There were some 3,800 vehicle registrations in Connecticut's pre-state era
between 1903 and 1905, and although it is not beyond reason that a porcelain
plate may have been commissioned by a motorist during that time, no such plate
is known in collector's hands. There are, however, a handful of porcelains that
were locally issued by various cities in the state.  These plates had very
specialized purposes and licensed specific vendors such as milk dealers.  The
cities known to have issued porcelains are Bristol, New Britain and Stamford.


Located in central Connecticut, Bristol lies 20 miles Southwest of Hartford.  Bristol
is the rarest Connecticut city in terms of porcelain license plates.  In fact, there
are only six surviving plates to indicate that porcelains were ever issued from
that jurisdiction: one 1939 milk permit, two 1940s, two 1941s and a single 1942, the
last of which was found in a Virginia antique store in 2015.  Dating mostly from the
'40s, when the city's population had reached 30,000, these small plates are
distinctive for being among the very few porcelain license plates that were still
being issued that late.  In fact, only Providence, Rhode Island and Sacramento,
California are known to have still been issuing porcelains into the 1940s.  It's
possible - and perhaps likely - that these plates spanned a much longer period of
time, but for now, all we know of are the 1939-1942 issues.


Situated a very short distance from Bristol in the central portion of the state, New
Britain became known as the Hardware Capital of the World at the dawn of the
20th century due to its history as a manufacturing center and its status as the
headquarters of Stanley Works.  When the city first began issuing Milk Dealer
porcelain license plates between 1909 and 1915, New Britain's population was
nearing 50,000.  Unlike most locally-issued milk plates, these porcelains are
gigantic, measuring 5" x 15" and have so much information on them that they look
more like signs than plates.  Another notable aspect of these plates is that they
were manufactured by the Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company and are the only
known examples of plates made by that company to bear the maker's mark on the
front of the plate rather than the back.  Indeed, many years (but not all) bear a
very small line of text in the lower right corner reading "BALTO. ENAMEL & NOV.
CO., BALTO. & 200 FIFTH AVE. N.Y."  These plates are very rare, with known
numbers not even surpassing 200.


Lying near the South-Western corner of the state, Stamford became a popular
summer home for New York residents in the mid-19th century and was
incorporated as a city in 1893.  Fueled by cheap immigrant labor, the city rapidly
became industrialized and grew in importance.  There were approximately 35,000
residents there when porcelains first began to be issued in the mid teens.  
Stamford porcelains are perhaps the most interesting city-issued plates from
Connecticut, because they are the most varied.  Whereas Bristol and New Britain
only issued one type of porcelain, Stamford licensed numerous classes of
vehicle, including Junkman, Truckman and Vendor.  The exact difference between
these three classes of plate, which all seem roughly similar, remains unknown
until we can access the original Stamford laws establishing their usage.  The
earliest Stamford plate dates from 1914 and these various classes of porcelains
stretch for a dozen years into at least the mid-'20s.  There are about a dozen
known surviving examples of these plates, but it is possible that there are many
more out there waiting to be discovered.  After all, if each known variety was
issued for the entire span, then there could well have been nearly 30 different
porcelains issued by the city of Stamford.


Junkman plates were probably issued to vehicles that were operated by people
who were buyers and sellers of unwanted items.  As a class of plate, they appear
to have been issued late in Stamford's run of porcelains.  The first year we know
of isn't until 1923-24.  There are two known years in collectors' hands.


Truckman plates date back to at least 1914-15 and were probably used on
vehicles that were engaged in the pickup and delivery of goods.  There are three
known years of Truckman plates from Stamford.


Vendor plates would have been issued to individuals engaged in the business of
selling miscellaneous items.  Interestingly, the earliest versions of the vendor
plates spell the word "vendor" incorrectly, but by 1925, the spelling had been
fixed (this same grammatical change held true, incidentally, for Philadelphia
vendor plates between 1905 and 1914).   When three 1917-18 Vendor plates
surfaced in July of 2010, two were the same number, suggesting that these
elusive Stamford plates were issued in pairs.  As of now, we are aware of four
different known years.


