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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

License plate collectors to gather in Annandale

If you collect license plates—or just like to look at them—you won’t want to miss the 10th Annual Spring Thaw License Plate Meet and Auction right here in Annandale next month. And if you have any old ones lying around, this might be a good place to turn them into cash.

Jeff Potter, who started the annual event, with fellow collector Bob Hughes, expects about 35 to 40 collectors—including some from out-of-state—at the event, which is sponsored by the Automotive License Plate Collectors Association.

Potter has about 2,000 license plates. He specializes in Virginia specialty plates and is trying to collect every one since the state began issuing them in the late 1980s. He says the plates with military themes are the hardest to come by, as people often keep them as souvenirs.

Very old or rare license plates, like one from Florida with Mickey Mouse commemorating Disney World, could fetch thousands of dollars, says Hughes.

It took Hughes four years to amass a collection of license plate with a low number from every state. He also has a Virginia license plate for every year since the state started issuing them in 1906. For the first four years, the plates didn’t have dates, but collectors can determine their year from the numbers. In 1973, Virginia started issuing dated stickers rather than sending drivers new plates every year.

Other collectors specialize in plates issued to politicians, license plates from other countries, or vanity plates with interesting messages.

The Spring Thaw event will take place March 3, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., at the United Baptist Church, 7100 Columbia Pike, Annandale. It’s $5 per person, $10 if you want a table to display your plates. For more information, call Jeff Potter, 703/346-7200, or Bob Hughes, 703/922-7466,

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