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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.

What's new in the last 30 days?

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  2006 Archives (from 7/22/06)

Posting 7/24/2016

Here's an image of the latest high Honoring Our Veterans Motorcycle plate.  As I said in the past, I was happy to see graphic features had finally arrived on motorcycle plates but very disappointed that the wide numeric fonts left so little space for the symbol that it looks like a postage stamp.  They could have done better.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the picture.


This very nice University of Scranton plate image was provided by Steve Ondik.  This series started at U/S10000, and has they have been in the plate business since 1995, and switching to the visitPA base in 2006.



The Kutztown University plate on the far left was a live traffic shot from Steve Ondik.  The plate on the near left was taken by me some months ago.  This is not a new discovery, but look how the number on the near left plate jumps by some 9000 numbers.  It appears that the series went from 01476 to 10477, apparently an error, but now the error continues.  Note, this occurrence is also seen in the Clarion University plates and the Lock Haven University series.


I don't do a lot with Passenger Vanities but thought these were worth posting.  The all-X picture is from Nick Tsilakis, the other, believed to be a phone number, I spotted in traffic recently.  Today the use of vanities has been expanded to allow almost all plates types including Truck, Trailer, Motor Home, Dealer types, Veterans' plates and many more.  There are some weight restrictions.


The current high number Person with Disability is 61759PD according to Tom Perri's website,  Yet here are plates in the 98-thousand series.  Simple explanation — a while back it was authorized that vehicle owners who had a device on the rear of the vehicle for carrying a wheelchair or personal assistive device were authorized to get two plates since the assistive device carrier may block visibility of the vehicle mounted plate.  Click the image of the far left and the second plate can be seen above and behind the other.  The two far left images are courtesy of Nick Tsilakis and near left image is from Bruce Bufalini.

This 2-plate option is also available to users of Disabled Veteran and Severely Disabled Veteran plates beginning at DV-79000 and D/V98000 respectively.  The two-plate option extends to vanities for these two plate classes.


Here the latest high Municipal plate.  This one happens to be on a Ford Explorer Police Interceptor, but these plates can be used on everything from 18-wheelers to fire trucks to street sweepers.  This image was provided by Brendan Sherry.




Here's another gem from Harry Campbell's collection.  This 1936 Motorcycle plate is a great example of the alpha-numeric configuration.  Some 11,900 plates were issued that year so the plate sequence likely extended well into the B series.  1936 plates had embossed borders but they were not painted.  Clink the link above to see 4 examples of '36 plates.


Next we switch focus to dealer plates beginning with this 1955 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  Harry Campbell has been very supportive in helping to fill many gaps in the motorcycle dealer plate series.  I don't believe the MCD plates went to 4 digits until multi-year plates made their debut in the 1958 to '61 run.


This pair of 1966 Motorcycle Dealer plates raised a couple questions.  For starters 1966 plates were supposedly single year plates, since new MCD plates were issued in 1967.  Since new plates were issued in '67, why would some plates be a '66 base with a '67 validation sticker?  We really don't know if the '66 - stickered '67 was renewed for 1967 or if it was issued new in '67.  By comparison, there were 1966 Motor Vehicle Business plates plates issued (or renewed?) with '67, '68 and '69 stickers even though there were plates issued for '67, '68 and '69.


Here are some group displays from Jeff Hinkle.  They are different shots of the same wall display.  Since they show large groupings of plates.  I have not reduced the dimensions of the original images which are 2592 x 1937 pixels, so the expanded image may load slowly.  These images have been added to the Group Displays page.


This is the first image of a 1916 Trailer plate on this website, thanks to Judd Clemens.  Everyone has their own opinion as to whether this plates should be refinished or left in its current state.  Originally this plate would have been black on orange.  It is unknown how many of these plates were issued but the number runs at least to T427.  The size is believed to be 6" x 13"; however, T+1 or 2 digits are believed to be shorter.  If you happen to be a member of ALPCA, there are some additional '16 Trailer plate images in the Archives.



Posting 7/17/2016

This group of newly issued Antique Vehicle plates shows a new format of numbers and letters.  The previous series, after hitting 9ZZ9, moved to the new series seen here beginning at 0A00.  If you attend car shows, you quickly get a sense of how many of these have been issued.  Many more of these are seen in comparison to Classic plates.  According to the 2015 Report of Registrations there were some 162-thousand Antique registrations, compared to 72-thousand Classics.  Street Rod plates have barely exceeded 68-hundred and Collectible Vehicle plates a little more than 16-hundered plates.  Thank to Ryan Battin for the photo.





Here's a pair of Support Your Zoo plates showing the more expensive vanity version taken by Arthur Levine, and the standard issued from Ryan Battin.  Before the changeover to the visitPA base and smaller graphic, these plates were part of the Save Wild Animals series with the tiger and cub.


