PORCELAIN PLATES.NET
A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
New York Archive - Part 1
TOTAL KNOWN PORCELAIN VARIETIES: 68

I: PRE-STATES / CITY & COUNTY PLATES

Unlike pre-states from states such as Tennessee and North Carolina, where there
is some degree of standardization, there are no commonly seen porcelains in
New York’s pre-state era in the sense that there does not seem to have been one
company that was known for making license plates for those who ordered them.  
Instead, it appears as if multiple enamel firms produced a plate or two here and
there throughout New York's 7 year pre-state era from 1903 through 1909.  Thus,
all of the known plates are different from one another, sharing only their black &
white color schemes, which was required by law.  They all seem to carry a very
thin black border as well.

The first variety is a standard rectangular porcelain with two mounting holes at
the top and carrying a "N.Y." abbreviation horizontally following the plate number.








The second lowest numbered New York porcelain pre-state is an odd two-piece
porcelain with the state abbreviation on a small porcelain plate and the
registration number by itself on a much larger second plate.











Yet another version is a lot like the first one above, with a horizonally laid out
state initials and two small holes at the top.  The only distinguishing characteristic
that marks this plate as a distinct variety is the substantially smaller and thinner
"N.Y." abbreviation.








Another variety of New York pre-state is a standard rectangular plate with two
holes at the top, much like #128 above, except that this version has "NY" suffix
stacked vertically.








A fifth New York porcelain pre-state is nearly identical to #12651, except that the
state abbreviation is much larger and includes periods.








The final variety has noticably different number fonts from the other New York
pre-states, and is the only example to have slots and the only one to carry four
mounting holes as well










In addition to pre-state porcelains, there are also four cities in New York that are
known to have issued porcelain license plates.  

MT. KISCO

Mount Kisco is both a village and a town in Westchester County in the
Southeastern corner of New York, about 35 miles north of New York City.  
Founded by Quakers in the 17th century, Mount Kisco was incorporated in 1875.  
A tiny little plate meauring a mere 2 inches tall is our only surviving evidence that
porcelain license plates were ever issued in Mt. Kisco.  It is unclear whether this
was an official city automobile license or some sort of specialized plate.  Dated
1920, this little license plate is somewhat of a mystery.








ROCHESTER

The village of Rochesterville was founded in 1803 and lies east of Buffalo, west of
Syracuse and sits on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. By 1821, Rochesterville
was the seat of Monroe County, and the town soon became known as Rochester.
By 1830, Rochester's population was nearly 10,000 and would soon become the
largest flour-producing city in the state. In the early 20th century, Rochester also
became a center of the garment industry, particularly in men's fashions. The
population passed 160,000 in 1900, and reached nearly 300,000 by 1920.  It was
during this growth spurt that the only two porcelain license plates known to hail
from Rochester were issued - motorcycle plates from 1914 and 1915.  These
elusive plates are highly sought after and perhaps a half-dozen of each year are
known with numbers reaching well into the 2000s.  Although the state first began
licensing automobiles in 1910, motorcycles did not carry state issued plates until
1916.  Thus, these Rochester cycle plates are legitimate pre-states in the sense
that they pre-date the first state-issued motorcycle plates.












SCHENECTADY

Schenectady is a city in Schenectady
County, New York, of which it is the
county seat. The City is located in the
eastern portion of the state, near the
confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson
Rivers and is in the same metropolitan
area as the state capital of Albany.  The
area that is now Schenectady was
originally the land of the Mohawk tribe of
the Iroquois Nation. It was first settled by
Europeans in 1661, was incorporated as a
borough in 1765, and chartered as a city
in 1798.  In 1892, Schenectady became the
headquarters of the General Electric
Company and became known as "The City
that Lights the World."  By the turn of the
century, the population was well over
30,000 and grew to somewhere in the
neighborhood of 60,000 by the time the
last known porcelain license plates from
the city were issued.  

There is a long series of specialized
porcelains which licensed various
classes of vehicle.  Although these have
no city name on them, and could
theoretically be from anywhere, I believe
it is most likely they hail from
Schenectady.  Conventional wisdom has
long held that these are Rochester issues.  However, given that the final three
known years give the town name of Schenectady, coupled with the fact that the
unidentified plates flow seamlessly into the others with no overlap of dates
strongly suggests that they are all Schenectady issues, but that the town for
some reason didn't bother putting its name on the early plates.  One other bit of
supporting evidence for this claim is the fact that a 1928 Milk plate was found
behind a dairy in Schenectady.

