The first official Texas license plates, manufactured by the Adams Stamp and Stationery Company of St. Louis, Missouri, were made of sheet iron featuring white numbers on a dark blue background with a vertically placed “TEX” abbreviation on the right end of the plate. The first 300,000 plates were so heavy they had to be shipped to Austin by train and filled 20 rail cars.
Because these plates were not embossed with a date, each year they required a different validation seal. This seal was separate from the license plate and was displayed on the radiator, bearing the words “Registered Motor Vehicle, Texas” with the date. Radiator seals issued from 1917 through 1919 displayed the Lone Star emblem, which was used almost continuously on license plates to separate characters where desired until the star emblem was replaced by a Texas-shaped divider in 1976.
In 1923, the department discontinued and voided the existing plates and numbering system and each motorist received a new pair of plates at the time of registration featuring the word “TEXAS” and the year of issuance. Motorists received new plates annually featuring an embossed date until 1975.