Motor vehicle registration began in
Connecticut in May of 1903.  However,
owners were required to supply their own
plates through most of 1905 until a more
comprehensive motor vehicle statute
became law later that summer.  The new
law required each vehicle owner to register
his or her automobile with the Secretary
of State by October 1.  In return, they
received a pair of undated first issue
Connecticut plates, which were originally
intended to be a permanent non-expiring registration for the particular vehicle to
which they were issued.  In preparation for the new law, the state of Connecticut
received submissions from various manufacturers wishing to get the contract
for the state's license plates.  As the
Hartford Courant reported in late July, "the
state secretary has not yet given an order for the manufacture of markers for
automobiles in this state although he has enough samples to choose from.  Red,
yellow, blue and green with various combinations of colors have been submitted
to the secretary," although the article went on to say that black & white would
probably be decided upon.  Soon thereafter, the decision was made and the state
contracted with the Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company to produce the simple
white & black undated "C"-prefixed plates that would be issued to registrants for
years to come.  The front plate was manufactured with two slots at the top,
differentiating it from the rear plate which had corner holes only.  The slots were
designed so that leather straps could be passed through so that the plate could
hang from a vehicle's front axle.  As such, the law allowed for the front plate to
swing, but the back plate had to be securely fastened in such a way that it
remained stationary.  As with many early Baltimore Enamel plates, the Connecticut
first issues bear the company's distinctive hand-painted date coding system on
the reverse.  The earliest batch of plates was manufactured in August of 1905 and
the plates probably first adorned cars in the state by September of that year.  
Before all was said and done with the first-issue base, Baltimore Enamel would
produce at least 22 different batches to supply the demand.  For more about the
Baltimore Enamel date coding system, please click

Through the end of 1906, all vehicles owned by a single individual received
plates bearing the same number, thus accounting for the three-of-a-kind
Connecticut first issue plates known to exist.  In August of 1907, an amendment to
the law did away with the permanent registration of first-issue plates, now
requiring motorists to re-license annually.  The registration fee varied from
between $3 and $10, depending on the horsepower of the vehicle and the plates
themselves cost $1 per pair.  Another aspect of the 1907 amendment of the motor
vehicle law was that license plate numbers not renewed for 1908 were
re-manufactured for issuance to new registrations.  The reissue numbers were
manufactured from early in 1908 and into 1909.  The plates bearing these reissued
numbers were the same design as other first issue Connecticut plates, but were
of a longer length, and had more widely-spaced characters.  These plates are
numbered up to approximately #6,000.

By mid-1909, however, the re-issues would run out and new registration numbers
picked up where they had left off in 1907.  Plates with high numbers are known
with May, 1909 BALTO codes on the reverse, suggesting that at least one late
order was placed with the manufacturer.  Interestingly, the highest regular
first-issue Connecticut I've seen is #C9487 and it is notable not only for its high
number and lack of a maker's mark, but for the fact that it was poorly made,
riddled with manufacturing flaws.  Although these may have still been Baltimore
Enamel plates, their sudden alteration in appearance and quality could indicate
that BALTO sub-contracted the production of one final batch of plates out to some
inferior manufacturer.  More likely, however, Baltimore Enamel had already lost its
contract with the state when this new batch was needed (The Ingram-Richardson
Manufacturing Company of Beaver Falls, PA had taken over the contract and
manufactured the last batch of CT first-issues - the elusive "Block C" variety,
discussed below).  Thus, it seems quite possible that there was a third company
involved - a company which made a few plates at some point between Baltimore
Enamel's last first-issue porcelains and Ing-Rich's first "Block C" plates.  Further
possible evidence that these late regular-style first-issues were manufactured by
a different company can be found in the Connecticut Comptroller's report for the
fiscal year ending September 30, 1910.  This report would have included the final
three months of 1909 and there are two very interesting payments noted within - a
$201 payment to Lyon & Ewald and a $189.40 payment to the National Enameling
Company.  Both of these payments were made for "auto tags" and appear
immediately above the nearly $5,300 payment to Ingram-Richardson for the 1910
porcelains.  It is a mystery what these entries really mean, but it is certainly
intriguing potential evidence that somewhere along the line at least one
additional company was involved in the production of first-issue Connecticut

