A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
New Brunswick Archive


On April 8, 1905, the first act regulating cars in New Brunswick went into effect.  
Included in it was the provision that every vehicle had to display a license plate
on the rear of the car.  This plate had to carry the initials “NB” and was required to
be black characters on a white background.  These were not Provincially issued,
but were instead made up by the owner out of wood, metal, leather, or some other
convenient material.  By the end of 1910, a total of 299 registrations had been

Of all the known New Brunswick pre-provincials, there is only one example of a
porcelain - a dated 1910 issue.  This plate was first registered on May 29, 1909 to a
Russell owned by F.W. Sumner of Moncton, New Brunswick.  It is notable that this
plate has blue characters, in defiance of the 1905 mandate that the numbers and
letters be black.  The explanation for the blue letters - and for the format of the
rest of the plate - might be quite simple.  My theory is that Mr. Sumner had
business dealings in relatively near-by Boston, and saw the nice porcelain plates
being used there.  He apparently figured out that they were being manufactured
by the Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company, which had an office in Boston, and
commissioned one of his own to be made up for his vehicle back home.  Evidence
for this theory lies in the fact that the 1910 New Brunswick plate is virtually
identical in size, color, layout, and character style to a 1910 Massachusetts plate.  


By 1910, Provincial authorities decided to pass legislation to issue annual license
plates, the first appearing in 1911. Registrations reached 483 this first year,
although four numbers were apparently never assigned.  Thus, a total of 479 pairs
of 1911 plates were issued.  Numbers below 300 were reserved for those re-
registering vehicles that had been registered in the pre-provincial era from 1905-
1910.  New registrants in 1911 got numbers from 300 up.  One interesting aspect
of these first-issue New Brunswick porcelains is that they bear the Ingram
Richardson mark on the reverse.  As such, they are the only Canadian porcelains
of any kind from any province that are known to have been manufactured by a      
U.S. company.  There may well have been others, but the 1911 plate is the only
one so marked.  

In 1912, 700 sets of plates were issued.  
Re-registrants got numbers from 1-483
and were able to keep the same number
they had in 1911.  New registrants in 1912
were issued numbers from 484-700, as
well as any numbers below 484 that were
unclaimed by previous registrants.  As
was the case in 1911, no non-passenger
classes of license plates were
manufactured, and all vehicles got the
same standard porcelain plates.

In 1913, the numbering system was
changed.  All vehicle owners, whether registering for the first time or re-
registering, received numbers between 701 and 1524.  All numbers below 701
were apparently retired, so it is impossible to have plates of the same number for
1912 and 1913.  It is worth noting that through 1913, according to Rioux, if a car
was junked or wrecked, the license plates would be re-assigned to the next
person in line.

1914 was the first time that registrations in New Brunswick surpassed 1,000.  
Registrations in 1915 reached just shy of 2,000.  It is perhaps notable that a large
number of 1914 and 1915 passenger plates (as well as dealers & cycles) were dug
up at some point and can be found in poor condition in bulk.  Just as owners in
1911 and 1912 could retain the same number, re-registrants could also keep the
same number during the three year span from 1913-1915.  Then in 1916, the
system changed once again.  There were approximately 3,000 registrations in
1916 and nearly 5,000 in 1917, with plate numbers in both years starting at #3,000.  
An interesting aspect of the 1917 plates is that they were manufactured by
McClary’s of London, Ontario, as indicated on the reverse.  Other than the Ing-
Rich-made 1911 New Brunswick plates, this is the only other Canadian porcelain
stamped with a maker’s mark.  Furthermore, the McClary’s stamp has not been
found on any other porcelain license plates other than this single New Brunswick

With its seven colorful issues between 1911 and 1917, New Brunswick bears the
longest uninterrupted annual run of porcelain plates from all of Canada.
Saskatchewan issued seven years of porcelains as well, but the run is broken by
a four year gap in which the Province experimented with non-porcelains.


In 1911 and 1912, New Brunswick did not distinguish between passenger plates
and non-passenger issues.  Beginning in 1913, however, this would change.  In
the end, New Brunswick's nine different non-passenger porcelains make it
second only to Saskatchewan for the total number of collectible porcelain types.


Three dealer plates were issued in 1911 and about a half-dozen in 1912.  In the
revised 1912 laws, dealers were entitled to as many duplicate plates as they
wanted, so long as they paid a fee of $1 for each duplicate plate they requested.
However, there was no separate and distinct class of dealer porcelains
manufactured.  Dealers just got numbers in the regular series along with all other
classes of vehicles, and were indistinguishable based on appearance.  In 1913,
however, this changed.  Beginning that year, separate dealer plates were issued.

