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Australian No. 1 License Plate Set To Sell For Over $6.7M

A "Welcome To New South Wales" alongside a highway

Photo: Maksym Kozlenko / Wikimedia Commons

The No. 1 license plate for the Australian state of New South Wales has gone up for auction for the first time. The leading bid for “NSW 1” is already over the astronomical mark of 10 million Australian dollars (or $6.7 million) with six weeks left. The country’s previous record of AU$2.2 million for the highest-selling license plate has been shattered four times over.

According to Lloyds Australia, license plates were introduced to the country in 1910 after a spat of injury-inducing crashes where no one could be held accountable because the vehicle at fault couldn’t be identified. Each Australian state and territory issued its own plates and initially numbered them in sequential order. The auction house went into further detail about the history of the number one plate in New South Wales:

“It begins when these “NSW 1” plates were issued to a vehicle of the state’s first Police Commissioner. After used by the commissioner, they were then in the 1930s acquired by Sir Frederick Stewart, the successful Newcastle railway man turned bus company owner and founding chairman of Australian National Airways, who before his passing in 1961, had them on his Oldsmobile.

In 1988 his widow, Lady (Majorie) Stewart, is said to have declined an offer of $200,000 for the plates when they were on her 1981 Ford Fairmont LTD. When Lady Stewart passed away in the year 2000, there was great anticipation and hope that the unique plates would come onto the market, but this never eventuated, until now.”

Earlier this year, a new world record was set for a license plate sale when Abu Dhabi’s number seven plate was sold for $15 million. While single-digit plates are absurdly valuable commodities in other parts of the world, it’s rare for them to hit the auction block in Australia because ownership can be privately transferred. License plates can theoretically be passed down via will for generations.


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