PORCELAIN PLATES.NET
A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
Massachusetts Archive - Part 2
II: STATE-ISSUED PASSENGER PLATES

Massachusetts holds a special place in the history of license plates, as it was the
first state ever to begin the official issuance of plates.  A 1903 motor vehicle law
was passed in June, but compliance with the new ordinance didn't become
mandatory until September 1, 1903, which gave motorists ample time to register
with the Massachusetts Highway Commission in accordance with the law.  As
historian Eric Tanner suspects, those who chose to register prior to the
September deadline probably did so in order to secure coveted low registration
numbers.

Interestingly, official state issued license
plates were not a part of this new law.  
Instead, the initial intent was for owner-
provided plates.  However, officials soon
reconsidered and recognized that issuing
standardized license plates would be best.
Thus, at some undetermined point after
the passage of the law in June, plates
were designed and ordered.  Newspaper
accounts from mid-July, for example, said
that the decision had been made to issue
plates "for the sake of uniformity" and that
the plates would read "MASSACHUSETTS
AUTOMOBILE REGISTER" - even though
the final product actually carried an
abbreviated state name: "MASS.
AUTOMOBILE REGISTER."  The implication
is that as of this date the porcelains had still not been produced or distributed to
motorists.  It is theoretically possible that one of the first few registrants in July or
August used a pre-state plate of some sort on their vehicle for a brief period until
they received their first issue porcelain plates, but no such plate has ever been
seen and it appears that the porcelains were ready for distribution by the
September 1 deadline.  In spite of the two month grace period, many motorists
were tardy in registering.  On September 2, the "Fitchburg Daily Sentinel"
reported that only 2,500 of the estimated 4,000 or 5,000 vehicles in the state had
in fact paid their $2.00 registration fee and registered on time.  The rest remained
outstanding, in spite of the potential for arrest and a hefty $25 fine for first time
offenders and $50 fine for each subsequent offence.

The law required that all automobiles in the state carry pairs of plates which had
to be kept clean and be mounted so as to always be plainly visible to a person
standing within twenty feat of the front or rear of the vehicle.  The plates were to
be hung so that they were parallel to the axle of the vehicle and "the lower edge
of each plate shall be parallel to the bottom of the body of the vehicle."  These
first plates, known as "MARs" or "Registers" by collectors, would be issued
through the end of 1907.  MARs were manufactured by the Baltimore Enamel and
Novelty Company, which would parlay the successful completion of this contract
to become the second most prolific producer of porcelain license plates of all
time.  The very first Registers were unmarked, but beginning in 1904, the company
began applying its distinctive hand-painted dating system to the reverse of the
plates, a system that would remain in place until the first dated plates from
Massachusetts appeared in 1908.  For more about the Baltimore Enamel number
codes, click
HERE.  












As Conrad Hughson has determined,
somewhere around plate #7000 in 1904,
Registers began to carry slots designed
for leather straps in addition to the four
corner holes.  The length of the plate
varied depending on the plate number,
and slight variations occurred throughout
this era, with the "MASS. AUTOMOBILE
REGISTER" designation slightly varying in
length or style and thickness of lettering.  
However, the first alteration in the plates
that most collectors classify as a distinct
type came in 1905 when registrations
surpassed 9,999.  At this point, the plates
were redesigned to accommodate a new
digit, and the type 2 MARs began to hang
from vehicles in the state.  These plates were a quarter inch taller, about 2 inches
longer than 4 digit plates and had a significantly larger "MASS. AUTOMOBILE
REGISTER" designation across the top.  These plates still bore the hand-dated
Baltimore Enamel codes on the reverse and just like their predecessors, there
were slight variations in the lettering depending on when each new batch was
produced.  Interestingly, Highway Commission regulations required anybody who
was issued a Register but who no longer needed it to smash it up and obliterate
the number so that the plate could not be improperly used by others.  Registers
would reach into the mid 20,000s before a revised law requiring new plates each
year became effective in 1908.  

