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Pennsylvania License Plate History & Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

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The photos on this website, whether provided by me or other contributors, are intended for use solely on this website, and may not be otherwise used without permission.  This is a reference-only website, no plate sales..


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Posting 1/14/2018

Here's a photo of the latest high Passenger plate.  Thanks to Ryan Battin for the photo.  While I don't track and record highs, I'm usually happy to show them, especially when there has been a large jump in numbers, or when there has been some change in the plate design.  This plate does move the bar forward.  Go to Tom Perri's website (www.paplates.com/) where Tom tracks highs of all PA types.

 


While on the subject of Passenger plates, Arthur Levine sent me a link to a news article from the York Daily Record, "There are over 1,000 banned personalized license plates in PA."  If that link does not work, try the one below.  PennDOT has a team of employees to review plate requests to make sure nothing potentially offensive finds it way to the ass-end of someone's car.  Oops! http://www.ydr.com/story/news/2018/01/11/there-over-1-000-banned-personalized-license-plates-pa-some-pretty-creative/1017795001/
 


Here's a recent street shot of a Distinguished Flying Cross plate.  These plates have been available since 2012.  This plate would be considered the current high.  There is no map outline showing and it appears to me that the sticker well is still there.  This plate was spotted by Jaska Brner.

 


Here's the latest high In God We Trust plate photographed by Bruce BufaliniTom Perri points out that this plate, while being a new reported high, also shows at least 2 stickers.  A vanity check suggests the actual registered high is above 00960.  Another source suggests that plates up to 05000 are sitting in inventory, and were produced well before the sticker well was removed and replaced with the map outline.

 


Here's another traffic shot, this one shows the latest high School Vehicle plate.  These plates differ from School Bus plates in that they may carry no more than 10 passengers including the driver, whereas School Bus plates allow 11 to 72 persons.  Photo courtesy of Jeff Lawson.

Check out the Bus Page to see all of PA's Apportioned Bus, Bus, Mass Transit, School Bus, School Vehicle, Limousine, Omnibus and Taxi registration plates.

 


Here's a 1950 New Car Dealer with the second letter in the 4th position.  The A in the first position is a fixed character and does not advance.  There is always a second alpha character, either in the 5th position as shown in the Dealer History Section, or in the 4th position as shown here.  These letters do advance as part of the serial number.  This plate photo is believed to have come from ebay.  Still needed is a 1950 Used Car Dealer photo.

 


This is a 1956 New Car Dealer plate.  The formatting is similar to the '50 Dealer plate above; however, this plate has the second letter in the final position.  You may also be able to notice that the plates are different widths.  The '50 plate measures 6" by 11", while the 56 plate is 6" by 12" having met the new license plate standard for size.  This plate is courtesy of Jeff Francis.

 


The final dealer plate for this week is this 1962 Used Car Dealer.  Except for the 1942-43 war effort, multi-year plates had their beginning in 1958 and again in 1962.  '62 plates were renewable thru 1963 with a sticker although this plate has no renewal sticker.  Thanks to Jeff Francis for the use of the photo.

 


Here's a 1922 Motorcycle plate.  The plate is the only photo I have of a 5-character M/C plate for '22.  The other plates shown include a 3-character and a 4-character.  Plates from 1000 to 19316 measured 4" by 8", plates from 1 to 999 were 4" by 6".  Thanks to Lou Bodie for sharing this and several other early bike plates.

 


This 5-character 1924 Motorcycle like the plate above also measures 4" by 8" which size also includes 4-character plates.  1- to 3-digit plates measured 4" by 6".  This '24 and the '22 above are both dark blue on yellow.  Thanks to Lou Bodie for sharing these photos.

 


This is not a new photo, but now I can put the name of Lou Bodie as the owner of this very rare 1929 Motorcycle plate.  Being a single digit plate the size is only 4" by 6".  Click the link above to also see 4- and 5-digit plates from 1929 and those measures 4" by 8".  The number of plates issued was likely over thirteen thousand.

 


Here is another grouping of Snowmobile Dealer plates or stickers from 1989, 1990 and 1991.  These are all 3" by 5" and made of vinyl.  Again I want to thank Jeff Lesher for the use of his photos.  Check back next week for additional photos.

 


This R-class 1945 Truck plate has been added.  Plates that year ran the gamut from R-class for the lightest weight trucks to ZZ at the other end for the largest and heaviest trucks.  In addition, the R-class itself utilized four different serial progressions.  The plate shown here is from the first progression which included R000A to R999Z.  The other three classes started at R00A0, R0A00 and R00AA.  Image courtesy of PL8 Source.

