Montana Quilters Have Their Own License Plate. And So Does Everyone Else.

The way things look.
June 26 2012 6:25 AM

Montana Quilters Have Their Own License Plate

The curious rise of specialty tags.


America’s highways are like Walt Whitman: They contain multitudes. America’s twin obsessions—being yourself and driving yourself—have given us the Hummer and the Prius, generational tides of nodding dogs and fuzzy dice, the Gucci edition of the AMC Hornet and those 3-inch  by 12-inch windows onto the nebulous depths of our fellow motorists known as bumper stickers. In a culture that celebrates autonomy, self-promotion, and perpetual motion, my car is a song of myself.

Most recently, our penchant for motor-vehicular self-expression has fueled a bumper crop of specialty license plates. Many raise eyebrows—and all raise questions. How did specialty plates get started? Why the recent boom? Who approves the designs? And are they harmless—or yet another symptom of too much pluribus and not enough unum?

Specialty Plates

More in the Design Series:


Mark Vanhoenacker is a writer in New York. Follow him on Twitter.


The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data


The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Oct. 23 2014 3:55 PM Panda Sluggers Democrats are in trouble. Time to bash China.
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 23 2014 1:34 PM Leave Me Be Beneath a Tree: Trunyan Cemetery in Bali
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 4:03 PM You’re Doing It Wrong: Puttanesca Sauce
Oct. 23 2014 4:36 PM Vampire Porn Mindgeek is a cautionary tale of consolidating production and distribution in a single, monopolistic owner.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.