The years for first issue Massachusetts passenger plates break down as follows:
























As Richard Dragon notes, in 1907
authorities recognized the difficulty of
identifying improperly registered vehicles
when cars carried the multi-year undated
first issue plates.  Thus, in 1908 the state
adopted a new system, this time issuing
dated plates for the first time and
mandating that January 1st of each year
would require motorists to re-register and
receive new plates.  This revised law was
passed over the objections of automobile
owners who claimed that it amounted to
double taxation, since they already paid
property taxes on their vehicles.  Baltimore
Enamel, which had been making plates
throughout the Register era, lost the state
contract to the Beaver Falls, PA based Ingram-Richardson Company, who
manufactured the 1908 plates.  The initial order placed by the state called for
14,000 pairs of plates, but at some point there was at least one additional order
placed, as the highest number known for 1908 is in the mid-17,000s and the
Report of the Massachusetts Highway Commission published in January of 1909
indicates that 18,052 registrations were granted through the end of November,
1908.  The numbers of vehicles registered in the state had become so large that
officials decided that they could no longer honor the requests of motorists to
request or retain certain numbers.  The only concession was given to motorists
with plate numbers below #5,000, who were allowed to keep their old numbers so
long as they specifically requested them and got their application in on or before
January 15.  Any unclaimed numbers below #5,000 were reassigned.  Regarding
the desire for certain numbers, an article in the "Fitchburg Daily Sentinel" late in
1907 stated "some owners believe that high numbers give them greater immunity
from the attentions of the police because they are harder to read, while others
desire low numbers which indicate that they have been devotees to automobiling
for several years."  As the "Boston Globe" would later put it, "to see a classy
runabout going along with a number plate about one-third of the width of the rear
does not add to the car's appearance.  That accounts for the big demand for small
figures."

The new annual plate system would prevail
from this point forward.  After being beaten
out in 1908, Baltimore Enamel was back in
both 1909 and 1910, securing the right to
produce plates in both of those years.  Like
other Baltimore Enamel plates of the era,
early 1909 plates carried a date code on the
reverse - in this case "108," indicating that
they were manufactured in October of 1908.  
It appears that the first 1,000 plates were
so marked before the company began
using its oval seal and phased out their
longstanding tradition of date coding.  
Interestingly, in spite of the fact that
Baltimore Enamel received the contract to
produce the 1909 porcelains, some of the
latest numbers issued in 1909 bear an Ing-Rich stamp on the reverse, as if the
state made one final order of a few hundred plates or so and for some unknown
reason hired Ing-Rich to produce them.  These rare Ing-Rich made plates appear
to have started at approximately #22,000.  The state's contract with Baltimore
Enamel for 1910 plates was a nearly $7,000 deal which mandated an initial
production of 24,000 pairs of passenger plates in addition to various
non-passenger classes.  Since the fiscal and registration year in Massachusetts
commenced on December 1, at least 10,000 sets of passenger plates had to be
delivered by that date.  After that Baltimore Enamel could supply 5,000 additional
plates monthly until the full allotment had been delivered.  It is notable that the
flood of applications received by the Massachusetts state highway
commissioners for 1910 plates was so massive that there was a few days delay in
supplying all of the new porcelains to motorists.  In fact, on January 2, the
Commission notified police to consider 1909 plates still good for a while longer
until the backlog could be worked through.












In 1911, the plates no longer carried the
handsome border of the prior three years
and were unmarked for the first time since
1903 in terms of who manufactured them.  
In fact, the 1911 plates are the only
Massachusetts porcelains for which the
original manufacturer remains a mystery.  
These new plates had a very simple
appearance which alternated between  
white on blue and blue on white annually  
throughout the remainder of the porcelain
era.  The first allotment of 1911 plates
began being distributed  in mid-December
of 1910 and, as was customary, the Highway
Commission first filled  the applications
from those who had numbers under #5000
and who wished to retain their old number.  
Soon, however, more plate shipments
would begin arriving and the remainder of
the outstanding motorists would receive
their new plates.  1911 was apparently also
the first year that motorists could not count
on a little leeway in getting their licenses.  
Prior to 1911, automobile owners had a
two-week grace period in which to obtain
their new plates, but this was now done
away with.  Nevertheless, this new system
did not spur vehicle owners to go out and
obtain their new plates very quickly.  As of
January 28, the State Highway Commission
was still reporting that numerous motorists
remained unlicensed and that there were
8,000 plates in the office waiting to be
claimed.  1911 was also the first year to see
Massachusetts license plates surpass the
30,000 mark.













The 1912-1915 plates were once again produced by Ingram-Richardson, who
regained the state contract for the first time since 1908.  Ing-Rich made about
40,000 pairs in 1912, about 50,000 in 1913 and about 60,000 in 1914, when plates
were first shipped via Parcel post, as opposed to a private carrier.  
























