1939 through 1942.

GOUDEY - A gum company, which produced license plate trading cards from 1936 through 1939 (see WHEATIES, TOPPS and CEREAL PLATES).

GRAPHIC - Modern era (1970s and newer) plates that utilize Scotchlite™ or similar sheeting with graphic designs.

HAM PLATE - Refers to Amateur Radio Operator plates.

HOLOGRAM - Patterns, dates and other security devices imprinted on graphic plates, which can be seen only with the plate held at an angle (see SECURITY THREAD).

INCISED - Refers to plates that have the serial number recessed (opposite of embossed). (see DEBOSSED and INTAGLIO).

INDIAN PLATE - Refers to Native American tribal issued plates.

IN-DING - A contact indentation, which emanates from the back of the plate.

INTAGLIO - Refers to plates that have the serial number recessed (opposite of embossed), correctly used in reference to porcelain plates (see INCISED and DEBOSSED).

INTERNATIONAL OVAL - Small, usually oval attachments that bear the international abbreviation for each nation. Most common in Europe.

IN THE ROUGH - Describes a plate found in situ or from a source other than another collector, antique shop, flea market, etc.

INVERT - Refers to a plate that exhibits an inversion error.

KIT PLATE - A prestate plate that was assembled from a commercially purchased kit.

LEATHER PLATE - A prestate plate that was fabricated from leather.

LOCAL PLATE - Plates that were issued by cities and counties, usually referring to post state issued plates used by vendors or municipal services (see CITY PLATES).

LOW NUMBER PLATE - An unspecific term that usually refers to a plate with three or fewer digits.

M - A grading value that indicates Mint (NOS).

MAKER'S MARK - Manufacturer's name or logo affixed on the back of a plate.

MANUFACTURING ARTIFACT - Defect(s) that occur in the manufacturing of a plate rather than from any source after manufacture.

MICKEY MOUSE PLATE - Refers to a porcelain California prestate with two round shapes at the top (less commonly, at the bottom). Those were produced by the Southern California Automobile Club and sold to its members as owner provided plates.

MODEL T HOLE - Generic term for extra mounting holes often found on long plates. Usually attributed to Ford Model T automobiles.

MOVIE PROP - Facsimile plates used in motion picture productions or television productions.

NAVEL - Used to describe the recessed area, where a date sticker is intended to be placed (see WELL and STICKER BOX).

NATURAL - A base plate that was used for only one registration period and was actually issued in the latest period visible on the plate, either by date sticker, date tab or date manufactured on the plate. Plates that have had stickers or tabs removed are not naturals. Also refers to plates, where the number or county designation on date tab or sticker can or should match that of the plate.

NOS - Stands for New Old Stock and indicates a plate that has not been used.

NOVELTY PLATE - Plates that are not officially issued by a governing entity, which are used to advertise, promote or commemorate an event, group or commercial venture, but usually to make a statement in the same way bumper stickers are used (see BOOSTER PLATE and SOUVENIR PLATE).

NRP - A grading value that indicates Needs RePainting.

OBROUND - A bolt hole which is neither round nor a slot.

OVERSTAMP - Plates that have had the original embossing flattened and stamped with new dies. Although not actually stamped, this term also applies to porcelain and fiberboard plates that have been resurfaced.

PAPER SCARS - Permanent marks in the paint from prolonged pressure on plates stored in their original wrappers.

PICTURE PLATES - Refers to pre-1970 plates that have designs embossed or applied by decal.

PORCELAIN PLATE - Plate(s) that are made of cold rolled flat steel covered with a porcelain enamel glaze.

PRESTATE PLATE - Generally, an owner provided plate that was required by a jurisdiction, but not issued by that jurisdiction. Includes plates that were provided at an extra cost by the jurisdiction, but not actually issued. Also includes city and county plates that were actually issued by a local authority during the state's prestate era.

PRO-RP - A grading value that indicates Professionally RePainted.

PROTOTYPE - An experimental forerunner of an issued plate, or a plate that was considered for issuance (see TEST PLATE).

