1959 Maryland license plate

Rick Kretschmer's License Plate Archives 

1959 Maryland license plate

Rick's 1959 Maryland License Plate Types

(My other birth year set)

 

On this page I show off my collection of various types of 1959 Maryland license plates. 

Latest noteworthy updates to this page
  • May 11, 2020  –  Added a photo and description of a PSC Freight truck plate. 
  • October 13, 2019  –  Added a photo and description of a charter bus plate. 
  • July 21, 2019  –  Added a photo and description of a dump truck plate.  Upgraded my PSC Zone city bus plate.  Minor text updates. 

Introduction

By now you've probably read or figured out that I was born in Maryland in 1959.  Many collectors, including me, try to get a plate from every state from their birth year, but I wanted to take this a step further.  Therefore, I'm also working towards obtaining every type of plate issued by my home state with my birth year on thme.  Obviously, I was too young to remember 1959 plates in use, but the same plate designs were used through 1970, and the 1959 color scheme was also used in several subsequent years, including 1962, 1964, 1968, and 1970.  Therefore, these plates seem like old friends. 

This page shows what I've acquired so far in my quest.  Some of these plates obviously need to be replaced with better examples.  At the bottom of the page is a list of the known plate types that I don't yet have.  Some, like the one-of-a-kind (well, two-of-a-kind actually, since they were made in pairs) political officeholder plates I will probably never even see, let alone acquire.  It wouldn't surprise me if there are no surviving examples of some of these.  But it's okay if this set is never complete – it will just give me something to keep searching for. 

My 1959 Maryland license plate type set

1959 passenger car
1959 passenger car
1959 standard passenger car

All passenger car plates expired on March 31 of each year, and Maryland made sure you didn't forget it, either.  The passenger car serial format was xx-00-00.  From 1954 to 1961 expirations, only the letters A through L (excluding the letter I) were used in either serial prefix position.  Standard-issue plate numbers were issued sequentially and could not be kept from one year to the next. 

1959 Boumi Temple (Shriners)
1959 organizational member
1959 organizational member passenger car, standard numbering format

Various civic organizations were able to reserve alphabetic prefixes on standard serial format passenger car plates.  The organizations themselves then assigned specific plate numbers with their serial prefix to their individual members.  Because of this, members of these organizations were able to, and frequently did, obtain the same plate number year after year.  Otherwise, there's no way to distinguish one of these organizational member plates from a regular passenger plate without already knowing that a given prefix was reserved. 

"BB" prefix plates were reserved for members of the Boumi Temple, which is the local Shriners chapter in Baltimore.  It's been reported that "BB" stood for "Boumi Baltimore".  "BF" prefix plates were reserved for members of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, a Masonic group.  Apparently "BF" stood for "Baltimore Forest", which is the name of their Maryland chapter. 

1959 amateur radio passenger car
1959 amateur radio operator passenger car

Amateur radio operators could get plates with their call letters beginning with the 1957 expiration plates.  These were sort of an early type of vanity plate.  Amateur radio plates with 3-31 expiration dates were issued for cars; those with 4-30 expiration dates were issued for trucks.  Dave Nicholson, if you're out there, these were the only type of 1957-1970 expiration Maryland plates that could be had with the letter Q, as this example shows. 

1959 House of Delegates member
1959 House of Delegates elected official

Various polital officeholders were issued plates for their personal vehicles identifying them as such.  The House of Delegates is Maryland's lower legislative body.  The large round graphic is the state seal; this was a sticker applied to the plate at the time of manufacture.  Despite some of these political plates not indicating specific expiration dates, they did in fact expire on March 31 of the year indicated on the plate. 

1959 state Senate member
1959 State Senate elected official

Plates that just said "Senate" were issued to state Senators for use on their personal vehicles.  The Senate is Maryland's upper legislative body.  U.S. Senators were issued plates that said "U.S. Senate".  The large round graphic is the state seal; this was a sticker applied to the plate at the time of manufacture. 

1959 taxi or limousine
1959 taxi or limousine for hire

Most all non-passenger plates expired annually on April 30.  Several vehicle types shared serial format 00-00-xx, with the first letter indicating the vehicle class code.  Taxis are Class B vehicles in Maryland, as were most for-hire limousines back in the day.  One exception:  limousines used exclusively for funeral duty would have been registered as funeral vehicles. 

1959 ambulance or funeral
1959 ambulance or funeral vehicle

Ambulances and funeral vehicles are Class C vehicles in Maryland.  These plates were issued to commercial ambulances, hearses, and to other vehicles used exclusively for funeral-related or cemetery-related duties.  Ambulances owned by fire departments instead bore official fire department plates. 

1959 regular truck
1959 regular truck

Trucks are Class E vehicles, so "regular" trucks (those that don't fall into any special category) were issued plates with the first serial letter "E".  Various special types of trucks (farm truck, dump truck, truck tractor, etc.) recieved different types of plates, some of which are shown below. 

1959 regular trailer
1959 regular trailer

By now you probably realize that trailers must be Class G vehicles.  "Regular" trailer plates from 1954 to 1975 pretty much all have the letter "G" as the first letter.  There was at least one special type of trailer (dump trailer) that received a distinct 1959 expiration plate. 

