Old License Plates Can Earn You Big $$
I didn’t grow up in North Park. I’ve been there more times than I can count, but I’m a Michigan native whose family lives in Pennsylvania, and I’m a freshman at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
I didn’t grow up in North Park—but I wish I had. Jackson County is my favorite place in the world (and I’ve been to almost every US state). It beats out every other CO county by many miles.
My family used to drive around Walden and I’d see all the old ZJ license plates still on the cars. I began to wonder how these plates had made it all these years. It seemed to be something significant in the culture of the county—the symbolism of the ZJ license plate for the county and what it stood for.
I wanted the world to see that—a community bonded by these letter codes. I began to wonder if there was a way to showcase them.
Earlier this year, I started jacksoncountylicenseplates.org—an online museum of the county’s automotive history, and I wanted the community of Jackson County to help create and curate this gallery since they’ve been there longer than I have.
And we need your help in making that happen.
Hello there! My name is Colin McGregor. I’m 19 and I’m a freshman premed student studying neuroscience. I’ve also been collecting license plates for about ten years, and I’m a member of the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association, or ALPCA (member #11808). I want to thank Jamie for allowing me to write this post! I’m very excited to publicize and involve the community in my project.
My goal with my website is to showcase as many plates and residents of Jackson County as I can, and I need the entire community’s help in making that happen. Eventually, if we work together, we can compile everyone’s plates into a full-fledged online museum, and given the nature of collecting counties in Colorado, it’s something the entire state can and will appreciate and admire.
I’ll give a little background to Colorado license plates for those who aren’t aware. Over the last 100 years, Colorado has in some way denoted the county of issuance on every single license plate it has produced. This includes plates as early as 1916—from 1916-1931, certain number blocks designated where the plate was issued (though 1927 has not yet produced relevant data). For example, in 1916, the numbers 25976-26050 were issued to residents of Jackson County.
In 1932, Colorado established a new coding system based on relative populations at the time—each county was assigned a number based on how many people lived there. Denver County, for example, got the number 1. Jackson was assigned 59. These codes were used from 1932-1958 (here’s an example of a 1956 Jackson from my collection).
In 1959 (after the infamous “skier plate” ran its course), Colorado began using two-letter codes on its plates. They maintained the same order as the numerical counties, so Denver County’s plates started at AA. Jackson County was assigned ZJ (1977 example shown). They were used in some way until 2000 (though passenger plates switched to a three-letter-prefix format in 1982—they were more or less alphabetical, and Jackson was assigned FGC, FGD, and FGE. In the early 90s, these became seven digits following the same codes).
Interestingly, although it’s become much more complicated, Colorado still issues license plates by county block. Bennett Sizer, a friend and colleague of mine in Fairplay (ALPCA #10555) has pioneered a way to find out where CO plates have been issued: Carfax (read the article the two of us wrote about this on his website: https://bennettsizer.wordpress.com/carfax/ ).
He’s helped me in compiling a list of plate series issued in Jackson County (which will always be available and updated on my own website). 297-WNV is an example of a plate issued in Jackson County—as the article states, the car to which this plate was registered had a title beginning with 59 and was therefore issued plates in Jackson County. Hopefully that miniature history caught you up if you weren’t already aware!
Here are some questions you’re probably asking:
So, why are you specifically interested in making a history for Jackson County? It’s honestly because no one else has yet. While other counties in Colorado have been well-documented already (Mineral, Hinsdale, Park, Summit, San Juan, etc.), Jackson isn’t really on anyone’s radar, and I want to change that. I know there’s a rich history in Walden, Cowdrey, Rand, Gould, Coalmont, etc. and I want the world to see it.
While I have a small-ish collection of Jackson I’ve managed to put together (maybe 30 or 40 plates), I want to develop something far greater than that, and I want it to be a community effort. I want people to be able to go to the museum website and click on the page dedicated completely to them and their family with a bit about their history and their plates, which are now in the museum for the world to admire. I want people to know that they’re contributing to something their whole community is—the more people who provide plates, the more complete the museum will be.
How do I go about acquiring these plates? I always love donations! Heh. While I do have a very limited budget as a student, I am absolutely willing to spend some money to get Jackson plates from those who would prefer not to donate (don’t worry, it’s totally fine). Just contact me and we can make it work.
I’ve also got a great deal of plates to trade, both from Colorado and many other states. I always love a good plate trade, so if you’ve ever wanted some plates from other parts of the country, I can absolutely hook you up.
What do you mean by “showcasing residents”?
Not only does Jackson County have great plates—it also has great people. If I acquire any individual or family’s accumulation of plates, I want to showcase them as well as their plates. This would probably mean I’d interview you on the phone and write a paragraph or two about you and your family, your plates, and any other cool stories you may have (of course, only if you’re comfortable with that). It’s important to be telling a story of the county more than it is just to show pictures. (Also, every single plate on the site will feature a name credit of the individual from whom the plate was acquired.)
How do I know if my plate is issued in Jackson County? I talked about it a little above, but here’s a summary. Any of these codes are from Jackson: 1932-1958: 59 1959-1982: ZJ (also used on nonpassenger plates through 2000) 1982-1991: FGC, FGD, FGE 1992-2000: FGC 2001-present:
Available here: jacksoncountylicenseplates.org/current/
I’m really excited about this and I hope that, in time, I can get the whole county excited about it too! If you have plates, you can call/text me: (734)-767-8996 Or you can email me: email@example.com
We will work something out. Also note that one of my friends lives in Medicine Bow, WY and can pick up any plates to save you the trouble of shipping them.
Please keep checking the site for updates—especially if you know your plates are going up!
Let’s do this! -Colin McGregor ALPCA 11808