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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 2/18/2018

We knew that this plate was somewhere in the pipeline.  Now we have a plate to put with the name, that being North Strabane Fire Department, and only a prototype so far.  As of now there are no active plates.  They are located in Strabane Township, adjacent to Canonsburg Borough in Washington County, Pennsylvania, 18 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.  Watch for a couple more new plates in the next couple weeks.


This Honoring Our Veterans vanity plate was recently spotted.  While this plate benefits the Veterans Trust Fund, it is not a veterans' plate, rather it's part of the Special Fund plate series.  This plate type dates back to late 2012 with current serial numbers around 02695H/V.  The small map outline has not been seen yet.  This is the only Special Fund plate available in a Motorcycle format.


Here is a pair of Bronze Star for Valor plates.  Noteworthy here is the presence of a validation sticker on the 00147B/V plate, while the 00167B/V plate has the small map outline.  These originally came out in 2012, and so far only about 170 of these plates have been issued.  The far left plate is courtesy of Jaska Börner, and other image, which is a recent photo, is from Ryan Battin.


Next is this pair of U.S. Marine Corps Veteran plates.  The 13407M/C plate is considered a new high, and was recently spotted by Steve Ondik.  This series started at the 10000 mark back in 2009.  The SMOKEM/C plate is an older photo of a vanity.  That photo is courtesy of Arthur Levine.


This very low number 1927 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  There appears to be different opinions as to the size of low numbered M/C Dealer plates.  This X+2-digit plate measures 4½" by 8".  One thought is that X+1 digit plates measure 4½" by 6".  If this were true, it doesn't seem logical that the 6-inch size would be used for only 9 plates — X1 to X9.  On the other hand, 4½" by 6" Motorcycle plates were issued that year for 1 to 3-digit plates.  Anyone wish to weigh in on this?  This plate is courtesy of ebay user sree5440.


You don't see 'em any nicer than this.  This 1927 Format 6 Passenger plate was a needed image.  Format 6 means the plate is within the series of A10-000 to D99-999, and the 6-characters also means that the plate will measure 6" x 15".  There were also 10" and 13" plates where fewer characters were used.  A plate photo in the A to D999 range is still needed.  The plate is courtesy of Jake Eckenrode.


Here's a 1946 Format 6 Passenger plate.  Format 6 plates ran from 000A0 to 999Z9, with the letter advancing last as always.  All plates for that year were 6 inches by 11 inches, most were 5-character plates but some were 4-character.  This plate and a few others belong to Ray Liller.  If anyone is interested in any of his plates, let me know and I can provide contact information.


This is a 1951 Format 13 passenger plate.  Format 13 plates included the series D000A to P999Z.  It is my belief that the reason this series started at the letter 'D' was because the 'C' series (C123A) would have been reserved for Transit Dealer plates.  1951 is the first year where the series was above 'D' was reserved, meaning A, B and C.  It then continued thru 1956, after which dealer plates went to 6 characters.  This plate is also courtesy of Ray Liller.


Here's a 1955 Format 7 Passenger plate.  Format 7 included plates from 0000A to 9999Z.  All plates measured 6" by 10¼".  There were some 16 formats that year which were probably pushing the limits of what could be done with only 4 and 5 character combinations.  Thanks to Pl8 Source for the use of this image.


This 1955 Format 3 Trailer plate is actually one of 6 different serial progressions used that year.  That may seem like a lot, but all except one of the formats were limited to only 4 characters.  The last of the formats is a 5-digit all numeric arrangement.  All '55 plates measured 6" x 10¼", this being the last year for these short plates.  This very nice plate photo was provided by Steve Ondik.


Posting 2/11/2018

Here's the latest Amateur Radio plate — that term being used interchangeably with Ham Radio.  Note the addition of the small map outline in place of the sticker well.  Aside from those anticipated changes, the plate remains essentially the same as previous plates.  Click Older Plates to see the history of Amateur Radio plates in PA.  This plate image is thanks to Craig Wanner.


This Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue plate was spotted recently.  It's not a new high, but it's close with the current reported high of 00210G/R according to Tom Perri's website.  This plate program dates back to 2013.  This does appear to be an active plate program, and does not require membership as a prerequisite.


This Vietnam Veterans of America organizational plate program dates back to 1992.  The original yellow on blue plates were replaced in 2001 on a number for number basis up to V/N01159.  When new plates were requested after the completion of the replacement process, the number series jumped ahead to V/N02000, creating a two-tiered system, with this plate being the first issued in the higher group.  Since 2005 this organization has also issued a color graphic version for those who wanted them.


This Person With Disability plate photo is the second photo of this plate type with the standard serial number and with the small map outline, the first was seen back in December.  Also a P/D vanity with the map was spotted as far back as last June.  This addition of the map outline took place at 72000PD


Here on the far left is the latest high Official Use plate.  This is part of the group that is issued in pairs for passenger type vehicles.  At some point in the future, this plate type will be redesigned on the visitPA base as depicted in the prototype shown next to it; however, this may not happen until reaching 42000P/A


Click on this 1911 Dealer thumbnail.  This plate may very well be the nicest porcelain plate I've ever seen.  At first I wondered if it was a reproduction, but the rear of the plate showed the Ing-Rich manufacturer's marking.  It measures 6" by 14".  This 108 year old gem was seen at a recent Sporting Collectors Meet in Bellefonte.  Unfortunately I did not get the name of the owner. 


Here's a 1921 Dealer plate.  After 1915 all early plates were steel.  This plate, and all '21 Dealer plates, measured 6-inches by 16-inches.  The colors were black on yellow.  The serial progression that year went from X1 to beyond X11-000.  This plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant.


Here's a needed alpha-numeric 1942 Motorcycle plate.  These came along after the all-numeric series of 1 to 9999 was exhausted.  There was also a third format of 1A00 to 9A99 of which I have never seen.  Thanks to Harry Campbell and Todd Mickinak for allowing me to photograph their plates.


Here's another needed alpha-numeric 1942 Motorcycle plate with a 1943 Motorcycle validation strip.  As you may know, there were no plates stamped 43, so the black on red validation strip was added to a 42 plate for 1943.  I'm guessing that if you registered a new motorcycle or other vehicle for the first time in 1943, you would get a new 1942 plate + the 43 strip.  Again thanks to Harry Campbell & Todd Mickinak.


And another needed alpha-numeric plate.  Like the D806 plate from 1942 above, this 1946 Motorcycle also would have been issued after the all-numeric series of 1 to 9999 had been used.  All of the motorcycle plates shown here and above measure 4½" by 8".  Again many thanks to Harry Campbell and Todd Mickinak for the photo op.


While this 1972 Motorcycle plate appears to be nothing special, it does fill a gap.  Some time ago Harry Campbell and I collaborated on a project to categorize the serial ranges of the 1971 to 76 plate run by material — steel or aluminum, and by reverse paint color — blue or yellow.  The plate shown here is a Format 1B which means it is made of aluminum, and the reverse color is blue.  Again thanks to Harry and Todd.


This 1942 Format 2 Tractor plate represents the alpha-numeric format which was used after the all-numeric format was exhausted.  The numeric series started at 0001 and all plates were 4 characters.  The actual high is not known.  This plate measures 6 inches by 12 inches. Thanks to John Willard and John Anshant for allowing me to photograph their plates.


The final entry this week is a 1951 Format 2 Tractor.  Like the plate above, this also represents the alpha-numeric series which followed the all numeric series, which also started at 0001.  Unlike the plate above, the size had been reduced to 6 inches by 11 inches. Again my thanks to John Willard and John Anshant for the opportunity to photograph their plates.


