Skip to main content

Signed license plates sounds like a cool idea ...

I don’t typically get all revved up by autographs; I don’t know exactly why that is, but it’s been helpful in my chosen profession because on those occasions when I’ve been interviewing various sports stars, there’s no temptation to try to snag a signature.

Hell, I once interviewed by favorite player in the Universe, Henry Aaron, for the better part of an hour and it never even occurred to me to ask for an autograph.

So there’s the disclaimer, but having said that, there are still plenty of occasions where I see autographed stuff and think, “Hey, that’s pretty cool.”

Such was the case many months ago when I traveled with the Auction crew to pick up consignments from an important Midwestern collector. Tucked away kind of unceremoniously was an enormous stash of neatly signed license plates from virtually every state in the Continental U.S. and beyond.

JoeD plate.jpg

Turns out, the collector kind of stumbled upon the idea, having brought a few plates to a celebrity golf tournament and got several players to sign them (individually).

At some point, he managed to pick up a whole bunch of plates from an antique dealer, and thus was born a cool niche that features great players and celebrities signing plates that have – usually obvious – relevance to a player’s career, sometimes even with numerological significance (ie. a 1951 New York State plate signed by Joe DiMaggio, shown here).

To give just a couple more examples, there’s a handsomely signed Oklahoma license plate from Mickey Mantle from 1974 (HOF induction year), a Joe Willie Namath signed Alabama plate from 1964 (his senior year – National Champions), or a 1955 Michigan plate signed by Al Kaline (youngest batting champion). Nice touches, I would say.

In addition, many of the plates have additional information added to the back that details how and when the signatures were obtained.

Aside from the obvious business financial concerns, I am really curious to see how these lots fare in the sale. My relative indifference to autographs aside, I think these 100-plus plates are really neat, a nice idea carefully and diligently executed.

Given that sports stars and Hollywood celebs sign so many zillions of times on the same kind of items over and over again, I can’t help wonder if they might have found signing license plates to be at the very least an interesting change of pace. More pressing, I guess, is to find out how collectors feel about it.

I guess we’ll find out on Dec. 2.