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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 12/4/2016

Here is a pair of U.S. Army Veteran vanity plates.  The TOZ is from Jeff Lawson, and the OIIIO was provided by Ron Lunn.  Any guesses what these mean?

 

 


And another vanity on a U.S. Navy Veteran plate.  This photo was also provided by Jeff Lawson.

 

 

 


This is believed to be the current high Municipal Government plate.  These are used on just about any municipally-owned and county-owned vehicles, except motorcycles that have their own version.  These are considered permanent plates and have no expiration, in fact, some of the 1977 base, blue on white plates are still in use.  There was also a 1971 base that was replaced with the '77 base, click here to see all versions of this plate.

 


Here a first generation Gannon University plate.  These plates made their debut in 1997, but I had no luck in finding a plate or a picture.  I just discovered I had this image for the past 10 months sent to me by George Kunsman.  Sorry George.

 


This very nice 2-digit 1967 Motorcycle Dealer plate was provided by Clayton Moore.  These plates started at 1 and went to 4 digits.  Click the link above to also see the 3- and 4-digit configurations.  In 1967 was the first year for DLR.  Prior to 1967 MCD was used to designate a motorcycle dealer plate all the way back to 1934.  MCD came back into use with the 1999 plate reissue.

 


This week I have a number trailer plate pictures which will finish up all the images that I had pending.  That said, there are still a number of years for which I have no images, and of course there are many years for which different format variations could be added, and as always corrections are welcome.  Needed years still include: 1920, '22, '23, '24, '27, '28 and '32.

This 1930 Trailer plate is a nice example.  No identifying legend, just the 'T' prefix, now used in plate of the previous 'TT' prefix.  It is believed that the sequence ran from T1 to possibly as high as T9999.  This allowed for the plates to be 6" by 12".  This is a John Willard plate.

 


Next in the lineup is this 1931 Trailer plate, very similar size, legend and serial formatting to the plate above.  This is first image of a '31 Trailer plate on this website so the help from John Willard is much appreciated.

 

 


This 1933 Trailer also follows in the footsteps of the plate above with the exception of the plate legend moving back to the top of the plate.

 

 


Finally we're back to plates with the legend TRAILER.  This 1936 Trailer plate is from John Willard.  This new format started in 1934 and continued thru 1937 where the state and the year are displayed in a stacked vertical arrangement along the sides.  The word TRAILER was along the bottom in 1934 and '35.

 


The 1937 Trailer plate, with the exception of the colors being reversed, is the same.  It should be noted that the serial numbers ran from 1 to 9999, then advanced to an alpha-numeric format such as A123.  Again thanks go out to John Willard.

 


The final trailer plate comes from Clayton Moore.  By 1941 Trailer plates had taken on a new look again with the state map outline which started in '38.  Also, the serial format changed from a starting point of 1 to a starting point of 0001 with the use of 4 digits and leading zeros.  The alpha-numeric format as described above was still used.

 


When I took this 1932 plate photo I initially assumed this was another Trailer plate.  Now I am doubtful.  Truck plates also used a T prefix for certain weight classes.  And a certain weight class began at T10-000.  This plate appears more likely to be a Truck.  Currently I don't have an older truck plate section but am in the process of developing one to be added in early 2017.  Thanks to John Willard for this segue into truck plates.

 


 

Posting 12/4/2016

Here's a recently issued Teen Driver plate.  Thanks to Jerry McCoy for the very nice picture.  These have been around since 2013 and yet the 64 plate shown here is the current high.

 

 


A while back vehicle owners who use a device on the rear of the vehicle for carrying a wheelchair or personal assistive device were authorized to be issued two plates since the assistive device and carrier may block visibility of the vehicle mounted plate.  This Disabled Veteran plate is part of this series and uses the DV-79000 number series which separates it from the single plates series which is currently in the DV-36000 series.  The two plate option is also available on Severely Disabled Veteran and Person with Disability registrations.  Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for sharing this find.

 


This is the final installment of Motorbike plates from John Willard, however, this does not suggest that Motorboat plates are finished.  Many plates from the early 1920s until the early 1930s are still needed.

We start with this nice 1945 Motorbike plate.  These plates started at #1 and one source indicates that likely some 2000 plates were issued; however, toward the end of WWII it appears that plate sales rose steadily.  All motorbike plates shown here today are 4½" by 8" in size.

