Sometimes states pick an image or slogan and stick to it…for decades. Herewith some long-running elements, as well as base plates in it for the long haul.
In New Mexico, 1927 saw the debut of the “Zia,” a sun symbol of Native American origin, while “Land of Enchantment” came along in 1941. Both have appeared on every New Mexico base since their respective introductions.
“Vacationland” has highlighted every Maine base plate since 1936.
The “Bucking Bronco” with rider has appeared on every Wyoming base from 1936 to present. From 1957 to 1974, the plate only changed colors with the abbreviated state name on top in odd years and on the bottom in even years.
“Grand Canyon State” has been on every Arizona base since 1940.
Wisconsin has advertised itself as “America’s Dairyland” continuously on its plates since 1940.
Every year since 1950, “10,000 Lakes” (all caps or all lowercase) has appeared on Minnesota bases.
Some form of a Mt. Rushmore graphic has graced every South Dakota base since 1952.
The “Land of Lincoln” debuted its slogan on the Illinois 1954 base, upper left; it has remained ever since. Until the 1979 base, the state name and slogan switched alternated top/bottom placement every year except for ’76.
A small heart and the words “Heart of Dixie” have appeared in some combination on every Alabama base plate since 1955, though in the most recent base it’s hardly visible.
The 1956 North Dakota plate introduced “Peace Garden State,” which has appeared on every base since.
This Delaware base has been the only regular issue since 1970 (with slight variations in the shade of teal, not necessarily by year).
In 1970, New Hampshire vanities used the “Live Free or Die” slogan; the following year it became state law for it to appear on all non-commercial plates.
The 1971 Rhode Island base, below left, brought about the long-standing “Ocean State” slogan.
The North Carolina 1982 base is still going strong; it had a brief redesign when it assumed a red serial for about a two-year period but after complaints from law enforcement (one collector told me they just saw “a sea of red”) it went back to blue.
Vermont introduced this base in 1985 and hasn’t yet modified or replaced it.