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Supporting the hobby & preserving the history of Pennsylvania License Plates

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

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Posting 11/17/2019

This exceptionally nice street shot was taken by Donald Harman.  While it is not the current high, it is a great image of this latest format Prisoner of War plate.  In speaking with the owner, Donald reports it was suggested that the series would be discontinued by the state.  As long as we place members of the armed forces in harm's way, I would hope we could recognize those who have endured and survived such an extreme hardship.  What a story this recipient must have.


Here's a U.S. Navy Veteran vanity plate.  This plate still retains the sticker well.  The BT2 likely stands for Boiler Technician Petty Officer 2nd Class.  This plate series dates back to 2009, but the vanity option did not become available until later.  Spotted this one myself.


This World War II Veteran plate photo was snapped by Bruce Bufalini, and is also a new high, and much like the POW plate above, very few such plates are issued today.  In fact, plate check indicates that W/W03226 is currently the highest issued plate.  Since this plate has never been updated, it seems logical that this one could be discontinued in the not too distant future.  Same could be said for the Pearl Harbor Survivor plate.


Here's the latest in Emergency Vehicle plates, just arrived this week from PennDOT.  This is part of the upper tier plates that started at EV-50000.  These plates added the map outline at EV-71000.  It's nice to see that everything on these plates but the state is still embossed.  To see the early history on these plates dating back to 1977 click here.


Here is another new high.  This Therapy Dogs United plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  Vanity check shows the registered high as 00063T/D.  This plate still has the sticker well but no evidence of a sticker.  Their plate program was approved in 2010, and the plates still appear to be available.  The organization is located in Erie, PA.


Here is a prototype image of a Tall Cedars of Lebanon plate.  This is a computer generated vinyl image of what the actual plate will look like except for the area where the 5-digit embossed serial number will go.  These are presented to the organization for their approval of the plate design.  The image shown here does not represent a change to the plate.  Thanks to Paul Bagnarol for the image.


Here's the latest sample plate from Virginia Tech, now with the map outline.  Virginia Tech's plate program dates back to 2006, with over 400 serial-numbered plates being issued so far.   Thanks to both Brendan Sherry and Paul Bagnarol for the image.


This is a 1916 Motorcycle plate.  Motorcycle plates were first issued in 1914, even though registrations were required starting in 1910 with homemade plates.  During 1914 and '15, plates were porcelain and used the letter 'O' as the leading character.  This plate had the lower left and right corners snipped.  This was a John Willard & John Anshant plate seen at the recent Nazareth meet.


Here we have a 1935 Trailer Sample and a 1936 Trailer Sample.  They are similar in size at 6 by 12 inches, but have the colors reversed, and the legend rearranged from one year to the next. Samples fill a niche for some collectors, especially early plates.  Both of these photos are from Paul Bagnarol's collection.

—> TRAILER PLATE ALERT!  Still need trailer plate photos for these years: 1920, '22, '23, '24, '27 & '28.  Any help appreciated.


Which plate is more collectible?  The serial numbered 1938 Trailer plates came in two progressions 0001 to 9999 and A000 to Z999 as shown here.  We are fortunate enough to have a sample tag to go along.  The A622 plate is thanks to John Willard and John Anshant.  The sample is thanks to Paul Bagnarol.


This is a 1956 T-Weight Class Truck plate.  Class T used two serial progressions that year — T000A and T00A0.  In 1956 plates were standardized to 6 inches by 12 inches in size.  Thanks to eBay seller Brushcreekstudios for the use of the photo.  Here is a link to the listing if interested.


These are both 1956 W-Weight Class Truck plates.  The far left plate was previously posted, while the near left plate is a new photo.  The reason for showing them both is that the near left plate is a later issue and uses what is frequently referred to as '57 dies.  Note that the plates uses different serial progressions — W000A and W00A0.  Also compare the W on both plates.  The map outline base is also different.  The far left photo was provided by Jeff Lesher, and the near left photo was from Clayton Moore. 


Posting 11/10/2019

Light week, too many other time demands.

