What part do Novelty Signs play in the gift industry, and just what is a novelty item?

Novelties by definition are humorous gift objects which are more often than not, specifically designed to serve no practical purpose, but are sold for their uniqueness, humour, or simply as something new (hence “novelty”, or newness).

Wikipedia tells us that the term encompasses goods such as collectables, gadgets and executive toys, but also applies to items with fanciful additions, such as novelty slippers; fake guns that shoot out a “BANG!” flag or a spinning bow-tie that squirts water. Items are frequently risque, and may have an advertising or promotional purpose, or be a souvenir.

In the world of Dixie Souvenirs & Novelties there are broadly two groups of novelty signs, the first being Novelty Number Plates, which are either Australian or American sizes. They are made of aluminium

Then come Novelty Signs which are either from America or England, of which many are manufactured in China. They are made of aluminium or tin

Licence plates have been around since France introduced them in 1893, and today with the world vehicle population over one billion there are a lot of plates out there!

In America, registered state licence plates were not necessary on the front of a vehicle, and so started a trend whereby people created their own crazy plates for their front end – and so our industry began!

Nowadays there are still 19 U.S. states – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia – that do not require an official front license plate.

Frequently we hear the comment about number plates being made by prison inmates and in many U.S. states they still are, as can be seen on a Michigan Department of Corrections website: http://www.cqql.net/adrian.htm which shows how the factory operates.

Dixie’s supplies of American size novelty number plates are sourced from 4 different manufacturers, each of whom have different specialties, and the end users no longer decorate their cars front ends as much as their dens and man caves.

The American novelty plate craze took off in Australia in the late eighties, and the Australian company named LicenSys http://www.licensys.com/ created a novelty division to supply the market. Licensys was established in the fifties to supply license plates to state governments, and is now the world’s third largest supplier in a highly specialised global industry. The novelty manufacturing division sits alongside the normal state registration plates production line in Brisbane, where a dedicated team produce 1000’s of novelty plates each week, many are sold via PPQ – http://www.ppq.com.au/ who specialise in street legal number plates whereas those that Dixie sell are for decoration only. So we can proudly say that the Aussie novelty plates we sell are 100% Queensland made, as well as being made to the very high standards laid down by state governments.

Novelty Signs were also initiated by the USA and fell into several ‘road related’ categories, so we have “Street Signs”; Arrow Signs”; “Small Parking Signs”; “Large parking Signs and “Circle Signs” – all are aluminium.

In the 1970’s, advertising collectibles were abundant and could be purchased for next to nothing, so another style of Novelty Sign gained popularity whereby many US businesses were spawned where genuine advertising collectibles became popular, largely being traded as ‘antiques’. The 1980’s brought many collectors to this growing phenomena and prices rose drastically, then began manufacturing of ‘artificially aged’ signs. These differed from the ‘road related’ signs as were made from tin.

Both Novelty Number Plates and Novelty Signs have continued in popularity and Dixie alone stocks over 2,500 different designs, and we are one of many suppliers around the globe.

Novelty Number plates are also available as “Custom made” whereby a customer can ‘design your own’ novelty plate or sign, or even Number Plate Frame. These can be ‘one-offs’ or sequentially numbered number plates for rallies or events. These custom mades are perfect for promoting a business, a town or a tourist attraction or to simply show your own personality, creativity and flair.


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