 

 


Next plate in line is this 1946 Motorbike.  For 1946 the formatting remains the same except for color which follows the same scheme as passenger plates.  For '46 some 4000 plates are believed to have been issued.

 

 


And so on with 1947 Motorbike plates.  This '47 plate is one of more than eleven-thousand plates issued.  This of course would mean that upon reaching 9999, the series shifted to A000.   And again this series of photos is thanks to John Willard.

 

 


Here's what looks like a high number compared to the other plates shown.  Actually this 1948 Motorbike plate is one of at least 17,000 plates based the F97 and the G643 plates shown on the gallery page.  Quite an increase — but in the post war years Motorbikes were inexpensive to purchase and economical to operate.

 


This 1949 Motorbike plate represents the final year of production of such plates.  After 1949 Motorbikes would have been issued a motorcycle plate.  It might be worth mentioning that in 1977 PA introduced Moped plates.  A Moped, in my opinion, is a modern-day term for a Motorbike, complete with pedals.  

More kudos to John Willard for his generosity and efforts to gather up and bring so many plates to a meet to be photographed.

 


We shift focus to older Trailer plates beginning with this 1921 Trailer. Trailer plates date back to 1914 and up to 1923 all use the word trailer in their legend and have a T prefix.  The broad spacing of the plate legend forces the plate to be wide.  While it may not be totally accurate, the pixel count shows this plate to measure 6 by 15.65 inches.  Again thanks to John Willard.

 


In 1924 Trailer plates changed to a TT prefix as the T was now reserved for a truck weight class.  Also the legend TRAILER was dropped. The 1925 Trailer plate shown here also uses the TT prefix and has no TRAILER legend. The dimensions appear to be 6 by 15 inches.  This series may have started at TT1, if so the plates were likely 6 by 12 inches.  The original colors were dark blue over yellow.  Thank you John Willard.

 


Next in line is this 1926 Trailer plate.  The TT series ran through 1929, then switched back to the single T again.  Also up through 1926, the letters were the same height as the numbers after which they were smaller.  Thank you John Willard for the opportunity to photograph this plate.

 


 

Posting 11/27/2016

More Emergency Vehicle vanities are coming to the forefront.  Those seen so far have had no keystone and no dash, now this plate has one of each.  Steve Noll passes along this Sellersville Fire Department's Utility 27 plate.

 

 


This vanity version of the Conserve Wild Resources - Otter plate is the first personalized version of this plate photographed on the road.  This scaled down graphic 'family of plates' version was designed to facilitate vanity plates.  This plate was spotted by long time contributor Nick Tsilakis.

 

 


This Press Photographer plate picture was snapped by Jaska Börner and is considered the current high number.  These plates are always issued in pairs; however, not every user mounts the front plate.  Only one validation sticker is issued.  One distinctive feature of these plates is the absence of any kind of identifying plate legend — you might expect the words PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER to be used in place of visitPA.

 


This 7 digit all zeros Passenger vanity was sent by someone named Tom who wished to remain anonymous.  He said PennDOT warned him of possible problems with such a plate as police often use 7 zeros when a plate number is unknown.  He received the plate on a Friday and on Monday he received notices of 16 overdue parking tickets.

 


This is a 1939 Motorbike plate, not to be confused with Motorboat which used MBL as the identifier at the time, and did not use MB until 1955.  A quick refresher — Motorbike plates were issued from 1920 until 1949, while Mororboat plates were issued from 1931 to 1963.  This low number plate is from from John Willard.

 


Next in the sequence is this 1940 Motorbike plate also from John Willard.  Except for the reversal of colors, the '39 plate and the '40 are formatted alike.

 

 


Next in line is this pair of 1942 Motorbike plates with 3-digit and 4-digit formats.  Click the link to also see a 2-digit plate.  Note that in 1942 plates began to display the expiration date in the upper center of the map border.  Again thanks to John Willard for the opportunity to photograph so many plates.

 


The final MB plate this week is this 1944 Motorbike plate, also courtesy of John Willard.  This series started at 1 and is known to go at least as high as 1844.  Unfortunately we don't have good registration numbers on many plate types.

