Wallful of Plates

May 05, 1958
May 05, 1958

Table of Contents
May 5, 1958

'I Am The Law'
Los Angeles
  • Newport Harbor, Calif., one of the busiest boat havens in the U.S., is the gateway to adventure for West Coast yachtsmen

Big League Secrets: Part 4
Horse Racing
Tip From The Top
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

Wallful of Plates

The only man in the country with 43 lines in Who's Who in America and 4,500 license plates in his garage is a distinguished Du Pont chemical engineer named Thomas H. Chilton. On the opposite page are some colorful old tags from his collection—representing 46 states, the District of Columbia and the provinces of Canada.

This is an article from the May 5, 1958 issue

Chilton started his hobby by saving the plates from the family cars, as many another motorist has done. In 1930, however, he seriously began to assemble a complete set of American plates and now is only about 100 short of that goal.

Chilton has contacts all over the nation and in some foreign countries who keep him supplied with all the latest samples.

Along with the tags, Chilton has acquired much license plate lore. And an extensive field it is. For instance, some states, like New York, have special letterings which cops generally allow extralegal privileges, and these plates can be the source of much political gravy; others, like Connecticut, raise legitimate money by charging an extra fee for people who like to flaunt their initials or nicknames on their plates. And lately many states have used their plates as free advertising to lure tourists, e.g., "VACATIONLAND," "10,000 LAKES."

Tricky shapes are out now, under the recent agreement among the states and the provinces of Canada and Mexico on a standard 6-by-12-inch model—a development Chilton takes in stride. What he really wants are some of those elusive oldtimers. Anybody have a 1910 Maryland?