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Your license plate story, part two

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Jim Benjaminson’s grandfather, Andrew Widme, purchased his first car in July of 1912 – a used 1910 Mitchell built in Racine, Wisconsin. Grandpa Widme paid $700 for the car (which sold new for around $1,300) and had a chattel mortgage on it, which he paid off in two years. It was one of two chattel mortgages he would have in his lifetime – the other for $25 to pay for hail insurance on the farm. This photo, from 1913, shows the girls in the family sitting in the car (his mother is the little girl in the dark coat in the back seat). Unknown to anyone until the photograph was developed, uncle Albert had snuck under the car when the picture was taken. Photo courtesy Jim Benjaminson.

[Editor’s note: This story, compiled and edited by Tom DeMauro, comes to us from a variety of Hemmings Daily readers identified below.]

Along with numerous positive comments regarding Don Antilla’s license plate article that was published a few weeks ago, we also received some more stories and photos via email to share with you. Even Don found some lost plates and has obtained another special one since then, so we’ve included them as well.

As stated in the last article, if you have an interesting license plate tale to tell or a collection to share and you still have the plates, you can photograph them and email the photos and story to Photos should be at least 2 megabytes in file size (or about 2500 pixels wide). We will then edit and post groups of the stories as a Hemmings Daily article like this one, so that the photos can be included.


Jim Benjaminson: 1912 North Dakota License Plate Rediscovered

Above photos courtesy Jim Benjaminson.

Years later the same 1912 North Dakota license plate #2220 that was on the Mitchell when Grandpa purchased it, was discovered patching a hole in the granary. The plate has since been restored and hangs proudly on my den wall alongside the 12th plate ever issued by the state of North Dakota.


Michael Krarup: Graveyards and Plate Dates

Photo courtesy Michael Krarup.

I too have a lifelong story about license plates and numbers in general. My grandfather started it all when we were kids. Whenever we visited a graveyard (and we visited a lot of them at different churches) he would not let us go before we found a grave with that day’s date on it. That task was easier in bigger ones, but small-town graveyards were a bit tricky.

He would also double-check all license plates of the cars we met on the road to see if their numbers (5 digits always) could be divided by nine. There is a special rule that goes along with it, which I don’t recall anymore. My father kept on checking the “nine-rule” all his life. Rural roads in Denmark were not that populated in the early sixties. If my grandfather spotted a plate with that day’s date on it, he was even more exited.

In Switzerland where I live today, license plates are issued by the authorities of every Kanton (state) and remain with the driver, not the car. A few years ago, the authorities found out that car nuts would be willing to pay for a special number, be it combination or just low, some states are up to 800,000 cars. I checked the list of available numbers and there it was—my birthdate. I’ve always dreamed of having my birthday—March 3, 1957—as my license plate. Now I’m the happy owner of BS3357, and I will keep it as long I’m allowed to drive.


Peter Murdoch: MJ24 Through the Years

Photo courtesy Peter Murdoch.

My father got this plate number in the 30’s. His name was John Murdoch and his house street number was 24 hence “MJ24”. He had this on his car and eventually it was passed down to me. I recently retired and went down to one car and was happy that I was able to pass it along to my son who is also named John Murdoch. You can see the most current version on my son’s car, as well as older versions for comparison.

By the way I have “7057” on my car, and it was originally my grandfathers and was also passed down through the generations.


Mark Rauschenfels: Garage Art

Above two photos courtesy Mark Rauschenfels.

I enjoyed your story written with Mr. Antilla about his license plate collection. Living in Minnesota we leave our plates on our cars when we sell them, so there’s isn’t a lot of opportunity to save the plates, although they are replaced after seven years.

I started saving plates in the 1980s; anytime I bought cars out of state I would save the plate when replacing it with a Minnesota plate. A few years ago, I decided to hang them on my garage wall. I’ve got over 8-feet of plates in one row plus a few others waiting to start a new row. And the previous owner of a 1968 GTO I purchased left the personalized plate PURMUSL on the car for me. These license plates make a colorful addition to the garage!

Thanks for the fun and interesting articles you and your coworkers deliver to us every day via the Hemmings Daily.


Patrick Nixon: Hershey Pennsylvania shopping for Maryland

Above four photos courtesy Patrick Nixon.

Here is my collection of Maryland DAV tags. I got most of these at the Hershey swap meets, that I’ve been going to since the early 70’s. The years pictured are 1942, 1945, 1947-1949, 1951-1969, 1971, and 1976. In 1971, Maryland went to a five-year tag. Some are all plastic, most are framed in metal, but 1961 is both as shown. The 1942 tag was issued by IDENT-O-TAG CO, 2222 Diversey Pky, Chicago, ILL. The rest are from Disabled American Veterans, Cincinnati, Ohio.


Don Antilla: Something Old, Something New

Above and below photos courtesy Don Antilla.

I was troubleshooting a dead short in the 115-volt power feed to our extra bedrooms, and thus was in the basement to trace it to the third floor. As I was moving things around that I hung off the basement joists I saw that I had several more license plates up on nails. Since the V-111 plates I discussed in the last article were special to me I must have hung them up where no one would disturb them (including me). So here are the plates in full color. They are in good condition, so based on the expiration sticker I must have gotten these right before we were married and moved from New Rochelle, NY to Southbury, CT.


The special plate I had applied for finally arrived! It’s subtle, but every F (supercharged) Ford / Thunderbird owner knows what it means.