Have you ever looked a License Plate and thought “I wonder what disaster that went through? ”
Or “Look at how nice that 60 year old plate looks ! ”
Starting in 1966 Indiana started using a reflective tape from 3M called Scotchlite. It was glued to the front of the plate and the colors selected for that year was painted on the numbers and letters.
This left the Backside of the plate unprotected whereas earlier plates were painted, completely painted front and rear.
In these examples shown below, showing the rear of the plates, you can see certain clues as I will try to decipher each plate.
1st Image:This plate was on a car that was mostly stored in a garage and not driven much in the winter time.
2nd Image: This plate was on a car that most likely had a small frame on it or (memories of working at the neighborhood gas station) many cars of this era (mid 1960’s) could have had a Gas Tank Filler behind the License Plate with a Spring Loaded Plate Holder. These may have held moisture against the plate. Most likely this car not driven much in the winter.
3rd Image: I would assume this car had a Dealership Type of Frame, with the name of the Dealership across the bottom and the car was not Garaged. These Frames held moisture. It mostly likely sat outside in the elements.
4th Image: This is a Truck Plate. This plate sat against the recess in the rear bumper and trapped all sorts of moisture and never saw a garage.
Many of the Early Years when there were Pairs of plates issued it’s very common to see 1 of the plates in poor condition and the other plate is in very good condition. The roads were nothing more than Dirt Roads and paths at certain times over the years. If a vehicle was following another vehicle too close you could assume the Front Plate garnered most of the damage from stones, pebbles, dirt and mud. Many Trucks of the time had a License Plate Bracket attached to the Brake Light which exposed the rear of plate. Many Truck plates show severe damage to the paint on the backside of the rear plate.