A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
J.F.W. Dorman Co.
The J.F.W. Dorman Company was an early Baltimore based company engaged in
the business of rubber stamping. I have seen advertisements from the company
as early as 1890. At some point around 1910, Dorman tried breaking into the
license plate business with a couple of known contracts, but does not appear to
have succeeded in making much of a name for itself in that regard. The first
known porcelains made by the company are the Jacksonville, Florida 1910-11
motorcycle plates. What's especially interesting about that contract, however, is
the fact that Dorman did not produce the automobile plates that year. Rather, that
larger contract went to The Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company, Dorman's
home-town rival. This contract for the Jacksonville cycle porcelains appears to
have been for approximately 100 plates. These plates are marked with Dorman's
oval seal, quite reminiscent of Baltimore Enamel's own oval seal that they had
begun using since about 1908.
The only other evidence we have of Dorman as a manufacturer of porcelain
license plates comes in regard to the city of Muskogee, Oklahoma. There are two
varieties of 1914-15 porcelains known. At least one of the Type 1 versions bears
the stamp of J.F.W. Dorman, while the only known Type 2 version bears no mark at
all. Thus, we know that Muskogee porcelains were being made by the company at
least by then. However, Dorman may have been making plates for the city even
earlier. The Muskogee "Times Democrat" reprinted expense reports for the city
of Muskogee, which include a number of payments to Dorman for license plates.
In the "Receipts and Expenditures of the City of Muskogee" for the month of May,
1913, for example, a payment was made to Dorman for "license tags, dray,
motorcycle, etc." This may refer to the white 1913-14 Muskogee porcelains. Then
in the report from March of 1915, we see a $15.00 payment noted for "fifty for hire
auto tags" and yet another payment the following month for "auto license plates."
These last two appear to be in reference to the blue plate described above
stamped with Dorman's seal.
The only two porcelain
license plates known to
have been produced by
|Mastheads of the J.F.W. Dorman Company.
Note the 1901 date on the first one, indicating Dorman's very early existence as an engraver.
The second one, ten years later, explicitly advertises the company's services as a manufacturer of
|Note that Dorman changed its maker's mark from the one used on the 1910-11 Jacksonville,
FL plates (left) to the one marking the 1914-15 Muskogee, OK plates (right)