Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Silver Spring Realia

Recently the Silver Spring Historical Society acquired this realia (library-speak for three dimensional object) with no information regarding its history.  Appearing to be an automobile license plate, I posted a query on the Facebook group page You know you grew up in Silver Spring when... to see if any of its members might know something about it.  A couple of months later local longtime resident Rick Nelson provided the information I sought supplemented by Rick Kretschmer's amazing web site ricksplates.com.

Collection of Silver Spring Historical Society

The state of Maryland started requiring the registration of automobiles in 1904 but it wasn't until 1910 that vehicles had to display state-issued plates.  Front and rear license plates were required from 1910 to 1943, 1948 to 1951, and 1956 on.  The only years that a single rear plate was required was 1944 to 1947 and 1952 to 1955.  Correctly I assumed that this plate was manufactured as a novelty to be placed on the front of a vehicle.  Perhaps a variety of front plates were sold as fundraisers by fraternal organizations, high schools, or simply given away by auto dealers and the like. 

Mr. Nelson remembers that when only single plates were required in 1954 and 1955, front plates could be purchased at any auto supply store.  In 1954 the state-issued rear plate was yellow on black and in 1955 it was black on yellow.  All of the other single plate years were monochromatic black and white.

Courtesy ricksplates.com.
Another example of a 1955 Maryland plate may be seen at http://alpca8123md.50webs.comWhen compared to the 1954 yellow on black plate next to it, the 1955 plate definitely looks more orange than yellow.  My guess then is that the society's plate was sold and used in 1955. 

Certainly there must be other versions of Silver Spring automobile plates out there, perhaps ones featuring the names of car dealerships or other local businesses.  If you own one, please let me know.  Thank you!