Private Stash: Automobilia

Earlier this week I showed you my growing heap of industrial finds. As further proof that my tastes are beginning to run a little grittier, I present these slightly weathered antique license plates I recently scored at a local monthly flea market. Rusty, but perfect.


Early license plates found for $10 each

Dating from the early 1930s, these colorful stamped steel plates are much smaller than modern license plates and were most likely used for commercial vehicles and trucks. As a designer I was immediately drawn to the type and beautiful muted color combinations. As a car-lover I think they’re just the coolest things around. Automobiles had barely even existed for more than 30 years when these plates were rolling down the road and it amazes me that in such a short time the system of organizing and regulating them had already gotten this complex.


Many people might picture these hanging in a garage with a collection of rusty oil cans or on a barn board-clad wall surrounded by blue mason jars and tin stars—no judgment if you’re into that. I actually think these old relics have a refined look that will pair well with a variety of styles. In a garage setting with other car stuff, they’ll look gritty and tough. On a bookshelf with leather-bound  books and letterpress blocks, they’ll look worldly and sophisticated. On the wall next to some old photographs and road maps they’ll seem a little whimsical. I haven’t quite decided what to do with them yet, but I like the challenge of finding the perfect spot for them. I’ll let you know when I do.

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