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1991 Celebrate & Discover Baseplate

Issued August 1991 Through November 2000; Presently Still In Use

 

1991 general-issue passenger car plate no. 504-484
1992 general-issue passenger car plate no. 583-398
1993 general-issue passenger car plate no. 600-114
1991
1992
1993
     
1994 general-issue passenger car plate no. 678-370
1995 general-issue passenger car plate no. 752-375
1996 general-issue passenger car plate no. 802-349
1994
1995
1996
     
1997 general-issue passenger car plate no. 851-903
1997 general-issue passenger car plate no. AD-0687
1997
1997
     
1998 general-issue passenger car plate no. AG-6134
1999 general-issue passenger car plate no. AM-4159
2000 general-issue passenger car plate no. AQ-9490
1998
1999
2000

 

Just the Facts...

Construction

6" x 12", aluminum covered with reflective white sheeting. Issued in pairs.

Design

Red graphics: two horizontal stripes and the D.C. flag in the center.

Period of issuance

Approximately 9 years, from sometime in August 1991 through November 3, 2000.

Period of use

Used continually, if properly revalidated, through the present time.

Non-passenger plates
Examples of a number of types issued on the 1991 baseplate are pictured below.
Other facts
All plates of this base were issued under the staggered system and should therefore include both a month and year sticker. The earliest expiration is likely JUL 92.

The 1991 base includes no permanent year designation and was issued only for new registrations; there was never a general reissuance with this base. General-issue passenger car plates are numbered from 501-751 through somewhere in the 850-000 series, the highest observed number being 853-040. Numbers could have been issued as high as 925-000, but a change in the numbering format was made prior to reaching that point.

In late April 1997 the standard auto plate configuration was changed to two letters followed by four numbers beginning at AA-0000, and the position of the slogan and jurisdiction name was reversed. Although the highest observed number is AY-8223, Celebrate & Discover plates were probably numbered through AY-9999. Click here to see examples of plates of most two-letter series issued from April 1997 through Nov. 2000 and to learn during which months during this period plates of each two-letter series were distributed.

Click on image for caption and credit.At least one unusual manufacturing variety has been identified. Plates 828-734 (issued Nov. 1996) and AB-1634 (issued July 1997) are made with the standard fully-reflective graphic sheeting. However, number AA-4847 (issued June 1997 and pictured below) was made on plain white reflective sheeting, with the graphic elements (Washington, D.C., Celebrate & Discover, the two horizontal red stripes, and the D.C. flag graphic) silk-screen printed. Therefore, these features are not reflective, as they are on plates made with graphic sheeting. If through future inspection it is found that the highest all-number plates were made with graphic sheeting and the lowest AA-series plates were made with plain white sheeting and silk-screened graphics, it will be reasonable to conclude that modified graphic sheeting (with the flag moved to the left) was simply unavailable when the decision to change the numbering format was made. (It is worth mentioning, however, that non-passenger plates made for many years have included the flag offset to the left. Whether the graphic's location on non-passenger plates is the same as required on AB-1234 format auto plates is unknown.)

It appears that dated security marks were replaced with coded ones when this base was introduced. The security mark on plate 583-398, a relatively early 1991 base, is BOR3. Mark codes in this format, three letters (the first of which is always B) followed by the number 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, were used on plates of other jurisdictions, as well. Other coded marks observed are BMH4 (on no. 682-052), BPC2 (720-200), BLN2 (805-541), BAA3 (828-734), BIN2 (AA-4847), BIO2 (AB-1634), and BTR3 (AO-1213). Click here to read about the meaning of these codes.

Optional two-year registrations were first offered in 1992, a change reflected in the following table of reflective stickers issued to validate 1991 baseplates:

   
Period of Issuance
 
Marked
Colors
one-year reg.
two-year reg.
Format(s)
92
red on white
8/91-12/31/91
not available
123-456
93
white on blue
during 1992
not available
123-456
94
white on red
during 1993
during 1992
123-456
95
white on black
during 1994
during 1993
123-456
96
red on white
during 1995
during 1994
123-456
97
white on blue
during 1996
during 1995
123-456
98
white on green
during 1997
during 1996
123-456, AB-1234
99
white on red
during 1998
during 1997
123-456, AB-1234
00
blue on white
during 1999
during 1998
AB-1234
01
yellow on blue
1/1-11/3/00
during 1999
AB-1234
02
red on white
n/a
1/1-11/3/00
AB-1234

Later stickers have been used to revalidate plates of this base until the issuance of plate stickers ceased in 2002.

