[Image] SAAC - Connecticut Automobile License Plates
PLEASE NOTE: THIS PAGE IS IN PROCESS OF REVISION & SIMPLIFICATION AS OF, FEB 2011--MOST LINKS INOPERABLE, SORRY!!!
(This page originated 1/16/2000; see index below for latest updates highlighted in red)

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PLATES PAGE INDEX - These are navigational links for this page--click on the subject to go directly there:

Connecticut EA Plates Discussion
EA Plates Photo
Plate Dimensions  (section last updated 2/6/2000)
Exciting Information about the graphic used on CT's EA plates
 
(This section updated with new info & theories on the origin of the EA plate graphic, as per Bob Hellstrom input, as of
9/26/2001; and even more exciting new info, per the fantastic new Belltown Antique Auto Club reprint of a historical Connecticut document, as of 10/14/2005)
Four-digit porcelain EA on display in Stratford, CT  (section last updated
9/28/2001)
Four-digit porcelain EA on a car documented by Greg Mattesen  
(section last updated
10/13/2003)
A "New Generation" of EA Plates Confirmed--We'll Call It "Generation 1.5"  
(section last updated
8/6/2001)
Kit Foster Claims Discovery of "Generation 1.75" EA Plates!  
(section last updated
2/1/2002)
My Very Cool "Generation 1.85" EA Plate found at Hershey 2003!  
(section last updated
10/13/2003)
My questions about CT EA plates
License Plate Links  
(section last updated
1/31/2005)
Feedback from other Plate People
 (section last updated 3/20/2005)
Upcoming Local Plate Event of Interest  (section last updated 12/12/2003)

And here are some additional SAAC plate-related links to visit:

(Go to the New-For-Y2K EA Plate Feature Page)  (NEW as of 2/11/2000)
(Go to the page dedicated to CT's new "Year Of Manufacture" plates program)   (NEW as of 10/26/2000; latest updates to this page 3/5/2004)
(Go to the New Feature Page about Frank Wemple's CT EA Plates Interests and Experiences)  (NEW as of 2/13/2006)
*2011 Working: (Go to the New Feature Page created to showcase Marcy Fuller's historical documentation about her Great Grandfather Fred A. Law)  (NEW as of 
12/25/2007; newly reactivated as of 2/13/2011)

Your Webmaster has an interest in automobile license plates, and would like to share some of that interest here. I will develop & add more to this page as I find the time & energy available to. Right now there are several blanks that need to get filled-in, but, as stated, I'll hopefully be getting to them little by little, along the way. To start out, I've posted a photo of some Connecticut "Early American" plates and also a couple of my favorite license plate links. I am also a recently-new Automobile License Plate Collectors' Association member (I'm ALPCA member #8546; joined in the Fall of 1999). If my experiences at attempting to find used Connecticut EA plates for sale at this past fall's Hershey are any indication (I found NONE for sale at any price, at all the the plate sellers I ran across in two full days of covering all three flea market fields), these plates are probably fairly exclusive, and probably worth documenting (if not for CT residents, then perhaps for plate enthusiasts outside the state). I am also an "enthusiast" of CT's standard blue "passenger" plates, and eventually would like to post some pictures of some of the "vanity"-issue ones I've owned over the years.

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Four Generations of Connecticut Early American Plates

The image below shows four variations in Connecticut Early American ("EA") automobile registration plates. I don't know a heck of a lot about all the ins & outs of these plates, but I am eager to learn and pass along whatever information about them that I can. Early American plates in CT, as I understand them, are available only for automobiles of model year 25 years old & older. So, for this new year of 2000, any automobile of model year 1975 or earlier would be eligible to be registered with EA plates. To correct what seems to be a popular misconception about these plates, there is no usage restriction on these plates--if your down 'n dirty daily driver happens to be a '75 or earlier, you can use EA plates. There is also no difference in renewal cost (compared to conventional passenger plates). I've seen them on light trucks as well as cars (there's a particuarly beautiful early/mid-'70s 3/4 ton Ford pickup I've seen running around on the Shoreline lately with EA plates as a matter of fact). A real advantage of EA plates is that they limit the assessed value the town tax collector can place on your car to $500, so they can potentially save you a lot of money each year come local tax time (in comparison to having your valuable antique collector car registered with normal CT passenger plates).

A relatively recent innovation in CT EA plates (within the past, say, 5 years or so?) is that "vanity" EA plates are now available. "Vanity" options for EA's are more limited than normal passenger plates--here is the CT DMV web site page link with the specific EA "vanity" options info: http://dmvct.org/eamer.htm. I have a favorite "vanity" EA plate currently on my '68 Bug: "GEAR" (a reference to my Common Gear antique VW web site project); I'll try to eventually get a picture of it posted here.

I have registered automobiles with EA plates both from "original" registration, and also accomplished it by converting an already-registered (with normal passenger plates) vehicle. Doing the "conversion" from passenger to EA plates, I learned this past year, isn't do-able by mail--a trip to the DMV in person, with all your current registration paperwork (including no-fault insurance card) is required, and have your checkbook handy too (I don't recall the exact cost, but it was significantly more than the $50 I thought it would cost when I made my first "by mail" attempt).

To get to the specific subjects of the photo below... All Connecticut EA plates are white with black printing. The 1st & 2nd generations were totally flat, w/o any embossing. The 3rd & 4th generations had embossed numbers & border.

