From 1912 to 1920 Ontario’s plates were made of flat metal and didn’t feature any embossed characters. Instead, the plate numbers, year and provincial crest were silk-screened onto the plates. From 1912 to 1916 they had a wire rim to increase rigidity, then in 1917 the province likely switched suppliers and went to a heavier gauge metal plate without a wire rim.
Unlike passenger plates, dealer plates had a unique plate number sequence in order to differentiate them from regular plates. As a hold over from the way dealer plates were issued from 1903 to 1911, dealers in 1912 were able to choose a letter-based plate combination of their liking. These were often initials of the car company, a sole proprietor or dealership. In 1913 the province switched the numbering pattern to an “M” prefix followed by a sequential number. With registrations skyrocketing the province likely found the previous system too onerous and administrative. The “M” prefix was chosen to represent a dual meaning – “Merchant” and “Manufacturer”.
Numbering started at M1 and no more than four digits were required as dealer registrations were very low compared to regular passenger plates. In any given year, no more than approximately 2,700 pairs were made annually (ie: M1 to M2700) as evidenced by the 1918 survivors.
1912 Plates Known: 0
At this time, no 1912 dealer plates are known to have survived. Both the ‘REO’ and ‘WWK’ plates pictured above are the only archival evidence found to date. Additionally, a list of permits registration book has not yet been found for 1912, therefore the origins of the ‘WWK’ plate are unknown.
1913 Plates Known: 0
Similar to above, no 1913 dealer plates have been found thus far. Until very recently it was unknown what year the “M” prefix began as no photo evidence or plate had surfaced. The photo above was found in 2019 and now demonstrates that the ‘M’ series started in 1913.
1914 Plates Known: 3
1915 Plates Known: 2
|1915||M480||Unknown Private Collection||Pictured, page 32 Ontario License Plates – A Century of History by (Sallmen)|
|1915||M809||Patterson Family Collection||Image courtesy of Eric Taylor.|
1916 Plates Known: 5
1917 Plates Known: 3
1918 Plates Known: 8
Beginning in 1918 the word “DEALER” was added to the top of the plates. As a result, the plate numbers were much shorter to accommodate the heading.
1919 Plates Known: 2
|1919||M303||Dave Steckley Collection||Image courtesy of Dave Steckley|
|1919||M774||Unknown Private Collection||Image courtesy of ebay. Sold September, 2019.|
1920 Plates Known: 1
|1920||M1077||Unknown Private Collection||Pictured, page 32 Ontario License Plates – A Century of History by (Sallmen).|