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License Plate Gallery

Oregon Passenger Variations

Oregon license plates are distinctive for several reasons. The state was one of the first to initiate a staggered registration system, and one of the few not to rely upon correctional institutions for manufacture. Finally, Oregon is one of the oldest jurisdictions in North America in terms of time since a general re-issue: Since 1955! A car purchased fifty years ago and continuously registered in Oregon since then will still carry its original plates. My enthusiasm is not so much collecting the physical plates, as it is finding out quite a bit of information about them.

Needless to say, quite a few different plate styles and variations have been issued in the half-century since then. What styles exist? Read on.

Note: Information updated since September 2012 is indicated with an asterisk (*). Assumed start and end points are in italics.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Oregon 56 dated license plate

Type 1: 1956 dated

Issued: To all vehicles in 1955, and probably a little while beyond.

Earliest validation seen: Jan. '56.

The original gold-on-blue style of the fifties, theoretically still in use today but understandably few and far between on the roads. Slots and holes were provided in the upper right corner for annual metal validation tabs. The design presented a bit of a challenge for validation placement when stickers replaced tabs after 1960, but most motorists managed nevertheless to squeeze them in the gap between "Oregon" and "56."

These plates were physically manufactured by the Irwin-Hodson company of Portland, as have most others from decades ago through the present day. Each month of expiration had its own quasi-coded serial series. "A" indicated January, "B" indicated February, and so on; skipping "I" so that December was "M."

1A-1
7A-1970*
1B-1
8B-1718*
1C-1
7C-8257*
1D-1
7D-5391
1E-1
9E-1896
1F-1
7F-8568
1G-1
8G-5579
1H-1
8H-7488
1J-1
7J-5329
1K-1
7K-6263*
1L-1
8L-1891
1M-1
6M-9624*
Oregon 56 undated license plate

Type 2: 1956-type undated

Issued: 1956 to circa 1959.

Earliest validation seen: Jan. '57. (Though with tabs, it's hard to tell...)

Pretty much the same story as before, minus the date. Many months began to deplete their original code allocations in this time, so each series gradually shifted to a letter in the second half of the alphabet.

7A-2840
9A-9999
8B-2912*
9B-9999
7C-9876
9C-9999
7D-6001
9D-9999
9E-4251
9E-9999
8F-1531*
9F-9999
8G-7824
9G-9999
8H-8385
9H-9999
7J-7178
9J-9999
7K-6615
9K-9999
8L-3572
9L-9999
7M-1280*
9M-9999
1N-1
3N-3625
1P-1
3P-3391
1Q-1
2Q-1545
1R-1
2R-1108
1S-1
3S-7972
1T-1
1T-7342*
1U-1
2U-4864*
1V-1
2V-6113
1W-1
1W-1789
1X-1
1X-1921
1Y-1
1Y-4798
1Z-1
1Z-3347
Oregon Pacific Wonderland license plate with tab slots

Type 3: "Pacific Wonderland" with tab slots

Issued: Late 1959 to circa 1961.

Earliest validation seen: Nov. '60.

The "Pacific Wonderland" issue marked the only time a slogan ever appeared on a standard-issue Oregon plate. New, shorter dies were used to accomodate the slogan. The earliest issues of the plate carried tab slots in the upper right corner (and sure enough, some examples of the plates carry 1960 tabs, suggesting that the plates were first issued in 1959). The state name was offset slightly to the left nevertheless, in anticipation of opening up space for stickers.

3N-3762*
4N-9171
3P-5514
4P-9252*
2Q-2723
3Q-4106
2R-1508
3R-2248
3S-9370
4S-7600
1T-7669
2T-6956*
2U-5416*
3U-3802
2V-6335
3V-5515
1W-2337
1W-5505
1X-4216*
1X-9845*
1Y-5484
2Y-6022
1Z-3972
2Z-6582*
Oregon Pacific Wonderland license plate with no slots

Type 4: "Pacific Wonderland" with no slots

Issued: 1961 to 1963.

Earliest validation seen: Feb. '62.

Oregon switched to plate stickers for the 1961 expiration year, and the newly-redundant tab slots were removed from their license plates soon afterward. This version of the "Pacific Wonderland" base is much more common.

