Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Celebrate the Plate

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Celebrate the Plate

Article excerpt

Is there anything more "old economy" than a license plate? Stamped from metal, fastened to lumbering creatures from the Auto Age, and subjected to mud baths and bug splatterings, the license plate is the antithesis of high tech. But last year, in an effort to draw e-business to the state, Pennsylvania jettisoned its venerable slogan "Keystone State" in favor of the more cyber-savvy "WWW.STATE.PA.US." Nebraska will adorn its plate with a Web page address next year.

The Keystone State's regrettable "platelift" fell just short of the seminal anniversary in license plate history. One hundred years ago, in 1901, New York became the first state to require all motor vehicles to display license plates. To the joy of collectors ever since, the state neglected to issue official plates, leaving motorists free to craft their own vehicular badges in a variety of materials, sizes, and shapes, from Mickey Mouse-like ears to the now traditional rectangle. …

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