The rarest of all first issue Connecticut
plates are the elusive "Block C" plates.  
Produced by Ingram-Richardson, these
plates were issued to only about 500
vehicles in the closing months of 1909, and
were manufactured in an entirely different
format than any prior first-issue plates.  
These new plates were substantially longer,
more akin to the 1910-1913 plates which
would soon follow, and the style of the
characters had a strikingly modern
appearance, somewhere between the
Victorian script "C" plates of the first issue
era and the truly blocked square lettering
style of the porcelains beginning in 1910.  
The die type of the Block C plates had not
been used before and would not be used
again.  The reason for the existence of the Block C plates was a new law which
became effective September 1, 1909.  This law specified that each digit and letter
"shall occupy not less than three and one-half inches in width."  Suddenly,
therefore, Connecticut plates had to get a whole lot longer.

There are just over a dozen known examples of these plates, all of which are on
bases from 9,500 to the high 9,900s.  Interestingly, as Raiche and Fatherly
describe, collectors have noted two variations on the Block C plates.  The earlier
versions through the 9,600s have no maker's mark, are less glossy, lightly
constructed, and often have a mottled porcelain finish.  Although conventional
wisdom pegs all "Block C" porcelains as Ing-Rich plates, perhaps this first variety
was in fact manufactured by either Lyon & Ewald or the National Enameling
Company, as discussed above.  The later plates, by contrast, have the
Ingram-Richardson Company's maker's mark on the reverse and probably began
with number 9,700.  These plates are about a quarter of an inch shorter, have the
numbers centered exactly between top and bottom, have longer top bolt slots,
have less rounded corners and are of a nice glossy finish in keeping with
Ing-Rich's standards of high quality.

The following are estimates of where the numbers of the first issue Connecticut
plates break down by year:

Chapter 211 of the Public Acts of 1909 repealed the 1907 motor vehicle law and
required annual license plates beginning in 1910, to expire December 31 of every
year.  Accordingly, as of December 31, 1909, all first issue Connecticut plates
were considered void and had to replaced by the new issue.  Connecticut
motorists who had grown accustomed to the conservative black and white plates
of the prior five years were in for a shock when they received their new bright
red porcelains - "markers of a new and startling design," as "The Hartford
Courant" referred to them.  These new plates were once again manufactured by
the Ingram-Richardson Company and although there was reported to be a delay in
delivering the new plates on time, it does not seem to have caused any real
problem.  The deadline for compliance was February 10, after which any motorist
not displaying their new 1910 plates was liable to citation.  Up until that date,
however, the old black & white first-issues were still legally valid.  Registrations
surpassed 10,000 in 1910 and would grow by about 20% each year thereafter.  

In early 1911, newspapers warned motorists to obtain their new plates, indicating
that many vehicle owners were not complying with the law.  As the "Naugatuck
Daily News" reported, "a good many owners of machines are still displaying the
old markers which are white figures on red background.  The new figures are
blue figures on white background... Those who are running machines with the red
and white markers are merely advertising the fact that they have not paid their
license fees for the year."  Part of the problem was that the Secretary of State's
office could not keep up with the volume of applications.  As a result, the initial
deadline of January 1 was pushed to January 10 - a far cry from the nearly
six-week grace period granted in 1910, but plenty of time still for motorists to

On August 1, 1911, a new motor vehicle law went into effect, amending the law of
1909.  Much of this dealt with such things as registration fees, license
revocations, and the use of roads by non-residents.  However, there were a few
changes that dealt specifically with license plates.  For instance, plates now had
to be at least 18 inches from the ground and were required to be fastened to the
vehicle in such a way that they could not swing.  Three weeks after the law went
into effect, police officers were dutifully measuring the distance between the
ground and the porcelain plates that hung from Connecticut cars.  As one
newspaper put it, "several times the traffic guardian has had some little trouble in
making drivers understand that it is really necessary to comply with the law.  
Some are inclined to smile at the warning and take it as a joke.  Others have not
even so much as heard of the law."  In the end, some 14,000 plates were issued in