RE-NATURALIZED - Removing newer date stickers in order to give a plate the appearance of being a natural.

RENEWAL STICKER - A self-adhesive sticker used to validate or revalidate a base plate (see DATE STICKER)

RENEWAL TAB - A metal device used to validate or revalidate a base plate (see DATE TAB).

ROAD RASH - Plate damage that includes severe scraping, gravel dings and flattening, such as occurs to plates that have been run over multiple times.

ROAD KILL - Similar to road rash, but usually so badly damaged that it could be embarrassing to have it in a collection.

RP - A grading value that indicates RePainted.

RT - A grading value usually applied to porcelain plates that indicates touch up, or Retouched (see TU).

RUN - Grouping of consecutive years of a given type of plate from the same state. For example, a state passenger run is a group of passenger plates representing each year that was issued by the specified state.

SCOTCHLITE™ - Reflectorized sheeting used on modern graphic plates, and manufactured by the 3M Company. Also applied to similar products made by other companies.

SCREENED - Refers to both pre-1950 plates that are not embossed and more recent plates with graphic elements applied.

SECURITY THREAD - Interwoven security pattern imprinted on graphic plates, which can be seen only with the plate held at an angle (see HOLOGRAM).

SET - Grouping of plates that share a commonality. For instance, a set of police plates or other types from various states or a set of various state plates from someone's birth year.

SHELF WEAR - Damage resulting from improper storage or lack of care in transporting plates to swap meets (see BOX WEAR).

SOUVENIR PLATE - Plates that are not officially issued by a governing entity, which are used to advertise, promote or commemorate an event, group or commercial venture, but usually as a keepsake from a specific location (see NOVELTY PLATE and BOOSTER PLATE). NOTE: Souvenir plates are often designed to closely resemble genuine license plates, and are sometimes used to deceive collectors.

SOYBEAN PLATE - Specific to Illinois 1943 plates, but inaccurately used to describe all fiberboard plates.

STICKER BOX - Used to describe an embossed, screened or recessed area, where a date sticker is intended to be placed (see WELL and NAVEL).

STICKER JUMPING - Removing a date sticker from one plate and affixing it to another.

STICKER STACK - Result of numerous annual date stickers being affixed upon one another.

TAG - Term used in some areas to mean license plate.

TEST PLATE - An experimental forerunner of an issued plate, or a plate that was considered for issuance (see PROTOTYPE).

TOPPS - A gum company that produced license plate trading cards in the 1950s (see WHEATIES, CEREAL PLATES and GOUDEY).

TOPPER - Attachments, often made of cast aluminum or flat metal, designed to be attached to the top of a license plate. In most cases, those attachments promote tourist sites, auto clubs, insurance companies, schools and automobile dealerships (see CREST).

TU - A grading value that indicates that a plate has been Touched Up (see RT).

TYPE - Refers to what type of vehicle that a plate was produced to license (passenger, truck, commercial, etc.).

VARIATION - Refers to variations in dies, materials or formats of a specific plate (see DIE TYPE).

VG - A grading value that indicates Very Good.

VIBRATION CRACK - Crack(s) that appear at bolt a hole, resulting from vibration.

WAFFLE PLATE - Aluminum plates pressed with a dimpled pattern for added strength.

WELL - Used to describe the recessed area, where a date sticker is intended to be placed (see NAVEL and STICKER BOX).

WHEATIES - Often a general term used to refer to all small license plate facsimiles, but specifically to metal plates offered as a premium in General Mills Wheaties cereal (see CEREAL PLATES, TOPPS and GOUDEY).

WINDSHIELD DECAL - Water transfer placed on a vehicle's windshield, which was used to revalidate a previous years plate.

WINDSHIELD STICKER - Used to describe a self-adhesive revalidation sticker intended to be applied to a windshield, but often used incorrectly to refer to a water transfer windshield decal.

XH - Indicates extra hole(s) - holes that were not manufactured.

YOM - Refers to Year Of Manufacture laws in many states, which allow vintage plates to be registered to same-year vehicles.


Last updated: Monday, 27-Jun-2016 00:03:46 UTC




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