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Massachusetts License Plate
Catalog #: 1981.0631.01, Accession #: 1981.0631
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
This plate was registered to William Gray and used on his Winton Auto. Massachusetts was the first state to issue license plates to motorists, begining in 1903. The commonwealth began putting the date on the plate in 1908. In 1907, Massachusetts became the first state to require drivers to take a driving test. In 1928 an embossed codfish was added to the plate in what was an early example of the now common phenomenon of decorative plates.
Physical Description
artifact. 10” W x 5 1/2” H x 1/4” D; white with blue lettering; porcelain; Marked MASS.730/1910 on front. Marked “The Baltimore Enamel and Novelty company” on back.
Date Made:
As the number of motor vehicles reached tens of thousands, state and local governments assumed a new power: authorizing vehicles and drivers. In 1901, New York became the first state to register automobiles; by 1918 all states required license plates.

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