The Bookshelf, Young Texas Reader, Blog Notes, & Texana Youtube Channel

The Texas Bookshelf is for single, specific books' reviews and author interviews . The Texas Parlor ranges more broadly than my other websites. The Young Texas Reader focuses on the youngest through teenagers. Texas Blog Notes surveys blogs of historical and literary interest. I've started a Will's Texana Youtube collecting channel where 1,000 videos are collected in 100 playlists . Find Will in Houston or at willstexana {at} yahoodotcom

Friday, February 26, 2010

History of Texas Auto License Plates

Nick DiFonzo's The Bolthole has an interesting, long, casual chronology of Texas automobile registration and license plates.  Very well illustrated.  He begins thisly:


  • The first automobile in Texas, owned by Col. E.H.R. Green of Terell, terrorizes the Texas countryside.


  • 1907: Texas House Bill #93 required that all motor vehicles used on public roads be registered with the county clerk. The vehicle recieved a number in the order registered in each county. That number, at least six inches in height, was required to be displayed "in a counspicuous place" on the vehicle.
  • Registration began on Aug. 10, 1907. The first Texas license number is issued, registered to a bus owned by W.B. Chenoweth of Colorado City, TX.
  • Each county had its own series, from "1" onward, so many duplicate numbers existed.


  • Owners provided their own plates, often made from aluminum house numbers attached to leather, or from wood, tin, etc. Most of these showed only the number, with no indication of the state or county.
  • Many motorists used porcelain "kit plates" with interchangeable numbers and often the name of the city or county. These kits were made by a company in Chicago.
  • Some motorists simply painted the number on the vehicle!
  • These pre-1917 plates are called "pre-state" plates.
  • Some cities had county or city licenses in addition to that required by the state."

Some selections teach us:  A star was inserted amid the numbers in 1923.  Licenses became yearly in 1925.  An orange color was used in 1933 and maroon in 1935.  In 1939, the edges were "turned in" so that car washers wouldn't be likely to cut themselves.  Read more at