Jake Wimberley's License Plates

Mississippi Invert Error

License plates are manufactured in factories just like most consumer products, though perhaps on a smaller scale. (Not all states actually employ prisoners for making plates, though many do.) And just like in any factory, a few mistakes are made in plate factories. Here is such a mistake that managed to escape the scrap heap.

Embossed plates are made by first applying a finish to the base material, cutting out the plate shape, and then forming the embossed parts using heavy dies. The embossed plate would be put through a roller device that would apply paint only to the raised areas. In the case of the plate seen here, the blank plate was put into the press the wrong way, so the state name came out at the bottom with the county name (Panola) embossed over it. The press operator noticed the error and removed the plate before it was passed through the paint roller. Most errors like this would be scrapped and recycled by the manufacturer, but occasionally someone saves one and that is the beginning of the path to the collectors' circuit.

Occasionally invert errors like this don't get caught and make it into the shipments to issuing offices, where they sometimes get issued and used. Some collectors consider these types of errors even more valuable than ones caught at the factory. Other types of errors include mismatched dies, bad paint jobs, and instances where reflective sheeting used as a background does not line up with the plate (relatively common). This plate actually suffers from that condition as well.

Panola is a Choctaw word for cotton. There is also a Panola County, Texas.

last updated 2011.10.24 :: return home