In 1915, the numbers jumped to about
80,000.  In part due to the fact that
motorcycle plates were re-introduced in
1915, the State Highway Department fell
behind schedule in issuing 1915 plates.  In
the first week of the year, the more than
100 clerks and stenographers working away
in the Ford Building in Boston couldn't
keep up with the flood of registrations, and
had fallen several thousand registrations
behind in terms of actually mailing out the
license plates.  Eventually, however, the
plates got to the motorists safe and sound
and 1915 saw Massachusetts license plates
reach approximately #80,000.  Just like the
Type 1 MARs, all Massachusetts porcelains
from 1908-1915 came in varying lengths
depending on the plate number.  The lower
the number, the more desirable they are to plate collectors.


































III: STATE-ISSUED NON-PASSENGER PLATES

Just as Massachusetts pioneered the issuance of passenger plates, it did the
same with non-passengers.  In fact, it is the first state in which state issued plates
were required on both motorcycles and dealers (introduced in 1903) as well as
trucks and commercial vehicles (both introduced in 1911).  In all, there were a
total of seven different classes of non-passenger vehicles marked with
distinctive license plates during the porcelain era.  Some of these, like the dealer
and commercial plates, are relatively common.  Others, like the Taxi Service and
Diplomat porcelains, are virtually unique in collectors' hands.  

COMMERCIAL
















From 1911 through the end of the porcelain
era in 1915 and beyond, Commercial plates
were manufactured with a "B" prefix.  
Wagons or trucks used by car dealers
which would have formerly been issued
dealer plates now carried the Commercial
plates.  Like the other classes of
Massachusetts porcelains, these varied in
length based on the plate number, although
it is notable that 5 and 6 character plates
were the same length.  Each year saw
registrations jump by 2,000 or 3,000, and by
the time the porcelain era was over in 1915,
commercial plates had surpassed the
#10,000 mark.































DEALER

Zero prefixed dealer plates were issued from the very beginning in 1903.  
Dealerships could apply for a general number and receive duplicate pairs of same
numbered plates for use on their vehicles.  However, in 1906, it was decided that
a suffix needed to be added to the dealer plate number so that it was clear
precisely which vehicle was being driven at a given time.  As a temporary fix, the
revised automobile regulations passed in June of that year authorized the use of
small pairs of porcelains bearing a single letter and a small, intertwined "MAR"
logo at bottom right to indicate an abbreviated version of the "MASS. AUTO
REGISTER" legend that adorned the full-sized porcelains. These plates were the
same height as the regular Registers and were designed to be attached to the
right of the dealer plates - front and back - so as to appear to simply be an
extension of the plate.  Thus, a dealer requiring multiple pairs of same numbered
plates would differentiate them by attaching these small porcelain letter
attachments.  In the October, 1980 "ALPCA newsletter," for instance, two pairs of
MAR dealers (#0370) are shown - one with a pair of "C" attachments and the other
with a pair of "D" attachments.  It is unclear how high these attachments went in
the alphabet, but known examples as high as "F" have survived.  Note in the
photo below that dealers would sometimes rig up a leather pad onto which both
the plate and the letter suffix could be attached.  Interestingly, we can tell from
the coding system used on the reverse of the plates that these single letter
porcelain dealer attachments were all produced in one large batch in May of 1906,
so they were ready for distribution to dealerships upon the passage of the 1906
law the following month.

This separate letter system was only in
place for less than half a year, as
somewhere around dealer plate #0400 in
1906, according to Massachusetts expert
Mike Duff, the state was now able to supply
a new type of Auto Register dealer, this
time with the letter suffix right on the plate.  
These are very rare, as there were only
about 125 new dealerships issued plates
during the time these Type 2 dealers were
used.  This system remained in place for
the duration of the porcelain years.  