At the top is what I call the 1st generation Connecticut EA plate. It's a porcelain plate in an unusual size and attachment hole design & spacing (when I find the time, I'll get the plate over here with a ruler and report the actual measurements). Another unique feature of the plate is that it has slots for the tabs of the little metal number plates (I'll call them "renewal tabs") that were used to signify current registration. In the photo, I have inserted a green "50" number plate, although I'm pretty sure this would not have been appropriate for this plate (I have a green '50 Bug, however, and couldn't resist the temptation to "customize" the plate!). Underneath that tab is a black-colored square. It can also be seen that this particular plate, #133, has sustained some damage--see the chipped porcelain at the upper right corner, with an accompanying ding. We can only guess that it was a result of some accident somewhere earlier in the plate's life. There is also worn porcelain around the upper left attachment hole. This plate came into our lives somewhere in the mid-1980s, when we found & purchased it in the Hershey flea market.

The plate second from the top is what I call the 2nd generation Connecticut EA plate. It's a flat aluminum plate, with all numbers & graphics apparently screen printed onto it. It's a little bigger in overall dimension than the 1st generation plate, and with different left to right attachment hole spacing (never bothered to closely study top to bottom hole spacing--another future project...); both might be called the "modern" configuration for an automobile license plate. Also, not being porcelain, it's significantly lighter. This particular plate, #6308, was purchased this past fall from famous internet plate guy Drew Steitz of Pennsylvania (see Drew's web site link for "pl8s.com" in the plate links section below). I'm not sure as to what year this number might have been issued. I feel I can make an estimate of 1985 or so, however, based upon the other two very similar 2nd generation plates we have currently on cars (we have #'s 6533 and 6534, both of which were registered in 1986), and the one that another old car friend reported he registered his car with in 1984, #6077. It's interesting to note how the location (as signified by the black-painted square--interesting how Connecticut has always controlled this on EA plates, but not for conventional blue passenger plates--I see renewal stickers affixed all over the place on those) for the renewal tab--ah, make that renewal sticker--changed relative to the 1st generation. The fonts for the "EA" and "CONN." also were updated, and the numbers look significantly fatter, compared to the 1st generation. I've seen at least one "wrinkle" on this 2nd generation plate, with a significantly different style font used for the imprints--including the numbers themselves. Some day I'll see one again and photograph it...

The plate third from the top is what I call the 3rd generation Connecticut EA plate. It's a real "new look" compared to the 1st & 2nd generation plates, with embossed numbers and embossed, painted outside border. It can be seen from the example shown, #9301 (estimated issue date 1989?), that apart from the fact that it was embossed (and that the embossed numbers were effectively skinnier than the flat screen-printed numbers on the 2nd generation plate), and had the border, it was pretty similar in layout.

The plate at the bottom is what I call the 4th generation Connecticut EA plate. On first glance it seems pretty similar to the 3rd generation, however, Connecticut made some significant changes to accommodate the 5th digit. Look at the size & location of the horseless carriage graphic--smaller and higher up on the plate (look where the front wheel is relative to the bottom left attachment hole, compared to the 3rd generation configuration). Look at the placement of the numbers--significantly closer to the top (more apt to be partially obscured by a fat license plate frame!). Look at the fonts used for the "EA" and the "CONN."--skinnier. There's that black painted square again to show you where Connecticut wants you to affix your renewal sticker (it's covered by a sticker on the 3rd generation plate shown). This plate, #32786, is a fairly recent issue, from the fall of '99.

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Connecticut Early American Plates Collection, 4 generations

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Plate Dimensions (approximate measurements, by Webmaster, 2/6/2000):

1st generation (porcelain): width = 11", height = 6", hole spacing horizontal = 10" (center-to-center), hole spacing vertical = 5" (center to center), hole size (inside diameter of installed bushing) = 3/16". Length of horseless carriage image (front edge of front tire to rear edge of rear tire) = 6". Distance top of driver's head to top edge of plate = 7/8", distance top of plate number to top edge of plate = 9/16". Color of back of plate = black.
2nd generation (flat aluminum): width = 12", height = 6", hole spacing horizontal = 7" (center-to-center), hole spacing vertical = 4 3/4" (center to center), hole size (no bushing) = 5/16". Length of horseless carriage image (front edge of front tire to rear edge of rear tire) = 5". Distance top of driver's head to top edge of plate = 1 1/16", distance top of plate number to top edge of plate = 15/16". Color of back of plate = blue.
3rd generation (embossed aluminum 4-digit): width = 11 7/8", height = 5 7/8", hole spacing horizontal = 7" (center-to-center), hole spacing vertical = 4 3/4" (center to center), hole size (no bushing) = 5/16". Length of horseless carriage image (front edge of front tire to rear edge of rear tire) = 5". Distance top of driver's head to top edge of plate = 1", distance top of plate number to top edge of plate = 1 3/16". Color of back of plate = blue.
4th generation (embossed aluminum 5-digit): width = 11 15/16", height = 5 15/16", hole spacing horizontal = 7" (center-to-center), hole spacing vertical = 4 3/4" (center to center), hole size (no bushing) = 5/16". Length of horseless carriage image (front edge of front tire to rear edge of rear tire) = 4". Distance top of driver's head to top edge of plate = 1 5/16", distance top of plate number to top edge of plate = 7/8". Color of back of plate = blue.
REFERENCE "1956 & earlier"-style CT passgener plate: width = 9 3/16", height = 5 15/16", hole spacing horizontal = 8 1/8" (center-to-center), hole spacing vertical = 4 15/16" (center to center), hole size (no bushing) = 17/64". (these dimensions presented to show what an "oddball" size that 1st gen. porcelain EA plate was; though I haven't gone through the trouble of measuring a later passenger plate, it is my presumption that it's dimensions are basically the same as the 2nd-4th gen. EA's)

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Exciting Information about the graphic used on CT's EA plates

From the Shoreline Antique Auto Connection Message Board (http://www.InsideTheWeb.com/mbs.cgi/mb947000), an original posting, dated 7/26/2000, entitled "CT Early American Plate model," by Charlie Collins (ccmc1448@netzero.net):

"...On reading your article on the CT 'EA' plates, I would like to offer a possible answer to the question of what horseless carriage was used as the model. I would have to say that the model was an 1898 Pope Columbia. It was apparently taken from The Oldtime Automobile by John Bentley, published in 1951 by Fawcett Books (#134).