 


This 1948 Truck plate represents another R-class tag.  The truck weight classes for '48 were similar to 1945; however, for 1948 additional Class R registrations made it necessary to have 5 different serial progressions.  This plate happens to be part of the fifth progression or R0AA0.  The others included R000A, R00A0, R0A00 and R00AA.  The '45 above and the '48 are both 6" x 11".  Again I appreciate the use of material from PL8 Source

 


After 1951 plates were issued issued as singles.  Also after '51 the plate width was shortened to 10" with the height holding at 6".  This continued until the plate size was standardized in 1956.  Anyway, here is a very well preserved V weight class 1954 Truck plate.  This class in included these serial formats: V000A, V00A0 and V0A00.  Again I appreciate the help from PL8 Source

 


The final plate this week is this 1955 U-class Truck plate.  This was the final year for these short 10" plates.  There were enough registration of this truck class to require 4 serial formats including: U000A, U00A0, U0A00, U00AA, with this plate being part of the second group.  Again I appreciate the help from Mike at PL8 Source

 


Posting 1/7/2018

Plate News — PennDOT is announcing  a new registration plate reissuance program for older Pennsylvania registration plates that may be weathered, damaged, or unreadable.  This process will include standard issue passenger plates starting with ‘D’, ‘E’, ‘F’ and truck plates starting with ‘Y’.  This will be done thru the existing network of agents and dealers that participate in the Online Registration and Online Messenger Programs and will replace the plates when a customer transfers one of the above-configured registration plate.  Thanks to Ryan Battin for the heads up on this plan.

 


The two far left photos show another new type of Department of Transportation Official Use plate.  Compare this plate with the T0026P/A plate on the near left.  These plates have the prefix and suffix letters reversed.  The reason they appear different is that P/A0180T is the format used on commercial vehicles or in this case a front end loader.  The other plate type is issued in pairs for use on passenger vehicles, SUVs, etc.  The P/A0180T plate was recently photographed by Tiger Joe Sallmen in his travels.  The other plate was provided by John Clark and previously posted.  It is believed that other state agencies may eventually opt to have their own official use plates.

 


Pennsylvania has been a tough place for plate spotting this winter with the relentless cold and snow.  Be that as it may, Brian Feil recently spotted this Passenger Vanity with map.  The same rules and restrictions apply to these latest vanities as with previous plates.

 

 


This is a 1947 Miscellaneous Dealer plate with the X identifier in the first position, previously I only had a photo with the X in the second position.  Beginning with 1946 plates there were new Dealer plate series called New Car Dealer and Used Car Dealer, which used an A- and a B-prefix respectively.  Thanks to Mike at PL8 Source for sharing this and many other photos this week.

 


Next in line is this 1951 Miscellaneous Dealer plate.  Like the plate above, this also has the X identifier in the first position, previously I only had a photo with the X in the second position.  For 1951 a photo of a B-series Used Car Dealer is still needed.  Thanks to Jeff Francis for the use of this photo.

 


Here's another Miscellaneous Dealer plate.  This 1954 plate has the X in the second position.  For 1954 plates were 6" by 10".  This small size was used from 1952 to 1955, after which plates were standardized to 6" by 12".  Thanks to Mike at PL8 Source for sharing this photo.

 

 


This 4-digit 1919 Motorcycle plate has been added.  The plate is part of the Format 2 series which ran from 1000 to over 25000.  They measure a familiar 4" by 8".  There was also a Format 1 group starting at 1 and going to 999.  This group measures 4" by 6".  I do not have any photos of this smaller format.  Thanks to Lou Bodie for sharing this photo which was up for grabs on ebay. 

 


Here's a very nice 3-digit 1957 Motorcycle plate that I found in my photo files.  There were basically two formats for '57.  The first went from 1 to 9999.  After reaching that point, the series started with A was authorized to go to Z999.  All plates were 4" by 8".  I do not know where or who the image came from.

 


This Format 3, 5-digit plate makes a nice addition to the 1916 Passenger run.  This 6-inch by 14-inch plate completes the run of all 4 sizes of plates, with the plate series numbers in the display starting at 2 digits and running well into six figures.  Thanks to Josh at JK*Antiques for the use of this plate photo.

 


Up to 1924 passenger plates were all-numeric, but as more and more cars were registered the alpha-numeric format became necessary.  1928 Passenger plates began with single digit plates then after reaching 999-999, the sequence started anew with A or A1 and eventually reached the serial number seen here, and continued on into the E series.  The alpha character was always the last to advance.  This plate measures 6" x 15", and was part of a pair.  Thanks to Mike at PL8 Source for sharing this photo.

