PORCELAIN PLATES.NET
A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
Delaware Archive
TOTAL KNOWN PORCELAIN VARIETIES: 15

I: PRE-STATES / CITY & COUNTY PLATES

The first law governing the registration of motor vehicles in Delaware appeared
in 1905.  In 1907, this law was amended requiring owners to commission a pair of
plates to be made and mandating that these plates expired on December 31.  
There are a number of leather plates, and several metal plates were
professionally made by the Horace Fine Company of Trenton, New Jersey.  
Interestingly, there is one pair of white and blue porcelain pre-states that exist as
well.  As no Delaware cities issued any porcelain plates, this pair is the only
surviving example of a porcelain pre-state or city plate.












II: STATE-ISSUED PASSENGER PLATES

It is notable that the pre-state era in Delaware actually extended into 1909, as the
first state issued plates were not provided to owners until April of that year.  Due
to this overlap, there are no known low number 1909 Delaware plates.  Instead,
first-issue plates were manufactured with numbers between approximately 1070
and 1450.  As Delaware expert and historian Dave Lincoln notes, records suggest
that numbers over 1500 were reserved for a dealer class.  With perhaps less than
20 of these first issue Delaware porcelains known, they are among the rarest
state-issued passenger porcelains and rank as one of the most sought after
examples of porcelain license plates ever made.

Interestingly, the Horace Fine Company produced three separate batches of 1909
Delaware plates, resulting in three distinct varieties of plates.  The fist and third
are very similar, with only superficial differences.  The second, however, has a
much narrower “DEL.1909” legend at the top and the strap slots are longer and
narrower.  Nevertheless, these are not typically thought of as collectible variant
types by anybody but the Delaware specialist.

From 1910 through 1911, the state issued
small, almost square plates that were
manufactured by the Horace Fine Company.  
Delaware registrations were quite small,
not surpassing the 1,000 mark until 1911.  
In 1912, the plate format remained the
same, but the manufacturing contract went
to The Baltimore Enamel & Novelty
Company.  In 1913, the state made larger
plates again, and produced them in two
completely different varieties.  Neither
variety has a maker's mark and we are
uncertain who manufactured them.  In 1914,
we know that Baltimore Enamel was once
again making the Delaware porcelains, and
just as was the case the year before, 1914
plates were produced in two entirely
different formats.  The type 2 plates, interestingly, appear to be 1914 dealer bases
without the "DEALER" designation.  The final year of porcelain plates in Delaware
was 1915.  Once again manufactured by the Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company,
it is notable that the lower numbered plates have white backs, while the higher
numbers have black backs.  Even in 1915, registrations remained well under 5,000.










































III: STATE-ISSUED NON-PASSENGER PLATES

There were no distinct porcelain non-passenger varieties from 1909 through
1913.  However, both dealer and motorcycle plates are known from 1914 and
1915.  All of these plates are exceedingly scarce.

DEALER

In 1914 and 1915, Delaware issued separate dealer porcelains.  Prefixed with an
"X," these plates were issued in pairs.  The 1914 dealers seem to range up to
about #200 and appear to have only been manufactured on the Type I base.  In
1915, the format remained the same.












MOTORCYCLE

Like the Dealers, Motorcycle porcelains from Delaware were only issued
beginning in 1914.  The first cycle plate is actually quite interesting.  Although it is
issued in the same color scheme as the passenger and dealer plates of that year,
the plate was produced to fit the fender of a motorcycle, reading from top to
bottom and curved  both up and down as well as side to side.  Numbers are
known to range into the mid-300s.  In 1915, Delaware did away with this
experiment in style, instead issuing a simple small rectangular cycle plate.  There
were well over 500 cycle registrations in 1915.














IV: ODDBALLS

This is one surviving example of an oddball porcelain from Delaware.  Dated 1913,
this plate doesn't make any sense at all!  The plate is produced on the 1910-1912
sized base and the color scheme is unlike any of the other Delaware porcelains.  
At first glance, this would appear to be a salesman's sample that was made up in
1912 by a company attempting to win the state contract to produce plates in 1913.  
However, it gives every impression of being a used plate, which perhaps hints at
the possibility that it was some sort of official issue.












FURTHER READING

Dave Lincoln, “Delaware – The First State: Passenger Plates: Pre-State Years to
1942.”  ALPCA Newsletter, 40, 5 (October, 1994), pp. 139-44.
1907
Passenger
White/Blue
6 1/2" x 7"
1909
White/Black
6 1/2" x 8 1/2"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1,000 - 1,500
1910
Black/White
6 1/2" x 7"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1 - 900
1911
White/Blue
6 1/2" x 7"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1 - 1,500
1912
White/Maroon
6 1/2" x 7"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1 - 2,000
1913
White/Black, Type I
6 1/2" x 9 3/4"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1 - 2,000
1913
White/Black, Type II
6" x 12"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 2,000 - 2,500
1914
Yellow/Black, Type I
5 1/2" x 11"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1 - 3,000
1914
Yellow/Black, Type II
5 1/2" x 11"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 3,000 - 3,500
1915
Blue/White
5 1/2" x 11"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1 - 5,000
1914
Yellow/Black
5 1/2" x 11"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1 - 200
1915
Blue/White
5 1/2" x 11"
Pairs
Range: Approx. 1 - 300
1914
Yellow/Black
  Singles?
Range: Approx. 1 - 350
1915
Blue/White
3 1/4" x 7"
Singles?
Range: Approx. 1 - 600
1913
Unknown
Blue/Yellow
 






Some claim that this
license plate is from
Reheboth Beach, Delaware,
but there is no evidence to
substantiate this.
Delaware 1912
Courtesy of Mike Duff