State Plates


I have been playing the license plate game for some months. My game version requires a good-quality photo of each state plate – which is tricky when the car is moving. (Don’t try this while driving!) This is only one variation of the license plate game – and not the most complex. “Preamble” by Mike Wilkins phonetically spells out the preamble to the Constitution of the United States using 51 US license plates – that ambitious project is in the Smithsonian collection.

So far, I have 47 of the 50 United States (missing are Delaware, Maine, and South Dakota), plus some others. There is much variety in plate design even within one state, and some are masked by big license holders – making identification a challenge. San Jose, California, where I live gets many visitors, so driving around a big parking lot usually yields at least one addition.

If you take a photo of a license plate, sometimes a double helix security watermark appears running up the center – to identify forgeries, I would guess. The watermark is clearest on the plates below for Indiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.

Some plates feature background images (mountains, flowers, farms, birds) or a motto (“Grand Canyon State” “Sweet Home” “The Spirit of America” “Live Free or Die”), others have just the dull URL of their Department of Motor Vehicles or government home page. Viginia is the simplest – no images or mottos. My favorite is the feisty motto of Washington DC: “Taxation Without Representation”.

Alabama . Alaska . Arizona
Arkansas . California . Colorado
Connecticut . Florida . Georgia
Hawaii . Idaho . Illinois
Indiana . Iowa . Kansas
Kentucky . Louisiana . Maryland
Massachusetts . Michigan . Minnesota
Missouri . Mississippi . Montana
IMG_1233 . Nevada . New Hampshire
New Jersey . New Mexico . New York
North Carolina . North Dakota . Ohio
Oklahoma . Oregon . Pennsylvania
Rhode Island . South Carolina . Tennessee
Texas . Utah . Vermont
Virginia . Washington . West Virginia
IMG_8049 . Wyoming . Washington DC
US Department of State - Consular . Baja California - Mexico . Alberta - Canada
British Columbia - Canada . Quebec - Canada . US Government
Illinois - September 11, 2001 . Wisconsin - Menominee Nation

Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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