 


Next up is this 1932 Passenger plate,  It fills a Format 5 gap which ran from 000A to 999Z9, meaning both 4 and 5-character variations.  The 4-character variation measured 6" x 10", while 5 character plates, as shown here measured 6" x 12".  There were no 6-character plates for 1932 since plates with 2 alpha characters were used averting the need to go to 6 characters.  Thanks to Mike at PL8 Source for sharing this photo.

 


The final passenger plate this week is this very nice 1933 Format 4 plate which is made up of the series 00A to 99Z99.  Again there were both 10-inch and 12-inch plate widths, with all 5-character plates being 12".  Click the link above to see some 1, 2, 3 and 4-character variations.  A Format 8 plate from AA100 to ZZ999 is still needed.  Again many thanks to Mike at PL8 Source for sharing this photo.

 


I saw on ebay that a number of Snowmobile Dealer plates up for grabs, if you want to call them plates.  My section on Snowmobile Dealer plates was kind of weak except for a few years.  1974 was the starting point and the only year that metallic plates were issued, after that year all plates were 3" by 5" vinyl stickers as shown here on these 1996, '97 and '98 plates.  I will have more of these over the next couple weeks.  Thanks to Jeff Lesher for the images.

 


 

Happy New Year


Posting 12/31/2017

Here's the latest Friends of Valley Forge Park plate from fellow ALPCA member Dale Bernecker.  Dale recently received this plate making it the current high.  Interesting that this plate type has been available since 2007 and has so far sold only 89 plates.

 


Here's a recent traffic shot of the latest high Disabled Veteran plate spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  The current format has Disabled Veteran, the state name and the DV- prefix all flat screened, with only the serial number embossed.  Not sure about the presence or absence of a sticker well.

 


This very nice 1935 Format 1 Dealer plate was made available thru the kindness of Mike at PL8 Source.  It measures 6" by 12"; however, there were also plates with X and three or fewer digits that measured 10".  Many of the plates shown here from Mike are up for grabs on ebay.

 

 


Here is a pair of 1936 Dealer plates from PL8 Source with this 10-inch Format 3 on the far left and a 12-inch Format 3 on the near left.  Plates with X and three or fewer digits were 10".  Formats 1, 2 and 3 had the X in the first, second and third positions respectively.

 


Here is a beautifully restored 1937 Dealer plate.  The plate is possibly the highest known '37 Dealer plate with the 'X' in the third position.  Both 10- and 12-inch plates were used depending on the number of characters.  Jeff Francis, as felix1, has this plate for sale on ebay.  He has also give me the OK to use some plate images.

 


Here we have a 1940 Dealer plate with the 'X' in the second position.  The series started with the 'X' in the first position going from X100 to X9999, then 1X00 to 9X999 and finally from 10X0 to 68X47 or above.  The 4-character plates measured 6" by 10", while the 5-character plates were 12".  Thanks to PL8 Source for the use of the plate.

 


This 1974 Used Car Dealer fills a long standing gap.  For some reason this was a tough one to find.  Thanks much to Dave at PlateDog for the use of this and other images.  I now have images of the A, B, C and D-series dealer plates but still need the even more elusive E-series Trailer Dealer plate.

 


Passenger plates for 1956 were interesting in that there were at least 15 formatting variations.  Since plate serial numbers were limited to 5 characters (6 characters began in '57) many different serial combinations of numbers and letters were needed.  The plates shown here represent Format 13 (D000A to P999Z) and Format 14 plates (D00A0 to P99Z9).

 


These two 1957 Passenger plate photos from PL8 Source help fill in Format 4 and Format 7 gaps.  Format 4 ran from 10A0 to 99Z99, and Format 7 ran from 0000A to 9999Z.  This still leaves gaps for Format 6 (000A0 to 999Z9) and Format 10 (00AA to 99ZZ) .  I'm still working on a piece to identify what I believe were three different fonts in use that year.

 


No matter how you look at this 1971 to '76 Bicentennial State plate, it's upside down.  Matt Ciecka passed along this plate photo.  Was this the result of a bad day in the big house, or some inmate not feeling too kindly toward the state?  Or maybe just a mistake?

 


I've been giving various sections of the website a update, and came across this 1920 Tractor plate from Tiger Joe Sallmen.  Tractor plates made their debut in 1914, and for quite a few years used the 'E' prefix which stood for engine or traction engine, an early term for tractor.  It appears that few then 2500 plates were issued for 1920.

