Alaska, the 50th state, only recently counted its 50th anniversary; Idaho did so about 20 years before Alaska became a state.
Keeneland is a Thoroughbred horse racing facility, racecourse, and sales complex located in Lexington. Kentucky is known for its many horse farms and role in the horse racing industry.
This slate of Centennial plates covers a variety of anniversaries: Alaska’s commemoration of the purchase of the land from Russia, and the Nome Gold Rush; Indiana’s recall of Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark; Michigan’s celebration of the beginning of the American automotive industry; Nevada’s nod to the founding of Las Vegas; and the statehood of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Colorado’s red-on-white version occurred when the state ran out of sheeting near the end of the graphic centennial’s run.
Note that Kansas extended it’s celebration across two years, in addition to offering a booster plate motorists could affix to the front of their cars, and Montana re-issued its Centennial plate (along with many other bases) in flat form starting around 2012. Nebraska’s Centennial base debuted in 1966 (not pictured), and those for 1967 included a sticker with a fancy logo. South Dakota’s base had “Celebrate the Century” stickers motorists could affix to the top, but the majority did not receive it or did not use it.
Idaho and Utah issued optional plates to celebrate their Centennials; in each case, the state adopted the designs a few years later as their standard base plate. Washington also transitioned its Centennial plate into its next plate – though unlike Idaho & Utah, it was not an originally an optional.
Nevada used a unique slogan for its 125th anniversary of statehood.
For its Sesquicentennial, California simply slapped a generic slogan onto its 1993 base plate – this change occurred in 1998 and lasted through 2000, the actual year of the anniversary.
Minnesota, Nevada, and West Virginia all created an attractive optional plate to mark the occasion.
Iowa offered two optional plates to celebrate the Sesquicentennial.
Illinois did not make it clear it was celebrating its 150th birthday, as there is no slogan and the statehood year (1818) is split up into two corners. Michigan’s 150th was only for vanity plates (pictured is a sample). Ohio honored the 150th anniversary of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The government of the Northwest Territory (an area comprised primarily of the present-day Great Lakes states) was organized in Marietta, Ohio, the following year. Oregon brought back an older design – its 1964 issue that celebrated its Centennial – to honor the Sesquicentennial with an optional plate.
Texas issued a Sesquicentennial plate honoring independence, modifying it soon after by moving the slogan to the top. Then in 1995 the Lone Star State honored the anniversary of statehood.
Wisconsin chose a somewhat odd design for its Sesquicentennial optional – it looks like an environmental specialty.
Indiana became a state in 1816, about the same time as did Louisiana, which in a space of a dozen years celebrated three Bicentennials: the Louisiana Purchase, its statehood, and the Battle of New Orleans.
Francis Scott Key drew inspiration for “The Star Spangled Banner” from the resistance of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. Missouri and Nebraska both have a current base plate celebrating a Bicentennial. North Dakota was part of the Dakota Territory, which was part of the area traversed by Lewis & Clark in their famous westward expedition. Pennsylvania issued an optional plate to honor the U.S. Constitution – it is highly valued by collectors due its rarity and uniqueness.
Ohio and Tennessee became states within 7 years of each other and each issued a base plate for the Bicentennial. Note how Tennessee incorporated part of its name into the word.
This Virginia specialty honored the Bicentennial of George Washington’s passing. It includes a graphic of his home in Mount Vernon.
Though founded in 1663, this plate acknowledged the settlement at Arbemarle Point, which was later moved and eventually became what is Charleston today.
Maryland was settled in 1634 (and achieved statehood in 1788).
Florida recognized the founding of the city of St. Augustine, the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the United States. Virginia honored the first English settlement in North America with two versions of a regular base plate and with a specialty.
Florida reached way, way back to become the first state (and the only one to date) to utilize the word “Quincentennial” (it’s worth noting, however, that Columbus didn’t land in Florida…still, I give the state credit for its creativity on this one). This is a very rare plate.