For whatever reason I never posted the prototype image on the far left of the Lebanon Valley College graphic plate.  These date back to about 2010.  The sample plate image was provided by the the college to Paul Bagnarol.  I still need a photo of a first generation yellow on blue Lebanon Valley plate.


Yes, this is a Lehigh University Alumni vanity plate — the first one photographed to my knowledge.  It also has the latest feature of the map outline, although this is frequently seen on vanity plates ahead of serial numbered plates.  Lehigh University's plate program dates back to 1988.


This hot-off-the-press Thiel College plate photo was provided by Dale Bernecker.  This plate has now switched to the map base.  The previous reported high was 00126T/C which still had a sticker.  Thiel's plate program dates back to 2013.  The college is located in Greenville, Mercer County.


Couple change are evident on these La Roche plates.  First the logo on the near left plate has new colors, and La Roche College is now La Roche University.  We don't know if plates with the new format are in use yet.  These plates have also been around since 2013.  Thanks to Paul Bagnarol who found this change on their website and shared it with us.


The far left plate appears to be an unused Special Mobile Equipment plate.  This first generation plate with the SME identifier in the prefix position came from Tom Firth.  The near left plate represents the next iteration, with the SME moved to the suffix position.  This plate also helps refine the series high point after which Pennsylvania stopped using the "You've got a friend" font, and changed to block letters.  Click the link above to see more.


On the far left is a rare sample version of a 1938 Official plate.  The near left plate is an issued plate which was previously posted.  The serial numbers appear to be part of a reserve block of numbers from the passenger series.  The range of such numbers is unknown.  Thanks to Paul Bagnarol for the sample, and to Clayton Moore for the issued plate.  


Next are these 1942 Trailer and 1944 Trailer plates.  The 1942 is a Format 3 with the letter in the second position and the series starting at 0A00.  The 1944 plate is a Format 2, which ran from A000 to Z999.  Trailer plates at the time did not exceed 4 characters until 1951 or '52.  Thanks to John Willard and John Anshant for the opportunity to photograph some of their plates.


Posting 11/3/2019

Pennsylvania Monuments - Gettysburg 1863 plates, both standard issue and vanity, seem to be very popular among both collectors, and Gettysburg enthusiasts in general.  These are Special Fund plates intended to support the cleaning, repair and restoration of the Pennsylvania monuments.  They cost $56 with $23 going to the fund, or $108 if the choice is to personalize a plate.  Thank to Bill Ceravola for the photo, and to Arthur Levine for passing it along. 


While the state has not sold sample plates for a number of years, a few manage to find their way into the hands of collectors.  Displaying such a plate is certainly better than being stashed away in a filing cabinet never to see the light of day.  This very nice Heritage Region Jeep Alliance sample was recently posted by Brandon Sowers.  The plate program dates back to 2007, and according to the PA Plates highs website, the high is 00047H/R.


While were are doing samples, we have this Eastern Berks Fire Department plate from their website.  They serve the areas of Bally, Bechtelsville and Barto in Berks County.  Their plate program dates back to 2015 with some 28 serial numbered plates registered.  It appears that their license plates are available to the public to show support - check their website for more information.


On the far left is a personalized Bronze Star plate somewhat hidden behind the West Point plate frame.  This plate has a 5-17 sticker.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.  The other plate is a brand new arrival.  The photo is thanks to Danny Schell.  This plate has the map outline which was first spotted on 00583.  At the recent Dubois plate meet I ran into Bruce, and met Danny Schell in person for the first time.  To the two recipients of the Bronze Star Medal, thank you for your service and your sacrifice.


To the casual observer, it's just another old plate, but to Tim Gierschick, this 1932 Traction Engine (TE) plate was a great find.  Traction Engine is an old, now archaic, term for tractor.  These plates are very sought after by some collectors.  While the serial number may suggest that at least 4,747 plates were made, there is likely only a handful of plates remaining in the hobby today.  These plates measure 6 inches by 15 inches.


This appears to be an unused Transporter plate and was provided by Tom Firth. Transporter plates date back to about 1984; however, this was a much later issue judging by the number and sticker.  The Archives suggests that the series went at least as high as DT-03437. 