The first issue dealers break down by year
as follows:


























Throughout the porcelain era in
Massachusetts, it appears that dealerships
were given five pairs of plates by default
and could order as many more as they
needed.  In 1910, the registration fee was
$25 for the first five cars and $5 for each
additional car registered.   According to
"The Horseless Age," the initial order from
the state required Baltimore Enamel to
supply 475 sets of five pairs each for
dealers.  Clearly, however, that was an
underestimation, as 1910 dealer plates are
estimated to have reached close to #800.  
As time went on and dealerships tended to
have more and more cars, the number of
duplicate sets needed grew substantially.  
It is perhaps a reasonable assumption that
letters "I" and "O" were skipped, but
dealerships that needed more than 24
pairs were then issued plates with double
letter suffixes.  Note the photograph at
right of a vehicle with plate #09VV - the
highest number ever seen.  Dealer
registrations grew steadily throughout the
years and by 1915, numbers had surpassed
1,500.  It was customary for dealers to be
asked how many plates they would need
very early - perhaps a month or so before
the first of the year - so that the order for
those plates could be filled quickly and the
car sales industry could be up and running
by January 1 without skipping a beat.








































DIPLOMAT

Massachusetts Diplomat porcelains are among the rarest license plates ever
produced.  Prefixed with a "D," these plates were intended for members of the
foreign diplomatic corps.  As Eric Tanner has ascertained, the law authorizing this
class of license plate was passed on June 13, 1908 and authorized the free
registration of automobiles and motorcycles for diplomats.  The Massachusetts
Highway Commission report for that year indicates that two registration
certificates were issued to members of the diplomatic corps.  Further research
conducted by Massachusetts expert Mike Duff suggests that these plates were
only reserved for full ambassadors or envoys, which helps to explain the low
numbers of the only two surviving examples in collectors' hands today: a 1908
issue #D2 and a 1913 issue #D1.  We know from an article in "The Horseless Age"
from October of 1909 that the state ordered about 20 diplomat plates from the
manufacturer for 1910 - although a 1911 article in "The Boston Globe" says that
only 8 of those were actually registered.  As the "Horseless Age" article read,
these plates were "prepared for the diplomatic corps at Washington, who may be
spending the season next summer in Massachusetts."  However, no such 1910
plate has survived today.  It is possible that Diplomat porcelains were not even
produced every year, because they would have only been used if a full
ambassador happened to hail from the state of Massachusetts in any given year.  
As Duff explains, there were two ambassadors from Massachusetts in 1908, thus
the #D2.  The known 1913 plate was issued to Larz Anderson who was ambassador
to Japan at the time.  Duff further theorizes that these plates were issued for use
in the District of Columbia.  Anderson had a house in D.C. and the 1908 #D2 came
from a home in Alexandria, Virginia along with early D.C. and Virginia first issue
plates.


















MOTORCYCLE

Motorcycle plates are interesting in that they were issued in the first year of
Massachusetts porcelains and the last year - and at no point in between.  The first
issue plates are highly sought after, with perhaps a dozen of the rare "Z" prefixed
MAR cycles surviving in collectors' hands today.  Issued as singles only, it is
unclear how long these plates hung from the rear of motorcycles.  What we know
for sure is that they didn't last long!  The highest numbered surviving plate is
#Z480, and we know that motorcycle registrations in 1903 reached approximately
#502.  Thus, one could perhaps speculate that after an initial order from the
manufacturer of, say, 500 plates, authorities recognized that these porcelains -
which weren't really all that small - were too brittle and easily damaged, and made
the decision to abandon physical plates.  Thus, it seems likely that the "Z"
prefixed cycle porcelains were produced and issued in 1903 only.  After this point,
motorcyclists were required to paint the number (including the "Z" prefix) right on
the battery box of their motorcycle.  

Separate motorcycle license plates were
not issued again for a dozen years.  
Beginning in 1910, small brass discs were
issued, but it wasn't until 1915 that
Massachusetts finally brought porcelain
cycle plates back.  As the "Lowell Sun"
explained of the new law to take effect
January 1 of 1915, a number of
motorcyclists involved in accidents
"have been able to get away without their
identity being made known," and thus
license plates were being re-introduced to
make cyclists more accountable for their
actions.  Unlike the MAR "Z" plates, the
1915 cycle plates came in pairs and
numbers neared the #10,000 mark before the year was up.  Notably, motorcycles
with sidecars were required to register their vehicle as an automobile.




















MOTORCYCLE DEALER

The only motorcycle dealer porcelains produced by the state of Massachusetts
came in 1915.  Like the automobile dealer plates, these are prefixed with a "0" and
carried a letter suffix.  1915 motorcycle dealers presumably came in pairs like the
regular cycle plates that year.  I have only ever seen two examples of these plates
- #07H and #01008A.  As Eric Tanner has suggested, the wide gulf between the
registration numbers of these two plates strongly suggests that there were
different number sequences assigned to dealers of new and used cars, as was
the case in California the previous year.  If this theory is true, the first class
appears to have begun at #1 and the second at #1000.  According to a new motor
vehicle act approved in 1915, motorcycle dealerships paid a registration fee of
$10, which included ten pairs of plates.  For each additional pair they needed, the
cost was $.50 cents.  This act was to take effect upon its passage, which
presumably happened before the year was over.  However, the extraordinarily low
survival rate of 1915 Motorcycle Dealer plates is hard to reconcile with a law
which apparently provided each dealership with at least 20 plates.  Perhaps there
were very few motorcycle dealerships in the state in 1915.