5N-1532
9N-6520
5P-164
8P-6800
3Q-6325*
7Q-7600
3R-2961*
5R-9200
4S-9028
7S-4400
2T-7998
5T-6400
3U-5036
5U-9400
3V-6420
6V-1600
1W-7478
3W-9800
2X-1959
5X-1650
2Y-7178
5Y-8500
2Z-8268*
6Z-6400
Oregon gold/blue license plate with narrow spacing

Type 5: Gold/blue with sticker box; narrow serial spacing

Issued: January 1964.

Earliest validation seen: Jan. '65.

According to legend, the "Pacific Wonderland" base wasn't too popular east of the Cascades. Whether or not that's true, that design fell by the wayside in favor of a functional new issue carrying several developments: A sticker box (designed to accomodate the horizontally-opposed stickers issued from the 1965 expiration year on), larger serial dies (identical to those used from 1955-59), and a new, three letter/three number serial format (which would offer far more capacity than the one letter/five number formats used before). The first letter of the serial continued to be keyed to the month of expiry, and the original code letters from "A" to "M" were reinstated.

The earliest January plates manufactured (making up the entire "AAx" series, more or less) featured narrow spacing between the letters and numbers.

AAA 001
AAX 237
Oregon gold/blue license plate with wide spacing

Type 6: Gold/blue with sticker box; wide serial spacing

Issued: 1964 to 1973.

Earliest validation seen: Oct. '64.

The vast majority of these plates, issued for nearly a decade, feature a wider space between the letters and numbers.

As an additional, rare sub-variation early in the series, the first hundred plates for each month in 1964 (i.e., xAA 0xx) were treated with glass-bead reflectorization.

Some early examples of these plates appear with 1964 stickers; though it's unclear whether this indicates motorists received the plates in late 1963 or whether these specimens were simply issued in 1964 as replacements for pre-existing registrations.

ABF 755*
AHB 793*
BAA 001
BJD 806
CAA 001
CJP 959
DAA 001
DHC 661
EAA 001
EHF 920
FAA 001
FHV 172
GAA 001
GGV 510
HAA 001
HGT nnn
JAA 001
JKJ nnn
KAA 001
KJX 061*
LAA 001
LLJ 963
MAA 001
MHL 909*
Oregon blue/gold license plate with oval O and G Oregon blue/gold license plate with straight O and G

Types 7 & 8: Blue/gold with sticker box; Irwin-Hodson dies

Issued: 1973 to circa 1982.

Earliest validation seen: Oct. '74.

In 1973, the color scheme was reversed and reflective sheeting was adopted. Roughly around the same time, Oregon switched from one-year to two-year validations. 1975 stickers are scarce, since most registrants skipped from 1974 to 1976 as a consequence.

Several different die variations exist with these plates; including two distinct styles of lettering for the state name, depicted above. The two state name dies appeared concurrently, and seem to have shifted back and forth several times over.

AHC nnn
AQZ nnn
BJE 457
BRK nnn
CJQ 409*
CUS nnn
DHD 972
DPR 835
EHG 317
EPX nnn
FHY 318*
FSW nnn
GGW 307
GPD 506*
HGU 143*
HPJ nnn
JKK nnn
JRP 208
KJY 346
KSV 956
LLK 458
LTE 194
MHM 207*
MQS nnn
Note: No serials in the FKA-FKZ or FQA-FQZ range have been seen.
Oregon month-coded license plate with Polyvend dies

Type 9: Blue/gold with sticker box; Polyvend dies

Issued: 1981 to 1982/83.

Earliest validation seen: Jan. '83.

A good deal of Oregon plates in the 1980s were made not by Irwin-Hodson, but rather by the Polyvend Corporation of Arkansas. These plates use different, straighter-lined serial dies (also used on some Hawaii and Massachusetts plates) and tend to be sloppier and less durable in quality.

Oregon appears to have shifted its contract back and forth between suppliers on a yearly or semiyearly basis, as three separate runs of Polyvend plates exist.

ARB 764
ATF 676*
BRL 889
BSM nnn
CUT 398
CVU nnn
DPS nnn
DQM 574
EPY nnn
EQN nnn
FSX nnn
FTR 033*
GPE nnn
GQA 161
HPK nnn
HQE 279
JRQ 458*
JSJ 462
KSW nnn
KTR 728
LTF nnn
LTW 336
MQT 278
MRL nnn
Oregon blue/gold license plate with oval O and G

Types 7a & 8a: Blue/gold with sticker box; Irwin-Hodson dies

Issued: 1982 to 1983/84.

