The annual Tinchaser’s license plate swap meet in Grimsby is basically the event that marks the putting of my hobby to bed for the winter. Not long after, the snow begins to fly and classic car people shutter their garages and put their show cars on blocks. We license plate collectors put our boxes away and generally confine our search for plates to the warm and dry computer room, where we use eBay to try and nab the next great find… and if it doesn’t appear, we keep looking, all winter long.
I enjoy going to Grimsby, although I do wax nostalgic about the old church on Henry Street in St. Catharines, where our fall meets used to be held. There was something magical about those meets, held in the hall with ceilings as high as the cathedral itself.
This time, the swap meet seemed to have a slightly slimmer turnout than before, but that was probably due to more than a few collectors heading to a big plate auction in Michigan. The hall in Grimsby did not fill up, and there seemed to be fewer trade boxes to paw through and fewer deals to be made. Of all the fall meets I’ve attended, 2010 was probably the smallest for that reason—although Don Goodfellow, our host, did say that there were at least 36 collectors in attendance. Probably more, as there are always a few who forget to sign in.
Although there were fewer people with whom to wheel and deal, I nonetheless did some of both. I had a trade brewing with Dave Steckley for some doctor plates in a run that I obtained back in the summer. Going to Dave were several years of doctor plates from the 1930s and 40s. Coming back to me were a nice pair of 1937 plates, as well a ham radio plate that was embossed on the new veteran base plate – AND it had an embossed crown – AND a short two-letter callsign. I’m holding it in the group picture below.
A new person attended the meet who none of us had ever met before. He brought quite a few old plates in great shape, including 1918 through 1920 Ontario pairs in excellent shape. The price was lower than it might have been, and I was considering taking them, but Terry Ellsworth acted quickly and scored all three sets—which is OK by me, because I’ve scooped him on my fair share of good plates in past years. Terry will give them a good home. I noticed two New Brunswick porcelains with the same number from 1916 and 1917 that were for sale, and when I asked, he gave me a price for both that I couldn’t refuse—and I don’t even collect New Brunswick plates. But I know a good deal when I see one, and I’ll be able to flip them, thereby making my hobby slightly more self-funding.
Bob Cornelius attended the meet and brought a couple of neat plates for show-and-tell. One was the 1967 number 222-222, which he showed me six months earlier in Acton. The other, which I hadn’t seen previously, was 1966 number 333-333. I snapped a picture of both plates together, and boy, do they ever look neat!
Speaking of other show-and-tell plates, Bill Thoman brought a porcelain 1911 Ontario manufacturer plate with the letters EMF. The letters typically stand for the initials of the dealer or manufacturer—in this case, it stands for the names Everett, Metzger, and Flanders. In 1913, this company became Studebaker. According to Bill’s information, it was dug up on some industrial property in Windsor owned by Ford Motor Co. of Canada—apparently, they were ripping up a parking lot and quite a few plates were found buried there. Bill obtained the plate from a Windsor-area seller earlier this year. It no longer has its cobalt blue background colour, but the plate is otherwise in good shape.
I was surprised that more of my doctor plates didn’t sell. Aside from the five years Dave selected, Will Loftus took the 1945, and that was it. Left on the table, unwanted by anyone, was a 1939 reflectorized pair that also came with the lot. They’re in pretty nice shape, so maybe my price was too steep. Or maybe all the folks who would have wanted them were at the big plate auction in Michigan. I still have a 33, 36, 38, 39, 40, and many other years up to 1966.
The night before the swap meet, I made a detour into the Brampton area to buy a batch of plates that belonged to a classic car enthusiast who passed away the month before. He was actually a repeat buyer of some of my YOM pairs. I had arranged with his wife to pick the lot up, with the intent of flipping some of the pairs for the YOM market. The only trouble is that all those lovely mint 1969 pairs out there that had previously been a shoo-in for YOM approval are all on the brink of rejection. As I write this, the highest spotted motorcycle plate is in the 1234L series. Since all these 1969 pairs are between 7200N and 9100N, there’s little time left before new motorcycle registrations consume these number combinations. There were five of these in this lot, which I’ll have to sell as quickly as possible. They’re now posted on my YOM page for $45 per set—a great price, and I’ll assist people in getting them registered before it’s too late. If you know of someone who is looking for a set of 1969 plates to register, send them here… 1969 is about to get a lot harder to find.
The four hours of the Grimsby swap meet came and went in a flash. I didn’t get a chance to talk with everyone—I guess I spent too much time gabbing with other folks and flipping through trade boxes. That’s the way things go when you only have four hours. They go by in a flash! Before you know it, you’re driving home with another meet in the books. And, if it’s your thing, you can look forward to a long cold winter of “license plate hibernation” until we thaw out in Acton next spring—which is happening a week later now, on Sunday May 1, 2011.