Anyone have a yellow on blue Transporter plate or photo where the word Pennsylvania in the Friend font?


This is a pair of 1921 Commercial or Truck plates.  The leading 1, regardless of the number of digits, indicates that these are both Class 1 or Class AA plates.  This also means they are from the lightest weight class truck vehicle.  Both plates measure 6 inches by 16 inches and were issued in pairs.  The far left plate is thanks to eBay user MNTCompany, and the other plate is thanks to Clayton Moore.  To anyone who finds the Commercial plates from 1920 through 1923 interesting, you may wish to read a great article on such plates in the February 2019 issue of ALPCA's Plates Magazine by Rob Baran.


Next is this 1951 Class S Truck plate.  For that year Class S consisted of 5 serial progressions including S000A, S00A0, S0A00, S00AA, S0AA0.  The plate shown here being part of the first group.  Plate measures 6 inches by 11 inches.  Plates were issued in pairs, this being the final year.  Thanks to eBay user Brenstar1 for the photo.


This is a 1955 Class W Truck plate.  For that year Class W consisted of 2 progressions including W000A and W00A0.  The plate shown here being part of the first group.  The plate measures 6 inches by 10 inches.  Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the use of this eBay plate.


Posting 10/27/2019

Last week I mentioned another new plate type — see link to a news article in which the Ridley School District (Delaware County) is offering a license plate as a fund raiser.  Note that the prototype and the sample have the stacked R/D on opposite ends of the serial number.  I'm going to suggest that the sample was made after the prototype, and would be more likely to reflect the production plate.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal, Paul Bagnarol, Daily Times and Ridley's website.


Here is a Gettysburg College sample plate from Paul Bagnarol.  This plate type dates back to 1999 on the yellow on blue base.  Around 2015 a new version of this plate was listed on the visitPA base, as shown here, but unknown when the this version was first issued.  One unique feature of the Gettysburg College plate is that the serial number was always four digits, unlike almost every other organizational plate which uses five digits.


This is a new high number Rosedale Technical College that was recently spotted in traffic by Bruce Bufalini.  Their plate program dates back to 2014 when the plate legend was Rosedale Technical Institute and used a different logo.  In 2016 the legend and logo were changed to the version which is shown here.


Here's another high photo taken on the run.  This St. Vincent Alumni plate photo was provided by Bruce Bufalini.  The St. Vincent plate program dates back to 1992, then reissued on the www base in July of 2001.  Since that time the plate has retained its embossed logo and legend.


Here is yet another high from Bruce Bufalini.  According to the 2018 Annual Report of Registrations, these easily identifiable Person with Disability plates are quite abundant with over 93,000 plates registered.  Philadelphia County has just shy of 20,000 plates, while Cameron County has all of 21 plates.


On the far left is the previous high Special Mobile Equipment plate which I borrowed from Tom Perri's webpage.  On the near left is the new high from Zach Taylor.  The big difference is the addition of the small map outline.  This change likely occurred at D500-SME or D700-SME.


This is a 1944 Format 1 Passenger with a low number 5-digit serial.  This series actually started at 1000, and after reaching 9999, went to 10000.  There were actually 9 serial formats that year.  4 character plates measured 6" by 10", while 5-character plates were 6" by 11".  This photo is courtesy of John Willard and John Anshant.


Next is this pair of 1946 Format 1 Passenger plates, including a 4-digit and a low number 5-digit plate.  The progression was the same at the '44 plate above, but all plates, whether 4 -digit ot 5-digit used a 6" by 11" base.  Thanks to Rob Baran for the far left photo, and to John Willard and John Anshant for the other.


Here is a very nice 1950 Passenger Sample plate, thanks to Devan Ciemiewicz.  For 1950 plates measured 6" by 11" and there were 11 serial progressions used.  I have photos of samples from 1950 almost to the present, but before 1950 I have a handful of images but there are numerous gaps. 


Pennsylvania's Commercial (Truck) plates from 1920 to 1923 are almost like a standalone group in terms of how the weight classifications are designated.  Here we have a 1923 Class 4 or letter class C.  There were eight weight classes from AA to F, however on the plates, the first digit designated the weight class, from 1 to 8.  Here is a link to the item on eBay.  Thanks to Joanne Subeck Crowe for the use of the photo.


