Summer is just around the corner and Floridians are ready to travel, especially after a year experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. Which makes us think about the time when automobiles were the exception in our modes of travel. It was back in 1905 that Florida passed its vehicle registration law. The fee was $2.00 and, in return, the Secretary of State issued a paper motor vehicle registration certificate which displayed the registration number prominently on the rear of the vehicle.
The automobile owner was required to provide their own license plate, which were generally acquired at a local hardware store. The first plates were made of leather and were issued in numerical order by registration and kept permanently until the automobile was taken out of service. After leather, porcelain was used before finally settling on tin for our plates. Plate number 1 was issued to R.E. Brand on August 1, 1905 because the Governor, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, did not own a car. Beginning in 1911, the state required that, in addition to the state plate, each vehicle must also display a county plate and a city plate. Rear bumpers were getting rather crowded. It was not until 1922 before only one plate was required.
Automobile ownership grew slowly. In 1905, 132 vehicles were registered; in 1906, an additional 174 were added; 184 more in 1907; and in 1908, 242 new vehicles hit the road. By the end of 1909, there were a total of 1,295 vehicles traveling Florida’s roads. According to 2019 statistics, Florida ranked third in the nation regarding the number of registered automobiles at 7,841,189, which are definitely clogging our roads. Happy traveling!
Please let us know if you would like more information about any item in this edition.
Sincerely, The JEJ Team