Posting 2/4/2018

Here's a Flyers Wives Charities vanity plate.  This series of plates which had its start back in December of 2006, has gone thru a couple variations.  The first edition, of which this plate is a part, used Flyers Wives Charities as the plate legend, then came the switch to the singular Flyers Wives Charity.  The sticker well was removed, at or around, the same time.  The next change was the addition of the small map outline.  Not easy to stay on top of all these changes.  Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for the plate photo.


While on the subject of Philly sports teams plates, and with it ironically being Super Bowl Sunday, I received a recent confirmation from Ralph Lindken that the Eagles Youth Partnership license plate program has been discontinued.  I suspected this back in 2016 and now it is confirmed.  This plate type had its start back in 2010, from then until the program ended, about 788 plates were issued.  The plates shown here are not recent photos.  The 00652E/P is thanks to Steve Ondik.


This is the first Trailer plate spotted with small map base and without sticker well.  It is believed that this series started at XKY-0000, after the previous format progressed to XKX-9999.  The small map outline had been previously seen on a Trailer vanity plate, and like other plate types, the vanities hit the street before regular issue.  This plate was spotted by Bruce Bufalini.


This is a 1942 Passenger plate.  For that year there were 10 different plate formats.  This is a Format 4 plate which goes from 10A0 to 99Z99.  That progression includes both 4 and 5 character plates, so 6" x 10" and 6" x 12" sizes were used.  This plate was listed on ebay, and the owner, OldiesMuseum, was kind enough to let me use it.


Next in line is this 1947 Passenger plate.  For that year all passenger plates are believed to be 6" by 11".  This is a Format 8 plate running from AA100 to ZZ999.  This plate is also listed on ebay.  Again many thanks to Make at Pl8 Source for allowing the use of many plate photos.


These 1947 Passenger plates are a Format 2 using the progression A100 to Z9999, and a Format 6 using 000A0 to 999Z9.  The the far left plates is thanks to ebay seller Bigspike5100 and the near left plate is from ebay seller Southernstylenc.


Here's a 4-character 1948 Passenger plate.  This plate is part of Format 5 which consists of plates from 000A to 999Z.  There were 10 different serial formats used that year.  Most '48 plates had 5 characters, however all plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches.  Thanks to atomicamericana for the use of this image.




This 1957 Passenger plate fills the Format 6 gap which includes the series 000A0 to 999Z9.  This leaves one remaining plate format of 00AA to 99ZZ.  1957 had 13 passenger formats consisting of 4, 5 and 6 character.  There also three different serial number fonts used.  More on the fonts in the near future.  This plate photo is courtesy of ebay user SecurityAutoParts.


These 1957 Passenger plates were added as replacement images where the previous photos were of lesser quality.  The NN17 plate is thanks to John Willard and John Anshant, the 51AA9 photo is thanks to Pl8source.


These Temporary Transit cardboard tags are from Steve Ondik.  The far left tag has a handwritten date of 1977, while the other plate has a 1979 date.  The Temp Tags themselves don't correspond directly with a year of issue.  If anyone has early Temp Tags from the 1940s thru the 1990s they would be welcome.


Here's a 1958 Class S Truck plate with a 60 validation sticker.  There were two serial progressions for the S-class including S00-00A, of which this plate is a part, and S00-0A0, a photo of which had been previously posted.  1958 had more truck classes than ever before including, 2 axle, 3 axle, 4 axle and even several classes for truck tractors.  Thanks to Pl8 Source for the use of the image.


Posting 1/28/2018

Most of these Antique Vehicles go into hibernation this time of year, but Bruce Bufalini spotted the latest high on this 1988 Toyota that appears to have survived more than a few Pennsylvania winters.  The current format of Antique Vehicle plates started at 0R00 and signaled the debut of the small map outline, and this format was first spotted on Antique Vehicle plates back on November of 2017.


Here's a recent photo of an American Legion plate that is showing signs of its age.  This number would have been issued originally on the yellow on blue base, and would have been replaced number for number on the www base back on 8/10/2001.  So yes, this plate has been around for a while.  Plates issued after the 2001 replacement process started at A/L02500.


