Hawaii License Plates

Hawaii License PlateThis is the Hawaii License plate that we make, these cost 20 each, or 36 for the pair. We keep these in stock, and can make them within 48 hours (depending on orders). To order these plates click here or you can call us on 08707 667 657.

Hawaii License Plate EmbossedThis is a picture of a plate embossed.

We also sell the Hawaii Flag Sticker  and the Hawaii Oval Bumber Sticker

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One of the most oddball collections I've run into is a "run" of Hawai'i auto license plates that DeSoto Brown has put together over the past 30 years.

His profession, as guru of the Bishop Museum archives, is collecting stuff, so I guess he comes by it naturally. Still, it isn't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill hobby.

Brown said it teaches him a lot of interesting history of Hawai'i. For example, nobody needed a license for a car until 1906 when the new city council (we didn't have one before) passed a law that cars had to be registered.

When you bought a car in 1906, you were responsible for putting your license number on it. Brown said some people went to the hardware store and bought house numbers that they nailed to a board and attached to the car.

The fancier license plates were made of leather. Some people hired a house painter to paint scenery on the license plate. Others painted their number right on the car.

In 1915, both O'ahu and Hawai'i counties began to issue license plates instead of having everybody make their own. Both counties issued porcelain enamel plates with the number baked on.

What's good about porcelain enamel license plates is that they don't fade. The bad news is that they chip easily when road gravel goes flying. And porcelain enamel is expensive.

Brown says the counties began issuing metal license plates in 1917 with the painted numbers embossed. What made getting an auto license complicated was the little metal plaque you had to purchase from the Territory beginning in 1912. That was in addition to the license you bought from the county. The plaque could be attached wherever you wanted the dashboard, fender, radiator.

Another problem with this system each county issuing its own license plates was that the numbers duplicated. If you moved to Maui, somebody else had your license number. Something had to be done, with more and more cars running around with the same number.

So in 1922 all the counties worked out a system in which the numbers were coded and put on uniform license plates which weren't exactly uniform because the counties used different manufacturers so the colours didn't always match.

Until 1942 a new license plate was issued every year but a metal shortage during World War II changed that. From 1942 to 1946 you were issued a sticker. Brown says they are very rare. Since 1953, license plates are used more than one year. Old license plates are hard to find because they rust and because not many plates were made in the early days when there weren't many cars.

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