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What's new in the last 30 days?
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Plate News — PennDOT has listed 4 new organizational plates. No prototype images yet. The new plates include: Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services; Peace Love Worldwide; Royersford Fire Department (may have plates in use) and Valley Forge Military Academy & College. Check back next week for additional information.
This is a Bronze Star for Valor personalized plate. Judging by the sticker, it's not a recent issue. This plate type dates back to 2012; however the option to personalize such plates did not come about till 2014. According to Tom Perri's website, the current high is 00170H/V. Thanks to Arthur Levine for the photo.
As you may know, Pennsylvania samples are no longer marketed, but it does not mean that they are no longer made. When an organization applies to set up a plate program, and the plate is designed, a very small number of samples are produced for use by the organization. At times some of these sample plates may find their way into the hands of a collector. Thanks to Paul Bagnarol, we have these two Saint Francis University sample photos. The far left plate represents the organizational plates that have been issued over the last several years. The near left plate appears to be a new design. It is unknown if plates with the new design are being issued yet.
Not a new plate, but this International Association of Fire Fighters plate is in near perfect condition. IAFF plates had their start back in 1993 on the yellow on blue base. They have come a long was since then with the current recorded high of P/F06592 and color graphics. Thanks to Devan Ciemiewicz for sharing this plate photo.
Not 1 you see every day. This eye-catching University of Pittsburgh personalized plate was spotted recently by Bruce Sakson. Although it's a little hard to see, the plate does appear to have the small map outline. This plate program came about in 1988 and has gone through several changes dating back to the original Pitt Bicentennial plate.
Here's the latest high number School Bus plate. These plates have had the map outline since at least as far back as SC-83361. The School Bus plate replacement began in June of 2000 on the www base at SC-00000.
This is a 1937 Passenger Sample plate. It is believed that sample plates were produced as early as 1924; however, the earliest photo I have is 1928. The 'shorty' plate shown here measures 6 inches by 12 inches. 1937 was the first year in which the state map outline was used. Thanks to John Willard & John Anshant for the use of the photo.
This is a 1945 Format 9 Passenger plate. It has taken a while to find this plate, possibly because it was the final series of passenger plates for that year. Format 9 consisted of plates from 1AA00 to 9ZZ99 if they were all used; however, according to Eric Tanner's research the series ended at 9SP31. Credit for this photo goes to Alex Zalkin.
Last week I posted a couple of photos of rare double-letter prefix truck plates. These are known to have been used between 1931 and the 1964 - '67 issue. In general the double-letter plates ran from RZ to ZZ for lightest to heaviest classes, with the two letters identifying the vehicle as a 3-axle truck. The plate shown here is a 1934 Class SZ truck. 1934 was also the first year to use the word Truck as part of the legend. Thanks to John Anshant for the use of the photo.
Most of the same description from the above 1934 plate would apply to this plate as well. This being a 1936 UZ weight class truck, therefore this class is several classes heavier that the above plate. Both plates measure 6 inches by 12 inches, and were issued in pairs. I'm sure many of these double letter prefix plates were issued in small numbers and did nor find their way into the hands of collectors. Again thanks to John Anshant for the use of the photo.
Speaking of double-letter prefix truck plates, here's a 1964 - '67 YT Truck plate. It's a 3-axle plate, but it's actually a 3-axle truck tractor plate. Beginning with the 1958 - '63 issue and continuing with the 1964 - '67 issue, there were two new class groupings for 3-axle truck tractor, as shown here, and another grouping for 4-axle trucks. Click the link above to see more detail.
For obvious reasons these Special Event plates are not the most popular tags, nor do they compare well with metallic special event plates that were used at one time. These Lady Keystone Open Golf Tournament were produced for the 1988 and 1994 events and were only valid during the tournament. The source the 1988 plate on the far left is unknown, the 1994 is thanks to John Willard and John Anshant.
The Silver Star Medal is the United States Armed Forces' third-highest personal decoration for valor in combat. This recipient was likely a member of the 101st Airborne Division. These plates have been around since 2012, and so far 53 serial-numbered plates have been issued. Thanks to John Fedorchak for the use of the photo.
This APSCUF sample image was provided to Paul Bagnarol, who forwarded it to me, from the organization. Paul specializes in sample plates. The APSCUF plate program dates back to 2011, but no plates were ever issued until very recently. Upon receiving this photo I checked the plate availability tool which now shows 1 serial numbered plate in use. If you were wondering what APSCUF stands for, it's the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties. Watch for additional sample images by way of Paul Bagnarol in the coming weeks.
This is one of those on-the-fly street shots, where Nick Tsilakis managed to get the number 1 photo of a Rescue Hose Company No. 1 plate. They are located in Greencastle, PA, a little north of Hagerstown, MD. Their plate program dates back to 2016, and so far about 47 serial-numbered plates have been issued.
