A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
TOTAL KNOWN PORCELAIN VARIETIES: 4
I: PRE-PROVINCIALS / CITY & COUNTY PLATES
One of the great mysteries of Canadian porcelain licence plate history is the
series of porcelains said to have been issued by the city of Montreal beginning
as early as 1904. According to Keith Marvin and Jean-Louis Beaudoin, there were
48 pairs of black & white porcelains issued that year. And in 1905, 102 pairs of
white & blue porcelains measuring 4 1/2" x 8" are reported to have been issued.
It remains unclear, but appears that a third consecutive year may have been
issued in 1906 as well, but that these porcelains conflicted with the new
provincial law. There are no such examples of any of these mysterious plates
known to have survived. Thus, I mention them here for sake of reference,
although they do not figure in the porcelainplates.net archive of collectible
varieties, as no such plates actually exist. If and when some of these plates do
show up, however, they will be quite remarkable for their extremely early usage.
In fact, a 1904 Montreal plate would suddenly become one of the earliest known
porcelain license plates ever to have been issued and far and away the earliest
Canadian porcelain plate of any kind, pre-dating the 1911 Ontario and Quebec
provincial issues by seven years! These Montreal porcelains would also be
distinctive, as the tradition of locally-issued porcelain license plates in Canada
never caught on the way it did in the U.S. In fact, the only such municipally-issued
plate known from any province is the undated Victoria, British Columbia porcelain,
thought to date to around 1912 or 1913.
II: PROVINCIALLY-ISSUED PASSENGER PLATES
According to research conducted by Quebec expert Guy Thibault, who has
obtained access to numerous primary sources of information including provincial
expense records, Quebec began officially issuing license plates in 1908. Prior to
this, owners would provide their own plates, many of which were leather. From
1908 through 1910, as Thibault has determined, the plates were made of rubber.
In 1911, however, the province switched to porcelain plates, which they ordered
from a Montreal firm known as the Thomas Davidson Manufacturing Company. As
per the provincial motor vehicle records, the payment in 1911 to Thomas
Davidson was just over $1700, which included both the porcelain plates as well as
the small dashboard plaques, as described below. Interestingly, the only other
porcelain license plates known to have been made by this company are the first-
issue Alberta 1912 porcelains. Quebec only used these full porcelain license
plates for a single year, and starting in 1912, the plates were made of fiberboard,
which was long thought to be the provincial first-issue until Thibault's research
made collectors re-think their previous assumptions.
These large deep blue porcelains are distinctive for their octagonal shape. In
fact, the Quebec porcelains are joined only by the St. Louis 1910 issues as the
sole examples of eight-sided porcelains ever manufactured by any state or
province. Numbers begin in the low to mid 3,000s, presumably where the prior
year's plates left off. Known numbers range from 3534 to 5235. Furthermore,
there are two distinct versions of the porcelain plate. At some point the plates
began carrying four corner mounting holes. Prior to this point, the two slots at
the top were the only place the plates could be mounted. The cut-off between
these styles has been isolated to somewhere between numbers 4356 and 4474
(probably at #4400). The reason for this change is unclear, although perhaps it
was a response to motorists complaining that the plates were difficult to mount.
In addition to the full porcelain plates, Quebec is also known for a couple of
different versions of porcelain “dashboard discs” - although they are actually
small squarish plates. The first version appears to have been issued from the
very first provincial registrations in May of 1906 and has the word "registered"
abbreviated on the plate as "REGD." These also spell out the name "Quebec"
and have the designation "NO" before the plate number. Then in 1908,
apparently, a different variety of porcelain dashboard disc was issued. These are
essentially the same size as the earlier versions, but now spell out the full word
"REGISTERED," abbreviate the provincial name "P.Q.," and drop the "NO"
designation. These second versions extended through 1911 and numbers reach
well into the 4000s. Like the 1911 porcelain license plates, these porcelain
plaques were manufactured by the Thomas Davidson Manufacturing Company of
Montreal. In fact, there is at least one known example of the later version with
that company's paper stamp still glued to the reverse.
III: PROVINCIALLY-ISSUED NON-PASSENGER PLATES
Guy Thibault, L'immatriculation du Quebec (Quebec City, QU: Les Editions GID,
2005), pp. 41-68.
Guy Thibault and Andrew Osborne, "1906 Quebec Registration Plaques." PLATES,
54, 5 (October, 2008), p. 6.
Keith Marvin and Jean-Louis Beaudoin, "Le Mystere des Plaques du Quebec,
1904-1912." ALPCA Newsletter, 35, 6 (December 1989), p. 170.
||Passenger, Type 1
||6" x 12"
||Passenger, Type 2
||6" x 12"
||2 1/2" x 3"
||2 1/2" x 3 1/4"