Although some motorists put their new green 1912 plates on their vehicles in the
last week of 1911 - in violation of the law - most waited until the first of the year.  
However, the automobile department was flooded with applications and just as in
previous years, an extension had to be granted.  As such, the old white 1911
plates were deemed to be valid until the 10th of January.  By the end of the year,
just shy of 18,000 of the green 1912 plates had been issued.  While the 1910
through 1912 plates were manufactured by the Ingram-Richardson Company and
marked with that company's seal on the reverse, the state made an interesting
change in 1913, contracting with a relatively unknown Albany, NY based firm
known as the Quayle Enamel Company.  Quayle held the contract to produce the
1913 first-issue Indiana plates as well, but they are not known to have had any
prior experience with the manufacture of porcelain license plates, making
Connecticut's choice somewhat of a gamble.  According to newspaper evidence,
it was purely a matter of cost, as Quayle's bid was considerably lower than the
price the state paid to Ingram-Richardson for its 1912 plates.  Although the 1913
plates were unmarked, additional evidence pointing to Quayle as the
manufacturer can be found in the Connecticut Comptroller's Report from the
fiscal year ending September 30, 1914 (including the last three months of 1913),
which shows a payment made to Quayle for "auto markers."  

Motorists who wanted to retain the same
number they held in 1912 had to get their
applications into the Automobile
Department by December 16, to avoid that
number being re-assigned.  When the first
of the year rolled around, the Secretary of
State once again issued its customary
extension.  This time part of the problem
was that plates from #5,000 to #10,000 had
still not been delivered by Quayle as of the
first of the year.  As a result, ten days of
grace were allowed.  Then on the 10th,
newspapers announced a second
extension of another ten days because the
plates had still not arrived from Albany.  
Quayle's representative blamed the delay on the fact that the company was
having trouble obtaining enough of the metal blanks used in the enameling
process.  Ultimately, however, the plates were delivered and there does not
seem to have been a need for a third extension past January 20.  Quayle's
inability to get the plates manufactured on time demonstrates that the state's
rejection of industry giant Ing-Rich for financial reasons was not a wise choice.  
Furthermore, the selection of an untested company like Quayle was misguided.  
What they didn't know at the time was that Quayle would mismanage every license
plate contract it ever held.  For more on Quayle's pitiful legacy in the history of
porcelain license plate manufacturing, click

Having learned its lesson, the state was back to using Ingram-Richardson after a
unsatisfying one year dalliance with Quayle.  Although the backs of the 1914
plates are unmarked, our supposition that they were manufactured by Ing-Rich
comes from the annual Connecticut state Comptroller's Reports, which show
large sums of money paid to that company for "auto markers."  The 1914 plates
brought about a number of new changes, perhaps the most significant of which
was the fact that the plates were dated for the first time.  It was also the first time
the state of origin would be clearly indicated - with the decade-old tradition of a
mere "C" prefix now replaced with the abbreviation "CONN."  The first batch of
29,000 pairs was received at the Secretary of State's office in Hartford in
November of 1913 and distribution began in early December.  

Unlike in previous years, the plates were on hand very early and every
application had been filled and all plates mailed before the first of the year.  Thus,
no days of grace were allowed and newspapers warned motorists that they would
be arrested if they did not have their new 1914 plates by January 1.  Some argued,
however, that the drastic change in size of the plates meant that the services of a
machine shop were required to alter and re-drill brackets for the mounting of the
new plates.  And since it was illegal to put the new plates on one's car before the
first of the year, owners had to wait until January 1 to make the necessary
alterations to fit the 1914 plates on their vehicles, thus leading to delays that
were not really the fault of the motorist.  In addition to the new size, another
change in tradition beginning in 1914 was that the plates were now mailed to
registered motorists by parcel post rather than express.  Vehicle owners, who
paid these fees, were pleased with the new change which cut the cost of mailing
from .25 cents to just .06 or .07 cents.  Before the year was up, registrations
reached approximately 25,000.