1913 dealers are incredibly scarce, with only two surviving examples known to my
knowledge.  From 1913 through 1915, these plates conformed to the same pattern
- they matched the colors of the passenger issues, but were undated.  They
carried one or two digit numbers followed by the suffix "N.B." and read "DEALERS
TAG" across the bottom.   As with many 1914 and 1915 passenger issues,
numerous dealer plates from these two years were dug up.  In fact, nearly all
known surviving examples show evidence of having been buried.  In 1916 & 1917,
the format changed somewhat, with the legend at bottom now reading simply
"DEALERS."  Furthermore, as numbers now entered three digits, a change had to
be made to accommodate an additional digit.  Instead of elongating the plates,
Provincial authorities not only greatly narrowed the province abbreviation, but in
an apparent effort to save space, they chose to leave off the ending punctuation
as well!  Plates now read "N.B" at the end.   Numbers reached about 250 by the
end of 1917.


According to Rioux, the 1911 act stated that motorcycles would be in compliance
with the law so long as they had one license plate measuring half the size of the
standard passenger issue.  That same requirement continued in the revised laws
of 1912.  However, it is not believed that these plates were issued by the
Province.  Motorcycles were listed sequentially along with the rest of the
registered vehicles in 1911 and 1912, thus getting the same plates as every other
class of vehicle, and at least one full-sized 1911 porcelain registered to a
motorcycle is known.  Perhaps the law meant that if a motorcycle owner did not
wish to display the large plate assigned to him, he could manufacture a smaller
one of his own design and still be in compliance.  The first Provincially-issued
distinct motorcycle plates were probably issued in 1913, as this is the first year
motorcycles do not appear in the list of registered passenger vehicles.  However,
the earliest known cycles are actually from 1914.  These porcelain cycle plates are
virtual miniatures of the passenger plates, and continued to be issued annually
through 1917.

Registrations for cycle plates were extremely small.  Only four motorcycles were
registered in 1911, and about a dozen in 1912.  In 1914, it is unclear how many
cycle plates were issued, but it appears that the Province put in an order from the
manufacturer for 100 plates.  All three surviving examples are high in this span,
including numbers 93, 95 and 99.  These may well have never been issued, but
were simply disposed of when motorcycle registrations failed to reach the
anticipated numbers.  In 1916 and 1917, numbers appear to have reached into the
mid 400s.  Interestingly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a New Brunswick porcelain
cycle plate that doesn’t show evidence of having been buried and dug up.  In
fact, especially with the 1916 and 1917 plates, quite a few poor examples have
survived due to some digger unearthing them.  Perhaps when the plates expired,
authorities confiscated the old ones, threw them in a pile, and disposed of them
en masse at the end of the year.


There are also two very unusual porcelains known from New Brunswick.  Both
have identical inter-twined "NB" graphics unlike anything used on any other
plates.  The 1916 was unearthed in the '60s when construction began on a
government building in Fredericton.  The presumption is that the site of the
building was formerly a municipal dump.  Whatever these two baffling oddballs
are, their existence is a complete mystery.


Keith Marvin, “New Brunswick: The Picture Province.”  ALPCA Newsletter, 27, 2
(April, 1981), pp. 22-25.

Keith Marvin, "Number 124: A Phantom From this Picture Province." ???

Lucide Rioux,
Early Motoring in New Brunswick (1905-1914).  2003.
5 1/2" x 10"
6" x 10"
Range: 1-483
6" x 10"
Range: 1-700
6" x 10"
Range: 701-1,524
6" x 10"
Range: 701-1,960
6" x 10"
Range: 701-Approx. 2,600
Dark Blue/Light Blue
6" x 10"
Range: 3,000-Approx. 6,500
6" x 10"
Range: 3,000-Approx. 7,500
6" x 10"
Range: Estimated 1-100
6" x 10"
Range: Estimated 1-100
6" x 10"
Range: Estimated 1-100
Dark Blue/Light Blue
6" x 10"
Range: Estimated 1-200
6" x 10"
Range: Estimated 1-250
4" x 7"
Range: Estimated 1-100
4" x 7"
Range: Estimated 1-100
Dark Blue/Light Blue
4" x 7"
Range: Estimated 1-450
4" x 7"
Range: Estimated 1-450
6" x 10"
6" x 10"
New Brunswick 1912

The 1917 New Brunswick
porcelain is the only license
plate known to have been
manufactured by
Ontario-based McClary's