Here's the number 1 plate of the Rose Tree Fire Company No. 1. These plates have been in use since mid-2016. Plate check indicates that there are 14 such plates in use. This volunteer fire company serves Upper Providence Township near Media, Delaware County. The photo was taken by Eric Thompson and forwarded by Jordan Irazabal.
Here's a new high Apportioned truck plate. Their serial numbers have jumped quite a bit. In June of 2018, plates in the AG-73000 series were then the current high. Now 16 months later the series has advanced some 18-thousand plates. How long till the next plateau of AH-00000 is reached?
When Omnibus plates were reissued back in April of 2000, the serial numbers started at OB-50000 and ran to OB-58999 as the first group. The far left plate represents a high in what I refer to as Format 1. Beginning at OB-59000, the letter I in OMNIBUS was changed to a serif I. This switch from one to the other happened several times over the next few years. The third plate is an example of the first batch of plates following the switch to the visitPA base. The first and the third images are thanks to Alex Wiedlich. The center image is from Clayton Moore.
This is a 1939 Format 8 Passenger plate. Format 8 consisted of the serial progression of AA10 to ZZ999. 4-digit plates measured 6 inches by 10 inches, and 5-digit plates were 6 inches by 12 inches. These plates were issued in pairs. Thanks to eBay user Mintcandy621 for the use of the photo.
This pair of 1944 Passenger plates represents two serial formats. On the far left is a Format 2 plate, which ran from A100 to Z9999. The 4-character plates were 6" x 10", and 5 characters were 6" x 11". The near left plate is a Format 4, which ran from 10A0 to 99Z99, again both 6" x 10" and 6" x 11" sizes were used depending on the number of characters. The far left plate is thanks to Fabboss7 (link to item), and the near left plate is thanks to Respect-History, both are eBay sellers.
As time went on, the thought of finding a plate or even a photographing of one of these early double-letter prefix truck plates seemed less and less likely. Yet here is an original-looking 1932 Class ZZ weight class truck plate. The double-letter prefix also meant that the vehicle had 3 axles. The three-axle plate series went from RZ for the lightest weight class, to ZZ for the heaviest, skipping XZ. This plate measures 6 inches by 15 inches. All such 1932 plates are believed to be 6 characters in length with this series starting at ZZ1-000. Thanks to John Anshant for this photo from his collection.
Next is this 1933 Class SZ weight class truck. Another example of a double-letter prefix, in this case SZ, which would indicate a 3-axle truck, with the S denoting next to the the lightest class. Like the '32 plate above, the 3-axle serials went from RZ to ZZ as the weight classes increased. Truck plates beginning in 1924 and continuing thru 1933 had no legend indentifying the vehicle as a Truck or Commercial rig. Thanks again to John Anshant for this photo from his collection. Look for several more in the upcoming weeks.
Here is a pair of 1955 R-weight class truck plates. You could use the term half-ton pickup truck plates since the R-class represents the lightest weight group. These plates also represent the first and last serial progressions for 1955, making the run of the 6 serial formats complete. The R-series included R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0 and R0A0A. The far left was courtesy of eBay user Nickey2 and the other plate is thanks to eBay user Fabboss7.
The far left Motor Home plate is thanks to Jaska Börner, and shows the highest plate documented so far without the sticker well. The near left plate shows the latest high in the series which has now been using the small map outline since at least HH-73819.
Here is a new high Presque Isle Partnership plate thanks to Mike Russo. Presque Isle is a beautiful park on Lake Erie with a lighthouse. This organizational plate type dates back to 2006. This series has been using the small map outline from an unknown point between 01069P/I and 01120P/I . It is not known if there was a series without the sticker well prior to the map.
This is a recent Rails to Trails Conservancy vanity plate from Brendan Sherry. This plate looks like it does not have a sticker well. It appears that so far the documented numeric high of R/T01507 still has the sticker well. Quite often personalized organizational plates show new features before the standard issue.
This Slippery Rock University plate is thanks to Jonathan Ortmann, and is hot off the press, which would also make this the new high. This is one of those plates that have never transitioned from the www base to the visitPA base. Plates up to S/R00999 are in inventory, so it could take a while.
This University of Michigan tag is another one of those plates that have never transitioned from the www base to the visitPA base. And with plates up to U/M01999 sitting in inventory, it could be a long time. The plate shown here is a new high. This traffic shot was provided by Ryan Battin.
Here's the latest Vertical Motorcycle high plate from Jeff Hinkle. To understand the serial progression, keep in mind that the M and C are part of the serial number but do not advance. Therefore only the 3 characters in between are in play. The numeral in the third position advances first, then the letter in the 4th position moves and finally the letter in the second position will advance last. Confusing — a little, in addition we are not used to reading vertically. As a point of information, there was a total of 1,566 such plates in use at the end of 2018.
