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Licenses Plates: A word on low numbered plates in Adair County

"F.X. Merkley has been issued No. 1, for 1932 numbers 2, 3, 4, [and] 5 have been issued to the following persons in order named: Bruce Montgomery, J.W. Sharp of Absher, Henry Miller, and Evan Akin." - ADAIR COUNTY NEWS, 9 November 1931.
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By Mike Watson, Adair County historian

The question about low-numbered Kentucky license plates has been raised in the past. The late Russell Miller was one of the most knowledgeable in the field and taught me what little I know, or was able to retain, and was a veritable walking encyclopedia on the subject, thought there are others, now, who might rival his expertise.


Adair County once held the distinction of having plate number "1" issued here. Our county is the only one, to my knowledge, to have single and double digit plates, and many of the triple digits were issued in the county as well. With more automobiles registered in Kentucky as the years passed, and later with the coming of vanity plates, the single or double digit became an oddity.

The sale of 1932 automobile plates began the first week of December 1931 and were to be place on automobiles at the end of the month.

"The new tags are exactly the same as those issued in 1931, except for the color, which is maroon with white numerals. The cost is also the same as in 1931, varying with the size and types of machines for which they are to be used. The tags for Adair County again begin with number 1," stated the Adair County News, issue of 9 December 1931, via County Court Clerk W.E. Harris.

The article continued, "F.X. Merkley has been issued No. 1, for 1932 numbers 2, 3, 4, [and] 5 have been issued to the following persons in order named: Bruce Montgomery, J.W. Sharp of Absher, Henry Miller, and Evan Akin."

The following year, the sale of 1933 license plates was evidently slow across the state, perhaps due to the extensiveness of the Great Depression and limited funds available to the average person during the time of high unemployment. Sale of license tags was extended by order of Governor Ruby Laffoon, according to the Adair County News' front page item of 8 February 1933.

"All car owners must purchase new tags for machines as they are now subject to arrest and fine if they continue to use 1932 tags. Since Wednesday of last week County Clerk W.E. Harris' office has been a busy place issuing 1933 tags to car owners who take advantage of the time extension. At this time the sale of licenses is running just about the same as last year--487, as compared with 489 in 1932. Up until January 1 only 124 tags had been purchased. There are still several hundred cars in the county without plates for 1933."

Mike Watson
10 October 2017



This story was posted on 2017-10-10 16:04:52
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