PORCELAIN PLATES.NET
A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
Connecticut Archive - Part 2
III: STATE-ISSUED NON-PASSENGER PLATES

Like many New England states, Connecticut is marked by the issuance of a wide
variety of porcelain non-passenger plates.  In fact, no other New England state
issued as many different classes of porcelains as Connecticut.  Some varieties
began with the first issue, and are believed to date all the way back to 1907, while
others were only introduced in 1916, the final year of porcelains.  Altogether,
however, there are nine distinct non-passenger varieties known, comprising a
collectible type set of more than 30 different Connecticut non-passenger
porcelains.

COMMERCIAL

In 1914, Connecticut finally issued commercial plates.  It is uncertain why the state
waited so long to distinguish this class of vehicles, for it was a strong
manufacturing state from early on, and goods were regularly moved on public
roads.  As Bob Fatherly suggests, perhaps the explanation for this delay is that
there was not such a significant difference between the size and weight of trucks
and cars before this time.  But by 1914, large trucks were clearly distinct from
private automobiles and the wear that trucks' solid rubber tires or metal wheels
caused to the roads may have justified higher road taxes, and thus a separate
class of vehicle.  According to the "Hartford Courant," however, the true reason
for the emergence of a separate and distinct license plate for Commercial
vehicles was because commercial registration fees were lower than those for
private motorists and many automobile owners in the past had been abusing the
system by registering under the cheaper commercial rates.  In any event,
porcelain commercial porcelains were issued from 1914-1916, distinct from
passenger issues only by being made in the reverse colors.  By the end of 1916,
commercial registrations surpassed the 7,500 mark.




















DEALER

The earliest known dealer plate is marked
on the back "117," indicating that it was
manufactured in November of 1907.  This
was a result of the amended automobile law
passed in August of that year which
introduced non-passenger classes of
license plates for the first time (both Dealer
and Manufacturer plates).  Dealers paid a fee
of $10 for registration and could receive as
many sets of same-numbered plates as they
needed for a cost of $1 per pair.  These
plates were marked with a "D" suffix and
were further distinguished by the fact that
they were manufactured in the reverse
colors of the passenger plates.  First-issue
dealers seem to have begun at #C100D and
went up to approximately C300D, with just shy of 200 issued in 1909 alone.  
Beginning in 1910, dealer numbers apparently began at #C1D and ultimately
reached approximately 300 that year.  Of course, as was the case in numerous
states, many dealers found ways to abuse the system.  Late in 1910, for example,
the Secretary of State's office began a campaign to stamp out the practice of
dealerships renting out spare sets of dealer plates.  Many dealerships faced
prosecution for this money-making scheme, in which a small fee would be
charged by the dealership to rent out plates to motorists who could then avoid
paying registration fees.  Dealer registrations neared 400 in 1912 and by the time
the porcelain era in Connecticut was over after 1916, the numbers approached
500.  These plates were issued in multiples, with dealerships receiving what
appears to have been an initial allotment of six sets of identically numbered
plates, plus the ability to purchase as many more as they needed.  







































LIVERY

In 1910, Connecticut began issuing Livery porcelains for the first time.  These
were used on vehicles for hire, which were used to convey paying passengers.  
Marked with an "L" suffix, livery plates were in the reverse colors of the
passenger issues, just like dealers.  According to the "Hartford Courant," there
were 486 Livery registrations in 1912, 900 in 1913 and before 1914 was over, plate
numbers surpassed the #1,000 mark.  In 1915, numbers nearly doubled, hitting
nearly 2,500.  Beginning in 1916, the state legislature abolished this particular
class of registration and Connecticut no longer issued distinct Livery plates.  It is
believed that Livery vehicles received commercial plates in 1916.  The state of
Connecticut would not issue separate Livery plates again until 1932.































MANUFACTURER

Photographic evidence proves that
Connecticut began issuing a manufacturer's
plate with the first issue.  These were
probably first used late in 1907 after the
amended automobile was passed in August
of that year.  Manufacturers could receive
as many same-numbered plates as they
needed for an annual registration fee of
$100, plus a fee of $1 per pair of plates.  
These looked just like the passenger plates,
but carried an "M" suffix.  Based on
photographs showing plates #C202M,
#C204M and #C205M, one might speculate
that numbers began at #200 and that there
were only a precious few manufacturers
registered in the state at the time - perhaps only a half-dozen or so.  This fits
nicely with an article from "The Hartford Courant" in June of 1910 indicating that
only eight manufacturers had registered so far that year and that only five had
registered in 1909.  In 1913, the same paper reported that 12 manufacturers had
been licensed in 1912.  It is no wonder why this particular class of license plate is
so difficult to find.  Notably, the photographic evidence for the first-issue
Manufacturers seems to suggest that the plates were not manufactured in the
reverse colors of the regular first-issues, unlike dealer plates.  Starting in 1910,
however, the plate colors were changed so that they were the reverse colors of
the passenger plates, but they retained the "M."  This format would continue for
the duration of the porcelain era.  These plates are extraordinarily scarce, and
porcelain examples are only known from 1911 and 1914.



