This plate is not new but the image is.  The older #27 Cetronia Ambulance Corps image was not as clear.  Steve Ondik provided a better image than the one previously posted.  Cetronia's plate program has been around since 2007.  They are located on the west side of Allentown.



Jordan Irazabal spotted this new high number Bus plate. PA currently has five different bus plates types in addition to School Vehicle, Limo and Taxi.  The Bus & Omnibus series have an interesting and somewhat confusing history.



This beat up plate shows a low-number Permanent-Trailer tag on the visitPA base.  These plates switched to the visitPA base at PT-0000L, then after reaching PT-9999Z, the series switched to PT-000A0 as shown here.  This format is not new, having been first seen over a year ago.



Jordan Irazabal also snapped this image of an Expeditionary Forces Veteran plate showing the wide spacing variation between the E/F prefix and the numbers.  This is seen in plates between E/F1000 and E/F1199.



This 1977 base Amateur Radio plate photo was provided by John Fedorchak.  This is not the first appearance of this plate.  Bruce Bufalini also got a traffic shot of this vehicle and plate in 2013.  Considering its age, this plate looks to be in great condition, and it is still a valid registration number.






This week a few more motorcycle plates have been added beginning with this 1928 Motorcycle plate from Harry Campbell.




Next photo in line is this very nice 1929 Motorcycle plate also from Harry Campbell.  This 4-digit plate is shown in the plate gallery with single digit and 5-digit variations.



This very nice 1956 Motorcycle plate comes from Jeff Hinkle.  This three-character alpha-numeric plate would have been issued after the all-numeric series reached 9999.  Click the link above to the photo gallery to see 4 examples of these variations.



1963 signaled a new issue.  The 63 Motorcycle base was issued up thru 1964 with a sticker, and could also be renewed with a sticker.  As a multi-year plate five variations in number and letter formatting were used.   I will have some additional group displays from Jeff Hinkle in the future.



They just don't get any nicer than this 1953 Motorcycle Dealer plate provided by Harry Campbell.  For 1953 it does not appear likely that plates extended beyond 3 digits.  This plate picture helps to fill another gap in the motorcycle dealer plate history.  Check back for some additional plates from Harry over the next few weeks.



Posting 7/10/2016

This high number Geneva College plate was recently spotted on the move by Bruce Bufalini.  Geneva College plates made their debut in 1994 on the yellow on blue base, then to the www base and finally to current version.  The school is located in Beaver Falls which is northwest of Pittsburgh.




This picture-perfect Organ Donors Save Lives plate image was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  The plate is also the new high.




Here's the newest high Combat Infantryman Badge from Jordan Irazabal.  The plate is part of a group of 5 combat related badges, medals and ribbons that came about in 2014.  NOTE: A newer high, 20121C/O was seen by Bruce Bufalini after this page was edited.



This personalized Korean Defense Services Medal plate picture was provided by Matt Boyer.  These plates were introduced in 2010 and allowed to be personalized in 2014.  I'm going to assume the DMZ stands for the Demilitarized Zone.





Here's the latest high Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran plate.  Theses have been around since 2005.  This plate, like several other veterans' plates, has been issued in a two-tiered system.  The lower tier are the under-100 group.  These are also available as personalized plates for an additional fee.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the image.


This trio of plates was provided by Bruce Bufalini and were photographed at recent car shows.  Click on them to see larger images.  They all happen to be new highs.  On the far left is a Street Rod plate, center left is a Classic Vehicle, and on the near left is an Antique Vehicle plate.  So far the Street Rod is the only plate not available as a vanity plate.




This Moped plate image was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  It is the high number spotted on the www series before the it transitioned to the visitPA base at the start of the BN series.




Jeff Hinkle has recently sent a number of current plates photos and some group shots from his collection.  Shown here on the far left and center left are the top and bottom sections of a display wall showing mostly motorcycle plates.  The smaller group of motorcycle plates shows duplicates, possibly resulting from the plates not being properly cut.  I'm hoping to get more group shots from Jeff.  These images have also been placed into the Group Displays page that was started last week.



This near perfect 1970 Used Car Dealer plate is the final installment from Bob Connison.  This plate finishes the run of 1970 dealer plates.  I want to thank Bob for so many older dealer plates.  At this point in time, there are dealer images for every year except 1921 and 1930.  A number of other years have incomplete runs, especially C-series Transit Dealer plates.


This 4-digit 1927 Motorcycle plate has been added to the existing '27 group consisting of a 3-digit and 5-digit plates.  As these were all-numeric, the series ran from 1 to some 14000.  Thanks to Harry Campbell for the plate image. 