Here is a 1938 Format 2 Dealer plate. Format 2 tags had the X in the second position. That format ran from 1X00 to 9X999, and measure 6" by 10" for 4-character plates and 6" by 12" for 5-character plates. Click the link above to see all three formats. Thanks to eBay seller Mollypitcher for the use of the photo. Here is a link to the eBay listing.
Here's a gem from Joe Ritchey, and helps to fill a gap. This is a 1937 Format 2 Motorcycle plate. The first series ran from 1 to 9999, then the alpha-numeric format came into play beginning with A, A1, A2, etc. with the letter always being the last to advance.
Here's a 1953 R0DE0 Truck plate. As you may know, in PA numbers are larger than letters, so the two 0s are actually zeros. It is an R-weight class with this plate being part of serial progression R0AA0. This is a shorty, as all truck plates in 1953 were 6" x 10¼", and were issued as singles. Thanks to Rob Baran for sharing this photo.
This is a 1917 3-Star weight class truck plate. Truck weight classes were designated by the number of stars from 1 to 5, with 5 being the heaviest. All truck plates had a leading S as part of the serial number which likely indicates solid rubber tires. The plate shown here uses the short state name, PA, and 2-digit year, 17; while 3-star plate S6011 used PENNA and 1917 as the legend. This plate measures 6" by 16", while there were also some 14" plates. Thanks to Jeff Francis for the use of this photo. An interesting excerpt from 2017 vehicle records shows that plates S1 to S13 were registered to the Commonwealth of PA, State Highway Dept.
Next is this 1918 2-Star weight class truck plate, also thanks to Jeff Francis. 1918 used the same 1 to 5 star system to show the weight class. This plate has a wide spacing between the C and the serial number. I have not seen this spacing on other '18 truck plates. The C is likely the start of the designation of Commercial; however, the registration records at the time were referred to Solid Tires Motor Vehicles.
Here's a brand new In God We Trust plate from John Fedorchak. Despite its newness, the plate still retains to sticker well. It appears that as many as 5000 of these plates may have been produced prior to the elimination of the sticker well; however time will tell. These plates date back to November of 2014, and are considered an optional plate. Another optional plate is the Teen Driver, and the no-longer-available We The People plate.
The far left Combat Wounded Veteran / Purple Heart plate is a recent acquisition of Devan Ciemiewicz, while the near left plate is the current high and came from Nick Tsilakis via Tom Perri. At first glance these plates may look the same; however, the spacing of the medal from the left margin is different on the two plates, as is the spacing of the stacked P/H. There is also a difference in the legend at the bottom. The far left plate uses a wider font.
This is the first personalized version of a Classic Motorcycle plate spotted. For unknown reasons Antique Motorcycle plates far outnumber Classic Motorcycle plates. As of the end of 2018, there were over 15-thousand Antique Motorcycles, while at the same time there were only 777 Classic Motorcycles.
In spite of their differences, these Antique Motorcycle plates are all still legal. I can't provide a year of issue on the older plates, but they both have wide bolt hole spacing which would have made them 1984 or later, I believe. The 08594 plate is the current high. While these Antique Motorcycle plates are fairly common, the corresponding Classic MC plates are quite rare. The Collectible Motorcycle plate is almost non-existent, with only 1 plate confirmed.
This pair of Municipal Motorcycle plates was recently spotted at the Lansdale Bike Night. They were in use on police motorcycles. The near left plate represents a new high number. In fact the current registered high is MG99E. The plates are expected to switch to the visitPA base at MG00G, but this is unconfirmed.
This is a vanity Person with Disability Motorcycle plate. The PD and wheelchair symbol, which are flat screened, are not part of the registration number; however, the embossed P is part of the number but is a static, non-advancing character. So this limits the plate to three characters for a personalized tag.
Here's another Motorcycle Vanity that uses the letter Q. That letter is never used as part of serial progressions. I thought it would be worth displaying for that reason. This plate dates back to the sticker period, when the MC plate legend was still embossed, whereas later personalized plates use a flat screened legend.
Here is a 1949 Motorcycle plate in use as a YOM plate. Yes, the plate number is registered. This was also spotted at the Lansdale Bike Night. For 1949 MC plates ran from 1 to 9999, then used an alpha-numeric progression starting from A, A1 to A999, and ended in the G-series.
This is a 1929 Trailer plate. The TT prefix was used beginning in 1924 and continuing through 1929. The two photos I have of such plates measure 6 inches by 15 inches; however, it is unknown if plates with fewer characters were shorter. Much early Trailer plate history remains to be recorded. So far I have no photos of Trailer plates from 1920, '22, '23, '24, '27 and '28. If anyone has plates, photos or any other information pertaining to early Trailer plates it would be most appreciated. Thanks to Bob Connison for the photo.