MOTORCYCLE

Motorcycle owners were required to
register their cycles as early as 1903, but
physical plates were left to the discretion of
the owner until 1912, when the state finally
began issuing small porcelain plates for
motorcycles made by the Ingram-Richardson
Manufacturing Company.   Intriguingly, it is
worth noting that the law providing for
state-issued cycle plates was passed June 6,
1911 and became effective on August 1 of
that year.  Thus, one might wonder - were
there some sort of official state-issued
motorcycle plates in the closing months of
1911?  No such plate has yet been seen, and
so conventional wisdom puts Connecticut's
first-issue cycle plates at 1912.  At least
2,400 pairs were issued the first year, with
the registration fee having now doubled to
$2.00.  Bearing the same colors as the passenger plates, motorcycle plates
continued throughout the porcelain era and beyond.

1912 and 1913 plates were manufactured with small slots at top and bottom,
probably for leather straps.  However, the slots are so small that they were
almost useless, thus prompting many cycle owners to drill extra holes into these
plates in order to attach them to their vehicles.  Although Connecticut motorcycle
plates are not that uncommon, clean pre-1914 cycle plates with no extra holes are
by far the exception.  In 1913, there were 3,032 motorcycle registrations in the
state.

From 1914 through 1916, the format of cycle plates changed.  The "C" prefix was
dropped and the date was added, just as was true for all other classes of plates.  
Once again, the size of the plates depended on the number, and each of these
plates could measure up to 10¼" long.




















MOTORCYCLE DEALER

Like the regular motorcycle plates, 1912 is also presumed to be the first year of
issue for motorcycle dealer plates.  Although there are no 1912 plates in
collectors' hands, we know from newspaper evidence that 25 motorcycle dealers
were registered that year.  The first plates in collectors' hands date from 1913 and
examples are known from 1914 & 1915 as well.  These plates are exceedingly
scarce, with registrations not known to have surpassed 50 in any year.  Notably,
no 1916 Motorcycle Dealer plate has ever been seen.

















MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURER

It is uncertain when motorcycle manufacturer plates first began, as they are
among the rarest variants of Connecticut non-passenger porcelains that exist.  
For years, the only survivors in collectors' hands were a single known plate from
1913 and two or three 1915 plates, but in 2007 a 1914 motorcycle manufacturer
plate showed up on EBAY.  Like motorcycle dealers, it is probable that these
plates were first issued in 1912, although 1913 is the earliest yet seen.  Just like
the automobile manufacturers, these plates are marked with an "M" suffix.

















MOTORCYCLE SIDECAR

In 1916, separate plates appeared for motorcycles with a sidecar.  These plates
were issued in pairs and were manufactured in the reverse colors of the standard
white/black motorcycle plate.  Sidecar plates are the only class of Connecticut
porcelain to have been used in just one of the porcelain years.  Furthermore,
they are the only example of distinct porcelain plates for sidecars to have been
issued by any state or province.  Although tough to find, registrations are known
to have reached nearly 800.









OPERATOR

One other curious plate is an undated yellow on black porcelain in the same
format as the first-issue passenger plates.  However, this plate carried only a
number, with no "C" prefix to denote the state.  This was the dealer,
manufacturer, or livery operator plate and carried only the operator's license
number.  It was to be displayed on the rear of the vehicle in conjunction with the
regular dealer, manufacturer or livery plate (although for unfinished or test cars,
the plate was to be fastened to the back of the seat).  It is unclear when these
plates were first issued, but the format certainly suggests it was prior to 1910
when the size and layout of Connecticut porcelains was drastically altered.

In 1911, spurred by the fact that people were not displaying these plates properly,
the Secretary of State re-wrote the guidelines for the proper mounting of
operators' licenses.  Under the new parameters, the plate had to be placed
immediately above the regular license plate and arranged in such a way that both
it and the regular plate were both illuminated by the rear light at night.  We know
that these operators' licenses were still being used through at least 1913.  
However, the fact that all known examples are in the old Baltimore Enamel format
seems very odd, since this class of plate would surely have undergone an
alteration in style in 1910 along with everything else.  Is it possible that there is a
still unknown yellow & black operators plate out there in the large rectangular
format of the 1910-1913 issues?











