Wednesday, March 3, 2010

INDIANA LICENSE PLATE HISTORY TIDBIT #3 -- The story of the 1980 George Rogers Clark plate

The history of the George Rogers Clark plate is pretty much ... well, lost to history.  But its story is pretty neat, and worth retelling.

Issued in 1979, the Clark plate was the result of Indiana's first contest to design a license plate.  An article in the March 12, 1978 Evansville Sunday Courier & Press reported that 92 entries were received by state officials, who eventually chose the design submitted by William George Clark (a man with no known relation to George Rogers Clark), a retired toolmaker from Economy, Indiana.

Unlike more recent plate-design contests, Clark did receive a monetary award -- $100 -- and the number 1979 on his own plate.  Nowadays, winners get just a smile and maybe a handshake.

The 1978 article also explained that the rustic "Hoosier State" plate, which was first issued in 1981, had already been designed, but it was pushed back a year.  It had originally been intended to break cover in 1980.  That plate was the first in Indiana since 1955 to be used for more than one year.

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