1977 U.S. license plate

Rick Kretschmer's License Plate Archives 

1977 U.S. license plate

Rick's 1977 U.S. Non-Passenger Plates

(My other high school graduation year set)

 

On this page I display my collection of U.S. non-passenger plates from the year 1977.  Now up to 21 of 56 states and other jurisdictions in my collection and shown on this page. 

Latest noteworthy updates to this page
  • November 22, 2016  –  Added photos and descriptions of an Arizona historic vehicle plate, a Kentucky vanity plate, and a Massachusetts repair plate.  Added a photo of a North Carolina vanity plate. 
  • August 31, 2016  –  Added photos and descriptions of an Alaska sample plate, a Kansas Corporation Commission plate, and a Canal Zone trailer plate. 
  • February 11, 2016  –  Added photos and descriptions of a Nevada motor carrier mileage tax plate and a North Dakota used vehicle dealer plate.  Added a thumbnail of a third version of New Hampshire passenger car plates. 

Introduction

Many license plate collectors, myself included, either have or are working on a "birth year set", which is a collection of license plates from every state from the year they were born.  Not only do I have a 1959 birth year set of U.S. passenger car plates, but also a 1977 high school graduation year set of U.S. passenger car plates.  1977 plates are more significant to me than those in my birth year set, because I actually remember seeing them in use. 

As I searched on eBay for U.S. 1977 passenger car plates to add to my collection, I couldn't help but notice the many 1977 non-passenger plate types.  While nearly all states were using multi-year base plates for passenger cars in 1977, usually with expiration stickers, a surprising number of them were still issuing annual plates with embossed years for at least some non-passenger plate types.  Many states also had non-passenger plate types that were completely different in appearance than their passenger car plates.  I found these to be interesting enough that I began a U.S. 1977 non-passenger plate set, which is shown on this page. 

For the purpose of this page, I use the term "non-passenger" rather loosely.  Usually among plate collectors, it refers to a plate that would not have been used on a personal passenger car or motorcycle.  By a strict definition, then, special interest plates, handicapped plates, vanity plates, and the like are usually not thought of as non-passenger plates.  On this page, however, anything other than a standard, sequentially-numbered passenger car plate is fair game for inclusion. 

So, the parameters of my U.S. 1977 non-passenger plate set are as follows:  I want a plate other than a regular passenger car plate from every U.S. state, which, whenever possible, has the year "77" or "1977" stamped on it.  For those states where such a plate doesn't exist, a plate with the year "77" or "1977" screened or etched on the plate, or on a sticker, will suffice.  Otherwise, I'll settle for a plate as it would have been used in 1977.  If the jurisiction's various 1977 non-passenger plate types have significantly different designs, I also want an example of each design.  However, I'm not including motorcycle plates unless those are the only type of plate with an embossed year for that jurisdiction.  Someday in the future, I may decide to collect 1977 motorcycle plates. 

The plates on this page are arranged in alphabetical state name order, followed by other U.S. jurisdictions in alphabetical order.  Non-passenger plates are shown on the left, and thumbnails of 1977 regular passenger car plates are shown on the right for comparasion purposes.  All photos may be enlarged by clicking on them. 

My 1977 U.S. non-passenger license plates

As you can see, this project is very much still a work in progress. 

Alabama transit
Alabama

For 1977, Alabama passenger car plates went graphic with a screened year intended to be covered by renewal stickers in subsequent years.  As far as I know, all other plate types continued to be completely embossed, including the year, and were replaced annually.  This non-passenger plate type is consistently referred to as a "dealer transit" plate, but I can't find any information on how this plate type was used, or how it differed from regular dealer plates. 

Alabama passenger
Alaska sample
Alaska

There are few full-sized Alaska plate types that have an embossed "77".  The only ones I know of are the various government official plates, and this plate, which you could argue is either a sample plate or a state-issued souvenir plate.  During the years the standing bear plate was issued, 1976 to 1981, sample plates with lots of zeroes in the plate number were made in small numbers and kept in government circles, while plates with the number "17 76" were offered to the public.  Those were also made with no embossed year, but 1977 was the only embossed year. 