IV: ODDBALL PORCELAINS

WINDSOR LOCKS MILITARY BASE

The only oddball class of Connecticut plates known can be found in the numbered
porcelain toppers used by vehicles at Windsor Locks Air Base.  Now known as
Bradley International Airport, this base was situated in North-Central Connecticut.  
The land was purchased by the state of Connecticut in 1940 and turned over to
the military in 1941 to be used for America's impending entry into World War II.  
The base housed the 57th Pursuit Group, flying P-40C Tomahawks.  It was
renamed Bradley Field in 1942, and after the war was over, the airport was
deeded back to the state of Connecticut for public and commercial use.  Thus, the
Windsor Locks porcelain toppers had a small window of usage - dating to 1941-
1942.  There are two known varieties of these toppers, both undated, with
numbers reaching nearly #1000.  At least with the red base, furthermore, we know
that these plates were issued in pairs.














FURTHER READING

PRIMARY SOURCES

Report of the Comptroller to the Governor for the Fiscal year ended September
30, 1914
(Hartford, 1914), p. 11.

Report of the Comptroller to the Governor for the Fiscal year ended September
30, 1915
(Hartford, 1915), p. 20.

Report of the Comptroller to the Governor for the Fiscal year ended September
30, 1916
(Hartford, 1916), p. 1.

The Galveston Daily News (Galveston, TX), July 23, 1905

The Hartford Courant, June 14, 1905; June 28, 1905; July 28, 1905; September 15,
1905; September 26, 1905; April 26, 1906; June 27, 1907; July 17, 1907; August 16,
1907; April 28, 1908; August 24, 1909; December 30, 1909; January 3, 1910; February
9, 1910; February 10, 1910; June 1, 1910; September 3, 1910; November 21, 1910;
December 15, 1910; January 2, 1911; January 10, 1911; July 14, 1911; July 29, 1911;
August 2, 1911; November 25, 1911; December 28, 1911; January 1, 1912; January
15, 1912; July 10, 1912; December 2, 1912; January 1, 1913; January 10, 1913; March
6, 1913; November 15, 1913; January 1, 1914; January 3, 1914; January 12, 1914;
July 29, 1914; December 1, 1914; December 12; 1914; December 30, 1914; January
6, 1915; February 7, 1915; June 2, 1915; October 2, 1915; October 4, 1915;
November 9, 1915; December 4, 1915; December 31, 1915; April 1, 1916; August 8,
1916; August 18, 1916; August 19, 1916; September 14, 1916

The Horseless Age, Vol. 24, No. 26 (December 29, 1909), p. 803

Naugatuck Daily News, November 22, 1910; November 30, 1910; December 27, 1910;
January 10, 1911; January 14, 1911; April 1, 1911; July 29, 1911; August 3, 1911;
August 5, 1911; August 15, 1911; August 22, 1911; February 19, 1913; November 15,
1913; November 21, 1913; July 29, 1914; November 20, 1914; December 1, 1914;
December 12, 1914; January 5, 1915; January 9, 1915; October 2, 1915; October 4,
1915; November 9, 1915; November 27, 1915; January 1, 1916; January 5, 1916;
January 20, 1916; April 13, 1916

The Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, NH), November 13, 1915

SECONDARY SOURCES

Bob Fatherly, Jr., “Connecticut Non-Passenger License Plates 1907-1997.”  ALPCA
Newsletter, 43, 6 (December, 1997), pp. 296-304.

Joel E. Finn.  “1903-2003 Connecticut Motorcycle License Plates.”  ALPCA
Register, 49, 2 (April, 2003), pp. 39-40.

Stephen J. Raiche, “Connecticut Motor Vehicle Registration History: 1903 to
1956.”  ALPCA Newsletter, 43, 2 (April, 1997), pp. 62-65.

