- How do I order and what does it cost?
- How soon can I expect to see my new plate?
- How many sizes of numbers/letters do you stock?
- Why are there two layers of leather sewn together?.
- Some old photographs show leather plates with a stiffening ring around the rim. Why not make them that way?
- Why no brass numbers?
- The state monograms….are they your original designs?
- Can we display (or register) your plates for use on my horseless carriage?
- What type of aluminum (numbers and monograms) do you use?
- What type of sewing machine do you use?
- How long have you been making/repairing leather plates?
- Can you make a license plate for our 1921 Aero Car?
- Will you sell me just the numbers?
- Why do you offer both 4″ and 3″ numbers?
- Do you offer brown leather?
- Do I need two plates or just a rear plate?
- I have a 1910 Winton; can you make a Massachusetts license plate for it?
- What sizes of numbers and letters are available?
- How do you ship my plates?
How do I order and what does it cost?
Our leather plates are US$125 each; no matter if it’s sized for 3″ or 4″ numbers and irrespective of the number of digits. Additional costs can be for shipping within the US and Canada: US$12.00 for the first plate plus US$4 for each additional plate. Overseas shipments at cost. In addition, Washington State residents will pay state sales tax as presented on the order form. Payment options are detailed within the order form, but your personal check in US$ is preferred.
To order your plate(s), open the Information and Order Form and print this pdf form. Complete the information requested, include your personal check or other payment information and mail to the address shown.Back to Index
How soon can I expect to see my new plate?
Generally allow for 30 days upon receipt of your completed order form. Occasionally it may take longer, especially if new graphics and processing are required for a new state monogram. Be sure to include your email address with your order form; we’ll keep you advised of any delays.Back to Index
How many sizes of numbers/letters do you stock?
Just thinking of 9 (6/9 are the same) numbers in 4 sizes, not to mention the possibility of 26 letters in 4 sizes plus dozens of individual monograms, again in 2 sizes, can make one realize the space and resources involved, especially when we try to keep each stocking bin between 5-10 pieces for each item and size.Back to Index
Why are there two layers of leather sewn together?.
The two thick layers of leather are sewn together to strengthen the plate. This results in a plate that’s nearly 1/2″ thick. It also protects and visually hides the backside of the rivets that affix the numbers, letters and monogram to the top layer.
As with any natural material, there are variations in leather thickness. Occasionally, as shown here, the thickness can slightly exceed 1/2″Back to Index
Some old photographs show leather plates with a stiffening ring around the rim. Why not make them that way?
The stiffening ring was used by some early makers of leather plates; this allowed the use of much thinner leather (thus requiring the steel support ring). The use of standard sized support rings limited a plate’s length to a uniform standard and it introduced a ferrous metal that can rust and stain the leather. Instead we have chosen to use two layers of substantial 12-14oz bridal leather which results in a plate that’s typically 1/2″ thick.Back to Index
Why no brass numbers?
While this era is known as the Brass Era, in truth manufacturers and buyers alike couldn’t wait until nickel and chrome plating came along. In the meantime plate makers gave their customers the new, non-tarnishing aluminum numbers and letters.Back to Index
The state monograms….are they your original designs?
Yes…….and no. All the designs are created by Carol, our Graphic Designer who now works from Albuquerque NM (thank goodness for the internet!) On the other hand, all of our creations are based on either hands-on or photographic evidence of original, of-the-era designs offered by plate makers more than a century ago.
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Can we display (or register) your plates for use on my horseless carriage?
The majority of states allow registration with YOM rules. Leather plates are what was legal for “our” cars (basically pre-’16 but individual states vary). Nearly all states allow display use (keeping your registered horseless carriage, classic car, vintage, etc., plate under the seat). A few owners simply use the plates for show purposes. Take a look at our Customer’s Gallery page; I’m certain all these cars (except possibly Peter Brigg’ 1904 Napier L48) are in use with our leather license plates.
