Guide to Identifying Legitimate Black Tags


General Information


From 1909 through early 1941, Delaware issued new plates every year, with a different color scheme each year. In mid-1941, the state issued their first permanent tag, which meant the plate stayed on the car from year to year, and used renewal tabs (now stickers) to indicate that the car had been re-registered for that particular year.


That first permanent tag was the black and white porcelain tag with DEL. on top and the numbers baked onto the tag. This is the black and white tag style we know and love today. It was issued from mid-1941 thru 1947. In mid-1947, the standard issue tag (still a permanent tag with slots for renewal tabs) was the stainless steel tag with DELAWARE embossed on the top and steel numbers spot-riveted on. Stainless steel tags were issued until 1958, when the blue and gold tag first appeared. Our standard-issue tag has been blue and gold since then. In fact, Delaware holds the distinction of having the longest-running plate design in the U.S.



In May 1986, the DMV Director, Robert Voshell, signed Policy Regulation 79, which expressly forbids the use of black tags that are not made to look exactly like the porcelain or stainless tags of the 1940s and 1950s. This Policy is still in effect, and eventually it was enshrined into Delaware state law (21 Del C. 2136). Nothing has changed in the law; if you want to display a legal porcelain or stainless tag, you must get one that adheres to the original look.




Passenger Tags


Porcelain Stainless Steel
Highest number allowed: 86-999 Highest number allowed: 200000
The above tags are correct reproductions of the black tags of the 1940s and 1950s mentioned above. The diamond only appears on the porcelain tag, and it acts as a comma for 4- and 5-digit numbers (e.g. 10, 100, 1-000, 10-000).
FAKE EXAMPLES BELOW



C Tags


Porcelain Stainless Steel
Highest number allowed: C9-999 Highest number allowed: C50000
The above tags are correct reproductions of the black tags of the 1940s and 1950s mentioned above. The diamond only appears on the porcelain tag, and it acts as a comma for 4- and 5-digit numbers (e.g. 10, 100, 1-000, 10-000).
FAKE EXAMPLES BELOW



PC Tags


Never issued on porcelain, therefore cannot be reproduced on porcelain.
Porcelain Stainless Steel
Highest number allowed: N/A Highest number allowed: PC9999
The above tag is a correct reproduction of the stainless tag of the late 1940s and 1950s mentioned above. It is illegal to display a PC tag on porcelain, as the PC type did not exist until 1951, which was in the midst of the stainless tag era.
FAKE EXAMPLES BELOW



Other Tags


Other tag types may be allowed to be reproduced on black porcelain and/or stainess. Here is the list:


Tag Type Porcelain? Stainless?
Commercial (CL) No No
Motorcycle Up to MC9999 No
Trailer No Up to T9999
FT (Farm Truck) No Up to FT9999
RV No No
RT No No
Dealer* Up to D9999 Up to D9999
Vanity No No
Amateur Radio Yes No

*Dealer tags did not have a "D" prefix on the black and white porcelain base of the 1940s, but they did have a "D" prefix on the stainless plates of the late 1940s into the 1950s.