Gus Oliver has always been a collector. When he received his grandfather’s license plates from the 1930s, this sparked a lifelong hobby of collecting every imaginable license plate.
Oliver’s main focus was getting a license plate in Oklahoma every year.
“I was struggling to find places to get them,” said Oliver. “Then I found eBay and kind of went wild.”
Oliver’s collection of Oklahoma records is approximately 2,000. That said, after considering new auto dealers, used car dealers, trailer signs, and others every year, you can imagine the numbers piling up. His favorite is a 1930s state vehicle sign with the Oklahoma outline embossed on its face.
“Each of these guys is worth about a hundred years,” said Oliver.
According to Oliver, it had the fourth best collection of license plates in Oklahoma. That was until the man who had the best collection sold Oliver his stash. After that purchase, Oliver began selling license plates in a variety of ways and made even more connections with other collectors.
Oklahoma’s license plate collection is large, but only a small fraction of Oliver’s 25,000 license plates. Storage isn’t a problem as he has filing cabinets, room for license plates on his walls, an 18-foot map of Oklahoma with license plates and license plates on plywood on the wall that he can flip through.
Oliver has a small stand at Willy Nilly Various and Sundry in Van Buren, where he sells his plates.
Oliver has written two books on license plates, including “Oklahoma License Plate History” and a Value Guide for Passenger Plates in the US and Canada.
“I spent a lot of time researching the city and state bylaws and searching archives of newspaper articles, state records, and vintage publications because the history of Oklahoma records was not well documented by early collectors,” he said in his book on Oklahoma.