We have learned that it can sometimes be difficult to work with your local DMV office when dealing with this rather obscure application. Some customers repeated Rear Admiral Grace Hopper’s often quoted statement: “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”Back to Index
What type of aluminum (numbers and monograms) do you use?
Our numbers and letters are aluminum stampings made with century old dies with the same Roman (serif) font commonly found on original early plates. Often, when repairing an original plate, we can use our stock font numbers and letters to match the originals. Our newly created monograms are cut from aircraft grade flat stock aluminum (.125″ thick); this is the same alloy as our stampings: 6061 Aluminum T-6
Just as was done 100+ years ago, the majority of monograms were individually cut from flat stock aluminum. For example: taken directly from the 1911 Beckley-Ralston catalog page (illustrated on our Home Page) “Hand-sawed monograms can be supplied for any state desired from factory only.”Back to Index
What type of sewing machine do you use?
Interesting question (and one we’re often asked). Until recently, all the sewing has been performed with a very heavy-duty commercial sewing machine designed for upholstery fabrics and thick leather. We recently installed a pneumatic sewing machine most commonly found among saddle makers. It’s designed to sew ¾” thick harness leather.
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How long have you been making/repairing leather plates?
We made our first plates for our 1914 Overland in 2008; it’s registered in Washington State.Back to Index
Can you make a license plate for our 1921 Aero Car?
No, but only for a very good reason. By 1921 the Pre-State era had disappeared in the USA. As a matter of policy I make plates that are identical to the vehicle owner supplied plates made “back in the day” before the states individually switched to the now accepted method of state supplied license plates. I consider any plate that copies a government issued plate to be a fraud and breaking the law. My plates are made in the same manner as our predecessors did over 100 years ago.Back to Index
Will you sell me just the numbers?
Unfortunately, that option isn’t available. However, we do offer restoration of your original leather plate. The reasoning is that I’m totally responsible for the quality and functionality of the products we sell. Most important to us is that our name is behind each item we sell and without our personal involvement, we would no longer have the quality control that that we feel is required.Back to Index
Why do you offer both 4″ and 3″ numbers?
We began to realize that the larger and longer plates (with 4″ numbers) simply didn’t look correct with the smaller, lighter 1, 2 or even early 4 cylinder cars. Assembled in the same manner and style as our original 4″ number plates; the 3″ size soon became a popular choice for our clients. Here’s a photo showing the difference between two similar plates; the larger plate measures 17-3/4″ in length while the smaller plate is only 11-5/8″ long. The larger plate was designed with a bit of extra space at the ends, it could easily have been an inch shorter.
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Do you offer brown leather?
There have been a couple of questions regarding the use of brown or tan color leather, but nearly all the plates from the pre-state era were black, plus the simple economics just don’t make sense. We purchase multiple full hides at a time and they are all black.Back to Index
Do I need two plates or just a rear plate?
Generally speaking, just one plate. However each state is unique with differing requirements. Check with your local DMV or check our Product Info page for your state’s YOM (Your of Manufacture) information.Back to Index
I have a 1910 Winton; can you make a Massachusetts license plate for it?
No we can’t make a registrable or display license plate for a 1910 MASS plate because the State of Massachusetts started issuing plates in 1903. Making a plate for a 1910 MASS automobile would be illegally reproducing or replacing a state issued plate. However we can make a Marque, Model or Year plate for display on the front of a car.Back to Index
What sizes of numbers and letters are available?
Our basic number and monogram sizes are 3″ and 4″ tall. We do have 1-1/2″ and 2″ numbers and letters available, primarily used for specialty requirements such as Marque Plates, Man-Cave or Award Plates where there is a necessity to include small digits and letters.Back to Index
How do you ship my plates?
We ship via USPS Priority Mail (a email tracking number is available upon shipping) using bubble cushioned manila envelopes. You can save shipping costs by either visiting Mount Vernon, WA USA or picking up your plate(s) at one of the three Swap Meets (Bakersfield CA, Hershey PA or Chickasha OK) we attend each year.Back to Index