Grading License Plates

All license plates, regardless of age, reputation, or infirmity, should be graded using equal standards. For example, an excellent 1920 plate must be in the same condition as an excellent 1990 plate. This practice maintains a continuity from which all grades will emanate, and will avoid bias from the opinion of the owner of a given plate.

Unused plate, or one having no visible marks of usage, in original condition. No rust, fading, or deterioration of any kind. Often found in original envelope.
May show bolt marks, very slight scratches confined to area near bolt holes or corners, but no rust or discoloration. For porcelains, in addition to the above: Less than one square inch total chipping around bolt holes, corners, and edges only.
Very good
May show minor discoloration, few scratches. Very slight rust on edges acceptable. For porcelains, in addition to the above: Less than 2% background chipped and less than 1% foreground chipped. No single chip larger than one square inch. No retouching.
General slight rust, some fading or discoloration, but still acceptable for display. Small but inconspicuous holes or dents acceptable. For porcelains, in addition to the above: May have up to 3% background chipped, but no more than 2% foreground. Minor retouching.
Moderate to severe fading or discoloration, damaged corners, torn bolt holes, light to moderate rust on numbers and background, heavy rust on edges and bolt holes. May have large nail holes or dents that cannot be easily repaired. For porcelains, in addition to the above: Up to 20% porcelain missing. Seals may be missing.
Normally a "filler" used until a better replacement can be found. May have complete rust, be painted over, and have large holes or missing portions.

Supplementary grading classifications

Needs Repainting (NRP)
Must be suitable for repainting. Solid and relatively flat. Surface rust only.
A repainted plate. Exceptional or poor repaints should be specified.
This grade does not describe the condition of a plate. It should be used only in conjunction with one of the above grades.

For all grades, unusual or extraordinary defects should be mentioned separately. The grade assigned should describe the overall appearance of the plate. Any touch-up on porcelain plates should be specified.

This guide for grading license plates was originally assembled by Dave Hollins (#3847).

Last updated: Monday, 31-May-2021 16:14:00 UTC