The picture appears on page 132 and it is noted that the passenger is the vehicle designer, Hiram P. Maxim. Slight changes were made - slightly different angle of view, addition of lights and a small change in the passenger's (Maxim) clothing. Beyond that, the similarity is too great not to be the model..."

WOW--how cool is that?! I guess this answers my question #6, below! And now the next big question: Can anyone send us a good photocopy of the photo from The Oldtime Automobile that Mr. Collins references??

After reading Mr. Collins' notes, I went back to the show booklet that the old Shoreline Antique Auto Club produced for the "Time Machines" antique auto show of 1988. There were several mini-features on CT-built automobiles in the booklet, including one for Hartford, CT's "Columbia." It is mentioned that Colonel Albert A. Pope hired Hiram Percy Maxim in 1897 to head Pope's motor carriage department (Pope was reportedly America's largest producer of bicycles at that time, marketed under the trade name of "Columbia"). In the two years following, 500 electric and 40 gasoline carriages were built, all carrying the name of Columbia. I wonder if the image on the CT EA plate is one of the electric models.

At any rate, the author of the paragraph in the "Time Machines '88" show booklet regretfully is not identified. There is an accompanying photo in the booklet that shows what appears to be a later car, possibly a gasoline model, and certainly not the image that the CT "EA" plate uses.

*12/11/2000 update: Thanks to Mr. John S. MacKiernan (fordt15@capecod.net) from Massachusetts, a member of the Society of Automotive Historians and the Pierce-Arrow Society, via a snail mail package postmarked 12/6/2000, we now have a reproduction of the "1898 Pope Columbia" photo from the Bentley book referenced above! I had posted a message seeking a copy of this photo at AACA's "Collectible Auto Discussion Forum" (one of my favorite places to visit on a regular basis--the URL is: http://www.aaca.org/cgi-bin/forumdisplay.cgi?action=topics&number=1&start=here), and Mr. MacKiernan wrote me offering to go make a copy of the photo in question. I can't tell you how excited I was to hear from Mr. MacKiernan, and how grateful I am to him for his help. I am especially excited now to be able to present the book image below, and, for comparison, I put my old porcelain "133" plate directly onto the scanner and focused in on the image. Both appear below--the book image with accompanying paragraph left, and the plate image right:

1898 Pope Columbia image from "The Oldtime Automobile" by J. Bentley  Image from original porcelain CT EA plate #133

Immediately upon comparing the two, it appears to me that the angle of the car is slightly different (as Mr. Collins originally noted in his July 2000 message board posting), but also that the car & passengers from the book were clearly the basis for the Connecticut EA plate image. We suspect there must have been an artist who used the image from the book (or perhaps a copy of the original photo that John Bentley subsequently put into his book), and then "re-drew" the illustration, with the slightly different angle (more of a side view than a front view, and making it appear a little narrower in the process), and also "streamlining" it into a clean black & white graphic, eliminating the grays, thereby making it suitable for printing on the license plates. A couple of other notable features are that the artist for the CT plates appears to have added headlights to the vehicle (also as Mr. Collins originally observed), and also that the driver has gotten a little taller (in comparison to his passenger, H.P. Maxim), with a slightly different style hat!

As it's probably not readable from the reproduced book image, the accompanying paragraph that appears adjacent to the 1898 Pope-Columbia reads as follows:

"At left is the 1898 Pope-Columbia, considered radical in its day because of steering wheel. Hiram P. Maxim (next to driver) was designer of the car. Son of a pioneer builder of flying machines, he was also inventor of the Maxim silencer for guns. In this car, he placed the single-cylinder engine at the front, unlike others of the time. Note the large radiator and simplicity."

The book "The Oldtime Automobile," Fawcett Book 134, was published by Fawcett Publications, Inc., Greenwich, Connecticut, Copyright 1951.Thanks again to Mr. John S. MacKiernan for his wonderful help with this research!

*9/26/2001 updates: (as originally published in a Shoreline Antique Auto Connection snail mail release dated 3/8/2001) More on the Possible Origins of Connecticut "EA" Plate Graphic, and the Original Introduction of the EA Plates - "The Plot Thickens!"

I was most happily surprised to receive an extremely interesting e-mail note in mid-February from noted antique auto enthusiast Mr. Bob Hellstrom (BH668BRU@aol.com) of the Belltown Antique Car Club. Bob had read the information we presented in the January 5, 2001 mailing about the apparent basis for the "horseless carriage" graphic image that's been used continuously (albeit with minor "streamlining" over the years) ever since their origination in 1952 on Connecticut's "Early American" (EA) license plates. As we noted there (and also on this SAAC web site page), it appeared that the image was based upon a photo of an 1898 Pope Columbia automobile, from the book "The Oldtime Automobile" by John Bentley, published in 1951, which also identified the vehicle designer Hiram P. Maxim as the passenger in the vehicle.

Mr. Hellstrom, however, has other information on the background of and subjects in the image. Quoting from his e-mail message entitled "CT Early American Plates," dated 2/15/2001: "...Just read your interesting article about the origin of the picture on these plates. My understanding is that the picture was taken specifically for the CT plates. The passenger in the picture is Henry Cave from West Hartford. His grandson, Bob, was a good friend of mine many years ago. He may even have a copy of the original. I'll see if I can track him down. He used to live in Pittsfield, MA where he was v.p. of the gas company, but I don't find a listed phone for him. His mother (Henry Cave's daughter-in-law) is still alive and living somewhere in this area..."

