Heritage number plates — the first plates issued in each Australian state and territory — are a highly coveted collector’s item, so it’s no surprise that the first nine, marked with just a single digit, are in the highest demand.
Now, NSW plate no.1 is about to be sold to the highest bidder for more than $10 million, breaking records to become Australia’s “most expensive number plate”.
The plates were last year listed on Lloyds Auctions, marking the first time the plates had been listed for public auction in 110 years.
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Bidding soared to over $10 million within the first 72 hours on the site, where the figure has idled until now, with bidding set to close on January 27.
Lloyds Auctions chief operations officer Lee Hames called the plate a “unicorn” and said the public auction listing was “truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.
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“Generally, rare heritage plates such as these are usually passed down through generations within families,” Hames said.
It was first owned by the state’s first police commissioner, and was then handed over to the founding chairman of Australian National Airways, according to Lloyds.
The numeric-only plates were issued in Australia between 1910 and 1937 and, until 1924, white characters were depicted on a black background, instead of the other way around.
The earliest heritage plates in Australia were issued with white characters on a black background, before the colour scheme was reversed in 1924. Credit: Lloyds Auctions
The collector’s items are internationally sought after, and a no.1 plate registered in the United Arab Emirates sold for $AED52.2 million ($A20.5 million) in 2008.
In Australia, Victorian plates have previously sold for the most eye-watering sums, with plate 994 selling for $391,000, and plate 621 selling for $330,000.
The auction’s close coincides with the Grand Carmada Classic Car Auction and will be featured at the event.