The thread about license plates triggered this memory.
In the summer of 1970, I heard that there was a barn in Ellendale, TN, right between Memphis and Arlington on Highway 70 that was covered in 1931 Tennessee License Plates.
Further digging into this rumor was that the resident of the farmhouse at the time either worked, or a family member worked, at the Shelby County Clerks Office in Memphis, and, at the end of the 1931 licensing year, took home all the unsold license plates, and they were in pairs!
The barn needed shingling, and yep, that's what these 1931 Tennessee license plates were used for. A drive to Ellendale in my '31 Coupe confirmed that this was not just a rumor. There it was, in the August heat, with wasps and weeds and weather-beaten walls, was "The" barn, completely covered in 1931 Tennessee License Plates. When I left, I was fearful that a bulldozer would show up any minute to destroy the barn, taking these fabulous pairs of license plates into the obscurity they did not deserve.
I somehow found the name and number of the owner, called him, and he graciously told me to go back out to the barn and take a pair, preferably not from the roof, but from one of the sides of the barn. I offered to pay, and in the spirit of kindness, he declined money, saying only, "Enjoy them, and enjoy your car." I have done so, ever since.
So, those are NOS license plates obtained from the county clerk?
By way of 38 - 39 years shingled onto a barn, I suppose so, yes!
I believe these were never in use on someone's car; I'll eventually ask to use them as YOM plates.
Great story Bill thanks for sharing it. I went to work at a place and the corn crib had license plates patching holes in the floors and side walls. I pulled some of them off and patched the holes with wood but the plates were not as old as yours. The ones I have are from the 40's and 50's
Back in the 1970s while I was working on a Boilermaker job in Pine Bluff Arkansas I found a antique store in Pine Bluff selling brand new 1932 Arkansas licensas plates still in the wood crates with the paper between each plate. They had over 100 cases at 25.00 per case. I believe there were 50 pairs of plates per case. I only bought one case. But for the rest of the story. I was told that there was a garage in the old section of town shingled with the 1932 plates. I was told the address of the house and garage and sure enough it was shingled with the 1932 plates. It seems the original owner of the house worked at Tucker prison near Pine Bluff. The inmates of "Tucker" made all of the license plates for Arkansas. But during the 1932 year there was a big scandal involving the Governor of Arkansas. It seems that the Governors pay rate was determined by how many people lived in Arkansas during his term. The way the rate was calculated was by the amount of licensed drivers for that year. So during the 1932 year "Tucker" made about 10 times the amount of plates as there were actual drivers in the state. That amount of plates was used to calculate the Governors pay rate. It was traced back to the Governor for ordering the amount of plates made by Tucker, and the scandal was born ... For years during the 70s and 80s I saw those plates everywhere in Arkansas. They were in almost every antique store in the state. I do not see the crates of plates anymore, but the 1932 plates are still common in our state....
There is one of those barns in Maine too, but I think it spanned 1935 thru 1938 for the plates. As I recall it was between Windsor and Chelsea but the plates were really rough from the elements.