There have been several questions (currently and in the past) about license plate requirements in various states. These primarily were related to whether YOM plates can be used and whether they must be original or can be repainted. There are several web sites which show pictures of license plates from the various states including the period up to 1927. http://www.worldlicenseplates.com is one of the most comprehensive I have found.
Does anyone know where to find which states also required front license plates in the period up to 1927? I believe that some states did require them for some but not all years up to 1927.
Did your state require front license plates and for which years?
You might try that question on the ALPCA forum.
Here is the current listing of states that require now front and rear. Many of these most likely did back in the '20s.
It will definitely vary by state and year. If I remember correctly, Kansas had one plate, then two, then went back to one, then two, and then one again.
NY has just about issued two plates for every year since they started, Including teens and 20's.
To research what states did have requirements for dual plates at the years interested, then one way is to google books old issues of Motoring Guides, like AAA Blue Books that had maps and routes and things like state requirements for traveling in the twenties.
Here is one link, hope this one works.
Sometime before 1912 and up in Oregon had two plates.
Texas only had rear plates until about 1922. Before that there were registration tags affixed to your dash or radiator. The first year for Texas state issued plates was 1917, although some Texas cities had plates years earlier.
It always seems to me that a lot of $$$ could be saved by eliminating front license plates. It also seems to me that if more than half of the states do without front plates, they all could. And I can tell you from personal experience (34 years) that most law enforcement personnel very seldom looks at front license plates! To me, it's just one more thing to injure myself on when washing the car, or, one more thing to get torn off when running my car thru' the car wash!
Actually, in Washington, you do only get one license plate for the rear when you get "collector car" plates! And for that matter, when you get new tabs for regular license plates, you now only get one for the rear license plate.
Doesn't really bother me much, except on my '08 Mazda Miata. The opening for the grill is only a very small oval, and then they slap a big huge ugly "billboard" thing for mounting the front license plate in front of it! The car wash tore it off some time ago, and I have not replaced it. (An I haven't been stopped for the missing front plate yet in about 4 years, so I haven't bothered to put it back on!)
WI must have had them because I picked up a set of WI plates with matching numbers on them last summer for my '26 Touring and I have a set of WI plates with matching numbers from 1920 on my garage wall. Now how far the two plate requirement extended to earlier dates, I have no clue.
New York does not allow restoration of YOM plates. I have a real crappy pair of 1919 and an almost pristine 1917 plates
Missouri had two plates in 1924. I have YOM plates on my Touring and there are two. They switched to a front plate only at some point, and I suspect the war and metal shortage had something to do with it. We only had front plates when I started to drive in the fifties and into the sixties. At some point in the seventies, we went back to two plates. We have two now.
I was in Red Boiling Springs Tn this Saturday at a car show and swap meet and found three 1926 tn license plates that had "front" in the center of the plate... They were in very good condition $100 each plate.... I have been looking for one and found three in one day.... I forgot to stop at the bank and get some extra cash to take with me.... So I still don't own one... it won't make the car run any better but I do like the looks it gives...
California required the registration number 3" high black on white background with 1" state abbreviation (CAL) on the rear of the vehicle, and painted in 1" high numbers on the headlight glass from 1905 to 1913; state-issued plates front and rear from 1914 on (through the model T years). Two plates were not required until 1914, although errant reporting about a 1911 law led many to believe otherwise (the bill was not signed into law).
I googled "pre-state California automobile license" and got alot of info. Glad you asked the question!
I have two plates 26 California for my T
Here's Tennessee info...
1915 to 1925 issued 2 identical plates.
26,27,28 issued 2 plates marked front & rear.
1929 to 1942 issued 2 identical plates.
1943 had a metal tab in the upper left hand corner which was attached to an existing 1942 plate. (Very Rare) The tab was stamped as follows: "A" for motorcycle. "T" for truck "C" for light car (Ford Chevy) "B" for heavy car (Buick Cadillac)
1944 and 1945 had single plates
1946 to 1953 had double plates
1954 was single
You can register any 26,27,28 plates to your car and run front or rear on the rear of your car in Tennessee. See picture attached.
Based on posts above and a quick Ebay search, I have found the following:
Arkansas - Earliest pair I have seen is 1927
California - Greg posted that pairs were required from 1914 on.
Colorado - Earliest pair I have seen is 1925
Connecticut - Have seen pairs for 1915-1916, 1920, 1922, & 1925-1927
Idaho - Have seen pairs for 1924
Illinois - Earliest pair seen on Ebay is 1916
Indiana - Have seen pairs for 1917
Iowa - Have seen pairs for 1916, 1923, 1925, 1927
Kentucky - Have seen pairs for 1925
Maine - Earliest pair seen on Ebay is 1916
Maryland - Have seen pairs for 1916 & 1926
Massachusetts - Earliest pair seen on Ebay is 1917
Michigan - Have seen pairs for 1922, 1923, & 1926-1927
Minnesota - Have seen pairs for 1921 & 1923
Missouri - Have seen pairs for 1922 & 1926
Nebraska - Have seen pairs for 1922 & 1926
New Hampshire - Have seen pairs for 1921-1925
New Jersey - Have seen pairs for 1921-1925
New York - Earliest pair seen on Ebay is 1919
North Carolina - Have seen pairs for 1925 & 1927
North Dakota - Have seen pairs for 1924-1925
Ohio - Earliest pair seen on Ebay is 1917
Oregon - Have seen pairs for 1918, 1922 & 1925-1926
Pennsylvania - Earliest pair seen on Ebay is 1916
Rhode Island - Have seen pairs for 1917 & 1926
South Dakota - Have seen pairs for 1924 & 1926
Tennessee - Bob posted that pairs were required from 1915 on.
Texas - Royce posted that pairs were required from 1922 on.
Utah - Have seen pairs for 1925
Vermont - Have seen pairs for 1920-1921
Virginia - Have seen pairs for 1925
Washington - Have seen pairs for 1917 & 1921-1924
Washington DC - Have seen pairs for 1926
West Virginia - Have seen pairs for 1924
Wisconsin - Earliest pair seen on Ebay is 1916
Wyoming - Have seen pairs for 1926-1927
I know this is not a very "scholarly" research method, but it was quick. If you have better information for your state, please let us know.
Go look at License plates of the world site. They give you color pictures for all states and years.(Indiana's went back to 1913,in pairs.)