 

 


We shift gears a little and move to a 1939 Motorboat Dealer plate.  These plates were a little odd in terms of size since they fall between motorcycle and standard size.  This plate measures 5⅛" by 9½".  In general Motorboat and Motorboat Dealer plates are similar with the dealer plates having an X prefix.  The Motorboat section of this website has at least one plate for each year issued; unfortunately the same can't be said for Motorboat Dealer plates, with many years still needed.  Thanks to John Willard allowing me to photograph this plate.

 


John Willard dug out a number of older Trailer plates to help fill in some of the gaps.  We're starting with this 1917 Trailer plate.  The colors are white on brown, that's the easy part, plate size is another matter.  According to the pixel count, the plate measures about 6" by 15½", but that size is not a listed for that year. the closest size is 6" by 16".  So I will try reaching out to John.  As for the number issued, that's another mystery since tractors and trailers were counted together, but some 4-thousand plates were issued between the two types.

 


Next is this 1918 Trailer plate from John Willard.  This fills another gap in trailer plates.  These plates were white on black and while there were different plate widths in 1918, I can't say how many trailer plate sizes were used.  This plate appears to be 6" by 13½".

 


 

Posting 11/20/2016

Rescue Hose Company No. 1 of Greencastle, Franklin County, now has, or soon will have, some 32 plates in use.  No photo available yet.

 

 

 


On the far left is a nice example of a traditional Street Rod plate.  These have been around since 1982.  And on the near left is PennDOT's new prototype 'family of plates' replacement — really, I'm not making this up.  Apparently this 'family of plates' thing is some kind of initiative to make every plate type look like every other.  Also the redundant use of Pennsylvania and PA, and Street Rod is a bit much.  The only redeeming feature is that the plate can now be personalized.  By the way the old plates can still be used.  The image of the older plate is from Tom Perri.

 


Spotted this nice Penn State Alumni Association vanity plate in a hospital parking lot.  Penn State Alumni plates are now available in ten other states, as far away as Texas.

 

 


Here's proof that the Fire Fighter plate has finally gone flat, or partially so.  Click the image for a larger view.  It appears that after the fully embossed plates reached FF38699, the series switched to flat screening of the Maltese Cross and the words FIRE FIGHTER.  In my not-so-humble opinion, the switch to a flat screened logo was a perfect opportunity to make the cross resemble the more traditional fire service Maltese Cross instead of electrons spinning around a nucleus. This change will facilitate vanity plates which are now allowed.  This plate image was provided by Daniel Imperial.

 


Here's a new high number Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plate.  These plates cost $56, with part of fee being used by the Game Commission to help fund conservation initiatives.  These plates went into use in late June of 2015.

 

 


Limousine plates set a new high mark.  Bill Stephens shares this photo that he snapped recently.  Limousine plates started at LM-20000 on the www base, then went to the visitPA base at LM-27000, and now have broken 30000.

 

 


This number 1, 1939 Motorcycle Dealer plate is a unique find.  John Willard shared this and the '38 and '40 number 1 motorcycle dealer plates.  Wonder how many dealer plates were issued at the time.  For 1935, the closest year for which I have records, 200 such plates were authorized.

 

 


John Willard also provided this 1940 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  This is the first 1940 motorcycle dealer plate shown on this website, so it helps to fill in a gap.  At this point I still need MCD plates from the following years: 1926, '43 tab, '45 and '46.  The MCD identifier came into use in 1934 and continued thru 1966 after which DLR was used until the www base was issued in 1999 when MCD came back.

 


As mentioned last week I got pictures of the two years for which I had no Tractor photos.  The pictures are from Jake Eckenrode with some help from Tim Gierschick.  This 1927 Tractor plate is a low number and a shorty measuring 6" by 10".   This size was likely used for E+1, 2 or 3 digits, and a 6" by 13" size for E+4 digit plates.

 


This 1932 Tractor plate fills the other year for which there were no pictures.  As mentioned last week the TE prefix was used from 1927 up thru 1933.  This plate shown hers is 6" by 15".  It is unknown if plates with fewer numeric characters were shorter.  Again thanks to Jake Eckenrode with some help from Tim Gierschick for the picture.  There is now at least one, and up to four images, of every year that tractor plates were issued.  This is not to say the project is finished, there are more formatting and size variations.