Here is a 1935 Format 6 Passenger plate from eBay seller 1982boova.  The plates are yellow on blue.  Format 6 consists of plates from 0000A to 9999Z all of which are 6" x 12", although some formats with 4-character plates measured 6" X 10".  This 1935 plate is currently up for grabs on eBay as item 192434828273.  Thanks to 1982boova for the use of the photo.


Here is a 1942 Format 7 Passenger plate from eBay seller 1982boova.  This is actually part of a plate pair.  The plates are blue on yellow.  Format 7 consists of plates from 0000A to 9999Z all of which are 6" x 12", although some formats with 4-character plates measured 6" X 10".  This 1942 plate is currently up for grabs on eBay as item 192434825262.  Thanks to 1982boova for the use of the photo.


This week's installment of Snowmobile Dealer plates or stickers are from 2000 and 2001.  The use of these vinyl stickers has been the standard for snowmobile dealers since 1975 up to the present although the most recent one I have is 2005.  These images came from Jeff Lesher.  Hopefully there will be more of these in the future.


While I don't intend to make Temporary plates a high priority, it has been added as a new plate category to the N to Z History Page.  This plate is in nearly-new unused condition.  It measures 6" by 11", along the bottom are spaces for the following data: Issued; Expires; Make; and Serial.  Unfortunately none of these plates are dated, only a hand-written date at the time of issue which this tag does not have. I'm guessing this plate is from the late 1960s.  I do have good photo-documentation of the Temporary Intransit plates from 2000 to today.  Those will be added as time permits. 


This 1951 Tractor plate has been added.  All tractor plates for '51 were four character, which could be all-numeric as shown here, or alpha-numeric such as A123.  Presently I have no alpha-numeric photos.  All plates were 6 inches by 11 inches.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for this photo.



Next is this low number 1953 Format 1 Tractor plate.  Like the '51 plates described above, all '53 plates were also 4 characters.  This is a good example of a low number plate with a leading zero.  The series actually started at 0001.  The one difference between the '51 and '53 is that the size has been reduced to 6" x 10¼".  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the plate photo.


With the two different plate sizes above, why not add a third size with this 1956 Format 1 Tractor plate.  This plate measures 6" by 12" which had become the standard size.  This plate also follows the same serial formatting progressions as the tractor plates above.  Again the image is thanks to Tim Gierschick.


While on the subject of tractor plates here's a nice addition of a 1930 Tractor Dealer plate.  These plates were 6" by 12" with a likely serial progression of TX-1 to TX-99.  Tractor Dealer plate history is very sketchy at best, with plates being scarce or non-existent.  I have little information and no plate photos from 1931 to 1949.  This photo was provided by Tim Birkmire.


Here's a 1938 S-Class Truck plate.  For 1938 there were 4 plate serial number progressions within the S Class, with this plate being part of S000A format.  All truck plates were 5 characters with the weight class designated by the first letter.  Weight classes started with R and went to ZZ, skipping the X. This plate was made available thanks to Pl8 Source.


This 1955 S-Class Truck plate also has 5 characters, but for this year there were 5 plate serial number progressions within the S Class, with this plate being part of S00AA format.  Weight classes again started with R and went to ZZ, skipping the X. Truck plates with a 2-letter prefix are very rare, as 3-axle trucks at the time were much less common.  This plate was made available thanks to from Pl8dog.


Posting 1/21/2018

Per the request of some viewers, the text color has been changed to a more subdued tone for new postings.

Here's the latest high Emergency Vehicle plate spotted.  It appears that the addition of the small map outline came about at EV-71000.  This change has not been seen yet in the lower tier of EV plates currently in the 36000 series.  That group advances much more slowly than the upper tier.  While overhauling the Emergency Vehicle history section, several images were added to the current plate section and a couple were removed.  See updates below.