In a follow-up message also dated 2/15/2001 Bob wrote: "...Off the top of my head, I seem to remember that Henry Cave was an inventor and was picked for inclusion on the Early American plates because of some invention. In any event, there was an article back 20-30 years ago, either in the Courant or in the AAA's Automobiler that related to the choice of subjects for the picture on the plates. If all else fails, maybe the AAA archives in West Hartford will be useful. You will note that the passenger in the image on the plates is shorter than the driver. This is the reverse of what we see in the photograph of the Pope-Columbia..."

And finally, the gracious Mr. Hellstrom even went through the trouble of tracking down the 1952 issue of the Hartford Daily Courant that I thought contained a feature article on the introduction of the Early American plates in Connecticut (it was my impression that the article appeared in the issue dated 9/26/52-but unfortunately it appears that information is inaccurate). In his e-mail message dated 2/25/2001, Mr. Hellstrom writes: "...I spent a couple of hours last Tuesday in the Hartford Library reviewing their microfilm copies of the old Hartford Courant and Hartford Times. I looked through September 26, 1952 issues of both papers with no success. Ditto for September 25, 1952 and September 27, 1952. I went through each one twice but found nothing. I have a hazy recollection that the article originally appeared in one of the supplements to the Sunday Courant. That would mean some date other than September 25, 1952. If you would check the old photo again and verify the date of the article, I'll be glad to go back and check further..."

I can't thank Mr. Bob Hellstrom enough for his interest, great knowledge, and extremely gracious helpfulness! He's really opened up some new possibilities on the origins of the EA plate graphic...and also made me realize that I need to get ahold of that person who had the copy of that old Courant article!!

*10/14/2005 updates: What to you know--our old friend Mr. Bob Hellstrom has once again figures prominently in our continuing quest to find out more about the origins of the horseless carriage graphic that has historically been used (in various forms over the years) on Connecticut's "Early American" (EA) license plates for antique automobiles. A year or so ago, he mentioned, I think in one of the Belltown Antique Auto Club newsletters (of which he is the editor), that the Belltown club was engaged in a project whereby they were doing an authorized reprint of a booklet called: "Hartford's Golden Automobile Jubilee, 1897-1947," and that eventually the club would make copies of the finished product availble, as a fundraising project for the BACC. I recall writing to Bob at the time, mentioning to him my excitement at hearing of the project, and hoping that I'd have a chance to purchase one eventually.

Cover - "Hartford's Golden Automobile Jubilee, 1897-1947," reproduced 2005 by the Belltown Antique Car Club, East Hampton, CTFast forwarding now to the 2005 AACA Eastern Division Fall Meet at Hershey, PA (a.k.a: just plain old "HERSHEY"--old car people need only that one word to understand...), and we're trudging through flea market fields on (the very rainy) Friday, October 7th. I think it was the White Field, when we rounded a corner, and saw a poster out at the edge of a flea market space, that turned out to be an enlarged version of the cover of the "Hartford's Golden Automobile Jubilee, 1897-1947" booklet, and, yes, reprinted copies of the booklet were available for sale in that very space! I inquired and found out they were just $10 each, so I eagerly opened up my wallet, paid for one copy, and received a very beauttifully done, soft-cover volume. I mentioned to the seller that I was a "long-distance" Belltown member myself, and had read about the reprinting project, and how eager I'd been to finally be able to acquire one. I introduced myself, and the seller introduced himself--he was Mr. Beckwith from the Belltown Antique Car Club. I carefully placed the booklet in my "waterproof" LL Bean backpack (note the use of quotation marks), and didn't really look at it again until I got back to Connecticut.

Well, wouldn't you know, the booklet did sustain some water damage, from my walking around in the rain at Hershey on that Friday. The good news is, however, I think I rescued it in time, and now only have a slightly water-damaged copy, AND I'm hopefull I'll be able to buy another copy at some point, so I'll have at least one in pristine condition.

Though I haven't had a lot of time to study the booklet in detail, my intial impression is OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE--this is a really well-done reprint, of an incredibly interesting subject (for any Connecticut auto enthusiast, or any automobile history buff in general). The Belltown Antique Auto Club should stand up and take a collectve bow for how beautifully their 2005 reprint of "Hartford's Golden Automobile Jubilee, 1897-1047" came out! Needless to say, I'll be spending a LOT more "quality time" with it in the future. For now, however, and as relates to this page, and the subject of the graphic that is used on Connecticut's Early American plates, this booklet contained a photo on page 11, that was credited to Henry Cave, that appears to be the original that the image from the above-mentioned image from "The Oldtime Automobile" (copyright 1951), came from(!). Remember, the "Hartford's Golden Automobile Jubilee, 1897-1947" (produced by The Hartford Chamber of Comerce, in cooperation with the Veteran Motor Car Club of America, the Antque Auto Club, and the Horseless Carriage Club) came from 1947--that's a full 4 years earlier than the other book(!). The caption below the image (if it's not readable in the scanned image BELOW, reads: "Sir Hiram Percy Maxim (left) and Bert Holcomb in a pre-1900 Pope Gasoline Car." It is intersting to note that Bert Holcomb is also identified in the cover image for the book (reproduced in reduced scale at the upper right--the original dimension of the image, and the book itself, is about 11" high by about 8 1/2 inches wide)--the actual caption for the cover image reads: "At the end of the record run from Chicago to New York by Lawrence Duffie (left) and Bert Holcomb (right) in a 1904 Mark XLII Columbia Car made in Hartford by the Columbia and Electric Vehicle Company."