By 1934 Trailer plates received a major facelift. Gone was the T prefix and now the serial formatting used a 1 to 9999 progression, followed by an alpha-numeric format such as A123. In addition, plates had TRAILER spelled out. The 4-digit year was stacked on the left side of the plate and PENNA stacked on the right. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the use of the photo.
This very nice 1952 T Weight Class Truck plate is courtesy of Clayton Moore. For 1952 there was the usual weight classes with prefix designations from R to ZZ. Class T used two serial progressions of T000A and T00A0, of which this plate is part of the second progression. The photo gallery now has examples of both progressions. All '52 Truck plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches.
A number one plate always deserves top billing, and so it is with this Number 1 Christian Homeschool Association of PA, located in Palmyra. This organization has had a plate program since 2008, and according to Tom Perri's PA Plates highs page, the current reported high is 00019H/S. Thanks to Brendan Sherry for the plate photo.
Which is it CHARITY or CHARITIES? The Flyers Wives Charities plate legend started out as plural in 2006, then the singular form was seen in 2017. Recently a new high was spotted and the legend is now plural, again. Thanks to Tom Perri for the far left photo from 2018, and to Jaska Börner for the new high. Anyone know what's going on here?
This is the number 2 plate from the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Company (Butler County). The leading 2 may be confusing if you are not familiar with the organizational numbering system. PennDOT will generally assign a block of 10,000 numbers to an organization. Saxonburg received the 20000 block, after other groups received 00000S/F, 10000S/F, etc. The current high is listed as 20021S/F. The image is thanks to Jonathan Ortmann.
Here's the first image of a personalized Perdue University plate. The sticker would indicate that it's not a new plate. The Purdue plate program dates back to 2006. Purdue, which is located in Indiana, is an example of an out of state organizational plate. PA has about 18 out-of-state college/university plates. Thanks to George Kunsman for the photo.
Here's a recent photo of a Seton Hill University plate. This moves the bar forward as a new high thanks to Bruce Bufalini. Vanity check shows the registered high is now S/H00113. The Seton Hill plate program dates back to 2006, and the facility is located in Greensburg, PA.
Here's a recent photo of a personalized International Association of Fire Fighters plate from Bruce Bufalini. The IAFF plate program dates back to 1993. Legislation in 2014 paved the way for personalized organizational plates. This plate does not have the sticker well; however, the latest plates have the map outline.
This Tall Cedars of Lebanon plate photo represents a new high. The presence of '15 and '17 stickers would suggest that it is not a recent issue. Vanity check indicates that the registered high is now T/C00072. This plate type dates back to 2005. Thanks to Tom Firth for the picture.
Got quite a few motorcycle-related plates at Lansdale Bike Night starting with this new high Moped. Where I live in east-central PA Mopeds are very scarce, and of the approx. 1,500 bikes at Lansdale, this was the only Moped plate I saw. There were some 374,000 motorcycles registered in PA in 2018 and only 2,054 mopeds. Moped plates date back to 1977, with the plates being replaced in April of 2000 and starting new at BA000, today, almost 20 years later, the progression has only reached CF053.
Next in the lineup is this current issue Motorcycle high number. The current serial progression started at 0AA00. As recently mentioned, since the 2000 plate changeover, a number of plate serial progressions have been used starting with AAA00, 0000A, A0000, and finally to the current run of 0AA00. Letter L, is the last character to advance.
The Vertical Motorcycle tag on the far left is also a new high. I don't know if it's the small font or the vertical layout, but I find these plates hard to read. Too much of the plate is white space.
The center and near left plates both have a zero (0) as the 4th character of their registration numbers, but they are not the same character on the plates. Note the correct zero is rounded, while the letter O has square corners. The near-left plate is actually using the letter O in place of the zero. It is not a vanity.
Check back next week for more Motorcycle updates, including Antique, Municipal, Person w/ Disability and Vanity.
The far left plate is a new photo from Bruce Bufalini and represents the highest number spotted on the Format 5 Municipal Government series before the move to the visitPA base with the stacked M/G and the map outline. The M/G9007J plate, which was previously provided by Bill Houser, shows the low on the current series. The transition took place at M/G9000J, and was first seen in February of 2017.
This is a 1948 U-Weight Class Truck plate. For that year, the U Class consisted of these four serial progressions: U000A, U00A0, U0A00 and U00AA, of which the plate shown here is part of the third group. All plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches, and were issued in pairs. Thanks to Pl8source for the use of the photo.
Here is a 1956 R-Weight Class Truck plate. Class R utilized many serial formats including R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0, R0A0A, R00TA and R0000A. Some later plates that year used 1957 dies, and the last serial format in '56 was a 6-character plate using the '57 map base. Thanks to Clayton Moore for the use of the photo.
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John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA