License plates are big on eBay right now with over 150,000 title listings. Amongst those listings are items that are not true government-issued registration tags, but they are, in fact, an offshoot of their popularity. Collectors of automobilia know about them, and you should be aware of them too, if you want to cash in on the license plate craze. The demand for items such as vintage chrome frames, booster plates, toppers, DAV key chain tags, and cereal box novelties can mean serious profits for any eBay seller.
You are bound to pick up many of these items in your quest to find standard vehicle plates. I often find these items included in boxes of plates I’ve purchased at auctions or estate sales. When I was first starting out in the business, I foolishly gave away some of these items, not knowing their true value.
License plate frames are a good example. I undoubtedly dumped some valuable frames in the trash once I freed the plates from their confines. Little did I know that classic car owners love to put old chrome frames on their restored vehicles. Dealership frames are particularly hot, especially for Volkswagens. There is even a company that specializes in restoring these old metal frames.
Booster plates are now a very collectible item. Booster plates are mounted on the front of vehicles and usually promote a local community event, civic organization, town, school, sporting team or a private company such as a car dealership. They are not issued by the DMV and are not street legal. Depending on the age and graphics on the plate, you could be sitting on a jackpot. I recently sold a $5.00 booster plate promoting a local road race for $80.00 on eBay. It was not a particularly old plate, but it had a very nice graphic of a Chevy Corvette on it.
Next on the list are toppers. Toppers are emblems, markers or badges usually made of metal and attached to the top or the bottom of the license plate frame. Like booster plates, they promote different organizations or companies. Motor club toppers are particularly prevalent. I’m not sure that anyone even makes toppers these days, so we really are talking about a vintage item here.
Another vintage item you’ll come across are the tiny DAV Key Chains that have mini license plates on them. DAV stands for Disabled American Veterans. The DAV started manufacturing these key chains in the 1940s and used the tiny tags as a way to collect donations. With the help of various state motor vehicle departments, they mailed car owners tags with their license plate numbers on them and requested a donation. The premise was that if you lost your keys, the finder of the keys would drop them into a mail box, and the DAV would return them to you. They stopped making these key chains in the early 1970s, and they have since become very collectible. Recently, four Arizona DAV key chains from the 1940s and 1950s sold for over $400.00 on eBay.
Finally, we have the mini license plates that were issued in cereal boxes. In 1953 and 1954, Wheaties Cereal issued tiny tin license plates inside their boxes. The entire set included 48 states, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington D.C., 10 Canadian Provinces and several foreign countries. In 1959, Bakers Chocolate issued a set of all 50 states. And Post Cereal reinvented the idea with its own tin sets starting in 1968. They issued license plates in one form or another until 1991. You’ll often find all these different plates sold both in complete sets and individually.
You can’t go wrong with any of these license plate related items. List them and watch the profits roll in.