License a Piece of History

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be one of the first people to own an automobile? Did you know that in order to drive this new and exciting creation, that you would need to make your own license plate?! The modern-day license plate has had quite a history since then, and on the 111th anniversary of the very first Missouri license plate, JNPA has a way for you to make history with your own license plate!

Way back in 1907 Missouri car owners had to register their cars and trucks for $2.00 per year. If the vehicle was to be operated at night, two lighted lamps were required, and the registration number was to be painted on the lamps.  Cars back then were registered by fuel types: gasoline, electric, or steam. License plates were handmade out of tin and leather.

It was 111 years ago this month, in March of 1911, that the first state-issued license plates were distributed in Missouri. They featured unpainted numbers embossed on a yellow background. In 1949, the state began adding year tabs to plates, although they were made of metal and affixed through slots in the license plate. For a brief period between 1967-1979, Missouri actually issued a brand new license plate to registered vehicles every single year!

License plates have come a long way since then.  But in addition to going with the standard state plates, Missourians now have another option – one that honors our world-famous Gateway Arch.  When you order a custom Gateway Arch license plate for your car, you’ll be showing your fellow drivers that you’re proud of our state and our iconic Arch.  Your tax-deductible contribution to JNPA helps support vital education programs at Gateway Arch National Park, including living history demonstrations, exhibits, and teacher workshops.

You can order Arch license plates at any time, regardless of when your current Missouri plates expire.  To get the process started, visit Then you can start cruising around town in style!

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