 


The plate doesn't use the word TRUCK, but none of them did from 1924 up thru 1933.  The U-prefix is the key to identifying this 1925 Truck plate.  Truck plates used the weight class prefix series of R thru Z, without the X.  Some passenger plates at the same time used a letter prefix, but that series was limited to using A and B.  This photo was posted to Facebook by Tyrone Caldwell and passed on to me by Eric Conner.

 


 

Merry Christmas to all


Posting 12/24/2017

This Appalachian Trail Conservancy plates is hot off the press.  These plates date back to late 2014.  Note this latest plate is without a sticker well and also without the small map.  At this time it is unknown when this change occurred, or when the map might appear.  Thanks to Steve Ondik for the nice image.

 


This Expeditionary Forces Veteran plates is configured as a personalized tag.  It was spotted by Nick Tsilakis.  The 91B30 is a military term.  I tried looking it up but got conflicting descriptions.  There have been a number of iterations of this plate dating back to 1995.  Now we have sequential plates with stickers, personalized plates without sticker wells and without the small map.  Next there will be another group with the small map, I'm sure.  While the tracking of changes is part of what makes the hobby challenging, the apparent inconsistency also borders on annoying.  Just my 2 cents. 

 


These two  Salvage Yard street views represent high number plates and were snapped by Bruce Bufalini and Tom Perri respectively. 

Salvage Yard (history link) plates dates back to about 1984 with several variations of the yellow on blue plates as well as on the www and visitPA bases.  It is still unknown if there was a yellow on blue base after Version 2 which used the standard font for the state name.  If so, it would likely have been above WL-09612, or more likely starting at WL-10000 such as Version 3 of Rep / Ser Towing.

 


Jeff Lawson took this traffic shot of a personalized Person with Disability plate.  The availability of PD plates as vanities has not gone unnoticed.  They are available with from 1 to 5 alpha-numeric characters.  At last count there were almost 100,000 PD plates registered.  It is not know how many are vanities.

 


I think most of us enjoy seeing the oldies still in active use, and so does Bruce Bufalini who spotted this vanity on the road.  This plate would have been issued between 1977 and 1984 making it at least 40 years old.  Note the 5-17 and the 10-96 stickers in the two sticker wells.  If you're wondering how this is done, the registration number, CONKLN, is still current and valid, and likely has been since it was issued.  The state would have re-issued this plate on a newer base, probably www; however, the owner chooses to display the original plate rather then a current CONKLN plate.

 


This 1963 base Motorcycle with a '64 sticker has been added to the Motorcycle History section.  It is a Format 1 plate meaning it is part of the series from 1 to 9999.  There were 5 formatting variations used during that 2-year run.  The photo display is still in need of a Format 3 plate with the series of 0A to 999Z.  This photo is from Chuck Sakryd.

 


These two all-numeric 1965 base Motorcycle plates were undated but could be renewed with validation stickers thru 1970.  These were Format 1 plates which were all numeric starting at 1 and going to 9999.  Thanks to Chuck Sakryd for these and many other plate images.

 


Jeff Hinkle sent this photo of a recently acquired 1971 to '76 Motorcycle base with a 76 sticker.  The plate is a Format 3 version where the serial progression started at 000A0 and went to 999Z9.  The all-zero number give the plate a unique appearance.

 


This is a 1968 issue Official Use plate from Eric Conner.  As mentioned in last week's post these plates could be found on everything from state-owned farm tractors to State Police cruisers.  The '68 base had a very prominent sticker well.  It is unknown if all the plates had 68 etched into the sticker well.  Some plates had permanent stickers applied, as shown here.

 


This is the current high Official Use series for non-commercial vehicles issued in pairs.  At some point in the future this plate is due for a makeover.  The prototype, shown earlier this year, is on the family of plates base as you might expect.  It also has the state coat of arms with the PA stacked in both the prefix and suffix positions depending on use on passenger or commercial type vehicles.

 


The other day I stopped by Collis Truck Parts, a salvage yard, looking for yellow on blue Salvage Yard (WL) plates.  No luck with WL plates, but I did snap this photo of a needed 1954 Format 6 Passenger plate. There were 15 different passenger formats used in '54.  I still need photos of 2 formats.  These include Format 5, from 000A to 999Z, and Format 10 from 00AA to 99ZZ.

 


While doing an overhaul to the Transporter History section these two plates were added.  I'm still at an impasse with early Transporter plates.  The first group had the word TRANSPORTER flat screened.  Later plates had TRANSPORTER and the state name embossed using a sans serif font.  The  question remains as to whether there was a short run of plates using the 'Friend' font as there was with Repair/Service Towing, Repossessor and Salvage Yard plates, which are all part of the same family.  

