TOTAL KNOWN PORCELAIN VARIETIES: 48

I: PRE-STATES / CITY & COUNTY ISSUES

There are no known pre-state porcelains from the state of New Hampshire.  However,
well after the state began issuing plates, the city of Manchester did begin issuing a
long run of Garbage plates for use on vehicles hauling garbage.  No other New
Hampshire city-issued porcelains are known.

MANCHESTER

A major metropolitan and commercial center for Northern New England, Manchester is
situated in Hillsborough County on the banks of the Merrimack River.  In the early 19th
century, the city became an important industrial center, soon producing great
quantities of textiles, shoes, cigars, paper and numerous other products.  At
mid-century, Manchester became home to the largest cotton mill in the world and
emerged as a significant manufacturing sector fueled by immigrant labor - many of them
French Canadians.  At the dawn of the 20th century, the population had surpassed
50,000 and climbed to about 75,000 when the city's first known porcelain license plates
were issued in 1913.  These nondescript plates bear no city or state designation, but
are known to have been issued to the city's garbage trucks.  Prefixed with a "G," these
porcelain plates were issued for 10 years and are quite rare.  Numbers are consistently
low, with only a couple plates known with numbers over #100.




































II: STATE ISSUED PASSENGER PLATES

On May 1, 1905, New Hampshire's new automobile
law went into effect.  Like the rest of New
England, the first-issue plate was an undated
plate designed to be used for multiple years - in
New Hampshire's case from 1905 through 1911.  
Vehicle owners paid a $3 registration fee to the
Secretary of State and received a pair of simple
white & green first-issue plates. Manufactured by
the Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company, the
earliest issues bear that company's distinctive
hand-painted dating system.  In fact, at least 10
different batches of first-issue New Hampshire
plates are known to have been produced
between April of 1905 and October of 1908, each
bearing the date code on the reverse.  For more
on these codes, click
HERE.  After that point,
Baltimore Enamel continued producing the
plates, but now marked them with their well-
known oval company seal.  

The plates varied in size depending on the number of digits, and it is notable that four
digit plates come in two distinct sizes as well.  Between 1906 (when first-issues first hit
four digits) and 1908, four digit porcelains measured 5 1/4" x 9 1/4.  However, beginning
in 1909 and lasting for the duration of the first-issue era, the plates changed to 5 1/2" x
10".  The later plates also had less rounded corners, the slot holes were moved inward
and the corner holes were fitted with grommets.  These plates were the property of the
state and had to be returned to the Secretary of State when no longer needed.  Any
motorist who lost a plate could order a replacement at a cost of $1.

Originally, first-issue New Hampshire plates were intended to be permanent, with
registrations expiring only when vehicles were sold.  However, as New Hampshire
historian Chris Cooper points out, the law was changed in 1909 such that all
registrations were annual, expiring on December 31.  Despite this change, and a raising
of registration fees, the plates remained unchanged.  Those renewing old registrations
kept their old plates.  The only exception to this were motorcycle plates, which were
reissued on a new base.  Under the new rules, registration was due each year on
January 1, but a grace period was customarily given.  In 1910, for instance, motorists
had until April 1 before the police began cracking down on offenders.  When all was
said and done, there were approximately 7,100 pairs of first-issue New Hampshire
porcelains issued between 1905 and 1911.

The approximate years for first issue New Hampshire passenger plates break down as
follows:






















In 1912, the state mixed things up a bit, dating their plates for the first time and
experimenting with non-porcelains.  However, this experiment lasted only a year, as
the embossed steel 1912 plates were thin and had rather poor paint which made this
susceptible to corrosion and deterioration.  Recognizing their mistake, the state was
back to porcelain in 1913 and wouldn't issue a metal plate again for six more years.

1913, 1914, and 1915 plates were issued
sequentially beginning at number 1000,
because plates under that number were
reserved for commercial vehicles.  In 1915, the
first year New Hampshire registrations
surpassed four digits, plates were apparently
a little slow in arriving.  On January 6,
newspapers announced that 18 freight cars
had arrived, bringing the Secretary of State
16,000 plates of all classes, weighing in at 21
tons.  These plates would soon be in the hands
of motorists.  Unlike the previous three years,
no distinction was made between commercial
and passenger plates in 1916, so plate
numbers began with 1.  As with the 1915 plates,
there was a substantial delay in receiving the
1916 plates from the manufacturer.  Thirteen
tons of plates being sent from Baltimore were
apparently temporarily lost in the mail.  The
original intent was to begin shipping these
plates to motorists on December 27 of 1915, but
as of the 29th, the plates were still nowhere to
be found and motorists were told that they may
have to continue using their 1915 plates until
the new porcelains were received and
distributed.  It is not clear when these plates
finally showed up, but there is no question that
it did not happen in time for the plates to reach
motorists by the first of the year.  Thus, the
start of 1916 saw the continued use of 1915
plates for a short period of time.

Interestingly, the New Hampshire porcelains beginning in 1916 no longer carried
maker's marks on the reverse.  However, we know from a 1915 "Portmouth Herald"
article that the contract for 1916 plates went to Baltimore Enamel.  The fact that the
1916s were BALTO-made plates is interesting, as all other confirmed BALTO porcelains
bear maker's marks.  Also beginning in 1916, New Hampshire porcelains changed size
slightly with bases one-quarter inch longer than the prior three years.  This size change
prevailed for the duration of the state's porcelain era.

In 1917 and 1918, plates began at number 100.  Once again, these were unmarked as to
the manufacturer, and there is no evidence for us to make any credible guesses in this
regard.  Interestingly, some of the 1918 plates between about #20,000 and #25,000 were
manufactured of fiberboard.  Chris Cooper theorizes that the state ran out of porcelain
plates due to wartime shortages, but it is possible that the state underestimated the
number of plates needed and ordered too few from the manufacturer.

























III: STATE-ISSUED NON-PASSENGER PLATES

Like most New England states, New Hampshire had a varied spectrum on
non-passenger porcelains.  In fact, no less than eight different categories of plates
were issued in addition to the regular passenger plates.  Some of these started from
the very beginning, while others only emerged in the final year of the state's porcelain
era.

BOAT

Small porcelain plates, frequently mistaken to be motorcycle plates, were
produced for use on boats.  These plates first appeared in 1916 and adorned motor
boats.  The first allotment of these plates was received by the State Boat Inspector at
the end of February and before 1916 was up, approximately 3,000 would be issued.  In
addition to the 1910-11 motorcycle plates, boat plates are the only examples of New
Hampshire non-passenger issues that do not follow the color pattern of the passenger
plates












BOAT COMMERCIAL

Commercial boat plates are also known to exist and were issued for all three years from
1916-1918.  Prefixed with a "0" just like the regular commercial plates, these plates are
extraordinarily scarce and are the single rarest class of New Hampshire porcelains to
collect.











COMMERCIAL

Effective beginning in May of 1913, New
Hampshire issued commercial plates for the
first time, which were distinguished from the
passenger issues by a "0" prefix.  In 1914, the
designation "commercial" was also added to
the plates.  As Chris Cooper notes, although
the allotment of plates originally set aside for
commercial vehicles from 1913 to 1915 was
0001 to 0999, with the passenger issues
picking up at 1000, the need for commercial
plates exceeded expectations - at least in
1914 - resulting in high-numbered commercial
porcelains in the 01000 range.  1915 was the
last year for these plates and no distinction
was made between commercial and passenger
plates for the rest of the porcelain era.














DEALER

Dealer plates were issued from the very
beginning, and carried an "A" prefix to
distinguish them from passenger issues.  
Initially, dealers paid a $10 fee for their first set
of plates, plus $1 for each pair of plates with the
same number that they desired.  There were
fewer than 200 dealer registrations issued on
the first-issue New Hampshire base.

First issue dealers break down as follows:











In 1913 the system was changed and dealer plates now carried a letter suffix in addition
to the "A" prefix.  Beginning in 1916, the word "DEALER" was also added in small letters
at the bottom of the plate.  Dealers received 6 pairs of same-numbered plates - only the
letter suffix changing to illustrate which car a dealership was using at any given time.  
Thus, a large dealership with the need for multiple pairs of plates could have plates
numbered A20A, A20B, A20C, and so on.  Dealers paid a registration fee of $25 to
receive their six pairs and could pay an additional $2 for each additional pair they
needed.  These plates had to be used on cars for demonstration purposes only.  In
1918, however, the restriction on the usage of dealer plates was abolished, but fees
were raised substantially.  Dealers now had to pay $50 for their initial six sets of plates
and $5 for each additional pair.  In addition, dealers were now given the ability to loan
the purchaser of a car a pair of plates for a period of ten days.
































MOTORCYCLE

Motorcycle plates were also issued on the full size first-issue base, and were marked
with a "C" prefix.  Notably, only single plates were issued to cycle owners.  The
approximate years for first issue New Hampshire motorcycle plates break down as
follows:










In 1909, the laws were amended, and although private owners and dealers were
allowed to retain their old plates, motorcycle owners were issued new ones.  They kept
their old registration number, but were issued distinctive new black and white plates to
replace their old ones.  These plates were probably used for part of 1910 and all of
1911.   Known numbers for these issues range from C1 to C425.

From 1912 through 1914 there were no distinct motorcycle plates issued, and from 1915
through 1917, the state issues cyclists numbered bronze medallions.  In 1918, however,
motorcycle plates were brought back for the last porcelain year.  Much smaller than
either of the prior two issues, 1918 cycle plates are known with numbers reaching into
the upper 2,000s.


















MOTORCYCLE DEALER

Motorcycle Dealer plates did not exist in the first two New Hampshire cycle issues, but
these plate were introduced with the 1918 plate.  Miniature versions of the regualar car
dealer plates, these were prefixed with an "A" and carried a letter suffix.  Motorcycle
dealerships would receive multiple plates and were issued plates with the same
registration number, but different, sequentially-numbered suffixes.









NEUTRAL ZONE

New Hampshire's small Neutral Zone oval porcelains were introduced in 1913 and were
intended for residents along the Maine and Vermont borders who had business across
the state line in New Hampshire.  The plates enabled residents of those states to drive
15 miles over the border to conduct business.  Doctors and merchants were thought to
be the principal holders of this type of license.  These plates are notable for being the
only example of state or provincially issued license plates ever made in the shape of
an oval.






















NON-RESIDENT

Just as the Neutral Zone plates were introduced in 1913, that year also saw the
appearance of New Hampshire's non-resident plates with their distinctive hexagonal
shapes.  These were valid from July 1 to September 30 of each year, and were required
on any vehicle staying in the state for more than 10 days.  As Cooper notes, numbers
for most years began where officials estimated that passenger series numbers would
end.  Just as with the passenger issues, however, 1916 was an exception to this rule,
with Non-Resident porcelains beginning at #1.  A new law that went into effect in April
of 1917 increased the free road time for non-residents whose cars were registered in
their home states from 10 to 20 days.  This was passed on the urging of the New
Hampshire Hotel Association.  Like the passenger plates, some 1918 non-resident
plates in the mid-30,000s were made of fiberboard.  Non-resident motorcycle plates are
said to exist for 1918 as well, with the hexagonal shape on a small 1918 motorcycle
base, but I have been unable to confirm this.  It is notable that the size of the first three
porcelain non-resident plates differs substantially from the latter three years, with the
1916-1918 issues being shorter in length and height and having much more gently
sloping angles at the bottom compared to the severe angles of the 1913-1915 plates.

























FURTHER READING

Josiah H.V. Fisher, 75 Years of New Hampshire License Plates: 1905-1979 (Tyler Press,
Laconia, NH, 1980), pp. 1
Chris Cooper, "Photoscenic New Hampshire."  The ALPCA Register, 46, 3 (June,
2000), pp. 7-17.

The Fitchburg Daily Sentinel (Fitchburg, MA), April 3, 1905
The Portsmouth Daily Herald, December 16, 1909; March 28, 1910; January 6, 1915;
September 28, 1915; November 30, 1915; December 22, 1915; December 29, 1915;
February 28, 1916; January 2, 1917; April 23, 1917; September 11, 1917

PORCELAIN PLATES.NET
A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
New Hampshire Archive
(1905-11)
White/Green
Variable*
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 7200
* 1 & 2 digit plates measure 5 1/4 x 5 1/2"; 3 digits measure 5 1/4" x 7 1/2";
4 digit plates from 1906-1908 measure 5 1/4" x 9 1/4"; 4 digit plates from 1909-1911 measure 5 1/2" x 10"
1915-16
Passenger
White/Blue
4" x 6"
1916-17
Passenger
Blue/White
4" x 6"
1917-18
Passenger
White/Blue
4" x 6"
1919-20
Passenger
White/Blue
4" x 6"
1920-21
Passenger
Blue/White
4" x 6"
1921-22
Passenger
White/Blue
4" x 6"
1923-24
Passenger
White/Blue
4" x 6"
1925-26
Passenger
White/Blue
4" x 6"
1926-27
Passenger
Blue/White
4" x 6"
1927-28
Passenger
White/Blue
4" x 6"
1905
1-700
1906
701-1275
1907
1276-1975
1908
1976-2725
1909
2726-3860
1910
3861-5040
1911
5041-7075
1913
White/Green
6" x 13 1/4"
Pairs
Range: 1000 - Approx. 8000
1914
White/Green
6" x 13 1/4"
Pairs
Range: 1000 - Approx. 10000
1915
Green/White
6" x 13 1/4"
Pairs
Range: 1000 - Approx. 14000
1916
White/Green
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs
Range: 1 - Approx. 17,500
1917
Green/White
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs
Range: 100 - Approx. 23,000
1918
White/Green
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs
Range: 100 - Approx. 24,200
1916
White/Blue
3 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - Approx. 800
1917
Blue/White
3 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - Approx. 2000
1918
White/Blue
3 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - Approx. ???
1913
White/Green
    Range: 0001 - Approx. 0700
1914
White/Green
  Pairs
Range: 0001 - Approx. 01200
1915
Green/White
    Range: 0001 - Approx. 0950
1916
White/Blue
3 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: Approx. 0001 - 0100
1917
Blue/White
3 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: Approx. 0001 - 0100
1917
White/Blue
3 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: Approx. 0001 - 0100
(1905-11)
White/Green
Variable*
Pairs
Range: A1 - A175
1913
White/Green
6" x 13 1/4"
Pairs
Range: A1 - A250
1914
White/Green
6" x 13 1/4"
Pairs
Range: A1 -
1915
Green/White
6" x 13 1/4"
Pairs
 
1916
White/Green
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs
 
1917
Green/White
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs
 
1918
White/Green
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs
 
* Plates with an "A" plus three digits measure 5 1/2" x 10"
1905
A1 - A31
1906
A32 - A47
1907
A48 - A64
1908
A65 - A72
1909
A73 - A85
1910
A86 - A130
1911
A131  A175
1905
C1 - C95
1906
C96 - C160
1907
C161 - C255
1908
C256 -C350
1909
C351 - C475
1910
C476 - C500
(1905-10)
White/Green
Variable*
Singles
 
(1910-11)
Black/White
5 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Singles
Range: C1 - Approx. C425
1918
White/Green
3 1/2" x 6"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - Approx. 2600
* X
1918
White/Green
3 1/2" x 6"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - X
1913
White/Green
4 1/2" x 7"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - Approx. 150
1914
White/Green
4 1/2" x 7"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - X
1915
Green/White
4 1/2" x 7"
Pairs?
 
1916
White/Green
4 1/2" x 7"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - Approx. 700
1917
Green/White
4 1/2" x 7"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - Approx.
1918
White/Green
4 1/2" x 7"
Pairs?
 
1913
White/Green
6 3/4" x 14 1/4"
Pairs?
Range: 8000 - Approx. 9500
1914
White/Green
6 3/4" x 14 1/4"
Pairs?
Range: Approx. 8500 - 10000
1915
Green/White
6 3/4" x 14 1/4"
Pairs?
Range: 15001 - Approx. 17000
1916
White/Green
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: 1 - Approx. 17000
1917
Green/White
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: 25001 - Approx. 28000
1918
White/Green
6" x 13 1/2"
Pairs?
Range: 30001 - Approx. 32000


















New Hampshire First Issue (1909)











New Hampshire 1914













New Hampshire 1915











1918 motorcycle plate with
original mailing envelope
New Hampshire 1913 Commercial
Courtesy of Mike Duff
New Hampshire 1907 Dealer
Courtesy of Mike Duff