Stephen J. Raiche and Robert E. Fatherley, Jr., “Connecticut’s Elusive 1909
‘Blocked-C’ First Issue Tag: A Genuine Rarity.”  ALPCA Newsletter, 39, 5 (October,
1993), pp. 169-70.

http://www.ctmarkerhistory.org/
(1910)
Red/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range: C1L - Approx. C200L
(1911)
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range: C1L - Approx. C400L
(1912)
Green/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range: C1L - Approx. C500L
(1913)
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range: C1L - Approx. C900L
1914
Green/White
Variable**
Pairs
Range: 1L - Approx. 1350L
1915
Black/Yellow
Variable**
Pairs
Range: 1L - Approx. 2500L
* All plates begin with a "C" and end with an "L".  5 character plates measure 5 1/2" x 17 3/4"
** Plates with 2 digits and an "L" measure 5 1/2" x 10 1/2"; 4 digits and an "L" measure 5 1/2" x 13 1/4"
1914
Green/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 2,650
1915
Black/Yellow
Variable*
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 4,050
1916
Black/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 7,550
* 3 digit plates measure 5 1/2" x 10 1/2"; 4 digits measure 5 1/2" x 13 1/4"
(1907-09)
Black/White
Unknown
Multiples
Range: C100D - Approx. C300D
(1910)
Red/White
Variable*
Multiples
Range: C1D - Approx. C300D
(1911)
White/Blue
Variable*
Multiples
Range: C1D - Approx. C400D
(1912)
Green/White
Variable*
Multiples
Range: C1D - Approx. C400D
(1913)
Blue/White
Variable*
Multiples
Range: C1D - Approx. C400D
1914
Green/White
Variable**
Multiples
Range: 1D - Approx. 500D
1915
Black/Yellow
Variable**
Multiples
Range: 1D - Approx. 500D
1916
Black/White
Variable**
Multiples
Range: 1D - Approx. 500D
* All plates begin with a "C" and end with an "D".  4 character plates measure 5 1/2" x 14 1/4"; 5 characters
measure 5 1/2" x 17 3/4"
** Plates with 1 or 2 digits and a "D" measure 5 1/2" x 10 1/2"; 3 digits and a "D" measure 5 1/2" x 13 1/4"

Due to the size of the Connecticut archive, I have split it into two parts.  
Part 1 contains information on the following:

I: PRE-STATES / CITY & COUNTY PLATES
II: STATE-ISSUED PASSENGER PLATES

CLICK HERE FOR PART 1 OF THE
CONNECTICUT ARCHIVE
(1911)
White/Blue
Variable*
Multiples
Range: C1M - Approx. C12M
1914
Green/White
Variable**
Multiples
Range: 1M - Approx. 20M
*
**
(1912)
White/Green
Variable*
Pairs
Range: C1 - Approx. C2500
(1913)
White/Blue
Variable**
Pairs
Range: C1 - Approx. C3050
1914
White/Green
Variable***
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 3,500
1915
Yellow/Black
Variable***
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 4,500
1916
White/Black
Variable***
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 4,500
* Plates with a "C" plus 2 digits measure 3 1/2" x 8 1/2"; "C" plus 4 digits measure 3 1/2" x 9 1/2"
** Plates with a "C" plus 3 digits measure 3 1/2" x 8 1/2"; "C" plus 4 digits measure 3 1/2" x 9 1/2"
*** 3 digit plates measure 3 1/2" x 8 1/4"; 4 digits measure 3 1/2" x 10 1/4"
(1913)
Blue/White
Variable*
Multiples
Range: C1D - Approx. C50D
1914
Green/White
Variable**
Multiples
Range: 1D - Approx. 50D
1915
Black/Yellow
Variable**
Multiples
Range: 1D - Approx. 50D
* All plates begin with a "C" and end with a "D".  4 character plates measure 3 1/2" x 8 1/2"
** Plates with 2 digits and a "D" measure 3 1/2" x 8 1/4"
(1913)
Blue/White
Variable*
Multiples
Range: C1M - Unknown
1914
Green/White
Variable*
Multiples
Range: 1M - Unknown
1915
Black/Yellow
Variable*
Multiples
Range: 1M - Unknown
*
**
Ca. 1907-09
Yellow/Black
  Singles?
Range: Unknown
1916
Black/White
3 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 800
(ca. 1941-42)
Topper
Black/White
2" x 10"
(ca. 1941-42)
Topper
White/Red
2" x 10"












There are three known
porcelain Connecticut Home
Guard toppers that probably
date to the World War I era.  
These are unnumbered and
are thus not considered to be
license plates in the
porcelainplates.net archive.  
However, I present them here
because of their uniqueness
Connecticut First Issue Dealer
(
Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff)
Connecticut First Issue Manufacturer
(No such plate is known to exist today)
Connecticut 1914 Motorcycle
Headline announcing the
new rules requiring
Operators licenses to be
hung next to a vehicles
regular license plate
The Naugatuck Daily News,
August 3, 1911
In 1910, Dealers got in
trouble for illegally renting
out dealer plates
The Hartford Courant,
December 15, 1910