On Thursdays, I go thrifting and share ideas on Instagram for how to use items from second hand stores in fun and modern ways. Well, this leads to me falling in love with stuff because I take the time to consider how cute they can actually be! Case in point- tourist state plates. I kept seeing them and then figured how to hang state souvenir plates in a way I love so I started collecting them.
Here’s the photo I saw that convinced me to start finding my own collection-
The colors are so fun and don’t look sad or dated at all! I knew I could create a similar wall!
more about souvenir state plates
It took me a few months of collecting before I could hang my own wall of plates. I bought most of mine for $1-$2 at thrift stores. Lately, it’s been harder to find them. In general, thrifting hasn’t been as fruitful for me because it’s still hard to donate items where I thrift. There’s special rules and donations have to be scheduled, so sadly, less things are being dropped off.
BUT instead of complaining about thrifting, I want to tell you about souvenir state plates!
Tourist plates were first created way back in the 1870’s! That’s because cars had been newly invented and all the sudden, travel was accessible for many people. And, or course, bringing a plate from the travel destination was the perfect way to commemorate a trip!
These plates are fun because they represent America’s history with beautiful illustrations of different cities, states, and landmarks. They make a great collection because they’re affordable to buy AND they come in lots of designs and colors so you can find something that matches your space.
state plate manufacturers
Here’s a few popular manufactures of state plates-
Salem China Company
I’ve never focused on collecting from one manufacturer, but that’d be a fun way to do it!
If you’re wanting a book to read more on the history and value of different plates, here’s a few good books-
Buying state plates online is at least $20 per plate with shipping, so I’d probably suggest trying to find them in person unless you find a good deal. If you do search on eBay, I suggest searching for “collective souvenir state plate.” That’ll usually help so you don’t get license plates in the search.
I found a good set from shop goodwill.com and it was $17 for a set of 5 (though 2 arrived broken).
I personally like to collect plates with locations I’ve visited and that have have gold on the edges. The last time I went on an actual trip- in December, I bought a plate to commemorate the trip. I love that I have a few plates that tell about my love for travel!
I thought I’d share 10 ways to hang state plates and then I’ll go deeper into how I hang mine-
- Use a plate hanger ($3 per plate). You can buy these online or buy plates with plate hangers on them thrifting
- Use an adhesive disc hanger ($1.50 per plate)
- Paperclip and hot glue with felt over the bottom of the paperclip.
- Soda can tab with e6000 glue
- Plate rack mounted on the wall ($7.50 per plate)
- Hanging plate easel ($10 per plate)
- Adhesive plate hangers ($.70 per plate)
- Glue a saw tooth hanger to the back of the plate
- Adhesive eye hanger ($1.10 per plate)
- Super glue with D rings- read below for the tutorial!
how I hang souvenir state plates
Lots of state plates will come with a string attached on the back for hanging. If it doesn’t, I like to use super glue to attach a d ring to the back! I bought a pack of 100 d rings for $8 and I keep them on hand so I can add these to plates as my collection grows.
The D ring is nice to use because the ring moves on the base so it makes it easy to pull out and then hang on the nail. But if you have a paper clip or soda can tab, those are free and great alternatives!
Hint- make SURE that the d-ring is centered on the top so that when the plate is hung, it hangs upright.
Next, I put a piece of tape on the back to hold the hanger in place. Super glue takes time to dry and moves easily for up to 12 hours. So the tape keeps it from moving. Let the glue dry overnight before hanging.
Over on Instagram, someone asked me if I was worried about the glue holding, and nope, not at all. I hung plates this way back in December and they’re holding on strong. Plus, I hung a plate wall using this same method years ago, and it worked out great.
And now, use a hammer and nail to put the plate on the wall where wanted. I went for a tight gallery wall hung on an angle. After the plate is hung, I use a little museum wax on the back to help it stay on the wall. That way, if the pantry door is slammed or someone bumps a plate, it doesn’t fall off and break.
I love how kitchy and fun these are! They’re a conversation starter to. Lots of the plates have gorgeous artwork, so it’s fun to look at them closely and dream of traveling again one day!
Update- Here’s the plate wall much more expanded!
Do you collect anything? I’ve loved collecting different things since I was a kid (my sticker collection was epic- lol). I have hoarder tendencies (ha!), so it’s fun to find a way to display them in a fun way.
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