Although it seems hard to believe, the "Hartford Courant" reported that an
allotment of 1915 plates had already been received by the Secretary of State in
July of 1914.  This might be an error, however, considering that the paper
describes the new plates as "gilt foil numbers and letters on a background of
blue."  This does not match the basic yellow & black scheme of the true 1915
plates, suggesting that perhaps the plates received in July were samples
submitted by manufacturers interested in obtaining the contract.  Whatever the
case, the Comptroller's Reports indicate that Ingram-Richardson once again
received the contract and that there were 28,000 plates on hand and stored in the
basement of the state capitol building by the first of December, 1914.  These were
all neatly cartoned and placed in numerical order on permanent racks which had
been built for that purpose earlier in the year when the Connecticut House of
Representatives was thoroughly renovated.  As in previous years, owners could
retain their old numbers by submitting their applications on or before December
15th.  In spite of the diligent efforts of the automobile department, however,
owners were slow to obtain their new 1915 plates by the January 1 deadline.  
Accordingly, on the 5th, newspapers announced that the Secretary of State had
granted an extension until January 10th.  One day before that new deadline, the
date was pushed once again, with compliance not mandatory until the 16th.  After
that point, however, motorists driving vehicles not bearing the new 1915
porcelains were liable to citation.  By the end of 1915, some 34,000 passenger
cars had been registered in the state.  

One interesting license plate story from 1915 came in October when the state was
looking for a way to dispose of several thousand old porcelain license plates that
had built up over the years and were sitting in storage and taking up valuable
space in the basement of the capitol building.  A bridge was being built across
Hartford's Park River at the time and officials felt that the five tons of plates could
serve well as reinforcement filler material in the construction process.  Although
the contractor agreed, they did so on the condition that the state pay for teams of
horses to cart the surplus plates to the construction site.  The expense
associated with this caveat killed the deal, but a man from Winsted agreed to take
the plates and ship them by rail at his cost with the intent of using them in the
construction of a large garage in that town.  As newspapers reported, if this plan
was carried out, "the proposed building will attract considerable attention as
there are among the markers as many as half a dozen different colors of
background, all with white numbers."

1916 brought about Connecticut's final
porcelain issue before the state switched
to flat metal plates in 1917.  Once again
produced by Ing-Rich, the state was
somehow able to secure a contract with
that company which was $3,000 less than
the year before, even though the number
of plates which needed to be manufactured
was substantially higher.  The 1916 plates
were distributed to motorists beginning on
December 1, 1915 and although technically
required to be displayed by the first of the
year, an extension was granted giving
motorists until January 4th to comply with
the law.  As always, registrants could
request to keep the same number they had the prior year, so long as their
completed application and fee was received by December 15.  Anybody
registering after that date received plate numbers in the order the applications
were received.  Plates could be picked up in person at the state capitol or mailed
for a charge of seven cents.  New Haven resident and former President William H.
Taft received the decidedly mundane number of 17,474.  

Interestingly, in August of 1916, some motorists found themselves in a difficult
situation.  A freight embargo was in place on the shipment of goods from
Pennsylvania to various points in Connecticut.  This freight blockage affected
vehicles transporting goods through New Haven, which included trucks bringing
Connecticut state license plates en route from the Ingram-Richardson plant in
Beaver Falls, PA.  1916 plates numbered through #40,999 had already been
delivered before the embargo, but it was the shipment of 3,000 plates between
#41,000 and #44,000 that was being held up.  Motorists awaiting those plates
drove around without their new 1916 porcelains and were repeatedly being
stopped by the police for violating the motor vehicle laws.  As a result, Secretary
of State Charles Burnes authorized the issuance and use of temporary plates until
the proper ones could be obtained.  The temporary plates numbered between
#40,000 and #43,332, although it is notable that no such plates exist in collectors'
hands today.  But the issuance of these new plates didn't end the problem, as
reports hit the press of motorists driving into New York who were stopped by
police who observed the temporary pasteboard license plates and believed the
driver was trying to pass off a phony.  The Connecticut Automobile Department
cleared this matter up with the New York police commissioner, but nonetheless,
motorists were relieved when the embargo was lifted and those 3,000
long-delayed plates finally arrived at the Capitol on the 18th of August.  By the
time automobile owners got them in their hands and swapped out the temporary
plates, the pasteboard substitutes had been legal for about three weeks.  
Another shipment of 3,000 additional plates arrived a month later and when the
sun finally set on Connecticut's dozen-year love affair with porcelain license
plates at the end of 1916, registrations had reached nearly 50,000.

