Plate collecting plate

Rick Kretschmer's License Plate Archives 

Plate collecting plate

Plates About License Plate Collecting


This page shows my collection of plates related to the hobby of license plate collecting. 

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Plate collectors are fickle bunch.  In most cases, we're only interesed in authentic, state-issued license plates, and have no time for "cute" plates such as booster, souvenir, and novelty plates.  But these same collectors tend to love such plates if they're in some way related to the hobby of plate collecting.  (Yes, I know there are exceptions to all of this, as there are about anything.) 

In my case, my interest in such plates developed very slowly, and is still rather limited.  For a long time, the only such plate I had my collection was the 1996 ALPCA convention souvenir plate (the yellow Illinois plate with the cardinal graphic) shown below.  I joined ALPCA in 2003, so I had no sentimental interest in it.  I bought it because I mistakenly thought it was a street-legal Illinois special event plate and it had the cardinal on it.  At the time I was trying to get my wife interested in the hobby by collecting plates with cardinals on them.  When I realized that wasn't going to work, I sold most of my cardinal plates but I kept this one because by then I had begun collecting Illinois plates, and still thought this one was real. 

Much later, I gradually began aquiring reasonably priced ALPCA convention souvenir plates from specific states I had an interest in, as well as plate collecting-related vanity, booster, and novelty plates.  Combine those with the ALPCA convention voluteer and promotional plates I got for free, and I have enough to make a worthwhile web page. 

Plate collecting vanity license plates

I'm usually not a big fan of vanity plates, but I had to have these fun plates.  These are all real, state-issued license plates.  The North Carolina plate I ran on my own vehicle for a year, just so I could add it to my collection.  Yes, I realize the Missouri plate could be about anything, but since the message is actually on a license plate, I think it's pretty obvious. 


Maryland "ALPCA" vanity plate Virginia "PL8 MEET" vanity plate North Carolina "RIX PL8S" vanity plate Missouri "FUN 4RK" vanity plate

Plate collecting special event license plates

Illinois puts out special event plates for every imaginable kind of event like there's no tomorrow.  These are real, street-legal license plates that are valid for 60 days leading up to the day (or last day) of the event.  I believe the ALPCA plate is the only street-legal plate ever to promote an ALPCA convention, and I suspect it also was the basis for ALPCA souvenir plates being made with serial numbers starting the following year.  The statehood bicentennial plate is actually a special event plate for the Mid-America Plate Association, or MAPA, which is an ALPCA regional chapter that holds plate meets in the Chicago area.  MAPA holds four plate meets a year and I believe gets special event plates made for each one.  Most of MAPA's plates have artwork depicting classic cars. 


1986 Illinois ALPCA convention special event plate 2018 Illinois ALPCA MAPA region special event plate

Plate collecting booster plates

Now we start splitting hairs over terminology regarding various types of plates that aren't legal for street use.  In my mind, a booster plate promtes an organization, a souvenir plate is given to or sold to attendees at an event, and a novelty plate indicates the owners' interests or beliefs or identity in some way. 

This ALPCA booster plate just promotes the organiation and not any specific event.  They're made with plate numbers that correspond to individuals' member numbers. 

ALPCA numbered booster plate

Plate collecting souvenir plates

ALPCA has offered souvenir plates for each of their annual conventions since 1976.  The conventions rotate around to different parts of the U.S. each year.  I've chosen to only collect ALPCA convention souvenir plates from selected states.  The 1986 Illinois plate was the last unnumbered convention souvenir plate.  In subsequent years, the numbers have no meaning; they're just numbered from 1 to however many plates were made that year.  The "best" numbers are auctioned to the highest bidder as a club fundraiser. 

Illinois ALPCA conventions

Below are the Illinois convention souvenir plates for every year they were made, with the exception of 1977. 

1986 ALPCA convention souvenir plate 1992 ALPCA convention souvenir plate 1996 ALPCA convention souvenir plate 2001 ALPCA convention souvenir plate
ALPCA souvenir plates for Illinois conventions in 1986, 1992, 1996, and 2001. 

Maryland ALPCA convention

There has been only one convention held in Maryland in the souvenir plate era... 

1983 ALPCA convention souvenir plate
ALPCA souvenir plates for Maryland convention in 1983. 

Virginia ALPCA conventions

... and Virginia has had two. 

1988 ALPCA convention souvenir plate 2022 ALPCA convention souvenir plate
ALPCA souvenir plates for Virginia conventions in 1988 and 2022. 

ALPCA convention volunteer plates

ALPCA gives out these motorcycle-sized plates as a "thank you" to members as well as non-members who fill any of the many volunteer positions needed to make the convention run smoothly and economically.  I've attended most annual ALPCA conventions since 2007, at at most of those, I've served as a volunteer in various roles, including auction runner and display judge.  I think there may be an additional convention or two where I volunteered but didn't get a plate. 

2010 ALPCA convention volunteer plate 2011 ALPCA convention volunteer plate 2014 ALPCA convention volunteer plate 2016 ALPCA convention volunteer plate 2018 ALPCA convention volunteer plate 2022 ALPCA convention volunteer plate 2023 ALPCA convention volunteer plate
ALPCA convention volunteer plates for 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2022, and 2023. 

ALPCA convention promotional plates

For at least a few years in the late 2000s, motorcycle-sized plates were distributed at ALPCA conventions that promoted the following years' conventions.  These were given out at no charge. 

2009-2010 ALPCA convention promotional plate
2009 plate promoting the 2010 ALPCA convention. 

Other plate collecting events

There's a Nevada-based license plate collecting organization that has gone back and forth between being the independent Nevada License Plate Collectors' Society, or NILPS, and the ALPCA Silver State Region.  This group has made souvenir plates available at their events, probably for as long as anyone can remember.  They didn't always indicate the organization's name or the date of the event, as this plate shows.  The background design on this plate was used on real Nevada plates issued between 1984 and 2001, so it's a safe bet that this plate was for an event during that period.  This plate was actually made by the state, but regardless of manufacturer, Nevada requires that all souvenir or replica plates that resemble real Nevada plates be made with red serial characters. 

1990s NILPS souvenir plate
1990s-era NILPS souvenir plate. 

Plate collecting novelty plates

It's hard to believe there's enough of a market for these to make it worthwhile to manufacture them.  But, yet, here they are.  I've seen several other such plates besides the one shown. 

plate collecting addictive novelty plate

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