My 2 Cents
Jon Upton : The Back Bumper

MY 1952 TYPE SET (Feb 22)

At long last, my 1952 Ontario plate type set is complete. At least, itís complete to my satisfaction.

Itís been long-established that Ontario did not issue general vehicle plates for the year 1952 due to metal conservation efforts supporting the Korean War. 1951 plates were retained and used for an additional year, with a water-transfer windshield decal placed on the front, to provide proof of paid registration. Even vehicles new in 1952 received such a decal. Whether they were given an unissued 1951 plate also, or whether they just operated with no plate, is unknown to me.

There were only three types of license plates that were issued in Ontario in 1952:

  1. Trailers, which had no windshields and thus no reliable means of displaying proof of paid registration;
  2. Motorcycles, which also had no windshields at the time;
  3. Dealer plates, given to automobile dealerships to use during test drives or delivery.

No 1952 plate type is particularly easy to find. Of these three types, the most common to find are the trailer plates, which typically have five digits, followed by the letter T. The highest numbered trailer issue that I have seen, after two decades of paying attention, is in the 70000 range. According to Ontario License Plates Ė A Century of History by Joe Sallmen, 74397 trailers were issued that year. Theyíre rare, but not hens-teeth rare. As an extra degree of collecting difficulty, some of us look specifically for a low-numbered trailer plate, with a serial under 10000, giving the plate four digits and a shorter length that is in line with regular passenger plates of the time. I have one of those, which I use in my passenger run, as a representation of what 1952 car plates would have looked like, had they been produced. Iím not so interested in displaying a 1952 decal for my run, because Iím in it for the metal.

After the trailers, the second-most common type of 1952 plate would be the motorcycles. According to the same book referenced above, there were 13407 motorcycles registered in 1952. Itís important to remember that motorcycle plates were issued as triple sets at that time (two for either side of the front fender and one for the rear), so that means if we triple the registration figure for the year, there would have been 40221 motorcycle plates issued for 1952Ö a little more than half the number of trailer plates. For some reason, I find that motorcycle plates of the time tend to have a low survival rate. Mathematically, one might expect a 2:1 ratio of trailers to cycles for 1952, but Iíve seen 1952 cycle plates pop out of the woodwork far less frequently than trailer plates.

The rarest of the 1952 plate types would definitely be the dealer. Iíve only ever seen two of them, plus photographs of three others. Of the two that Iíve actually seen, one of them is a recent addition to my collection. It came up on eBay, just identified as a 1952 plate, with no reference to the type or its scarcity. Iím not a fan of eBay anymore, but itís the only game in town, especially if your town is like mine in February and buried under six feet of snow with a minus 35 windchill. The bidding wasnít quite as bad as I expected, which was a relief, given that the condition of the plate is merely ďgoodĒ at best.

Of the 1952 Ontario dealer plates that I know, the highest number is 2009M. Iím not sure how high they go, but I suspect that 2009 is probably close to the ceiling. My own plate, number 1205M, is middle-of-the-pack. One of the í52 plates Iíve seen pictured is 694M. It was part of a run some guy was selling in the Hamilton area years agoóbut the plate was untouchable because the run had leathers, rubbers and early tins that were all fakes, but priced as though they were real.

I suppose if I were a purist, I would have to collect car and truck decals from 1952 to have my type set truly completeÖ but I havenít collected stickers since I peeled them off my school worksheets when I was nine.

Some previous instalments of My 2 Cents  

Credit Where Credit Is Due (Jan 31/09) 
YOMPlates (Mar 29/09) 
...A Man Alone... (Apr 26/09) 
Stir-Crazy (May 10/09) 
Watson, Steam, Nash and Fun (May 31/09) 
Oro Express (June 14/09) 
Weary in Erie (June 29/09) 
Weary in Erie 2 (July 6/09) 
Weary in Erie 3 (July 15/09) 
Walking the Walk (Aug 19/09) 
Gettin' My Fillia in Orillia (Sep 20/09) 
Destination Super (Oct 29/09) 
Auction in the Country (Dec 31/09) 
Wintertime Update (Feb 20/10) 
Plates and Parenting in Acton (Apr 25/10) 
Ketchup (Aug 17/10) 
Mileage May Vary in Barrie (Oct 2/10) 
Grim Pickings (Nov 2/10) 
Oppression (Nov 27/10) 
Virtual Display (Dec 26/10) 
Variable Virtual Value (Feb 27/11) 
7 2 1 3 (Mar 6/11) 
Police Thyself (Apr 17/11) 
Twofer One (May 12/11) 

100 / 1000 (Jun 8 /11) 
Cruising and Shopping in Merrickville (Jul 11/11) 
Bert's Barn & Bug (Aug 1/11) 
Hot & Bothered in Bothwell (Aug 23/11) 
Summer's Last Gasp (Sep 16/11) 
Some Facts About Fakes (Oct 24/11) 
You Had To Be There (Nov 4/11) 
Load Runners (Dec 24/11) 
Load Runners - The Sequel (Jan 16/12) 
In Search of the Canadian Car (Feb 20/12)
Passing Time (Apr 1/12)
These Magic Moments (May 19/12)
Seller 57, Where Are You? (June 16/12)
Moseying in Merrickville (July 11/12)
Doors Open 2012 (Aug 13/12)
Let It Rain, Rain, Rain (Sep 15/12)
Volksfest 2012 (Oct 1/12)
Why I Skipped Grimsby (Nov 11/12)
December '95 (Dec 2/12)
Five Oh Eight (Dec 31/12)
Ontario Leather Plates: Fake or Not? (Jan 26/13)

Photobox (Feb 24/13)
Half Acton (May 7/13)
Kids' Day Out (May 26/13)
Overcharged in Oro (Jun 16/13)
Merrickville 2013 (Jul 19/13)
Bugging (Aug 27/13)
Opengo-Monck Travelogue (Sep 11/13)
Friday Night in the Garage (Sep 29/13)
Long Time Coming (Oct 29/13)
August '97 (Nov 23/13)
Behind the Bars (Dec 28/13)
Peoria '96 (Jan 18/14)
Bleak Midwinter (Feb 15/14)
Photobox '14 (Mar 12/14)
Lightning Striking Again (Apr 5/14)
Acton in the Arena (May 5/14)
A Gran Torino Day Out (May 28/14)
Daddy - Daughter - Barrie (Jun 8/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Monday (Jul 21/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Tuesday (Jul 27/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Wednesday (Aug 3/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Thursday (Aug 10/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Friday (Aug 29/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Saturday (Sep 8/14)
G-R-I-M-S-B-Y Spells Relief (Oct 28/14)
Peel-O-Matic (Dec 21/14)
Is It Spring Yet? (Jan 25/15)

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