NON-RESIDENT

Historian Eric Tanner has found evidence
suggesting that Non-Resident plates were
first manufactured in 1910.  He uncovered
the text of a Massachusetts law passed in
June of 1909 and becoming effective on
the first of January, 1910 which stated that
non-residents who registered in the
second half of the year were entitled to pay
a half-price registration fee.  However, no
1910 plate has ever been seen.  The first
known examples of these elusive "X"
prefixed plates come from 1911 and
continued throughout the porcelain era.  
Interestingly, collectors have never seen
a 1915 Non-Resident plate.  Interestingly,
we can see steady growth in the numbers
of these plates registered, with highs in
1911 reaching about 750 and growing to at
least 900 two years later.  However, for
some unknown reason, there appears to
have been a precipitous drop in
registrations in 1914This new class
of license plate very likely provided the
spur to New Hampshire to begin issuing
Non-Resident plates of their own beginning
in 1912.































TAXI SERVICE

Taxi Service plates, marked with a "TS" prefix, are known as early as 1911.  Only
three examples have been located - one each from 1911, 1914, and 1915.  Clearly
these plates were issued in 1912 and 1913 as well, but none has yet to surface.  
Although very little is known about these elusive plates, there are a couple of
interesting aspects about them.  For one, they are the only examples of porcelain
license plates from Massachusetts with a double-letter prefix.  As historian Eric
Tanner points out, both "T" and "S" were unused and available at the time to
denote Taxi Service plates as a class, but for some unknown reason the
two-letter prefix was chosen instead.  Even more interesting, however, is the fact
that it appears these plates were issued to one particular Taxi company in
Boston.  This supposition comes from a 1916 newspaper article in the "Lowell
Sun" which is commenting on the various classes of license plates for 1917.  The
article states that numerous classes are continuing, such as "B" prefixed
commercials, "X" prefixed non-residents, and tellingly, "TS" prefixed plates "for
one of the large taxicab companies in Boston."  It's not entirely clear what this
means, but it appears that there may have been one Taxi company in Boston that
was large and influential enough to secure what are essentially private plates
from the state.  This would help to explain the incredible rarity of these plates.  
After all, there must have been thousands of taxis operating in the state at the
time, and the plates would be much more common if TS plates were assigned to
all taxis.  If this limited-issue, semi-private theory is indeed true, the
Massachusetts TS plates are the only such porcelains known to have ever been
issued by any state.
























IV: ODDBALLS

There is one known oddball Massachusetts porcelain - a dated 1909 issue.  This
plate is half of a pair.  One half is the standard Baltimore Enamel produced plate
with white border around it, while this other half is completely different.  It lacks
Baltimore Enamel's oval seal on the reverse and is produced in a fashion more
akin to the later plates beginning in 1911.  The best theory is that the registrant of
plate #2569 lost or severely damaged one of his plates and privately
commissioned a duplicate to be made.  Why the manufacturer did not make a
greater effort to match it to the rest of the 1909 porcelains then on the road is a
mystery!













FURTHER READING

PRIMARY SOURCES

The Automobile (Chicago), Vol. 14, No. 1 (January 4, 1906), p. 27; Vol. 21, No. 1 (July
1, 1909), p. 29; Vol. 21, No. 17 (October 21, 1909), p. 702

The Boston Globe, July 14, 1903; September 22, 1903; January 15, 1905; July 14,
1905; March 11, 1906; May 23, 1906; August 11, 1907; February 14, 1908; December
1, 1908; December 5, 1909; January 2, 1910; January 30, 1910; December 18, 1910;
March 26, 1911; April 2, 1911; May 7, 1911; December 17, 1911; October 23, 1912;
June 15, 1913; October 26, 1913; December 14, 1913; January 1, 1914; December
13, 1914; January 1, 1915; October 17, 1915; November 21, 1915

The Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, June 27, 1903; July 16, 1903; September 3, 1903;
August 13, 1904; June 20, 1906; June 22, 1906; December 24, 1907; March 10, 1908;
January 28, 1911

The Horseless Age, Vol 12, No. 1 (July 1, 1903), pp. 22-23; Vol. 14, No. 13 (September
28, 1904), pp. 303-304; Vol. 24, No. 14 (October 13, 1909), p. 406

The Lowell Sun, January 4, 1911; April 26, 1916

General Acts Passed by the General Court of Massachusetts, in the Year 1915
(Boston, 1915), pp. 8-20.