 


Keeping with last comment above, here is a leading zero 1941 Tractor plate.  At the time all tractor plates were 4 digit, starting at 0001 to possibly 9999.  It is unknown if the series advanced into the A000 series.  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for this tractor plate images.

 

 


The last tractor plate for this week is this 1944 Tractor, another plate with a leading zero.  Like the '41 above all plates were 4 character.  It is unknown when it came into use, but an alpha-numeric format such as A123 was used after the all-numeric high of 9999 was reached.  Again many thanks to Tim Gierschick for this and so many tractor plate images.

 


 

Posting 11/13/2016

                         Veterans Day 11/11/16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Medal of Honor plate is not new.  It's a cameo appearance to honor our military veterans.  The plate was issued to Gino J. Merli for his heroic efforts in World War II.  The Veteran plate was issued to Ned Flynn.

 


Not a good picture, but considering the effort to get it, I'm happy.  These Hearing Impaired plates have always been extremely scarce.  This is not plate 3,114 issued, but rather it's the 114th or 115th, since the starting point was reported to be HE-03000.  There was talk at one time of eliminating this plate type, but are still available.  So far this plate type has not been seen on the visitPA base.  The good news is that they are also available as a vanity plate.

 

 


During the September photo shoot with John Willard, he showed me this 1957 Foreign Consul plate.  I expressed surprise, not being aware that such plates existed in 1957.  I thought 1958 was the first year for such plates following their discontinuation in 1935.  1957 Foreign Consul plates are not listed in the ALPCA Archives, also the passenger series shows the use of two letters followed by 2 or 3 digits.  Can anyone offer more insight into this plate?

 


John Willard was also kind enough to bring out some older motorcycle dealer plates beginning with this 1936 Motorcycle Dealer number 142.  All such plates were either 1, 2 or 3 digits.  This 3-digit plate joins a 2-digit plate '36 MCD plate previously posted.

 

 


The next plate in this series from John Willard is this 2-digit 1937 Motorcycle Dealer.  This plate joins a 3-digit '37 MCD plate previously posted in the plate gallery.  Except for the reversal of colors, the '36 and '37 plates are formatted alike.

 

 


Someone had the foresight way back when to hold on to this #1 1938 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  For 1938 there was one major change and that was the use of the map outline.  It was first used on passenger plates in '37, and then was used across the board in '38.  The map has disappeared from most plates but is still issued on Municipal Motorcycle and possibly Collectible Motorcycle plates.  It is no longer issued, but still in use on some Antique Motorcycle and Classic Motorcycle plates.

 


Are these Press Photographer or Suburban plates?  Yes, they are both.  I guess technically they are Suburban plates with Press Photographer serial numbers.  They would have been used on station wagons owned by press photographers during the period of 1960 to '63.  Another thank you to John Willard doe the opportunity to photograph his plates.

 


Which do you prefer, the natural state, or the restored state?  Both nice plates whatever your preference.  Personally I like both of these 98 year old gems from Tim Gierschick.  It is unknown how many of these 1918 Tractor plates were issued since Tractors and Trailers were lumped together at the time; however, the combination of both types was some 4,300 plates.  These E+3 digit plates are believed to measure 6" by 13½, while the E+4 digit plates are believed to be 6" by 16".

 


The E prefix is the giveaway that this is a Tractor plate.  Click the image open to better see the 1924 plate.  The 'E' was used on the first tractor plates in 1914 up thru 1927.  After that 'TE' was used for several years.  This plate measure 6" x 12" for the E+4 character format, while 6" x 10" bases were used for plates with fewer characters.  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for this photo.

 


This 1931 Tractor was also provided by Tim Gierschick.  The TE prefix became the identifier of tractor plates from 1927 up thru 1933.  TE stood for traction engine — an early term used for tractors.  This series likely ran from TE-1 to at least TE3-066.  This plate measures 6" by 15".  Click the image for a larger view.

 


This nice 1933 Tractor plate also came from Tim Gierschick.  This plate measures 6" by 15" and is the final year for the TE prefix.  Beginning in 1934 all such plates had tractor as part of the legend.

*** Check back next week for 1927 and '32 tractor plate photos that will fill the empty spots for those years. ***  

 


 

 

 

 

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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

 

 

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