Q: I have this nickel-plated brass piece shaped like the number 2. I think it is a 1912 license for a one-horse vehicle. I would like to know more about this piece. Can you tell me why it is shaped like a "2" and who made it?
A: This is a Springfield, Ohio, license plate for a horse-drawn vehicle. For several years, plates in Springfield and some other cities were shaped like the last digit of the year, so your 1912 plate is shaped like a "2." The 1910 plate is an "X" shape, representing the Roman numeral for 10. It was made by Hiss Stamping Co. of Columbus, Ohio. The plate was displayed on the vehicle. License plates are technically "registration" plates, since they indicate that the vehicle is registered and the tax paid, not that the driver has a license. Massachusetts became the first state to require vehicle registration in 1903, when automobiles became popular and money was needed to maintain the roads.