Anyway, please enjoy this better reproduction of this historic image:

Sir Hiram Percy Maxim (left) and Bert Holcomb in a pre-1900 Pope Gasoline Car. (courtesy Henry Cave) - From page 11 of "Hartford's Golden Automobile Jubilee, 1897-1947," reproduced 2005 by the Belltown Antique Car Club, East Hampton, CT

I wish I could tell you how to go about obtaining your own copy of the fantastic Belltown Antique Auto Club reprint of this wonderful historical automobile document, however, to my knowledge, they haven't advertised it for sale anywhere yet. I can, however, advise you that the Belltown Antique Auto Club, based in East Hampton, CT, has it's official web site located at: http://www.belltownantiquecarclub.org/ (and please feel free to mention that you were referred by the Shoreline Antique Auto Connection!).

(this section added 10/26/2000; significant updates, including book & plate images added 12/11/2000; additional information & theories on the subject of the EA plate image graphic posted here as of 9/26/2001, and 10/14/2005)

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Four-digit porcelain EA on display in Stratford, CT

This one pertains to my Question #3 in the "My questions about CT EA plates" section of this page. I was in an auto parts store in Stratford yesterday (Thursday September 27, 2001) buying some motor oil, and noticed the place had many plates displayed around the perimeter of the building, at the very tops of the walls, near the ceiling. What do you know--among them there was a pair (not adjacent to each other, but in two separate locations) of four-digit porcelain EA plates there, #1209, one even with it's "MAR 62" metal renewal tag attached! They looked to be the same dimensions as the three-digit porcelains, and they had the wide-spaced attachment holes with metal bushings, as well. The store is called "Auto Parts Unlimited," and it's located at 1258 Barnum Avenue, Stratford, CT 06614. Pretty cool! (this section added 9/28/2001)

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Four-digit porcelain EA on a car documented by Greg Mattesen

In a correspondence dated 9/20/2003, our long-time old car friend Greg Mattesen sent along several interesting recent photos and commentary relating to old cars. Among them were a couple of shots of a real-live four-digit porcelain EA plate, apparently actively in use on an old car in the state (as opposed to the pair that I observed on display in an auto parts store a couple of years ago--reference the previous section), one of which I'm very pleased to present (BELOW). Here are quotes from Greg's accompanying note: "...The first two are of a set of genuine porcelain CT "EA" plates Amelia and I saw on a '32 Packard at the Main Street Middletown Cruise back in June. The plates were in beautiful condition, and sported a very large and appealing rendition of the old-fashioned car which graces our current Early American plates. Notice the three slots around the validation area for the early metal renewal tabs..." Very cool, Greg--and THANKS!  (this section added 10/13/2003)

Greg Mattesen photo of a four-digit Connecticut EA plate, September 2003

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A "New Generation" of EA Plates Confirmed--We'll Call It "Generation 1.5"

In browsing the car show field at Time Machines 2001, on July 22, 2001 in Durham, CT, I came across a plate on a car that I had previously thought didn't exist. It's a flat aluminum plate, with screened-on printing, very similar to the "2nd Generation" plate shown and discussed above on this page. There are two major differences with our "2nd Generation" plate however. The first is the presence of renewal tab slots (for use of metal tabs; they're slightly obscured in the image below, by the MANY years'-worth of renewal stickers accumulated on Mr. Cozza's plate!). The second is the white back (as opposed to blue back, as noted on our 2nd Gen. example above). I talked briefly with the owner of this car, Mr. Joe Cozza from Watertown, about the plate and the car. The vehicle itself is a 1931 Dodge Brothers, and Mr. Cozza reports it's been in the family for many years (I would say "since new," except that I didn't write that in my notes--it may well have been an oversight on my part). I asked if he knew what year the car received it's "EA" plate. He searched through his paperwork but couldn't come up with a date, though he indicated his best estimate was 1953 or so.  (this section added 8/6/2001)

Joe Cozza's '31 Dodge Brothers plate, 7/22/2001, Time Machines auto show

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Kit Foster Claims Discovery of "Generation 1.75" EA Plates!

On the back of the photo below, received as part of a snail mail package postmarked 11/2/2001, Kit writes: "...Connecticut Early American 'Generation 1.75': Old style numbers, aluminum plate, blue back, no slots. Issued in 1977 to Kit Foster's 1925 Hudson Super Six - plate had been issued before..." For those not aware, Kit Foster is an automotive historian and writer from Gales Ferry, Connecticut (and also an ALPCA member!). His work often appears in AutoWeek, Special Interest Autos, Collectible Automobile, and several British publications. He is presently writing a book on FE and FO Stanley and their steam automobiles, to be published in 2002 by the Stanley Museum. (this section added 2/1/2002)

Kit Foster

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My Very Cool "Generation 1.85" EA Plate found at Hershey 2003!