A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
Connecticut Archive - Part 1
Milk Permit
3 1/4" x 4 3/4"
Milk Permit
3 1/4" x 4 3/4"
Milk Permit
3 1/4" x 4 3/4"
Milk Permit
3 1/4" x 4 3/4"
3" x 6"
3" x 6"
3" x 6"
Licensed Milk Dealer
Licensed Milk Dealer
5" x 15"
Licensed Milk Dealer
5" x 15"
Licensed Milk Dealer
5" x 15"
Licensed Milk Dealer
Licensed Milk Dealer
5" x 15"
Licensed Milk Dealer
5" x 15"
Range: C1 - Approx. C11,500
Range: C1 - Approx. C14,000
Range: C1 - Approx. C18,000
Range: C1 - Approx. C22,000
Range: 1 - Approx. 25,000
Range: 1 - Approx. 34,000
Range: 1 - Approx. 49,000
* Plates with a C plus 2 digits measure 5 1/2" x 10 3/4"; C plus 3 digits = 5 1/2" x 14 1/2"; C plus 4 digits = 5 1/2" x
17" 3/4"
** 2 digit plates measure 5 1/2" x 7 3/4"; 3 digits = 5 1/2" x 10 1/2"; 4 digits = 5 1/2" x 13 1/2"; 5 digits = 5 1/2" x 16
C1 - C2300
C2300 - C4100
C4100 - C6400
C6400 - C7800
(Plus approx. C1 - C4500 re-issues)
C7800 - C9990
(Plus approx. C4500 - C6000 re-issues)
Connecticut First Issue (1906)
Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff
The Hartford Courant, September 15, 1905
Headline warning motorists to obtain their new
state-issued license plates
Note that front plates have
slots for leather straps,
whereas rear plates have
corner holes only.
In 1910, 1912 & 1915,
Baltimore Enamel placed its
maker's mark in the lower
right corner on the front of
the New Britain plates.  No
other BALTO-produced
plates are known with
maker's marks on the front.
3" x 6"
3" x 6"
3" x 6"
3" x 6"
3" x 6"
3" x 6"
For a complete run of CT
porcelains - all #1 - check out

the #1 Gallery HERE
The Hartford Courant,
August 18, 1916
After a freight embargo held
up the delivery of license
plates in 1916, temporary
plates were authorized for
use - but police in New York
thought they were fakes
The Hartford Courant,
October 4, 1915
In the fall of 1915, the state
found a creative way to
dispose of surplus porcelains
The Hartford Courant,
January 1, 1913
Officials were forced to
grant 2 extensions in 1913
when the Albany-based
manufacturer failed to
deliver the plates on time.
Note that first-issue
Connecticut porcelains from
C9000 - C9499
were now produced with
a decorative serif on the
numeral "1"  It is possible
that this change is evidence
of a new manufacturer.
Do the subtle manufacturing differences between
Type 1 and Type 2 "Block C" porcelains indicate
that these plates were manufactured by different
companies?  We know the Type 2 plates were
produced by Ingram-Richardson, but
circumstantial evidence suggests that the first,
lower-numbered variety may have been made by
either New York's National Enameling Company
or by the New London based Lyon & Ewald.
The Naugatuck Daily News,
December 12, 1914
Headline about the early
rush to obtain 1915 plates
The Hartford Courant,
November 15, 1913
Headline announcing the
new green 1914 porcelains
The Hartford Courant,
December 30, 1909
Headline announcing the
new red 1910 porcelains
Connecticut 1916
Connecticut Circa 1913
Connecticut First Issue "Block C" (1909)
Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff

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


Note the difference between an original 1905 issue (left) and a later re-issue of a
1905 number produced in 1908 (right)
In 1915, a new type of license plate was brought
before Connecticut legislatures for consideration.  
This plate not only carried the state name and
year, but had a system designed for better legibility
in which plates over #9,999 would begin with a
letter code so that there were never more than four
digits on the plate.  The plates also carried a
circular brake light and two diamond-shaped turn
signals.  As history shows, however, this wondrous
new invention was not adopted
The Hartford Courant, April 25, 1915
Headline advising motorists to swap their old 1910 porcelains
for the new 1911 ones
The Naugatuck Daily News, January 10, 1911
Range: 1 - Approx. 9,499
White/Black ("Block C")
5 1/2" x 18 1/2"
Range: Approx. 9,500 - 9,999
* 3 digit plates measure 5 1/4" x 9 1/4"; 4 digits = 5 1/4" x 11 3/4"