These plates are all extremely long, narrow porcelains, measuring up to 20 inches
in length.  They date from as early as 1907 - well into New York's pre-state era -
and extend annually all the way into the mid-1930s.  The most common variety are
Milk Licenses issued by the Health Bureau (or, later, the Health Department), but
many other types of plates exist as well, including Peddler, Scavenger, Cartman,
Grower and Huckster plates.  While some of these may well have adorned
motorized trucks or cars, others probably went on simpler vehicles like push
carts.  These are all very rare and there are many gaps in the known runs of each
type, but we have nevertheless verified more than 30 different varieties existing
in collections today, and the real number of plates issued could well have
surpassed 50.

Cartman

The first type alphabetically are Cartman plates.  Cartmen, also known as Carmen
or Carters, frequently drove horse-drawn vehicles and were often employed by
railway companies for local deliveries and collections of goods and parcels.  Six
different years of this class of porcelain license are known stretching between
1912 and 1924, suggesting that they were issued annually for at least 13 years!


































Grower

The next variety of these fascinating license plates are Grower porcelains.  It is
unclear what sort of vehicle these plates would have hung from, but perhaps
farmers who came to the city to sell their produce were required to be licensed.  
Regardless, there is only one complete surviving example that I am aware of.  
There is a second fragment of a plate known which is presumed to be a Grower
as well, but which could theoretically be some other unknown class of plate.  If
this is indeed a Grower, then we know these plates were issued for at least 9
years, from 1913 through 1921.













Huckster

Another class of merchant licensed by these long porcelains were Hucksters,
who were essentially hawkers or peddlers who sold their wares in the street.  The
first known year dates to 1910 and the early plates have a very typical appearance
similar to other varieties of Schenectady plates.  However, by at least 1918, the
format of Huckster plates was altered so that the date was squished up to the top
to make room for an "H&W" abbreviation, standing for the city's Health & Welfare
Department.   Altogether, there are five surviving years of this obscure
Schenectady variant in collectors' hands today.





























Milk

Milk Licenses date from as early as 1908 and stretch an astonishing 28 years
through 1936.  In the beginning, the issuer of these plates was termed the Health
Bureau.  There are a number of unexplained anomalies in these milk plates.  
Some, for instance, carry letters.  The 1908 plate has an "A" prefix before the
plate number, whereas the surviving 1912 plate has a "K" suffix.  The meanings of
these letters are a mystery.  However, in 2013 a couple of examples of same-
numbered plates - but with different suffix letters - showed up.  This might
suggest that these plates were issued to one licensee but were issued for
several different vehicles.  Perhaps in the case of these milk plates it was a dairy
that received the unique license number and then got multiple differently
suffixed plates to go on each of the milk trucks they operated.  This is all
speculation, but similar arrangements were made with dealerships in various
states and this might be a logical explanation.  Beginning in at least 1921,
furthermore, not only was the standard milk plate issued, but separate and
distinct porcelains were simultaneously manufactured indicating "Grade A" or
"Grade B" and "Pasteurized" or "Raw."  Thus, during this time there were multiple
different variations of Milk Licenses issued each year!  



















































































Then in 1929, the name of the issuer of this class of license was changed from the
Health Bureau to the Health Department.  Clearly, there was a great abundance of
this particular class of license, and of the five classes of these supposed
Schenctady porcelains, the Milk Licenses are by far the most common.  In fact, at
the present time, 21 different milk porcelains are known, making them nearly four
times as prevalent as Cartman plates - the next most common class issued.









































Peddler

In addition to Cartman, Huckster and Milk license, at least one Peddler plate was
issued.  Interestingly, the only survivor is the earliest plate known of any kind
among these various porcelain plates.  Dated 1907, this plate is a true pre-state
and it is unclear if Peddler plates were issued in any other years.








Scavenger

The final class of porcelains thought to have been issued in Schenectady are
Scavenger plates.  There are only two surviving examples to document the
existence of this type of plate - massively long 1908 and 1909 porcelains
measuring a full 20 inches in length.  Not only are these plates four inches longer
than any other class of these various New York plates, but they are actually the
third longest porcelain license plates of any kind known from the U.S. or Canada.