It was for the past several years that I have been keeping my eyes open for one of these plates, with the very "gaudy" typeface for the numerals (I call it "'Old West Wanted-Poster' printing") to photograph. I had seen them a few times but every time I hadn't had my camera with me, and so kept on wishing and hoping that a car would show up at a local car show sporting one, so that I could at least take a picture of it. Imagine my great surprise when, browsing through the "White Field" at the AACA Eastern Division National Fall Meet last week, Mrs. Webmaster and I saw one for sale in someone's flea market space. I don't know who the seller was, as I think the person at the next adjacent space was watching the space for them, and I was only able to essentially pay them what the price sticker on the (blue painted) back noted, which was $30 (though I also have to admit that I was not anxious to "bargain"--I just wanted it!). Later, browsing further through the White Field, I came across another vendor (who said he was from Roxbury, CT) who had a decent matching pair of 4-digit porcelain EAs for sale ($450 asking price), and showed them my "prize purchase." They indicated that this variety of EA was only used for a relatively short run, somewhere in the range of 500-700 numbers or so, if memory serves, and then the EAs returned to the normal unembelished "block" style printing for the numbers ("Generation 2" per the nomenclature I came up with for this page's discussion, I guess you could say). There are several interesting things to note about this plate, aside from the very obvious, very unusual typeface that Connecticut decided to use for the plate's numerals. First, of course, is the number itself: 3739--giving at least one "data point" for plate numbers that were in this range. Second is what appears to be the only renewal sticker on this plate, dated March 1980--giving a calendar data point for when these plates were used (and possibly the actual issue timeframe of #3739, since it's the only sticker on there). I will try to spend some time to make some measurements and report back, but it appears at this point that things like the size and placement of the horseless carriage graphic is similar to "Generation 2," along with other details. Anyway, I'm extremely pleased to show you #3739 in all her glory (BELOW).  (this section added 10/13/2003)

Connecticut Early American plate #3739, purchased at Hershey 2003

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Questions I have about Connecticut EA plates

Can anyone help me fill in the blanks? Follow-up info will be posted here with credit given!

1) I recall someone telling me once that the very first EA plate issued in Connecticut was #101. Is this true? Approximately what year did this happen?

2) When did the changeover from the 1st generation porcelain EA plates to the 2nd generation flat aluminum screen printed plate occur? What number effectivity? What year (even approximate)?

3) Does anyone have a four-digit 1st generation porcelain EA plate that we could borrow a picture of (or photograph)? I recall seeing one at Hershey this past fall, a number in the 17XX-range, on a fire truck in the Saturday car show. Unfortunately I did not have the presence of mind to photograph it or find out anything more about it! Did it still have the slots for the renewal tabs? Was anything else about it updated relative to the 3-digit version?

4) Does anyone know the number of the first 3rd generation EA plate? Obviously from the data presented here, it must have been somewhere between #6534 and #9301.

5) Does anyone know when the first five-digit 4th generation EA plate was issued? (presumably #10000)

6) Does anyone know what kind (manufacturer) of horseless carriage is used as the "graphic" for the Connecticut EA plate? As can be seen from the series of plates in the photo, it was the same graphic in all generations of the plate, although it did show signs of loss of detail as successive generations of EA plates were issued. Is there an actual historic picture that was used as the model for this black & white graphic?

Probably more questions to come as I find the time to concentrate more on this subject... Any site visitors have any questions about EA plates? Please send us an e-mail!

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Some of our favorite License Plate Links

Automobile License Plate Collectors Association, Inc.: http://www.alpca.org/

Drew Steitz's license plate site: http://www.pl8s.com/

Another helpful link when it comes to Connecticut automobile registration, CT's DMV: http://dmvct.org/

Joe Wasielewski's & Mike Barnes' Connecticut License Plates Page: http://www.geocities.com/jwasiele/lp/ct/  (this link added 12/9/2000)

The State of Connecticut's online vanity plate "select-o-tron": http://www.dmvplate.state.ct.us/VanityPlate.asp  (this link added 10/21/2002; our thanks to Kit Foster for the heads-up!)

Jeff Anders' great new "Platetrading.com" interactive forum & message board: http://www.platetrading.com/  (this link added 1/10/2003; thanks to Jeff Anders, ALPCA #9448, for the heads-up!)

Steve Grove's "Antique Auto License Plates" web site--this is a wonderful site dedicated to antique auto plates nationwide--and there are some very interesting and unique features relating to Connecticut antitque plates! We are very pleased to pass along CA resident and ALPCA member Mr. Grove's web site link: http://www.freewebs.com/aaplates/  (this link added 12/12/2003; thanks to Steve Grove, ALPCA #8304, for the heads-up!)

Greg Lindberg's and Dave Smith's awesome "Connecticut License Plates" internet resource--this site is super-comprehensive, with tons of information and images about any any all sort of Connecticut plates--you'll spend hours browsing this excellent web site: http://ctpl8s.tripod.com/  (this link added 1/31/2005; thanks to Greg Lindberg, ALPCA #8804, for the heads-up!)

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Feedback from other Plate People (latest additions posted at the top)

From Joel Finn (joelfinn@mac.com), in an info-packed e-mail dated 2/22/2005:

"...Steve; You probably know all this already...The first EA porcelain actually issued was #101 in late-September 1952, possibly the 25th. Number 100 is still at the DMV in Wethersfield...Number 1599 was the last porcelain issued in late 1962...The first flat plate issued (1963) was #1600 and it had tab slots and a white back. The earliest of these plates had March 1964 expiration stickers. The older porcelains could continue in use with the appropriate stickers...Starting with # 2500 the tab slots were eliminated and a blue back was used...Flat EAs stopped somewhere in the high 7000s. Number 7841 is the highest I have observed. I have never seen any (flat) EA plate numbered in the 8,000 range...The non-reflective embossed EAs started at Number 9000 and began to be issued in late 1988 with a March 1990 expiration sticker...With number 10,000 the car logo was made smaller due to the extra length of the five-digit numbers. The last of the non-reflective plates was number 33,999 though not all of the very high numbers in the range were actually issued. The last of these plates were issued in May-July 2000 with sticker expirations of March 2002...Numbers 100 and lower were made available starting in late 1988 as were vanities as well as numbers starting with one or more zeroes...The first reflective EAs began at number 34,000 in July 2000, also expiring in March 2002. All renewing non-reflective and porcelain plates have been replaced with reflective plates. It is no longer legal to use the earlier plates, including the porcelains...Joel Finn..."