The Emergency Vehicle History Section has been reorganized and enlarged with the addition of a number of photos, too many to show here.  That section now starts with the EV-10058 shown here, the lowest number EV plate I've seen.  The series started at EV-10000, and 1977 is believed to be the starting year.  That plate is thanks to Steve Ondik.  At EV-15000 the plate colors were reversed as seen in the EV-23280 plate from Jim Moini.  Then for a while the word VEHICLE was pluralized, and later made singular again.  When the plates went to the family of plates / visitPA base they were split into a 2-tiered numbering system.  And today the plate can even be configured as a vanity.


This is a Format 5 1930 Passenger plate.  That progression ran from 000A to 999Z9, so both 4- and 5-character plates were issued.  This plates measures 6 inches by 12 inches; however, there were also 6- by 10-inch tags where the serial number was 4 characters or less.  Thanks to Shane Oake from Australia for the use of this plate photo.


This 1949 Passenger plate is part of the group I call Format 5 which is made up of plates from 0000A to 9999Z.  Some '49 formats include both 4 and 5 character plates, but all are 6 inches by 11 inches, and were issued in pairs.  Thanks much to Shane Oake for the use of this plate photo.



This very nice 1952 Passenger plate photo helps fill the Format 4 gap which consists of 10A0 to 99Z99.  This group is made up of both 4 and 5 character plates.  Early and mid-year plates (Formats 1 to 9) measured 6" x 11", later plates (Formats 10 thru 13) were reduced to 6" x 10¼".  1952 was the first year that PA switched to single plates.  Thanks again to Shane Oake for the use of this plate photo.


Here's a 1953 Passenger 4-character Format 9 plate.  Format 9 consisted of plates from 1AA0 to 9ZZ99.  There were both 4- and 5-character serial combinations; however, regardless of the number of characters, the plates were all 6" x 10¼", and issued as singles.  Thanks to Pl8 Source for the use of this plate photo.


This week's installment of Snowmobile Dealer plates or stickers are from 1992 and 1999.  I've been posting these for the past couple weeks, but if you missed that, these are all 3" by 5" and made of vinyl.  Thanks to Jeff Lesher for the use of his photos.  Check back next week for a couple more.


This trio of Suburban plates has been added to the Suburban History section, which also received a facelift.  Some viewers may be old enough to remember these short-lived plates, with their characteristic 'Q'.  These were used on station wagons at the time, which is almost an archaic term today for a sedan with an extended roofline over a passenger or cargo area.  They also had tailgates in place of a trunk lids.  Today the closest body style would be an SUV or crossover.  These plates were issued from 1960 thru 1964 with sticker renewals, and employed some 8 serial formatting progressions from 4 to 6 characters.  The far left plate is from Pl8 Source, the center plate is thanks to John Willard, and the 4-character plate is from Drew at


These Tractor plates from 1945, 1947 and 1952 were added to the history page.  They don't represent any formatting discoveries but they do provide some added variety to the photo displays.  The '45 plate likely came from ebay some years ago, while the '47 and the '52 plates were from Tim Gierschick.


Here's a welcome addition to the 1924 Truck series with this S-class plate.  Beginning in 1924 the use of the letter truck weight classes came about.  Weight classification system ran from R thru Z, excluding X, and with the letter normally in the prefix position.  There were three different lengths depending on the number of characters on the plate.  This was the largest of the three measuring 6" by 15".  I saw this and a number of other very nice older PA plates on Facebook.  The owner, Shane Oake, from South Australia, was kind enough to let me use some of his plate photos. 


Any guesses?  It's a 1933 T Weight Class Truck.  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for spotting this on ebay, and thanks to the plate owner, Threelabssalvage, for giving me the go-ahead to use the image.  These plates were prison-made, issued in pairs, and measured 6" by 15".  The series format was T10-000.


This 1958 U-Class Truck plate is a welcome addition.  The R to Z weight classification still existed during the '58 to '63 multi-year plate run, although the weight limits themselves had been raised over the years, and additional classifications beyond the Z have been added long ago.  This plate is also thanks to Shane Oake. 



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John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376