I started hunting around and one evening a 1945 plate showed up on Craigslist. The 1945 year was black with white letters and has the distinction of having only one plate instead of two per vehicle issued that year, apparently in order to conserve the metal that had become precious during WWII.
The price of this on was right...a mere $20.00. Some places I had looked online had restored plates that could be up to several hundred dollars so this was a deal. It had belonged to a So California man who apparently kept every license plate he ever had. Upon his death they fell to his grandson who had been selling them off, one by one.
When I picked it up, it looked like this:
It had some bends and crinkles as well as being terribly rusted.
I went to the nearby hardware store (It's a blessing and a curse to have one in such close proximity) and got some paint stripper.
I stripped the paint hoping the rust would come off it as well. Alas, no.
I went back to the hardware store and got some deruster. It took some rust off the first pass...and took a LOT more off the second. I knew it was going to be a quixotic task to try to take off ALL the rust...so I went back to the hardware store.
Anti rust primer wound up being my good friend. I put two coats on and waited a day.
The hardware store by now was getting used to my frequent ins and outs. After consulting with them, they ordered an extra duarable black epoxy spray paint. I put two coats on and had to wait at least 24 hours for each coat to completely cure.
When the black was totally cured I lightly sanded over the letters and the top bar and used a white craft enamel to paint the letters. It may require some slight touchups... but...voila! A restored 1945 license plate!
I need a teardrop icon. :)