New York was the first State to require license plates on cars, in 1910. Prior to 1910, license plates were either issued by municipalities or were voluntarily affixed to cars by their owners who used the car's factory number or randomly assigned their own numbers to the plates. Since there were so few cars in the first decade of the 20th Century, the voluntary plate system sufficed for local needs. Pre-1910 plates are now valuable collector's items usually called "leather license plates" since they were customarily made out of stamped leather.
|A 1910 "official" plate|
|A 1905 leather plate and registration disc|