From Rich Dragon (redragon@concentric.net), in an e-mail dated 1/29/2002:

"...I have thoroughly enjoyed your web page about Connecticut's Early American (antique auto) license plates. I enjoy researching the history of plates and vehicle registration laws, and am equally interested in studying the work of others. Unfortunately, I don't believe I have any new information to add, but maybe you can see something that I cannot in the two EA plates that I have, so here are the numbers: I have a beautiful pair of porcelain plates that are numbered 1407. Unfortunately, they had no tabs when I obtained them at the AACA show in Hershey in (I think) 1996. I also have a flat 2nd generation plate number 2799...Incidentally, I'm trying to obtain information about the issuance history of Connecticut's specialty graphic plates (Long Island Sound, Greenways, UConn, etc.), in case you have any printed data about them. I'm also seeking examples of the plates. Even though the oldest of these plates was introduced slightly less than 10 years ago, it appears that some types have come and gone with nary a notice, and if we don't "get our arms around" their history now, future collectors and registration historians will likely be unable to assemble the information that we can, as you've done with the Constitution State's attractive Early American plates..."

From ALPCA-er #9123 Stan Martin (smcmartin@wk.net), in an e-mail dated 1/19/2002:

"...Hello I am alpca # 9123 from western Kentucky and I wanted to know if you had the following passenger car licence plates for Sale or trade: Connecticut new passenger base, Connecticut passenger with 1965 sticker, Connecticut passenger with 1994 sticker, Connecticut passenger with 1996 sticker. Thanks a lot..."

From recently-new ALPCA-er Bryce Nerland (Brycenn@aol.com) in an e-mail dated 2/2/2001:

"...Hello, I am working on a run of handicapped plates for the 50 states. I have five states to go: Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, New Jersey, and Wyoming. I know all of these are hard to come by but if anyone has information as to where I might obtian any of these please e-mail, call or write. I've just joined the ALPCA this week and am excited to talk to any plate collectors. Feel free to send your want lists as well so that I can keep an eye out for you. Thanks!..."

If anyone cares to contact Bryce on this request, his e-mail link is provided.  (this note posted here 2/5/2001)

From ALPCA-er #6692 Mike Barnes (Mjbarnes13@aol.com) in an e-mail dated 11/2/2000:

"...So what is your opinion on the new reflective Early American plates? I like them better than the previous issues. One thing that has to make you laugh, especially since "Early American" is now prominently spelled out, is the fact that you often see these plates on foreign cars, some only 20 years old! Neither early nor American! Oh well, nobody ever said the DMV was perfect..."

My opinion on the new reflective EA plates...I am a fan of "old" stuff, so naturally, I guess, I would say I like the older ones better than this new one. I would say I don't like how the horseless carriage graphic has become even smaller & less detailed (more "streamlined"). On the other hand, what I *am* happy about, regarding these new EAs, is that they show an "evolution" from the older ones. I'm not sure how to explain this. It's like, say, they could have completely redesigned the plate, with different colors, different graphic image, etc., but instead they took the existing design, and used it as a basis for the updated one. I guess it kind of shows "reverence" for the history of EA plate designs in Connecticut...Yes, the spelling-out of "Early American," certainly does seem awkward now when it's used on a *foreign* car! But again, if Connecticut had decided to completely change the wording to "Antique Auto" or something, I guess I'd be somewhat disappointed, as it would kind of "discard" the years of history (since the beginning in 1952) that people have thought of Connecticut's EA's as meaning "Early American." My *preference* would have been to keep the simple "EA" lettering on the new plate, rather than having "Early AMERICAN" staring me in the face--since I'm a foreign car (specifically VW) enthusiast myself! It would certainly be interesting to hear more about the origins of the EA plates. I'll have to track down that 1952 Hartford Courant article one of these years and read it...It is my understanding that EA plates are only eligible to be used on cars that are *25* years old, minimum (for reference: Antique Automobile Club of America defines "antique" as any automobile that's 25 years old or older).  (this note posted here 11/3/2000)

From "James" (jimgil@mail.codenet.net) in an e-mail dated 10/1/2000, entitled "Vanity License Plates":

"Hi, I just joined APLCA my number is 8827. I am collecting vanity license plates, one from each state. I do not have any plates to trade, i was hoping I could just buy any, if you have any. I like nasty sayings, stuff that refers to rafting, kayaking, canoeing (white water). I also like plates that have something to say about eyes, (sexy eyes, brite eyes, blue eyes...) My name is James, I go by Jim, so any personal plate with Jim or James I may be interested in. My intals are JWG. My wifes name is Sue, so of course I would be interested in Jim-n-Sue. I am looking for the following Utah plates. I would like an Arch plate, Olympia plate, and a Trout plate. I also need plates from Connecticut (Light house Shore to please), Georgia (Peach, On My Mind and palm tree), Kentucky (Clouds and Horses), Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island (Wave), South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. I really like the newer graphic plates, but will consider the plains ones with cool sayings. If you are not tired of reading yet, I am also looking for the Pennslyvania plates Tiger, Otter, and Train (vanities). The new California Palm tree plate. The new New Mexico ballon plate (with maybe Hola on it). A texas plate with something like horny on it. Or a texas horny toad plate. The California plates Whale Tail, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite, (vanities). If you don't have any, sorry to bother you. thanks, Jim"

