State-By-State: California



Nickname: “The Golden State”

Statehood: September 9, 1850

State Bird: California Quail

State Flower: California Poppy

Year of first state-issued plate: 1914


Yellow, orange, blue, and black were used almost exclusively on California passenger plates from 1920 through 1986. Collectors tend to love the chrome yellow on black 1963 base, but my favorite passenger plate in my home state’s history is the sun graphic optional (lower left). To date, it’s the only graphic standard issue plate in the state’s history.



In 1987, the Golden State switched over to a plain base featuring the state name in red and a dark blue serial. It has since undergone several variations (the dmv add-on is the latest incarnation). The one commonality is that they are all, in my opinion, very boring.



Thank goodness for specialty plates! California started issuing these in the 1990’s, and benefit the environment, kids, the arts, museums, pets, agriculture, among others.



A precursor to all these specialties was an optional plate commemorating the 1984 Summer Olympic games in Los Angeles. Motorists paid $100 for a pair, and it was only issued that year (but it could be renewed annually like other passenger plates).


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