Alaska passenger
Arizona historic vehicle
Arizona

Arizona had several non-passenger plate types stamped with the year 1977, but the most interesting of them has to be the historic vehicle plate.  The Arizona historic vehicle plate type was introduced in 1977, and all such plates issued through the present day have the year "77" stamped on the plate.  In subsequent years, these were and are validated with month/year expiration stickers, but I believe at least initially, they were issued in pairs and the front plate was unstickered.  Thus, it's difficult to know which plates were actually issued in 1977. 

Initially, these had three-digit numeric registration numbers, then alphanumeric three-character numbers, then four-digit numbers, and then a variety of alphanumeric four-character plate numbers.  Early issues, including the one shown at left, were made of solid copper, while later plates were made of steel and were only copper-coated.  The only way to tell the difference is to see if a magnet will stick to the plate.  All of these plates have unpainted backgrounds, to allow the natural copper color to be plainly visible. 

Arizona passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Arkansas
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
California
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Colorado
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Connecticut
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Delaware
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Florida
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Georgia
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Hawaii
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Idaho
Illinois amateur radio
Illinois charitable bus
Illinois

Illinois was still replacing nearly all of their plates annually in 1977.  Passenger car plates didn't have an embossed border, and serial letters were the same size as numbers.  Non-passenger calendar year 1977 plates had the same green-on-white color scheme as passengers, but with an embossed border and larger serial characters.  Fiscal year 1977 plates expiring in June, and biennial 1976-77 plates used different colors. 

Illinois plates with letters at the end are non-passenger plates.  Suffix letters "CB" indicated a bus owned by a charitable or religious institution.  Charitable bus plates were only issued between 1976 and 1983. 

Illinois passenger
Indiana church bus
Indiana

Indiana was another state that still replaced all its plates every year.  However, there were no passenger car plates dated 1977; the state issued two different plates, both dated 1976, for use in 1976 and 1977, respectively. 

By contrast, non-passenger plates did have 1977 dates on them.  They were easily recognizable as Indiana plates from a distance, thanks to the two embossed squares in diagonally opposite corners. 

1977 Indiana passenger
Iowa truck
Iowa

Iowa passsenger car plates were issued in and stamped with the year "75" and renewed for the three following years with stickers.  Most, if not all, Iowa non-passenger plate types were still being issued annually with the appropriate year stamped on them.  During the mid-to-late 1970s, Iowa put county numbers on their plates but also used plate numbers that were unique statewide.  The stacked number 88 on this plate indicates Union County. 

Iowa passenger
Kansas Corporation Commission
Kansas

"KCC" stands for the Kansas Corporation Commission, which issued these permit plates to heavy commercial vehicles for sixty years from the early 1930s to the early 1990s.  The same three colors schemes were issued every year for three different uses, with the black-on-white plates being issued to private motor carriers. 

Kansas passenger
Kansas passenger
Kentucky vanity
Kentucky

Kentucky issued a few non-passenger types with the embossed year 1977, and several others with an embossed expiration date 4/1/77.  Back then, states often stamped the year onto their vanity plates and re-issued them each year, I presume so that if one motorist relinquished the number, another motorist could claim that number in a subsequent year without any concern that both plates would still be on the road.  I acquired this plate as part of a group of about 30 dental-related vanity plates, with which I intend to make a display for my daughter-in-law, who is a dentist.  If you couldn't figure it out, 2THDOC = "tooth doc" = dentist. 

Kentucky passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Louisiana
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Maine
Maryland fixed-route intercity bus
Maryland

Maryland did not issue any license plates with the embossed year for 1977, nor were there any non-passenger plates that looked different from passenger car plates.  I'll have to make do with this stickered 1977 motor carrier bus plate.  Such plates were used on commercial, fixed-route buses charging fares. 

Maryland standard passenger
Maryland optional Bicentennial passenger
Massachusetts auto repair shop
Massachusetts

During the 1970s, Massachusetts reissued a few non-passenger plate types annually, among them interchangeable plates which weren't assigned to a specific vehicle, such as dealer plates, and also motorcycle plates.  I presume "repair" plates were issued to auto repair shops and were used similar to dealer plates, on vehicles without their own valid plates that were being test driven or otherwise moved. 

