Unusual Sticker Situations

Most plates have designated areas for validation stickers. Yet despite this, motorists have found interesting ways to display the stickers–especially if there is no designated space. Add to that the rigors of the road, the accumulation of many years in some instances, as well as cases where the plate is used as a platform for a mini-bumper sticker, and you get “Unusual Sticker Situations.”


I. Wrong Way

Did the owners of these plates decide to be rebels or did they just pay close attention when it came to affixing stickers? We’ll never know.

AZ-EGZ 424CA 232 HJZFL JCK 84HID 1B Z4765 (P1)ME ^CR^7472GMT SKC686NE 61-C852OR MHV 270WA-IWS 378WA-KBK 850PAN 081592

II. Freestyle

It’s a nation of free speech, and though we have bumper stickers, some folks use their plates.

These Arkansas plates use the empty space at the bottom to inspire and promote freedom.

AR 998 OBGAR 529 NHA

These show a variety of placement…”SAN DIEGO” melts into the slogan on California; a sticker of undetermined meaning blocks Connecticut; the Indiana plate here was almost certainly on the car of a State Farm agent or customer; a waving American flag seems proper for a Kentucky plate promoting an American blue-collar job; the Massachusetts veteran displays patriotism and specifies which war the motorist served in; and a Mississippi resident slaps a metal “Jesus fish” on the magnolia separator. The North Dakota contains an American flag sticker in the upper left corner, and the plate is also unusual because it is supposed to be a peach-colored background (I have yet to find an exemption like this).

CA 2BSV030 (P1)CT 390-NCNGA 1240KY 5329^DB^MA 1457MS EFB 463ND ^LC^ 1223

A sticker for the Cleveland Police is used as a separator, though it partially covers the serial, on an Ohio plate. A University of Oregon decal dons the vanity plate at upper left, and it may or may not somehow combine with the letters, while another Oregon plate creates a Christmas tree. A Tennessee resident displays love of country while a Texas resident displays love of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The Virginia duo includes a vet’s personalized plate with a paw print to prove it, and a base celebrating America plastered with a New Zealand flag.


III. Cracked Up

The elements, a trip to the junkyard, or (hopefully not) an attempted theft are all reasons these stickers are not intact (note: Georgia should have the county sticker “ROCKDALE”). The yellow Colorado truck plate was issued in 1975; the sticker should be placed in an upper corner but instead it’s plastered unsuccessfully over the “75.” New Hampshire is a combination Cracked Up and Layers.

AZ-CJY-396IMG_2028CO 920-ZCXCO HY-500GA BDE 232MD-AWJ 192MO KH1 X1E (P1)NV 585-TANNH 111 514NM ^15^ 2577


IV. Layers

Some states, including California and Nevada, allow plates to be revalidated indefinitely. That means that a resident of such states can pile up quite the sticker count if the car lasts. California XEG 549 dates back to the 1960’s, and Nevada BKO215 has a similar length of usage. California 4EXN573 has one sticker off-kilter. Georgia ADW 7216 reveals two different county stickers, meaning likely the resident moved during the plate’s tenure.

AR 119520AR 743 ISRCA 3XLN769CA MGP673CA 088 XPACA-XEG 549CA 3HSV345CA 4EXN573GA 1152 AJCGA 1198 BSGA ADW 7216ME-5751MT (H) 32219 (1 of 2)NV ^WTR^13929NV 664-GFK (P1)NV-033AEENV-BKO215SC KCC 201SD 44F DT4BC NBG 641


V. Multi-sticker

The California resident placed the 1973 sticker on the left well, before the state started issuing month stickers. It’s unclear what happened to 1974-79, but likely ’74 was placed on the right well, and when a couple of years later month stickers came along the owner squeezed NOV where they could. In some cases it’s unclear about the owner’s motivation. Sometimes they perhaps want to show how long they’ve had their car.

AZ 791-KMKCA 431 DUGGA-HES 284DE-326452ID 8B W1311ID-2CA5 440ID-8B 15 113IA-ADE 574 (2)

Some of the Kansas plates below are truck plates, and include weight stickers (16M, 12M, etc.). Plate 655 ABI is a passenger plate which includes yearly stickers when they were separate than month stickers (i.e., the 11 and 12 placed below the state name), and a 2014 sticker which includes the month, year, and serial.