 


Posting 12/17/2017

The North Strabane Township Volunteer Fire Department is starting a plate program.  They are located southwest of Pittsburgh in Washington County, near the borough of Cannonsburg.  No prototype image is available yet, and no plates are in use yet.  The plate format is likely to be 00000N/S.

 


This is the first photo of a Share the Road plate as a vanity.  These plates had their start in 2016, and the PAPlates.com website shows the latest high as B/K00330.  The expressed purpose of the plate is to have the proceeds go toward maintaining PennDOT's central office position of Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator and funding highway bicycle signage.  Thanks to Arthur Levine for the photo.

 


This Pennsylvania Coal Alliance Inc. plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  It was seen in Indiana County where there are coal mining operations.  So far this is the only under-a-hundred plate photographed.  This plate program dates back to 2017.

 


This National Wild Turkey Federation plate was recently spotted by Jeff Lawson.  I actually see more wild turkeys in my yard than I see these plates on the road.  At the same time the high number of W/T01238 (from PA Plates) suggests that they are not that scarce.  This program dates back to 2002 with no evidence of a move to the graphic base.  Still looking for a sample plate.

 


This is not a repeat from last week, but it might look familiar.  Last week's plate was R/R9J14, while this week we have R/R9J18, making this plate the new high.  The Preserve Our Heritage plate is the sole survivor of the full-size graphic Special Fund plates.  Thank you Steve Ondik for sharing this photo.

 


The old Fire Department plates have not been issued since the mid-1980s, but the exact year is unknown.  They had their start in 1968, although a photograph in an Allentown Fire Department history book shows such a plate in use on a fire that took place in 1961.  I'm now of the opinion that either the date listed is incorrect or the photo was misidentified.  The plate series started at FD-10000 or FD-10001 and the series ran to FD-29999 or close to that number, after which they were replaced by Emergency Vehicle plates.  The low numbered plate shown here was provided by Clayton Moore some time ago.  Note the use of the small keystone separator which was replace by a dash separator near the end of the plate run. 

 


These plates are not the entire history of Mass Transit plates, but they do represent much of it.  The series dates back to 1977 with blue on yellow plates, next came the yellow on blue 1984 base as shown here from Steve Ondik, next was the www base as shown above starting at M/T30000 and and finally the current visitPA base.  Some www plates had the MT in line instead of stacked as shown here.  I don't think the small map outline base has made its debut yet.  A recently spotted ebay plate has helped to refine the transition point from Version 1 (click link above) to Version 2.  Thanks for the tip go to Jordan Irazabal.

 


This is a 1946 Motorcycle, Format 1 plate which includes the series of 1 to 9999.  This plate photo was made available by ebay user luv2wheels a while ago.  I still need a photo of a Format 2 plate which is the alpha-numeric series A to Z999.  The formatting of the 2-digit year, PA and MC have been similarly arranged for many years before and after.

 


Next in line is this 1950 Format 2 Motorcycle plate.  The 3-character plate has a certain appeal over the more common 4-character version.  Format 2 plates run from A to Z999; however, the full series was not needed.  When I asked the owner for permission to use the photo, he suggested I recognize the original owner who was a John Tomlin, and his bike was a 1947 Indian.

 


The final Motorcycle plate this week is this 1955 Format 2.  Like the plate above, Format 2 plates run from A to Z999; however, the full series was not needed. This photo may have come from ebay several years ago.  If the plate happens to be yours, plates let me know so I can credit you.

 

 


This pair of Official Use plates is from Eric Conner.  In PA, the term 'Official Use' or 'Official Use Only' applies to any state-owned vehicle from a State Police vehicle to a PennDOT snow plow truck.  There are also unmarked State Police vehicles and certain executive level vehicles that use standard issue plates.  Only standard issue motorcycle plates are used on state-owned cycles.  The far left plate above was part of the first sequence used from 1967 to '67.  I am hoping to find a photo of a similar vintage plate with the format reversed as 0000-PA.  The blue on white plate series was issued from 1977 to 1984; however, some of these can still be spotted in use, usually in rough shape.  This series from PA-20000 to PA-55999 was likely issued to a truck or commercial type vehicle.  

 


This pair of Repair/Service Towing plates has been added to the history page.  The RS-00348 is a low numbered photo of the earliest series and used a flat screened Rep / Ser Towing tag legend.  The next plate has the Rep/Ser Towing legend embossed but uses the "You've got a friend" font for the state name.  It is also the lowest photo of that second version.  The far left plate was provided by Clayton Moore several years ago, and the RS-02476 plate was provided by Matt Ciecka.

 


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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

 

 

 

 

                  

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