Earliest validation seen: Jan. '84.

ATG 070*
AUG 557
BSN 059
BTC 946
CVV nnn
CWS 242*
DQN 184
DRF 798*
EQP 788
ERJ nnn
FTS 472
FUT nnn
GQB nnn
GQX nnn
HQE 735
HQZ nnn
JSJ 508
JTC 418
KTR 801
KUK nnn
LTX 653*
LUT 166
MRM nnn
MSG 540*
Oregon month-coded license plate with Polyvend dies

Type 9a: Blue/gold with sticker box; Polyvend dies

Issued: 1983 to 1984/85.

Earliest validation seen: Mar. '85.

AUG 862
AUW 697*
BTE 319*
BUZ nnn
CWT nnn
CYP nnn
DRG 283
DSX 526
ERK 113
ESY nnn
FUU nnn
FWG 677
GQY nnn
GSE nnn
HRA 818
HSH nnn
JTC 557
JUR 712
KUK nnn
KVY 470*
LUU 562*
LVN 619
MSH 270*
MSY nnn
Oregon blue/gold license plate with oval O and G

Types 7b & 8b: Blue/gold with sticker box; Irwin-Hodson dies

Issued: 1984 to 1985/86.

Earliest validation seen: Jun. '86.

AUX nnn
AVG 943
BVA nnn
BVV 699
CYQ 142
CZL 997
DSY nnn
DTW 983
ESZ 546
EUB 959
FWH nnn
FXP 994
GSF 992*
GTM 754
HSJ nnn
HTK 993
JUS nnn
JVN 956
KVZ 116*
KWK 952
LVP 494
LWL 954
MSZ nnn
MTS 941
Oregon non-coded license plate with Polyvend dies

Type 10: Blue/gold with no coding or sticker box; Polyvend dies

Issued: Late 1985 to 1986.

Earliest validation seen: Oct. '87.

In the mid '80s, ABC 123-format serial combinations in the "A" through "M" series were inching dangerously close to running out. Rather than switching the individual month codes over to the second half of the alphabet again, the state instead chose to switch to a non-coded single series of numbers used in conjunction with a month sticker. Early examples of these plates were made again by Polyvend, using their less-rounded, lesser-quality dies.

NAA 001
NKV nnn
Oregon non-coded license plate with Irwin-Hodson dies

Type 11: Blue/gold with no coding or sticker box; Irwin-Hodson dies

Issued: Late 1986 to 1988.

Earliest validation seen: Dec. '88 (with exceptions).

By the time later examples of these plates were made, the state was back to Irwin-Hodson again; making the plates with "traditional" Oregon dies and crisper stamping once more.

NKW nnn
PDB 999
Oregon dead tree license plate

Type 12: "Dead tree" graphic

Issued: 1988 to 1989.

Earliest validation seen: May '90 (with exceptions).

Oregon's first graphic issue came about in 1988, featuring an image of a tall, spindly fir backed by mountains and an orange sky. It wasn't a very popular design, if the nickname commonly attributed to it is any indication. (Reportedly, what debuted was actually an improvement over a prototype that featured a brown tree.)

PDN 001
QNL 999
Oregon live tree license plate

Type 13: "Live tree" graphic

Issued: Late 1989 to date.

Earliest validation seen: Nov. '91.

A year or so later to address criticisms of the design, the colors of the plate were changed and darkened up. I personally like both versions of the base, although the dark tree on this one adversely affects serial legibility at a distance. Nevertheless, the design has remained unchanged ever since...outlasting both the blue-on-gold and gold-on-blue designs for the title of Oregon's longest-lived color scheme.

This period has not been free of variation, however: In 2004, numbers in the ABC 123 series were finally exhausted after four decades, and the numbering system thus flipped over to a 123 ABC format starting at BAA. In addition, from 2003 to 2005 (coinciding with "ZPN" to "BMZ" in the suffix format) a run of these plates was produced by Waldale Manufacturing of Nova Scotia. Waldale imitated Irwin-Hodson's dies and level of quality almost perfectly, so the plates are very hard to pick out.

Irwin-Hodson Waldale Irwin-Hodson
QNM 001
ZPM 659*
ZPN nnn
ZZZ 999
001 BAA
999 BMZ
001 BNA
and up


[Oregon license plate on car]

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