FWIW, California has similar restrictions. It boils down to whether
"restoration to original" is an "alteration", and the real answer is "if
no one can tell the difference, you can't get in trouble". Don't know
about NYS 'tags', but CA will give you a replacement month sticker for a
very nominal fee (they used to be free).
Either Kit Car or Hot Rod ran an article a few years ago about how to
'restore' your license plate, with similar commments.
> As I have looked into "vintage lic. plates" in NY, I was informed that
> you can not do ANY alterations to the plate inorder to ues them on That
> year of car. Also, you must have the "Official" NYS Lic. "tag" in the
> correct upper courner. Got on this info. from Albany, NY (State cap.), I
> do Not understand how this company can legaly (sp) "restore" any NYS
> Lic. becausr of the "tag" issue. Therefore I would be leary of doing
> something without checking it out First with you states Capitial DMV.
> -Cosmo Kramer