*10/30/2000 update: In a follow-up e-mail dated 10/29/2000, Jim wrote: "...I have also been working on my own home page. Please be kind, one of my links does not work (have not figured out why). here is the link if you have time. I have started to add plates Im looking for at the bottom of the individual pages (just click on the license plates). http://www.geocities.com/jimgil35/index.html thanks again, Jim" I took a look at Jim's site and it's very cool--especially the variety of vanities he's already collected--it's a must-visit for any plate enthusiast! (this note posted here 10/28/2000; updated 10/30/2000)

From Joel E. Finn (jefn@javanet.com) in an e-mail dated 5/13/2000 (yes, I realize I'm WAY LATE in posting this information! - today is 10/28/2000!!):

"Hello; Was browsing your very erudite site. The first porcelain EA plate was #100. I have about 10 sets (lost count) ranging from # 108 to # 1547 registered to some of my antique cars. So far as I know the highest number porcelain actually issued was # 1599 in 1963. Purportedly # 1600 was made , but never issued, & is in storage at the state prison where plates are currently produced. Don't know where you live, but I am in Roxbury & feel free to call me at 860-354-1119 if I can be of any further assistance, Again, you have put together a nice site. Congratulations. Joel Finn ALPCA #8504"

Very interesting, Joel! I always suspected there were *porcelain* EAs well into the 4-digit range. And speaking of that #100 EA (the first one issued, as per your note)--in browsing the Madison Exchange Club's car show just last weekend (10/21) at Hammonassett State Park in Madison, I noticed a car displaying a photocopy of a page from the "Hartford Daily Courant," dated 9/26/52, showing an article entitled "Special License Plates," and with an accompanying photo of a woman holding the then-new EA plate, #100, in fact! I'm going to have to see if I can track down that Courant article to be able to read what it says. Anyway, from the newspaper clipping's date, it appears that the Connecticut EAs must've been introduced in the fall of 1952 (which also confirms ALPCA President Dick Yourga's comment in his 1/18/2000 e-mail below).  (this note posted here 10/28/2000)

From Tizi from Switzerland (Usrdrunner@aol.com), in a note dated 3/22/2000:

"Hi Guys! This is Tizi (ALPCA #8292) from Switzerland. Sorry for bothering you. :-/ Just wondering if one of you guys from CT can help me out with a CT Pets plate. Will pay a good price. Hope to hear from you. Thanks for your time! TIZI"

From Kevin Ray (KSRCT@aol.com), in a note dated 1/31/2000:

"I enjoy your web site and questions on EA CT plates. I have been told that the lowest number issued to the public was 101. The state kept number 100 for their own archives or so the story was told. I did see a pair of EA CT plates at Hershey this past fall. The number was six hundred and something and they were in excellent condition. I hope to meet you in Orange on February 19."

From Joe Wasielewski (jwasiele@stevens-tech.edu), in a note dated 1/18/2000:

"Hey Steve, Good start on your page. Have you checked out my CT page yet? It's at: http://guinness.cs.stevens-tech.edu/~jwasiele/lp/ctindex.htm I haven't gone anywhere near in depth as you have- I'm just trying to have as many pictures as I can with little blurbs of text. As for your E/A questions: I have a flat aluminum ('74 natural expiration) number 2635 E/A. I've seen as high as 1081 on the porcelain base, and as low as 1905 on the aluminum base. Keep in touch, Joe Wasielewski ALPCA #6996, New Britain, CT / Hoboken, NJ"

From ALPCA President Dick Yourga (RCYOURGA@aol.com), in a note dated 1/18/2000:

"Hi! The first E/A plates were issued in 1952. I'm not sure whether the first number was 100 or 101 but it was one or the other. I have #103 in my collection. I used to have #107. I was born in Hartford and like low numbers. I once had the chance to buy a mint pair of #888, but they got away. Welcome to the club and enjoy! Dick Yourga"

From Dave Crandall (dcrandall.jr@riconnect.com or dcrandall_jr@yahoo.com), in a note dated 1/18/2000:

"Thanks for the info, If you know where I can find that CT lighthouse plate Ive been trying to get one for years. Thanks again Dave C #7020"

And don't forget to check out Dave's cool RI plates page at: http://www.riconnect.com/riplates/rclpage1.html

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Upcoming Local Plate Event of Interest

(I don't update this section as often as I should, so I'll advise you right now of where to go & look for local plate events in our area, in case whatever is shown below is out-of-date information--it's the ALPCA's "New England Area License Plate Meets" page, with actual URL: http://www.alpca.org/regional/ne.html. So there you go!)

February 14 (Saturday), 2004 - Milford, CT, Elks Lodge #1589, 124 New Haven Avenue, Milford, CT. Interactive Map to Meet: http://maps.yahoo.com/py/maps.py?addr=124+New+Haven+Avenue&csz=Milford%2C+C. Winter Colonial Region meet at the Elks Lodge #1589, 124 New Haven, Ave. from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is the same location as last year's winter meet. Contact Dave Kuehn at (203) 877-1000 (days), or e-mail dkuehn@anray.com. Coffee and donuts will be served, and lunch concession is available. Meet will be held snow or shine, but watch weather reports because snow of six inches or more may cancel the meet.  (this information from ALPCA Online New England Meets page http://www.alpca.org/showmeets.html?region=ne; this event notice posted here 1/15/2003)

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This page originated & maintained by Automobile License Plate Collectors Association member #8546
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*2011 Working: (Go to the New Feature Page created to showcase Marcy Fuller's historical documentation about her Great Grandfather Fred A. Law)
(Go to the New Feature Page about Frank Wemple's CT EA Plates Interests and Experiences)

(Go to the page dedicated to CT's new "Year Of Manufacture" plates program)

(Go to the New-For-Y2K EA Plate Feature Page)

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