A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
Brilliant Manufacturing Co.
Although not very well known, Brilliant actually secured seven different contracts
from two states to provide porcelain license plates, tying it with Horace E. Fine of
Trenton, New Jersey as the third most prolific provider of porcelains known
behind only Baltimore Enamel and Ing-Rich - the two undisputed giants in the
business.  Brilliant was pretty late getting in the game, not successfully gaining a
contract until October of 1911 when they bid for and won the right to produce
Pennsylvania's 1912 plates.  This contract called for an initial supply of 50,000
pairs of plates.  Brilliant did such a good job with these plates that the company
managed to retain its contract with the state of Pennsylvania in 1913, producing
some X plates that year.  

When the state solicited bids to produce
the 1914 plates, Brilliant stepped up once
again.  However, the stakes had changed
over the past two years.  1914 saw the
introduction of four new classes of
Pennsylvania porcelain license plates -
commercial, motorcycle, trailer and tractor -
and the state's demand for porcelains now
called for 220,000 plates!  Perhaps because
this was such a daunting task, Brilliant was
actually the only bidder.  They got the
contract in September of 1913 and had to
deliver the plates by November 30th.

Just a couple of months after the delivery
of these plates, in February of 1914, Brilliant
got a surprise call from the state of New
Jersey.  When the Quayle Enamel Company
of Albany, NY couldn't fulfill it's contract to
provide New Jersey 1914 plates, the New
Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles
cancelled the order and placed an emergency order for 2,000 pairs with Brilliant.  
It is unclear exactly what number sequence these are in, or if more were ordered
in addition to the emergency 2,000, but it appears that the Brilliant plates number
in the low 30,000s - perhaps 30,000 - 32,000.

Then in September of 1914, Brilliant succeeded in securing the contract to
provide the 1915 Pennsylvania porcelains - it's fourth consecutive year of holding
the state contract for license plates.  However, this was not without controversy.  
Brilliant was not the lowest bidder, sparking some speculation about why Brilliant
got the contract.  Ironically, the low bidder was the same Quayle Enamel Company
that had defaulted on it's contract with New Jersey earlier in the year.  As an
editorial that appeared in more than one Pennsylvania newspaper read: "It may
be only a coincidence that the higher bidder was a concern in which one of
Governor Tener's close political and personal friends... is directly concerned.  Of
course, it is a matter of little concern to the present Highway Department that the
people of the State will be compelled under that bid to pay from one to five cents
more for these auto tags than they otherwise would do.  A mere saving of fifteen
or twenty thousand dollars does not appeal... in comparison with the opportunity
to serve a political favorite."  Of course, it is also possible that Quayle was not
chosen due to its tarnished reputation.

1915 was a busy year for Brilliant.  Not only were they manufacturing some X
Pennsylvania porcelains, but they were also hired to produce the 1915 New
Jersey plates as well.  The Pennsylvania and New Jersey 1915 plates were the last
porcelains manufactured by Brilliant, but the company did continue producing
license plates.  In fact, they won the Pennsylvania contract for the fifth year in a
row and made the 1916 embossed plates for the state at a cost of 13 3/4 cents per

In the end, Brilliant manufactured an estimated X porcelain license plates for
Pennsylvania and New Jersey between 1912 and 1915.


The Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, PA), October 4, 1911
New Castle News, September 17, 1913; August 11, 1915
Trenton Evening Times, February 4, 1914
The Gazette (Bedford, PA), September 11, 1914
The Wellsboro Gazette, September 10, 1914

Headline announcing Brilliant's acquisition
of the contract to produce Pennsylvania's
1914 porcelains