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There can only be one number one: 1904 Chicago license plate bearing the number 1 sold for $34,000

At a recent auction held by Donley Auction services the 1904 Chicago license plate bearing the number 1 sold for $34,000.
1904 Chicago license plate bearing the number 1 sold for $34,000 at the Donley Auction Services sale held on Aug. 28, 2022.

1904 Chicago license plate bearing the number 1 sold for $34,000 at the Donley Auction Services sale held on Aug. 28, 2022.

A 1904 Chicago license plate bearing the number 1 sold for $34,000 on Aug. 28, pummeling its pre-sale estimate of $2,000-$4,000. The rare license plate was offered in a sale organized by Donley Auction Services.

The 1904 license plate predated Illinois state license plates and hailed from the first year that the City of Chicago issued a metal license plate. In 1901, Chicago began issuing badges to motorists, and in 1903, it began issuing numbers that motor vehicle owners were to mount to leather or wood themselves, then place on their horseless carriage. In 1904, Chicago began stamping license plates, a short-lived practice that ended in 1907 when the state of Illinois began issuing license plates.

The 1904 plate No. 1 was originally issued to Arthur J. Eddy, a lawyer and early motor car enthusiast in Chicago. He had previously received Chicago license No. 1 in 1900, the city’s very first license, according to the auction company, and helped found the Chicago Auto Show in 1901. In 1902, Eddy became a founding member of the Chicago Motor Club, which would become the AAA Motor Club.

The 1904 No. 1 aluminum license plate measures 6-7/8 inches by 11-7/8 inches and had previously been in the famous Lee Hartung Collection, which RM Auctions dispersed in 2011.

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