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Varieties

There are countless varieties to be found for given years and types of New Mexico license plates, only a few of which are pictured here.
 
   
    
 
1918 Passenger Car plates were issued in both “thin” and “thick” varieties, the first type being numbered from 1 through about 14000, and the second type from 14001 through about 19000. The colors are noticeably different between the two varieties, also.  Curiously, there a few plates known in the 13000 series which are of the thick type, at least some of which have serial numbers which overlap into the known serial number range of thin plates.  No satisfactory explanation has been found for this puzzling anomaly.
    
    
    
 
1925 Passenger Car plates came out during a period when two plates were issued to each vehicle, for use on the front and rear. In this one year only, the two plates of the pair were embossed “FRONT” and “REAR.” This was to keep people who owned two cars from registering only one car and putting one plate on each car to evade registration fees.
   
 
        
 
1945 Trailer plates were mostly in white-on-reddish-brown colors, but a few were made in white-on-blue colors of car plates.
    
   
    
  
1946 Truck plates normally had a red background and yellow characters, but on this unusual late-production example the characters are white. 
   
   
    
 
1947 Motorcycle plates were produced in both aluminum and steel. The aluminum ones are by far the most common. These plates also show several distinct variations in the layout of “N.M. 1947" across the top.
     
   
    
 
1949 Trailer plates can be found in both the standard 1949 waffle texture, and a smooth surface. The waffle trailer is the more common of the two.
    
    
    
 
1951 Motorcycle plates were made in both steel and waffle aluminum, with the former being by far the most common.
    
   
                 
 
1952 and 1953 Truck plates. Both years of Truck plates were made with and without the word “TRUCK.” The ones without “TRUCK” are told from car plates by their colors only.
  
     
    
Correct color 1957 truck plate
   
Another example of a plate being the wrong color is this 1957 truck plate #7-3345.  It's anyone's guess as to why, but it appears that the plate was first coated with the correct green paint, then oversprayed with a dark blue color.  There's no doubt it was manufactured this way but why is a mystery.  Note the back of the plate is only partially oversprayed.
    
    
    
 
During part of 1974 New Mexico suffered the embarrassment of having to issue paper license plates, then replace them later with metal plates bearing the same serial number.  For more on this fiasco, see the page on Paper Plates
   
   
    
 
In 1997, thousands of passenger car plates were made (for 1998 expirations) with the graphic sheeting that had been designed for the trailer plates, but without the embossing of the word “TRAILER.” These included plates in the 001-KFH to 999-KGC and the 001-KGN to 999-KHM series, but whether this was done in error or because the supply of passenger car style reflective sheeting had been temporarily exhausted is unknown.
   
   
    
 
New Mexico began issuing its turquoise statehood centennial plates in 2010, with most of these having initial expirations in 2011.  By 2016 the “Centennial 1912-2012” slogan was no longer timely so it was removed, and the “Land of Enchantment” slogan was moved up from the bottom of the plate to replace it.  The majority of the these new variety plates, of course, have initial expirations in 2017.
 
 
Photo Credits: 1946 Truck #30947 and 1953 Truck #9-1015 courtesy Michael Breeding. All others by Bill Johnston.
 

 

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