Clothing Labels -- RN # and WPL # and CA #

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Clothing Labels -- RN # and WPL # and CA #
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The different clothing labels contain a lot of information. Some, like the RN#, can be helpful in determining the age of a garment. You can also identify the maker or importer of the garment. RN#s may be printed on the care label, or on the maker name label.  CAUTION:  The RN# issue date does not give the manufacture date of the garment.

What is the RN #?
A registered identification number or RN is a number issued by the Federal Trade Commission, upon request, to a business residing in the U.S. that is engaged in the manufacture, importing, distribution, or sale of textile, wool, or fur products. Such businesses are not required to have RNs. They may, however, use the RN in place of a name on the label or tag that is required to be affixed to these products.

WPL numbers were issued from 1941 through 1959 under the Wool Products Labeling Act. WPL numbers begin at 00101 and end at 13669. All numbers issued subsequently are RN numbers.

RN numbers were issued under the Fur Products Labeling Act from 1952 through 1959. These numbers start at 00101 and continue to 04086. Beginning in 1959, all numbers issued are RN under the combined act and commence with 13670. The final number contained in this edition is 112208. Complete rules and regulations under the Wool Act,Fur Act, and the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act can be obtained by writing to Textile Section, Division of Enforcement, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue. NW,Washington, D.C. 20580.
RN and WPL Encyclopedia, with thanks to *fortuna* for obtaining this information.

RN Database
Once you find the RN #, you can look it up on the RN database. The database started August 6, 1998, and that is the default issue date given to all existing RN #s at that time. If you look up the RN # and see an issue date of August 6, 1998, the number was actually issued earlier. Expired numbers were not entered into the database. This is a link to the database:$.startup

You can enter the RN #, or WPL #, and a search will bring up the company that has that number. This is very helpful if you have the RN # and no maker tag. If the company is in the database, you can find out who made or imported the garment. Some older numbers may not appear in the database if they were not current when the database was created.

If you have a maker tag, and you are trying to determine how old the garment is, but you don't have the RN #, you can enter the company name into the database, and, if the company has a number, it will come up with the company name and address.

How to Estimate the RN # Issue Date
Since the database doesn't have the actual issue dates for the numbers before August 6, 1998, how do we determine approximately when the number was issued?

A formula was worked out on the Vintage Clothing & Accessories Board by nouveauarts and me. This works only for the numbers issued since 1959. It was determined that an average of 2635 numbers have been issued per year. The earliest number in the series beginning in 1959 is 13670. The formula is:

Your RN #
-13670 (first RN # in series)
Total #s between the original and yours/2635(average #s issued per year) = # of years since issue date
1959 + # of years since issue date = estimated year of issue

What Does the Estimated Year of Issue Tell You?
This is NOT the date the garment was made.  It is the earliest date the garment could have been made. It is not the date the garment was made because companies may keep the same RN # as long as they are in business. It is helpful if you have something you think may have been made in either the 1960s or the 1980s. If the RN # was issued in the 80s, you can rule out the earlier dates. If it was issued in the 60s, you will need to use other means to determine a date for the garment.

NOTE: If something has an RN # of 13670 or higher, it cannot be older than 1959.

CA #s
The equivalent registration number in Canada is a CA #, and may be researched on the Canadian government site. This is the address:

©2007 Elaine Schuster 3/22/2007

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