A booster is an official license plate, with or without a registration number, which can be displayed on the front of a vehicle for a specified time. A souvenir is simply a memento, which although able to be affixed to a car, is not meant to be. Here’s a look at some examples of both.
US Bicentennial Boosters Other Boosters Souvenirs Places Events Miscellaneous ALPCA International Conventions
US Bicentennial Boosters
Some one-plate states offered US Bicentennial boosters in lieu of introducing a whole brand new design to celebrate the anniversary. Georgia and New Hampshire had numbers on theirs (it was different than whatever the normal plate was); New Jersey had embossed and flat varieties.
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Illinois has issued many “special event” plates, which can be displayed for sixty days prior to midnight of the last day of the event. Every Presidential Inauguration vehicles involved in the proceedings may carry specially-designed license plates on their cars, and the same goes for other political events such as the Democratic National Convention; the Early Ford V8 Club – Victoria Chapter had a special plate produced for the Western National Meet in 1986.
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Cities, states, parks, and museums commonly sell souvenir plates. The pair of Knoxville Zoo and Great Smoky Mountains National Park plates were purchased about 35 years apart (my dad lived in Knoxville in the mid-1980s; I then visited those sites in 2019). The “ ET HWY” plate is for the Extra-Terrestrial Highway, a nickname for Nevada State Route 75. Disneyland no longer sells souvenir plates that I know of, but I was able to build a mini-collection of them years ago.
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The Olympic Games in both Canada and Australia had offerings for visitors. In 1986 I went to the World’s Fair in Vancouver, British Columbia, just as my plate collecting was really gaining steam, so I was thrilled to procure this souvenir; I found the 1975 Indiana State Fair plate at an antique shop in Indiana – I like the design and fairs, and it’s from my birth year; generic US Bicentennial plates such as this came from a variety of sources; people could order Statue of Liberty Centennial souvenir plates with customized lettering; Kansas and North Dakota both issued booster plates to celebrate centennial of statehood.
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This subset includes promotion of the Vietnam War, the 95th Infantry (my grandfather was a member), Hershey’s chocolate (purchased in Hershey, PA, home of the company), one for Wizard of Oz fans, celebration of the Boston Celtics’ 1984 NBA Championship, a pair of University of Arkansas souvenirs (both picked up in junkyards), a University of Indiana booster, and a pair of souvenir-versions of Kansas vanity bases.
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Every year that I go to the ALPCA International Convention, I buy a souvenir plate. Below are the all the ones I’ve attended: 2008 Salt Lake City, Utah; 2010 Arlington, Texas; 2011 Charleston, West Virginia; 2012 Des Moines, Iowa; 2013 Reno, Nevada; 2015 Rogers, Arkansas; 2016 Fort Wayne, Indiana; 2017 Ontario, California; 2018 Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; 2019 Knoxville, Tennessee; and Covington, Kentucky, in 2021. In 2020, the convention scheduled for Tulsa, Oklahoma, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the club issued the souvenir anyway – modified, of course!
ALPCA began issuing annual convention souvenir plates in 1976. In 2021, I was fortunate to obtain one collector’s entire run. Mr. Carl M. Rustine (#453) attended every meet from 1976 through 2018. Those early years are particularly difficult to find. It was an especially gratifying purchase because the June and August 2021 issues of the club’s magazine, PLATES, featured a two-part article I wrote about the history of the annual conventions.
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