Massachusetts passenger
Michigan half-year truck
Michigan

Only Michigan vanity plates and half-year truck plates had the year stamped on them in 1977.  Half-year truck plates were also among the few plate types that year not colored white on red and blue, or just white on red in the case of motorcycle plates.  Half-year truck plates expiring on May 16, 1977 were colored yellow on green, while those expiring on November 14, 1977 were white on green.  The large blank space at the bottom was used for a weight class sticker on heavier trucks; lighter trucks did not need such a sticker. 

Michigan passenger
Minnesota dealer
Minnesota

The "D" serial prefix identifies this nondescript plate as being a dealer plate.  As far as I know, only dealer and in-transit vehicle plates were stamped with the year 1977, as they were still being reissued annually.  The colors varied each year, and were red-on-white in 1977.  Passenger car plates were stamped with a 1974 date and were renewed with stickers; they were colored orange-on-white. 

Minnesota passenger version 1
Minnesota passenger version 2
Minnesota passenger version 3
Mississippi Public Service Commission
Mississippi church bus
Mississippi

Mississppi passenger car plates introduced in October 1976 were the state's first graphic plate design, and its first multi-year base plate in the modern era.  These were initally valid through October 1977.  Some non-passenger types also went to multi-year base plates; these had the debossed year "77" to allow easy placement of renewal stickers.  The white-background church bus plate shown at left is an example of one of these.  It's hard to see, but there's a debossed "77" in the sticker well in the upper right corner of the plate.  Plate types continuing with annual reissues had the year "77" embossed and painted a contrasting color.  Public Service Commission plates were issued to for-hire trucks and big rigs. 

Mississippi passenger
Missouri trailer
Missouri

In 1977, Missouri was still replacing all plates annually, and so they all bore the embossed year.  Most non-passenger types had color schemes that differed from passenger car plates as well as from each other.  I happened to get this plate for free, and so a trailer plate will represent Missouri. 

Missouri passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Montana
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Nebraska
Nevada mileage tax
Nevada

As far as I know, there are no 1977 Nevada plates with the year stamped on them.  The plate shown at left is a motor carrier mileage tax plate.  I believe it's the only 1977 Nevada plate that looks significantly different than the white-on-blue passenger car plates.  Not only are the plates themselves unique, but also the '77 sticker. 

Back in the 1970s, apportioned plates were in their infancy, and most states did not grant reciprocity to big-rig trucks and commercial buses.  Because of this, such vehicles bore numerous full-sized plates, small metal plates, and stickers for the various states in which they operated.  These were used to indicate vehicle registration, evidence of taxes paid, operating permits, and so on. 

Nevada passenger
New Hampshire trailer
New Hampshire

New Hampshire issued this green-on-white trailer base plate in 1977 and renewed it with stickers in subsequent years.  What's odd is that they also continued to renew the previous white-on-green 1975 trailer base plates with stickers.  New Hampshire passenger car plates remained white-on-green in 1977. 

New Hampshire passenger version 2
New Hampshire passenger version 3
New Hampshire passenger version 4
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
New Jersey
New Mexico vanity
New Mexico

New Mexico was one of several states that continued to reissue vanity plates each year after regular passenger car plates went to a multi-year base plate with renewal stickers.  Vanity plate colors were different from those of passenger car plates, and also varied each year. 

New Mexico passenger version 4
New York state Supreme Court judge
New York

New York used these obnoxious blue-on-orange plates from 1973 to 1986.  Passenger car plates had a sticker box which was never used; current registrations were indicated with windshield stickers.  A few plate types, including political and judicial plates, continued to be issued annually and bore embossed expiration dates.  This plate, with the prefix letters "JSC", was issued to a state Supreme Court judge. 

New York passenger
North Carolina vanity
North Carolina disabled veteran
North Carolina National Guard
North Carolina truck
North Carolina

North Carolina introduced its first modern multi-year passenger base plate in 1975, which was renewed in subsequent years with a sticker.  All other plate types continued to be issued annually and bore the embossed year.  While the 1975 passenger base was red-on-white, most other types alternated between red-on-white in odd years and green-on-white in even years.  Different plate types had the year stamped in various places on the plate.  Plate number DZ-7006 is a truck plate. 