Peck, John,
Supplement of the Revised Laws of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, 1902-1906 Containing the General and Permanent Acts of
Resolves of the Years 1902-1906, Inclusive
(Boston, 1907), pp. 261-275.

Sixteenth Annual Report of the Massachusetts Highway Commission for the Fiscal
Year Ending November 30, 1908
(January, 1909), pp. 40, 69, 131-133.

"Thirteenth Annual Report of the Massachusetts Highway Commission, January,
1906" in
Public Documents of Massachusetts: Being the Annual Reports of
Various Public Officers and Institutions for the Year 1905
(Boston, 1906), Vol. 12, p.
17.

SECONDARY SOURCES

Conrad Hughson, "Massachusetts Automobile Registers."  The ALPCA Newsletter
X, X (October, 1980), pp. 92-95.

Richard E. Dragon, "Massachusetts."  The ALPCA Newsletter, 45, 2 (April, 1999),
pp. 68-9, 7.

Due to the size of the Massachusetts archive, I have split it into two parts.  
Part 1 contains information on the following:

I: PRE-STATES / CITY & COUNTY PLATES

CLICK HERE FOR PART 1 OF THE
MASSACHUSETTS ARCHIVE
1903
1-3241
1904
3242-7013
1905
7014-11902
1906
11903-18474
1907
18475-26207
1903
01-0100
1904
0101-0180
1905
0181-0282
1906
0283-0433
1907
0434-0524
(1903-05)
White/Blue (Type 1)
Variable*
Pairs
Range: 1 - 9,999
(1905-07)
White/Blue (Type 2)
5 1/2" x 11 1/2"
Pairs
Range: 10,000 - Approx. 27,000
* 1 and 2 digit plates measure 5 1/4" x 5 1/2"; 3 digits measure 5 1/4" x 7 1/2"; 4 digits measure 5 1/4" x 9 1/4"
1908
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 1 to Approx. 18,000
1909
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 1 to Approx. 24,000
1910
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 1 to Approx. 30,000
1911
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 1 to Approx. 33,000
1912
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 1 to Approx. 41,000
1913
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 1 to Approx. 51,000
1914
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 1 to Approx. 62,000
1915
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 1 to Approx. 80,000
* 1-3 digit plates measure 51/2" x 10"; 4 digits = 5 1/2" x 12"; 5 digits = 5 1/2" x 14"; 6 digits = 51/2" x 16"
1911
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - B1 to Approx. B2000
1912
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - B1 to Approx. B4100
1913
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - B1 to Approx. B6000
1914
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - B1 to Approx. B8500
1915
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - B1 to Approx. B11500
* Plates with a "B" plus 3 digits measure 5 1/2" x 14"; "B" plus 4 or 5 digits measure 5 1/2" x 16"
(1903-06)
White/Blue (Type 1)
Variable*
Pairs
Range: 01 - Approx. 0400
(1906-07)
White/Blue (Type 2)
  Pairs
Range: Approx. 0401 - 0550
* Plates with a "0" plus 1 digit measure 5 1/4" x 5 1/2"; "0" plus 2 digits measure 5 1/4" x 7 1/2";
"0" plus 3 digits measure 5 1/4" x 9 1/4"
1908
Blue/White
???
Pairs
Range - D1 - D2
1913
White/Blue
???
Pairs
Range - D1 (only one produced)
1908
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 01 to Approx. 600
1909
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 01 to Approx. 700
1910
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 01 to Approx. 800
1911
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 01 to Approx. 900
1912
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 01 to Approx. 1150
1913
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 01 to Approx. 1350
1914
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 01 to Approx. 1550
1915
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - 01 to Approx. 1600
* All dealers carry a "0" prefix and 1 or 2 letter suffixes.  5 character plates measure 5 1/2" x 14"; 6 character
plates measure 5 1/2" x 16"
(1903)
White/Blue
Variable*
Singles
Range: Z1 to Approx. Z500
1915
White/Blue
7 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Pairs
Range: 1 to Approx. 9,500
* Plates with a "Z" plus 1 digit measure 5 1/4" x 5 1/2"; "Z" plus 2 digits measure 5 1/4" x 7 1/2";
"Z" plus 3 digits measure 5 1/4" x 9 1/4"
1915
White/Blue (Type 1)
7 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Singles?
Range: 1 - ???
1915
White/Blue (Type 2)
7 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Singles?
Range: 1000 - ???
1911
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - X1 to Approx. X750
1912
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - X1 to Approx. X875
1913
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range - X1 to Approx. X900
1914
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range - X1 to Approx. X500
* Plates with an "X" plus 1 or 2 digits measure 5 1/2" x 12"; "X" plus 3 digits measures 5 1/2" x 14"
1911
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range: TS1 to Approx. ???
1914
Blue/White
Variable*
Pairs
Range: TS1 to Approx. ???
1915
White/Blue
Variable*
Pairs
Range: TS1 to Approx. ???
* Plates with a "TS" plus 1 digit measure 5 1/2" x 14"; "TS" plus 3 digits measure 5 1/2" x 16"
Examples of MAR dealer
suffix attachments
Massachusetts Auto Register, Type 1 (1904)
Massachusetts Auto Register, Type 2 (1906)
When a Massachusetts Auto Register
porcelain was lost or damaged and needed to
be replaced, the order went through Baltimore
Enamel's agent in Boston - the Waterman &
Leavitt Company - who affixed their paper
emblem to the backs of the plates before
shipping them to the motorist.
FACTOID
Massachusetts 1908
Massachusetts 1909
Massachusetts 1911
Although still unexplained, Massachusetts
specialist Alan Young has identified odd
markings on four-digit 1910 porcelains that are
reminiscent of - but different from - Baltimore
Enamel's famous date-coding system that was
used through early 1909.  

