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Making (and Designing) License Plates

2009 December 31
by blog admin

Recently I’ve been noticing a new Ohio license plate design on a few cars, shown below at bottom left.

Ohio and Kentucky license plates compared

Clockwise from top left: Ohio default plate, old Kentucky default plate, new Kentucky default plate, new "Beautiful Ohio" optional plate design

My first thought was “oh no, is that our new license plate?” I can’t say that this possibility greatly appealed to me, given that 1) I think the red, white and blue plate design (above, top left) is rather striking and distinctive, as license plate designs go, and 2) these new Ohio plates immediately reminded me of the much-maligned “smiley” plates dropped by Kentucky, some little while ago. Having found images of both to compare, the layouts aren’t actually that similar, but there’s certainly a related impression of excessive pastel cheeriness. (And of course an airplane, lest North Carolina get the idea that we’re weakening in our claim on the Wright brothers.) The design isn’t awful out of context, but certainly on the average car, down near the street and seen on a gray winter’s day, the smear of candy colors does not quite look right to me.

In any event, to my relief, it appears that this is only an option, and the familiar red, white and blue design remains Ohio’s default plate design. Good call sticking with a winner, BMV. I particularly appreciate having a distinctive plate, compared with my days on the other side of the midwest; Kentucky’s new plate reminds me how when I lived in Iowa, for a time at least the neighboring states of Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri all shared, along with Iowa, license plates with some variation on the same theme of blue, white and light blue. Maybe blue pigment was cheaper than other colors.

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