SYRACUSE

Syracuse is a city in Central New York and is the county seat of Onondaga County
The city has functioned as a major crossroads over the last two centuries, first
between the Erie Canal and its branch canals, then of the railway network.  The
end of the Revolutionary War brought an influx of settlers, and salt was soon
discovered in several swamps in Syracuse, which brought more settlers and
eventually gave the city the nickname "Salt City."  In 1825, Syracuse was officially
incorporated.  Five years later, the Erie Canal, which ran through the village, was
completed, bringing about a period of great growth.  Syracuse also became an
active center for the abolitionist movement, and although the salt industry
declined after the Civil War, a new manufacturing industry arose in its place.  For
many years, only a single porcelain plate was known from Syracuse - a small
round Milk License from 1917, presumably issued by the Department of Public
Service.  In January of 2015, however, two more Syracuse plates were
discovered.  While these also bear the "D.P.S." acronym across the top, they are
Auto Tax licenses as opposed to Milk Licenses.  Together, these plates are quite
unusual with their round format and suggest that the Syracuse D.P.S. may have
been licensing several classes of vehicles in the mid-teens which collectors
have not yet discovered.
(1903)
Passenger
White/Black
 
(1904)
Passenger
White/Black
4" x 10"
(1903)
Passenger
White/Black
 
(1906)
Passenger
White/Black
4 1/4" x 11 1/2"
1912
Licensed Cartman
Green/White
4" x 16"
1918
Licensed Cartman
White/Green
4" x 16"
1919
Licensed Cartman
White/Red
4" x 16"
1921
Licensed Cartman
White/Blue
4" x 16"
1923
Licensed Cartman
White/Green
4" x 16"
1924
Licensed Cartman
Green/White
4" x 16"
1914
Motorcycle
White/Green
3" x 5"
1915
Motorcycle
White/Orange
3" x 5"
1920
Passenger
Blue/White
2" x 5"
(1903)
Passenger
White/Black
 
1915
D.P.S. Auto Tax
Black/Yellow
3" Diameter
1916
D.P.S. Auto Tax
White/Blue
3" Diameter
1917
D.P.S. Milk License
White/Green
3" Diameter
(1904)
Passenger
White/Black
 
1907
Licensed Peddler
Red/White
4" x 16"
1908
Health Bureau Scavenger Lic.
White/Blue
4" x 20"
1909
Health Bureau Scavenger Lic.
White/Red
4" x 20"
1907
     
1908
Health Bureau Milk License
White/Blue
4" x 16"
1909
Health Bureau Milk License
Blue/White
 
1911
Health Bureau Milk License
Blue/White
4" x 14"
1912
Health Bureau Milk License
Green/White
4" x 16"
1913
Health Bureau Milk License
Black/White
 
1914
Health Bureau Milk License
White/Green
4" x 16"
1915
Health Bureau Milk License
Dark/Light
 
1921
Health Bureau Milk License
White/Blue
4" x 16"
1921
Health Bureau Milk License - B
Blue/White
4" x 14"
1922
Health Bureau Milk License
Green/White
4" x 16"
1923
Health Bureau Milk License - B
Blue/White
 
1925
Health Bureau Milk License - A Past.
Blue/White
4" x 14"
1925
Health Bureau Milk License - B Raw
Blue/White
4" x 14"
1926
Health Bureau Milk License - B Raw
Blue/White
4" x 14"
1928
Health Bureau Milk License
Black/Red
4" x 14"
1910
Licensed Huckster
Red/White
4" x 16"
1916
Licensed Huckster
White/Blue
4" x 16"
1918
H&W Licensed Huckster
White/Green
4" x 16"
1921
H&W Licensed Huckster
White/Blue
4" x 16"
1923
H&W Licensed Huckster
White/Green
4" x 16"

Due to the size of the New York archive, I have split it into two parts.  
Part 2 contains information on the following:

II: STATE-ISSUED PASSENGER PLATES
III: STATE-ISSUED NON-PASSENGER PLATES
IV: ODDBALL PORCELAINS
(Including the Long Island Motor Parkway plates)
FURTHER READING

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF THE NEW YORK ARCHIVE
1929
Health Department Milk License
Black/Orange
4" x 14"
1930
Health Department Milk License
Black/White
4" x 14"
1931
Health Department Milk License
Black/Green
4" x 14"
1932
Health Department Milk License
Black/Gray
4" x 14"
1934
Health Department Milk License
Black/White
4" x 14"
1935
Health Department Milk License
White/Black
4" x 14"
1936
Health Department Milk License
Black/White
4" x 14"
Although we are unsure what company
manufactured the Schenectady plates, this
catalog ad from the Ingram-Richardson
Company of Beaver Falls, PA suggests they
may have been the maker.
1913
Licensed Grower
White/Blue
4" x 16"
1921
Licensed Grower?
White/Blue
Size Unknown
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