For a gallery of these marks, click
HERE
FACTOID
Massachusetts 1913
Massachusetts 1915
Photo Courtesy of Paul Osika
Massachusetts 1912
The Fitchburg Daily Sentinel,
January 28, 1911
Headline warning motorists not to drive their
vehicles without their 1911 plates
Massachusetts 1915 Commercial
Massachusetts 1913 & 1914 Commercial
1914 Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff
MA Auto Register Dealer Type 1 (1906)
Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff
Massachusetts 1915 Dealer
Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff
Massachusetts 1912 Dealer
Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff
Massachusetts 1915 Motorcycle
The Boston Globe,
January 2, 1910
The Boston Globe,
December 18, 1910
The Boston Globe,
January 1, 1914
The Boston Globe,
December 13, 1914
Example of a Type 1
Register Dealer.  Note how
the "E" was attached to
the left of the number, in
technical violation of the
law which required the
letter to be a suffix
Although
Ingram-Richardson had the
contract to manufacture
1908 Massachusetts
porcelains, there is at least
one plate (#4924 above)
which was made by the
Baltimore Enamel & Novelty
Company.  This plate bears
a code indicating that it was
made in May of 1908.  
Perhaps the state had
already decided it was
going to award the 1909
contract to BALTO and
simply had them make any
late replacements that
were needed.
Example of a
Massachusetts Auto
Register with the original
mailing envelope.  Note
that Wells Fargo was the
carrier.
Headline about the backlog
in processing 1910
registrations and the fact
that authorities authorized
the continued use of 1909
plates for a few days into
the new year
Headline about the new
1911 porcelains and the
fact that registrants
wanting to retain low
numbers had their
applications filled first
Headline and accompanying cartoon
about the overwhelmingly busy license
plate season at the Highway Commission
offices in Boston which had become
commonplace in the first few days of each
new year.  

Although the Highway Commission went
to great pains to get motorists to register
early, it seems that automobile owners
always waited until the last minute.

Each year, staff was beefed up for the
registration season, but the sheer volume
of license plates that needed to be issued
made life a bit hectic for the clerks who
worked in the Automobile Department.
Headline about the arrival
of the new 1915
porcelains.  Note that this
was almost 3 weeks
before the first of the year,
giving registrants ample
time to get their plates
before the rush
1909
Passenger
White/Blue
5 1/2" x 12"
Massachusetts 1913 Non-Resident
Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff
Massachusetts 1912 Non-Resident
Photo Courtesy of Mike Duff