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.
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″
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.
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.
Our numbers and letters are aluminum stampings made using 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.”
Interesting question (and one we’re often asked). All the sewing to date has been performed with a very heavy-duty commercial sewing machine designed for upholstery fabrics and thick leather. We’re about to install a pneumatic sewing machine most commonly found among saddle makers; we’re awaiting the updated industrial air compressor to be installed. The new machine will sew up to ¾” thick harness leather!
We made our first plates for our 1914 Overland 79T in 2008; it’s registered in Washington State.
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 smaller 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.
While historically most of the pre-state leather plates were aluminum numbers/monograms mounted on black leather, examples for nearly every “pre-state” state exist with black numbers/monograms mounted on white leather. New York State was the only state that, for a short time period, required white leather with black numbers. We’ve been searching for years for suitable white leather while still maintaining the thick (11-12oz.) leather suitable for making our leather plates. Finally, we’ve found a new source and can now offer white leather plates (utilizing black leather on the backside) and we have found a suitable, near indestructible satin black finish for the numbers/monograms. Pricing information can be found on the Information and Order Form.
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.