1959 charter bus
1959 charter bus

Not all non-passenger plate types had plate numbers that incorporated the vehicle class code.  Many of them, such as this charter bus plate, had the vehicle type or plate usage type spelled out in words.  Most of these plate types had four-character plate numbers that started at 10:01; obviously, then, there were multiple sets of non-passenger plates on the road with the same plate numbers.  Charter buses are buses that do not run on fixed routes and which may be hired.  Such buses would be used for tours and for groups of people going to the same place. 

1959 new vehicle dealer
1959 new vehicle dealer

Dealers of new vehicles used these plates on their demonstrator vehicles.  Used vehicle dealers were issued similar plates, but with a stacked "U/C" prefix to the left of the plate number.  Dealer plates were issued in pairs back then, just like most every other type of Maryland plate except for trailer and motorcycle plates.  Motorcycle dealers had their own distinct, smaller sized plates. 

1959 dump trailer
1959 dump trailer

A dump trailer is a trailer with a tipping mechanism enabling it to dump its load in a manner similar to a dump truck.  Yes, such trailers are unusual, and therefore this is an obscure, low-volume plate type.  The dump trailer plate type was last issued on the painted black-on-white 1981 base plate, and the last of these expired in 1987.  On the reflective black-on-white base plate introduced in 1986, dump trailers are issued regular trailer plates. 

1959 dump truck
1959 dump trailer

Since Maryland made plates for a vehicle type as obscure as a dump trailer, it stands to reason that they'd also make specific plates for dump trucks.  Today, Maryland still issues dump truck plates and even apportioned dump truck plates.  During the years 1954 to 1970, the word Dump had a rather small font and ran vertically down the left side of the plate.  But what's odd is that in some years, including 1959, the abbreviated word Trk in the same small font ran vertically down the right side of the plate, and in other years, the full word Truck in a much larger font (the same as shown on the farm truck plate below) was used instead. 

1959 farm truck
1959 farm truck

Farm trucks were another one of those special types of trucks that were issued something other the standard truck plates.  The words Farm and Truck run vertically down the left and right sides of the plate, respectively. 

1959 intercity bus
1959 intercity bus

Maryland issued several different types of bus plates.  PSC Bus plates were issued for intercity buses that charged fares and traveled on fixed routes, such as Greyhound or Trailways buses.  The letters "PSC" stood for Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulated certain types of for-hire transportation. 

1959 frieght truck
1959 motor carrier freight truck

PSC FRT plates were issued to both straight trucks and truck tractors operated by motor carriers, in other words, trucking companies.  Motor carriers were regulated by the state Public Service Commission, hence the "PSC", while "FRT" was short for "freight", to distinguish these truck plates from those issued to motor carrier buses. 

1959 city bus
1959 city bus

This is another type of bus plate.  PSC Zone plates were issued for local city buses that charged fares and traveled on fixed routes, such as those used in and around Baltimore.  The letters "PSC" stood for Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulated certain types of for-hire transportation.  Back then, city buses were operated by private companies.  "Zone" meant that these buses were limited geographically to a specific city or metro area. 

1959 school bus
1959 school bus

Maryland also issued two different types of plates to school buses.  Regular school bus plates, as shown, were issued to school buses that traveled fixed routes; typically such buses were owned by county school systems or private schools, but they didn't have to be. 

1959 school charter bus
1959 school charter bus

This is the second type of plate that Maryland issued to school buses.  "School charter" plates were issued to school buses for hire, typically owned by bus companies.  Such buses were both school buses and charter buses.  Frequently, buses with "school charter" plates also simultaneously displayed "school bus" plates.  I can only assume that separate registrations were required for school buses used for multiple purposes. 

1959 truck tractor
1959 truck tractor

In Maryland, plates marked Trac, Tractor, and even Traction were not issued to farm tractors, but rather to truck tractors (the front part of a tractor-trailer).  For 1954 to 1970 expirations, these plates bore the partial word Trac running down the right side of the plate. 

1959 transporter
1959 transporter

Transporter plates are similar to dealer plates in that they're not assigned to a specific vehicle.  Transporters are either in the business of moving or delivering vehicles, or in a business where moving or delivering vehicles is incidental to the primary activity.  These plates allowed them to drive otherwise unregistered vehicles on the street rather than have to load them onto a truck or trailer.  A typical application would be for driving freshly-imported vehicles from the docks to a storage lot a short distance away. 

1959 temporary
1959 temporary

When a dealer sold a vehicle, if the buyer wasn't trading in an old vehicle from which he could transfer existing plates, the dealer would issue temporary cardboard plates, to allow the vehicle to be driven while the paperwork was being processed to obtain new metal plates.  This plate is slightly smaller than standard metal plates, about 5 7/8" by 11", and does not have pre-punched bolt holes.  This particular plate was for a Hudson.  The final model year for Hudsons was 1957. 

1959 sample
1959 sample

Sample plates are not real license plates in the sense that they're assigned to vehicles and indicate that registrations are valid.  They're made in the same plate shop as real plates, using the same materials, but only serve as examples of what real plates look like.  Most often, as in this case, sample plates are made to resemble real passenger car plates but have a plate number that would not be actually issued, typically with all zeroes.  Maryland sample plates from this era are known with both plate numbers AA-00-00 and AB-00-00.  I'm not sure if both numbers were made on the 1959 expiration samples. 

Additional 1959 expiration Maryland license plates I'm still looking for

Related links

Page credits

Thanks to those who have directly contributed to the information on this page:  "Tiger" Joe Sallmen. 

Sallmen photographs are presumed to be copyrighted by "Tiger" Joe Sallmen, and are used with permission.  Turner plate is from the collection of David Turner. 


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