(Neither the National Guard plate nor the truck plate are in my collection; they're both plates I traded away a long time ago.) 

North Carolina passenger
North Dakota used car dealer
North Dakota

I believe the only North Dakota plates with the year "77" stamped on them were the various types of dealer plates, of which there were several.  North Dakota had distinct plates for new vehicle dealers, used vehicle dealers, motorcycle dealers, mobile home dealers, semi-trailer dealers, dealer demonstrator vehicles, and probably several others.  All of these were reissued annually back then.  Shown at left is a used vehicle dealer plate. 

North Dakota passenger
North Dakota passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Ohio
Oklahoma farm truck
Oklahoma

All Oklahoma plates, including those for passenger cars, were still being issued annually in 1977 and had the year stamped on the plate.  Oklahoma non-passenger plates came in a variety of colors, and with varied placement of the state name, year, and other features.  Farm truck plates used the same plate numbering formats as did passenger cars, except for an additional letter, always "F", in the third position.  The first two letters identified the motorist's county; two-letter combinations beginning with "X" were used for Oklahoma County. 

Oklahoma passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Oregon
Pennsylvania tractor dealer
Pennsylvania truck
Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania had a statewide reissue of passenger car plates for 1977; these new yellow plates were undated, and were also unstickered during the first year of use.  Dealer and motor vehicle business plates were issued annually, and so had the new colors and an embossed year in 1977.  The prefix and suffix letters (which were always the same) identified the type of dealer; "A" indicated a new car or truck dealer.  However, most other non-passenger types continued with the previous blue base for one last year.  "Commercial" plates were issued to trucks, regardless of usage. 

Pennsylvania passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Rhode Island
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
South Carolina
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
South Dakota
Tennessee handicapped
Tennessee

Tennessee introduced their first graphic passenger car plate in 1977, but other types continued with non-graphic, all-embossed plates.  It seems that most non-passenger types have specific serial formats and/or letter prefixes or suffixes but aren't otherwise identifiable.  I avoided those and chose a plate type that's quite obvious. 

Tennessee passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Texas
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Utah
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Vermont
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Virginia
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Washington
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
West Virginia
Wisconsin dealer
Wisconsin

No, the "D" suffix isn't constant on Wisconsin dealer plates.  It seems that the number identifies a specific dealer, and the letter suffix is incremented to make each plate assigned to that dealer unique.  This one just has a "D" suffix by coincidence. 

Wisconsin passenger
Wyoming Highway Department
Wyoming

Unfortunately for this project, as far as I know, all 1977 Wyoming license plates used a sticker to indicate the registration year.  This plate, with the "H" prefix to the left of the bucking bronco graphic, was used on a state Highway Department vehicle.  It has a debossed year "75" under the sticker, while passenger plates had the year "75" screened on. 

Wyoming passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
American Samoa
(1977
passenger
plate
wanted)
Canal Zone trailer
Canal Zone

Never heard of the Canal Zone?  It was a strip of land flanking the Panama Canal that was administered by the U.S. from 1903 to 1979.  The good news is that most Canal Zone plates used in 1977 were embossed with the year.  The bad news is that there were very few non-passenger types, and very small numbers of the few types that were issued.  This one with a T prefix is a trailer plate. 

Canal Zone passenger
District of Columbia presidential inauguration special event
District of Columbia truck
District of Columbia

D.C. put the year 1977 on only one type of full-sized plate – its Presidential Inauguration special event plate.  The year is only screened on, not embossed, but it will have to do.  Most other plate types were validated with a '77 sticker.  The other plate shown at left is a truck plate; the "C" prefix is constant on these. 

(Truck plate – Kilpatrick plate.  I'd like to find my own stickered 1977 D.C. non-passenger plate.) 

District of Columbia passenger
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Guam
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
Puerto Rico
(1977 non-passenger
plate wanted)
U.S. Virgin Islands

Related links

Page credits

Thanks to those who have directly contributed to the information on this page:  Dave Kilpatrick. 

Kilpatrick plate was from the collection of Dave Kilpatrick. 


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