License plate collecting is a favorite hobby of many collectors who are interested in cars and motor vehicle history. The number of places where a collector can find and pick classic plates is only limited by imagination and desire.
Like most valuable items, organization and proper storage are key to enjoying license plate collecting.
In this article, leading license plate expert, Michael Wiener of Albuquerque New Mexico shares some tips on how to properly store and organize your license plate collection.
As your collection grows, you are likely to have several plates that you will want to display. There are a variety of methods for displaying license plates, including display cases and simple wall displays or in frames along with provenance.
For license plates that you do not want to display, storage boxes are usually suitable as long as they are durable and will protect your plates from being bent or damaged.
Storing plates in 3mil Poly Plastic Sleeves ensures they will not be damaged when moved – due to number rub or mishandling (*visit: bestsleeves.com for specific information/sizes). Individual boxes and license plates can be marked or tagged with labels that index individual plates back to your inventory log for easy access and identification.
You can place inventory labels on the back of the license plates that you display as well as your stored plates. Additionally, you can group your stored plates by state, year, or other categories that make sense according to your collecting methods and practices. In addition to the label on the back of your stored plates, you can place a post-it tag on the upper edge of each plate so that you can access it quickly from one of your storage boxes. Each plate’s identifying number should show where the plate is displayed or in which box it is stored.
The key to organizing and managing your collection is to develop and maintain a License Plate Collection Inventory Log.
You can use a notebook or a digital spreadsheet that you can store on your computer. In any event, it is a good idea to maintain a current backup of your inventory log.
Each plate’s identifying number will track to an entry in your inventory log where you can store all the relevant data for each license plate.
Whether you are working on completing a part of your collection or are considering selling or trading one of your license plates, having a complete and accessible record of your collection is very useful.
For each entry in your inventory log, plan on recording the following under separate searchable fields:
• State/Country/Year information
• Description – Color/Size/Type
• Condition – using the ALPCA Grading System
• Source Info – Details about when and where the license plate was obtained
• Purchase Price – Price or trade value details
• Any other relevant information
About Michael Wiener:
Michael Wiener of Albuquerque New Mexico is a world-renowned license plate collector, researcher, consultant, and market expert. He is among America’s leading authorities regarding automobile license plates and motor vehicle licensing systems. Mr. Wiener has served as an Albuquerque City Councilor, a New Mexico State Senator, and a Bernalillo County, New Mexico Commissioner. As a legislator, he sponsored many bills concerning motor vehicle laws, insurance requirements, and special registration plates. He has served as President of the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association, and has been featured on HGTV’s Offbeat America,” CNBC News with Brian Williams, and appeared in an episode of AMC’s Breaking Bad. Michael serves as a consultant for motor vehicle departments, law enforcement agencies, and television and motion picture producers on subjects related to motor vehicles and automobile plate history.
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