1. WYOMING 1978 base
It’s the rustic fence background behind the state name and year, the iconic bucking bronco, the low fence with opening welcoming us into the corral, the font, and the color scheme which seems to match the state perfectly…this base is my favorite plate of all.
2. MICHIGAN US Bicentennial base
Take a whole plate and convert it into a miniature resemblance of an American flag. For some reason, it just seems genius. And with the entirety embossed, it makes the features stand out more boldly, capturing the spirit of the flag–and America itself.
3. FLORIDA Challenger
This plate remembers the space shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986. As far as the design goes, the band of orange exhaust, puffy white clouds, baby blue sky, along with the majestic rise of the shuttle and script at the bottom is a beautiful combination. But in historical context, the plate serves as an important forerunner of the specialty boon, pays tribute to American history, and acts as a sobering reminder that mankind is both infinitely intelligent–and entirely too fragile.
4. TENNESSEE State Parks
This specialty plate, a redesign of a prior version, is cast in lovely shades of purple, periwinkle, and light blue. The curvature of both the state name and slogan, and the neat fit of the prefix and serial between the flowers, adds appealing symmetry.
5. ALASKA US Bicentennial base
This base has a standing Kodiak bear separator with shaded tan mountains and a large, red, embossed state name is proud and appealing without overstating.
6. MARYLAND War of 1812 base
This Maryland base plate is a stunning tribute to the place and time which inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The perspective of the flag flying over Fort McHenry, burst of red firework on the upper right, and fonts and color scheme all bring that place and time vibrantly to life.
7. PENNSYLVANIA U.S. Constitution optional
This plate was on my “White Whale” list for a looong time until I acquired it at the ALPCA International Convention in (fittingly) Valley Forge, PA. It was available only for a limited time in 1987, and is highly sought after by collectors.
8. CALIFORNIA Olympic Games optional
Few plates catapulted my interest in license plates as a youth as much as this one did. Issued only in 1984, with about 1,000 pairs sold, it was an extra-cost optional. For a hefty $100, motorists could show state pride as Los Angeles, California hosted the 1984 Summer Olympics.
8. KANSAS Pittsburg State
Though fairly simple when comparing this one to the others in Top 10, I like this because the gorilla is my favorite animal, and I had no idea there was a university out there with the gorilla as it’s mascot, let alone one that has a specialty plate. The unusual maroon color adds pop.
10. ARKANSAS AGFC Black Labrador
The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission has helped produce a series of lovely plates depicting various species of wildlife, but the best in my opinion is of a domesticated animal in a wildlife setting.
CALIFORNIA 1982 Sun base
California has managed to squeak out just one graphic general issue base (it actually started as an optional) in its long history, but when it did it was a true winner–with just a few simple orange bands, a sun, stylized red font, a blue serial, and a slogan it perfectly reflected the sun ‘n fun culture of The Golden State in the 1980s.
FLORIDA Protect Wild Dolphins
A playful dolphin leaps out of a pretty blue ocean, arching over a yellow sun against a yellow, orange, and red sky. This plate has enough of a cute factor and enough realism to make it a gem.
More Favorites (In progress – this is not complete by any means):