JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Meteorologist John Conway and I were talking the other day. In passing, he mentioned his automobile tag collection, and he brought some in for me to see.
“I was interested in them when I was a very little boy, and I started collecting them when I was about six or seven-years old,” he said.
For John, car tags weren’t just shiny and colorful. His was a very practical numbers game.
“License plates, with the exception of the VIN, are the only thing that is unique to every single car that’s on the road, and it’s how I used to identify friends and family members cars. I still have all of them memorized to this day from my childhood.”
Seeing the chance to do some in-depth study about car tag collecting, I went to the Flowood Flea Market and talked to co-owner Jack Camron. He said he has a lot of tag collectors who rummage through his stock.
“They’re either trying to have all of a particular year, usually a birth year. They’ll try to collect every state in a particular year. Others will try to have a particular state, like Mississippi, so they’ll want to have a complete collection. And then other people have antique cars, and they’re looking for the correct year and county for their car, because Mississippi will allow you to register a true antique tag to a car,” Camron explained.
There are rare tags out there; ones made during World War II for instance. In the case of Mississippi, old tags were re-stamped and recycled during the war. John has narrowed his collection to a manageable menagerie.
“I collect plates from places that are from places that I have a connection to, either a place I have lived in, the place I was born in, or a place where I’ve had family connections,” he said.
John has lived all over, too. He event has tags from China.
John mentioned that his collection is of tags connected with where he has lived. You may have noticed he has no Mississippi tag in his stash simply because it’s still on his car.
Some of the tags in this story belong to Sonny Graham in Tupelo who gave me a tour of his collection years ago.