An early two-letter-prefix 1991 baseplate, no. AA-0753, with faded red graphics
An early two-letter-prefix 1991 baseplate, no. AA-1226, with faded red graphics
An early two-letter-prefix 1991 baseplate, no. AA-1226, with faded red graphics
The earliest auto plates with a two-letter-prefix feature graphics that are silk-screen printed, making them prone to fading after years of exposure to the elements. Numbers AA-0753 and AA-1226 had been in use for about 12 years, and AA-5718 for 17 years, when they were photographed. Note how much more susceptible to this form of deterioration is the red paint compared to the blue.



1991-2000 Registration Numbers

Our assumptions as to general-issue passenger car registration numbers assigned while the 1991 baseplate was being issued, assuming a one-year registration term, are presented in this table.


Period of Issuance
Sticker
Marked
Estimate of
Numbers Assigned

Quantity of Estimated
Assigned Numbers

Aug.-Dec. 1991
92
501-751 to 530-000
28,250
1992
93
530-001 to 590-000
60,000
1993
94
590-001 to 650-000
60,000
1994
95
650-001 to 714-000
64,000
1995
96
714-001 to 776-000
62,000
1996
97
776-001 to 835-000
59,000
1997
98
835-001 to 854-000
AA-0000 to AD-4000
19,000
34,000
1998
99
AD-4001 to AJ-7000
63,000
1999
00
AJ-7001 to AQ-6000
59,000
Jan.-Nov. 2000
01
AQ-6001 to AY-9999
54,000

1991 general-issue passenger car baseplate no. AL-0000


About the Celebrate & Discover Design

The change to the D.C. plate slogan was the result of an advertising campaign that was announced in July 1990. According to a Washington Post article of that month, after sifting through about 5,000 tourism slogan suggestions made by the public, the winner chosen was “Celebrate The City-Discover The World!” The 1991 general-issue passenger car baseplate no. AA-4847announcement was made in conjunction with celebrations planned for the following year, when in September the District would mark its 200th anniversary. (Separate commemorative City Bicentennial graphic plates were offered at an extra cost, and are still in use.) The new slogan was shortened to Celebrate & Discover for use on license plates. “I think we definitely need the new image” said an official of the local convention and visitors bureau. At the time, Mayor Marion Barry was on trial on 14 drug-related charges and the city's high homicide rate was known across the country. Tourism was down 17% in 1989 as compared with the previous year, and industry officials pointed to the city's reputation as a crime capital as having contributed to the change.

 


Retirement of the Earliest 1991 Baseplates

As discussed more fully on our 1984 baseplate page, in April 2016 the DMV replaced all six-number plates still then in use, which include all remaining Capital City plates as well as the earliest Celebrate & Discover plates. Because the switch to general-issue registrations in the AB-1234 format was made in April 1997, the oldest auto plates presently in use are now those with the earliest two-letter combinations, beginning with AA-0000. No 1991 baseplates with all-number combinations should still be in use but when the change was accomplished the DMV allowed motorists to keep their old plates if they wanted them, so it's possible that a few have changed back to their older plates despite the DMV's intention that they no longer be used.

 

All-number plate no. 665-392 reissued on a flat plate made in 2016.
 
All-number plate no. 846-205 reissued on a flat plate made in 2016.
  New flat plates with old all-number registrations appeared suddenly in April 2016 when a concerted replacement effort was undertaken by the DMV. Affected were all remaining six-number plates then still in use, the oldest of which were Capital City plates issued beginning in late 1984. Both of these numbers were originally made on Celebrate and Discover plates. No. 665-392 is an original 1994 registration and no. 846-205 was assigned in 1997.

 


1991 Baseplate Types

Only types of which we have found examples are pictured. Images of plates of additional types will be added to this array as they become available.

1991 base general-issue passenger car plate no. 600-114
1991 base reserved passenger plate no. 725
1991 base personalized plate no. ILOVME
Passenger - General-Issue

Pass. - Reserved Number

Pass. - Personalized
     
1991 base bus plate no. B-38118
1991 base D.C. Government plate no. GT-4048
1991 base hire (taxi) plate no. H-68768
Bus
D.C. Government
Hire (Taxi)
     
1991 base handicapped person plate no. 15522
1990s temporary plate no. DX67844
1991 base sample license plate
Handicapped Person
Temporary
Sample

 






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This page last updated on March 5, 2017

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