From Carl Fry and Roger Mingle
Over the years Kansas has had some interesting plates. From 1913 to 1929 the plates looked the same statewide.
First Kansas tags were issued in June 1913. From 1913 to 1920 tags were made by the St. Louis novelty co.
1921 to 1975 tags were made at the state reformatory in Hutchinson, Ks. 1976 to Present Kansas tags have been made
at Center Industries in Wichita.
For a period of time, (1930 to 1950) Kansas identified in which county the tag was issued by a number from 1 to 105.
(Don't ask my why Kansas needed 105 Counties). Anyhow, someone decided to use the census by county to determine
the County Code #. The first numbers on the plate (from 1 to 105) designated the county. A "T" preceded the county number
on plates for trucks.
When they started using the County Code # system in 1930 the 1920 census was used for the 1930 tags.
The County Code # system was always 10yrs behind. The County Code # system worked pretty well because county population
stayed the same thru the 30s until 1941 at the start of WWII. The 1940 tags were issued on the 1930 census. During the
war years (1941-45) the county populations changed wildly. From 1943-46 Sedgwick was #1 except for about 6 months
when Crawford county was #1 (ammo plant). Boeing layoffs after the war made Wyandotte county #1. Sedgwick and Wyandotte
went back and forth being #1 from 1946 through 1949. The newspapers in Wichita and Kansas City had a running fight in
their editorials over who was #1. When the 1950 tags came out with the outdated 1940 census the fight was on.
The DMV never said a word about it.
Starting in 1951, Kansas decided to try something different. On the left-hand side of the plate would be
two letters, one above the other. These would designate the county. The fight over county population ranking was over.
Kansas tags were issued in pairs from 1930 through 1955 except for 1944-45 and 1949. No one knows why in 1949.
In 1971 a third letter was added next to the county pair for automobiles, this would determine when the plate expired.
There were 11 letters chosen, the first letter of your last name determined which initial you got and the plates expired
between the months of February and December -- January was the month trailer tags expired.
For example, my family's car tags had an 'E' on them and expired in May.
Non-commercial (pickup) trucks expired in the same month as the cars but had no expiration date on them, and had "TRUCK"
stamped on most of them. This tradition kept going until 1988, with slight changes during that time.
Over the years Kansas usually issued new plates each year. Some notable exceptions are in 1943, when the 1942 tags got
a "43" tab added to them so precious steel could be saved for the war effort. In 1944, new tags were issued, but were
smaller to save steel. When the new two-letter tags came out in 1951, tabs were used for 1952 and 1953.
In 1976 a few plates were issued in pairs -- something not done since 1955, and still today only done for personalized
plates. Some 1976 Plates were issued in pairs, to registrations through the letter "C". The rest were single plates,
based on a change in the law after plates had been ordered in pairs.
Starting in 1977, stickers were used on auto tags (trucks used stickers starting in 1976), new tags were issued in 1980
for trucks and 1981 for cars, and stickers were used on them. In 1980 or so Personalized (Vanity) plates became available
and were issued in pairs.
In 1983, new plates were issued, but were used along with the 1980/1981 plates until 1988.
Starting in 1989, Kansas abandoned stamping the old two-letter county designator and
the expiration letter into the plates for the three-letter/three-number plate style used in many other states, and the
county designator, month expiration and year were stickers -- this allowed people to move within the state and just get
new stickers for the county and year, plus not having to stock each county with their own personalized plates probably
saved the state a buck or two..
Antique tags were first issued in 1955. Antique tags may be issued for cars 35 years and older. The Antique tag is permanent and not renewed.
The first Antique tags were embossed with Yellow on Dark Blue Plate. Sometime around 79 or so, Antique tags were made with Dark Blue decal print
on white reflective plate. In 2001, you could register a year correct tag for a car that was 35 years or older.
The antique rules applied for these as the state does not send you a renewal every year.
You're on the "honor system" to pay the annual taxes on the car/truck.