A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
TOTAL KNOWN PORCELAIN VARIETIES: 4
I: PRE-STATES / CITY & COUNTY PLATES
II: STATE-ISSUED PASSENGER PLATES
Like Georgia, New York, Washington, and Wyoming, Minnesota first began issuing
metal plates before deciding to experiment with porcelain, and like those other
states, it did so for precisely one year. The Minnesota 1909 and 1910 issues were
attractive flat painted metal plates. But in 1911, the state chose to make a
change, issuing a simple but striking white and deep blue porcelain plate. Unlike
the previous two years, the porcelains were issued as singles only and they
varied in length depending on the plate number. The manufacturer of these
plates remains a mystery. As reported by Sidney and Bruce Schmiesing, there
were 19,600 plates issued in 1911. Perhaps because of the susceptibility of these
plates to chipping, Minnesota abandoned their use of porcelain in 1912.
III: STATE-ISSUED NON-PASSENGER PLATES
Dealer plates look exactly like the passenger issues, except for the presence of a
“D” prefix. Minnesota is the only Mid-Western state to use this designation on
porcelain plates, as other nearby states such as Michigan and Indiana chose an
“M” to designate the dealer/manufacturer class.
Owners in 1911 who lost their plate had two options, according to the
Schmiesings. They could either order a replacement bearing the same number
and wait for it to arrive, or they could get a plate immediately with an “L” prefix
presumed to stand for “lost.” Thus, these “L” plates are actually passenger
issues. These are incredibly difficult to find as only about 100 were ever issued.
Minnesota’s 1911 cycle plate is striking for its vertical, curved appearance. This
is the only example of a curved porcelain cycle plate from any Mid-Western state.
Interestingly, the height of the plate varies depending on the plate number – the
only example I know of from the country in which a curved cycle plate was issued
in different sizes. Some 1911 cycles in the same color and format exist in flat tin.
These are probably late issues. The highest number I've seen of these rare
plates is #1746, but an article in Minnesota's "Austin Daily Herald" from August of
1911 states that motorcycle registrations had already reached 2,500 by that time.
IV: FURTHER READING
Sidney Schmiesing & Bruce Schmiesing, “Explore Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes and
Millions of Plates.” Plates, Vol. 52, No. 1 (February, 2006), pp. 24-25.
Austin Daily Herald, August 24, 1911
||Range: 1 - Approx. 20,000
|* Three digit plates measure 5" x 10"; Four digits - 5" x 12"
||Range: 1 - Approx. 3,000
|* Four digit plates measure...
||Range: L1 - Approx. L100
|* Plates with an "L" plus two digits measure....
||Range: D1 - Approx. D200
|* Plates with a "D" plus one digit measure 5" x 8 1/2"; Plates with a "D" plus 2 digits measure 5" x 10"