The paint may be a little rough, but the plate looks solid.  The real feature of this 1951 Truck plate is the serial number with a 2-letter prefix.  The VZ indicates a 3-axle truck, meaning 1 front axle and 2 rear axles — not the same as today's tri-axle trucks.  The VZ also indicates a mid-weight since the weight classes ran from RZ to ZZ.  These 2-letter prefix truck from 1957 and earlier are very tough to find.  Thanks to John Anshant for the use of the photo.


Posting 10/20/2019

As mentioned last week, there are 4 new organizational plates in the works.  In alphabetical order the first is Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services.  They are headquartered in Pittsburgh.  The plate formatting is expected to be 10000P/M.  No prototype image available yet, and no plates are believed to be in use yet.


The next is Peace Love Worldwide plate.  Again, no plates of this type are in use yet, and no prototype image are available; however, this conceptual plate image came from their website.  The formatting shown in the example, 00000P/L, appears to be correct.


Next is the Royersford Fire Department.  Royersford is a borough in Montgomery County.  The plate formatting is expected to be 00000R/F, and vanity check suggests that there may be a half dozen or so plates on the street.  No photos or prototype images are available yet.


The last of that group of four is a new plate from Valley Forge Military Academy & College.  The graphic rendition of the plate may be close to the real thing, but from what I can determine the formatting is likely to be 30000V/F, as several other organizations already have the V/F suffix.  Also the bottom plate legend would be condensed to fit between where the bolt holes would be.


More Plate News: Here is a link to a news article in which the Ridley School District (Delaware County) is offering a license plate as a fund raiser.  More on this new plate next week, and a prototype image.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal and Paul Bagnarol for the heads up.


This is a new high Share The Road plate which is part of the Special Fund Plate series.  This series had its start in August 2016, and three years later they are still being issued with the sticker well.  This is likely due the initial batches of plates being made with the sticker recess, and the demand for the plates has not used up the inventory.  Watch for a change at B/K00801, or sooner.  Thanks to Bruce Sakson for sharing this new plate..


This may be a new high Permanent Trailer plate.  These plates date back to 1997 on the blue on yellow base.  While they never had stickers, this plate type always had sticker wells.  That was until they were replaced by the map outline around July or August of 2017.


It's hard to believe that these two items share a common lineage.  On the far left is a very nice 4-digit 1954 Motorboat License (MBL) plate.  The photo is courtesy of eBay user Erie Antiques.  On the near left is a photo I took of an awful looking 2009 Boat sticker with 2010 expiration.  It will have to do until a better on comes along.


This is a low number 1942 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  The numerical sequence is believed to have started at 1 and continued until at least 265.  Plates measured 4 inches by 8 inches.  Motorcycle Dealer plates were first issued in 1923.  Thanks to eBay user Jeopardyboy1 for the use of the plate photo.


This low-number 1934 Tractor plate photo is thanks to Tim Gierschick.  The serial range in 1934 started at 1 and extended to at least 4087, and all measured 6 inches by 12 inches.  PA issued tractor plates from 1914 through the 1977 - '83 issue before the series was splitting into Implement of Husbandry and Special Mobile Equipment.


This 1937 ZZ Weight Class truck plate is a continuation of a series of 2-letter prefix truck plates that have been posted here over the past several weeks.  As previously mentioned the 2-letter prefix indicated that the vehicle had a total of 3 axles, with the ZZ prefix making it the heaviest class.  This plate was part of a John Anshant display.


Here is another heavyweight truck plate — this being a 1942 ZZ Class with a '43 tag.  For a number of reasons these 2-letter prefix plates are hard to find, but highly sought after by truck plate collectors.  This plate was also part of a John Anshant display.  If anyone knows of any of these I appreciate hearing.


The final truck plate this week is this 1958 V Weight Class with a '63 validation sticker, and no tab slot.  I had another V-Class truck plate, but this is a much better image.  1958 also saw an expansion in truck plates to include new classes for 3-axle truck tractors and 4-axle trucks.





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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376