KS ^LV^R 904KS 655 ABIKS ^SU^X 271KS-JW 63KS ^SG^-7083KS-SGE 8785KS-SV 3259

In the 70s and 80s Maine residents were instructed to place registration stickers in specific corners of the plates. For the 1968 (yellow) base, for example, they were to place ’69 in the upper right corner, ’70 in the lower right corner, ’71 in the lower left corner, ’72 in the upper left corner, and continue clockwise, placing over existing stickers when necessary. The practice had seemed to desist more or less with the 1987 lobster base (76484 Q).

ME 76484 QME-13-687ME-55-225ME-283-918ME-351-945ME-473 432ME 641-660ME-651 78 AME-5751 (b)ME-UN3024

There was little rhyme or reason to this multi-sticker placement.


The 1976 Nebraska Bicentennial base has somewhat lived on in infamy…because it has graphics in all four corners, there was no specific location to place registration stickers. So the base, which lasted through 1984, features a wide variety of placements. Sometimes the wagon is covered, other times it’s the Chief or one of the years, and in still other cases everything is spared. Note the blue “MAR” sticker on 15-GUI9. In 1982 Nebraska’s stickers only had the month.

NE 1-G315NE-1-AB963NE 15-GU19NE-25-L 89NE-39-J581NE ^59^-G1106NE 2-D4058

It’s unclear what happened to 1970 in the plate at left, but what’s interesting is the way the ’71 sticker is modified to allow the “69” to show.

NV ^DSTR^1060NV ^WTR^5952

The New Hampshire resident on the left did his or her best to avoid covering any essential ingredients, though the low serial number helped, while the one on the right put ’76 and ’77 in the upper right, switched to the left side for ’78, then went back to the upper right for ’79…the North Dakota is a combined Multi-sticker, Layers, and Cracked Up.

NH-5519NH 7206ND GRG 756

One Pennsylvania motorist alternated corners, another started to and then went bonkers.

PA-DFD 273PA TC-14058

Rhode Island, like Maine, is known for plates with each sticker being placed separately, particularly during the 70’s and 80’s; low serial numbers help achieve this objective. Also of note is the cool designs on many of the stickers from the 70’s. Some states issued such registration stickers in the 60’s and 70’s, but by the mid-80’s states had begun issuing graphic plates, off-setting the advantage of the graphic-based sticker, or simply stopped the practice regardless.

RI 2416RI EG-299 (P2)RI-OD-35RI-TQ-454RI-VG-84

The Tennessee plate features the state shape on both the registration stickers and on the plate itself. Washington plate EDS 166 is a hybrid, featuring a “Wrong Way” situation and a multi-sticker arrangement. Washington is another state known for its graphic stickers (see the ’76 stickers here, in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial, as well as the ’69 and ’81 stickers in the first section).

TN-4-G9178WA-EBR 427WA-EDS 166US (INA)2202


VI. Other

When does the Kentucky on the left expire? In 2015 Kentucky experimented by using a two-digit month and just the last digit of the year; this carried on through some 2017 expiries, as is the case here (i.e., this plate expired April 2017).

The other Kentucky has a blank sticker where the county sticker should be. It’s unclear why there’s a plain one on this plate.

KY 702 PSNKS YYV 541

Maryland went to staggered registrations in 1987. Thus in 1986 the motorist has just a year sticker, and in 1987 there are stickers for both the month and the year. It is unclear whether this individual in 1987 received two sets of stickers, and put the new ones on only one plate, or received one set of stickers.

MD 601 ABW (P1)MD 601 ABW (P2)

Washington required stickers on both the front and rear plates for many years until 2002, when it switched to just issuing one sticker. As a result this Washington pair is mismatched: the rear plate carries a 2004 expiration, while the front has a most recent sticker of 2001.

WA 562 GMU (P1)WA 562-GMU (P2)

American Somoa’s 2011 base was initially validated with windshield stickers, until 2015 when it switched to traditional plate stickers. This somewhat bucks the trend (for instance, in the U.S., the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New York all have not looked back since transitioning to windshield stickers). This also happens to be a multi-sticker plate. So, there’s no telling if the motorist first was assigned this plate in 2014, first expiry in 2015, or if was before then, and used windshield stickers.

AM SAM 9355

Manitoba issued oval-shaped stickers for it’s 1971 base. Also unusual because the sticker is for 1972 but technically expires in Feb. 1973.

MB (BU91-33