Old Number Ones for sale

After being missing in action for decades and never offered for public auction before, the heritage ‘NSW 1’ number plate has been listed for auction, with bidding already surpassing $10 million. It has been joined by ‘Q1’.

With more than a month until the auction ends, the bid for ‘NSW 1’ has already broken the record for the most expensive number plate to sell in Australia.

In 2017 the NSW single digit plate number ‘4’ sold at auction for a record $2.45 million and the number ‘1’ has already surpassed $10 million. There were only nine of these New South Wales plates ever issued, making them extremely collectible and irreplaceable, as all Australian plates started at the number 1 for each state.

“This is the first time ‘NSW 1’ is being offered via public auction in more than 110 years, creating a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure the most desirable and prestigious number plates in Australia,” said Lee Hames, Chief Operations Officer for Lloyds Auctions.

“Generally, rare heritage plates such as these are passed down through generations within families, so the significance of this 1 in 100-year bidding event is record breaking in itself,” Mr Hames continued.  

“The most expensive plate sold in the world was in 2008, when the United Arab Emirates registration ‘1’ sold for $52.2 million – equivalent to almost A$20.5 million – and with 40 days to go until auction, the NSW plate is over halfway there already,” said Mr Hames.

“We have had many heritage plates achieve record-breaking prices at auction, including Victorian Heritage plate ‘994’ which fetched $391,000 and Victorian plate ‘621’ which sold for $330,000, but this NSW single digit plate is in another league and already sitting at over $10 million,” continued Mr Hames.

The history of the greatest and most sought-after number plates in Australia – ‘NSW 1’ – began with the plates being issued to a vehicle of the State’s first Police Commissioner. It was then passed on to the founding chairman of Australian National Airways, whose wife knocked back an offer of $200,000 back in 1988. When she passed away in 2000, there was hope these extremely rare plates would come to market immediately, but this has only just occurred.



‘Q1’ plates also for auction

Within a day of the current bid for the ‘NSW 1’ plates came the announcement of ‘Q1’ availability, and an early bid of almost $3 million.

The Q1 plates are the very first plates issued in Queensland and have been owned by the current custodian for nearly 40 years. They are believed to have had only two owners in their lifetime.

“This is an extremely rare occurrence for one, let alone two, heritage plates with such history and rarity to be offered at auction ever in a single auction,” said Lee Hames.

“The amount of enquiry from right around the country of people wanting to sell their heritage plates after the ‘NSW 1’ pair was listed is phenomenal and out of that came this ‘Q1’ heritage plate,” said Mr Hames.

According to an article published by Personalised Plates Queensland, the plates were first purchased by James Thomas McGuire, founder of the McGuire hotel empire.

After he died in 1949, his son Richard Kelly McGuire inherited the plates and, 64 years later, they were purchased at the Great Queensland Plate Auction of 1985. They have been held by the current custodian since that time.


These rare heritage plates, among many others listed online, will feature as a part of a Grand Carmada Classic Car Auction on the Australia Day weekend, in January 2024.

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