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License Plates

The very first automobile, and license plate, appeared in Burlington in 1898 and has undergone a number of changes over the past century. Often a license plate is visible in an historic image. If the date is readable, that can provide extremely accurate information to the date of your photo. There are many other identifying characteristics of Vermont license plates that may be also be helpful.

1905 License Plate 1905: The state issued license plate specifications in 1905. These 6-by-11 inch iron plates, with white or blue enamel paint, displayed the words "Vermont Automobile Register" plus the license number.
1906 License Plate 1906: The plates issued in 1906 had a white surface with a black border and black lettering and numbering. The plate displayed the license number and the letters "VT."
1908 License Plate 1908: The first dated license plates were issued in 1908.
1912 License Plate 1912: The plate design was altered slightly in1912. The date and the "VT" were moved to the edges of the plate.
1916 License Plate 1916 License Plate 1916 License Plate 1916: In 1916, the state began issuing different color plates for each year. Therefore, they were once again undated. The undated plates lasted from 1916-1918. The plates to the left date from 1916, 1917, and 1918 from top to bottom.
1919 License Plate 1919 License Plate 1919: Date was again placed on the license plate. The date plus the letters "VT" were placed at either end of the plate. Plates still changed color from year to year.
1926 License Plate 1926: The plate size was enlarged to the 6-by-12 inch design that still exists today. The word "Vermont" and the date were moved to either the bottom or the top edge.
1935 License Plate 1935 License Plate 1935: In 1935, the registration date changed from being a calendar year to running from April to March. Therefore, the 1936 plates read "Vermont Expires March 31, 1937." The wording was changed the next year to read "Vermont To April 1, 1938."
1939 License Plate 1939: The calendar year registration date was reinstated. The new plates featured the word "Vermont" in the middle of the date, as seen in the image on the left.
1943 License Plate 1943: Due to metal shortages during WWII, the legislature suspended all specifications for license plates. Small metal tabs, usually made from the tin cans in which prisoners - food came, were mounted on the 1942 license plates revalidating them for 1943. The tabs displayed the date and registration number but no state designation.
1944 License Plate 1944: Regular plates were issued again in 1944. The 19 was omitted from the date, and only the last 2 digits of the date were displayed.
1948 License Plate 1948: The first slogan was displayed on Vermont license plates in 1948. The words "Green Mountains" were printed in gold letters on a green background. The green and white combination was issued in 1950, having either a green background with white lettering or a white background with green lettering.
1949 License Plate 1949: Plates were changed to two standard sizes. Plates of 4 numbers or less were 6-by-10 inches, while plates with 5 numbers were 6-by-11 inches. Plates with 5 numbers had a white border, as seen in the image on the left.
1951 License Plate 1951: A new numbering system was introduced in 1951 for numbers over 100,000 that involved using a combination of 1 or 2 letters followed by 1, 2, or 3 numbers. This system proved difficult, and, in 1952, numbers over 100,000 were represented by an E plus 4 numbers. The letters A, B, C, E, and were used on plates for various increments over 100,000. The letter F was added in 1964.
1957 License Plate 1957: The 6-by-12 inch plate size was again standardized. The word "See" was added in front of "Vermont" to form the slogan "See Vermont."
1967 License Plate 1967: The word "See" was omitted form the "See Vermont" slogan. The old numbering and lettering system was abandoned, and a new system of 6 numbers was instituted.
1969 License Plate 1969: The word "See" was restored to the "See Vermont" slogan. These plates also were undated. The 6 digit plates introduced in 1967 were difficult to read; therefore, a 1-letter, 4-number combination was used for plates over 10,000.
1977 License Plate 1977: A new plate style was issued, featuring a white box at the center, a maple tree in the upper left hand corner, and the words "Vermont" at the top and "Green Mountain State" at the bottom.
1990 License Plate 1990: A new alpha-numeric system was issued. New plates displayed 3 letters plus 3 numbers.

Images courtesy of World License Plates, 2006.

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