A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
Georgia Archive


The first state-issued Georgia plates were issued in 1910.  Prior to this, owners
provided their own plates.  Porcelain was apparently extremely unusual as a
choice of material for vehicle owners looking to have a plate made up for their
car, but at least one motorist decided to order one.  Thus, we have the single
surviving example of an owner-provided porcelain from Georgia - a dated 1910
plate which was probably only used for a brief period of time until the state took
over that same year.  Interestingly, this plate is marked on the reverse with the
stamp of the Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company, the same company that would
later produce Georgia's only state-issued porcelain plates in 1915.

In addition to the 1910 pre-state, there is another really interesting Georgia
variety that surfaced on EBAY.  Georgia was one of those states from which not a
single city or county  was known to have issued porcelains, and most presumed
that's just the way it was.  But when an undated Cedartown plate showed up at
auction, Georgia collectors were shocked.


The county seat of Polk County in the Northwestern part of the state near the
Alabama border, Cedartown is a small town near the junction of two railways
which had a population of less than 4,000 when the plate was manufactured and
used.  This plate and a second one that subsequently surfaced - both on EBAY -
are the sole surviving examples from Cedartown, and remain the only
representative of a locally-issued porcelain from the state of Georgia.


Georgia had been issuing plates for five years before they chose to experiment
with porcelain.  Only New Mexico had a longer run of metal plates before deciding
to try porcelain.  In Georgia's case, the experiment lasted exactly one year, with
1915 plates ordered from the Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company.  Registration
cost each motorist a fee of $5.00.  There was apparently a grace period for
motorists to obtain their plates until end of day on March 1, but after that point,
vehicle owners could be prosecuted for non-compliance with the state law.  But
that looming deadline did not seem to motivate most motorists.  In fact, with little
more than two weeks to go before March 1, the "Atlanta Constitution" reported
that there were still 20,000 automobile owners who had not yet taken out their
licenses.  Similarly, with only four days to go before the deadline, Secretary of
State Phil Cook bemoaned the tardiness of Atlanta residents in complying with the
law, going so far as to blame the city's police force for the fact that 3,100 of the
city's 4,700 motorists had not yet paid their license fees and received their
plates.  As the "Constitution" quoted Cook, "There is no earthly excuse why
practically three-fourths of the automobile owners in Atlanta should have waited
until almost the last day to register except for the fact that they do not fear arrest
by the Atlanta police."

On March 2, the first day that motorists were liable to arrest, the front page of the
"Atlanta Constitution" featured the headline "Over 8,000 Autos Are Without Tags,"
demonstrating that non-compliance was still a major problem for state politicians
and law enforcement officials to deal with.  In fact, it soon became clear that many
motorists were wilfully disregarding the law, because they believed it was unfair.  
Of the 600 automobile owners in Americus, for example, fewer than fifty were
reported to have purchased their plates as of March 3, with many flatly refusing
to do so.  Even county officials were complicit.  The "Constitution" reported that
Bibb County commissioners had made the decision not to enforce the law, but
would instead leave the decision up to each automobile owner.  Their justification
was that Bibb's share of the money derived from the sale of auto tags only
amounted to about $400, and it would cost them more than that to employ an
agent to make sure motorists took out their licenses.  Officials in Chatham and
Sumter counties expressed similar intent.  Needless to say Secretary of State
Cook was not pleased and was very vocal in the press about both his support of
the state license law and his expectations that Georgia officials would help to
uphold it.  As he was quoted as saying in the "Constitution" on March 5, "I just
cannot bring myself to believe that any sane official can announce that he is not
going to enforce the laws of his state, laws which he has sworn to uphold when
he took his oath of office... I believe the officers who are said to be unwilling to
enforce the law will come to their senses bye and bye."

It is unclear how or if this war of words fully resolved itself, but by the time the
year was up, approximately 24,000 porcelain 1915 license plates had been issued.
After a one-year dalliance with porcelain, the state of Georgia was back to metal
issues for good starting in 1916.



The only distinguishable non-passenger plate issued by the state in 1915 is a
motorcycle plate.  Notably, this is a first issue Georgia cycle plate, as cycles prior
to 1915 were indistinguishable from passenger plates, and cyclists were forced to
use the same five and six-inch tall plates that automobile owners had been using
the prior five years.  The small 1915 porcelain cycle plate, therefore, brought
about a refreshing change.  A virtual miniature of the very large passenger issue,
the cycle plate is notable for having a white border at top and bottom only, unlike
the passenger plate.  The serif on the "G" is also slightly different, pointing both
to the left and right.  These are extremely rare, with perhaps a half-dozen
survivors in collectors' hands.


The Atlanta Constitution, March 20, 1914; January 12, 1915; February 9, 1915;
February 24, 1915; February 28, 1915; March 1, 1915; March 2, 1915; March 3, 1915;
March 4, 1915; March 5, 1915; March 6, 1915; March 9, 1915.
6" x 10"
Range: 1 - Approx. 24,000
*Plates of four digits or less measure 6" x 12".  Five digit plates measure 6 x 13".
4" x 10"
Range: 1 - Approx. 700
As the March 2, 1915
deadline for registering and
receiving license plates
approached, newspaper
headlines warned motorists
that they could be arrested
and charged with a
misdemeanor if they failed
to comply with the law.  
Nevertheless, many failed
(or refused) to register
on time
Georgia Secretary of State
Phil Cook grew frustrated
by what he felt was the
Atlanta police department's
unwillingness to enforce
the license law
In March of 1915,
Bibb County
Commissioners took the
rather shocking step of
publicly announcing their
refusal to enforce the
license law
The Atlanta Constitution,
February 24, 1915
The Atlanta Constitution,
March 1, 1915
The Atlanta Constitution,
March 2, 1915
The Atlanta Constitution,
March 3, 1915