Next from Harry Campbell is this 1951 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  This series also started at plate the #1 and continued in the 3-digit series as seen here.




Posting 7/3/2016

To my friends and contributors, I have received so many plate images over the last week or two that I'm not able to post them all.  Too many pictures is a good thing, unfortunately I run out of time before running out of material to post.

New plate on the horizon Communities in Schools Pennsylvania is getting into the organizational plate business.  They describe themselves as "a nationwide network of passionate professionals working in public schools to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life."  There is no indication that the plates are available yet.


Here's the first image of an Arizona State University plate from Jeff Lawson.




Drexel University Alumni plates are no longer available.  Drexel discontinued their participation in the program.  Plates reached a high of D/U41699.  Their number block began at D/U40000, and the program dated back to 1992.  Thanks to Matt Boyer for the tip.  In other plate news, the Fire Fighter plate is now available to be personalized.


LEGISLATIVE NEWS - Senate Bill 1155 has seen final passage by the House on 7/1/16.  The bill is xpected to be presented to the Governor for his signature.  The bill establishes a special vehicle license plate for members of the United States Armed Forces.


This is the first image of a Combat Medical Badge.  I wasn't sure what it was when I first spotted it.  About 20 of these plates have been issued so far.  According to Wikipedia, it's "an award of the United States Army which was first created in January 1945. Any member of the Army Medical Department, at the rank of Colonel or below, who is assigned or attached to a ground Combat Arms unit of brigade or smaller size which provides medical support during any period in which the unit was engaged in active ground combat is eligible.


The U.S. Congress plate is one of Pennsylvania's rarest plates.  Since these plates were re-issued on the www base only 4 such plates have been photographed.  In fact the plate shown here is formatted differently than the others where there is a separation between the number and U/SC.  It is unknown how many have been issued since many members of congress choose not to use them.  PA currently has 18 districts; however, there were 21 districts prior to the 2010 census.  In a related matter, there are no PA U.S. Senator plates in use at the present time.  The person providing this picture wished to remain anonymous.


Yes, the license plate is striking but so is the car.  This BMW I8 has a $140-thousand plus price tag.  For that you get an electric motor and an internal combustion engine that work together to push this thing from 0 to 60 in just over 4 seconds and can get 76 MPG.  Anyway thanks to Bruce Bufalini for sharing these images including this personalized version of a Mario Lemieux Foundation plate.


This very nice #1 vanity Pennsylvania Monuments - Gettysburg 1863 plate was recently spotted by Kyle Kuser.  Great find.




Here's a new high Motor Home plate spotted by Jordan Irazabal.




I recently added a page called Motorcycle Plate Displays showing groups of plates, and there was an older page called Sample Plate Displays.  The common theme of these pages is that the plates were shown as groups, usually mounted on a wall, display board, or laid out together.  These pages are being combined into one page called Group Displays.  Also a new group of '77 base passenger plates which are almost all sequential starting at 001-CNG and running to 065-CNG.  Click the link to see the series of images provide by Sarge at Klassy Karz.  To my knowledge PA never issued '77-base plates with a series of 3 numbers followed by 3 letters.  In addition Sarge suggests that these could have been possibly intended for a fleet of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles.  One of the plates has a 5-85 sticker.  Does anyone have any knowledge of these plate?  Watch for additional groups to be added as time permits.



This is not a new high but it is an excellent image of an ATV Class 2 plate.  These plates are motorcycle size and are issued by DCNR (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) not by PennDOT. The image was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  Click the link for more image displays and information.


Thanks again to Bob Connison for helping to fill a couple more gaps with these 1969 New Car Dealer (A-series) and Used Car Dealer (B-series) plates.



This nice 4-digit 1926 Motorcycle plate was provided by Harry Campbell.  Click the link to see a 5-digit plate.  The series began at #1 and ran to some 14-thousand plates.  Plate size depended on the number of digits and were either 4" by 6" for 2 and 3-digit plates, and 4" by 8" for 4 and 5-digit plates.  Single digit plates were likely 6".


Harry Campbell is also helping fill some of the dealer plate gaps with this very nice 1950 Motorcycle Dealer.  I don't know how many dealer plates were issued but I don't think 4-digit plates were needed until multi-year plates were issued starting in 1958 to '61 run.




Posting 6/26/2016

Jeff Lawson spotted this 63 split window Corvette coupe with matching vanity Classic Vehicle plate at a recent Corvette meet.




Also from Jeff Lawson is this 50th anniversary Corvette also with a matching U.S. Army Veteran plate.




Here's a vanity version of a Northampton Fire Department special organization.  The 42 is the station number and the 91 indicates the position or rank of the fire officer.  The 90 series is fire police.



Here's the latest Salvage Yard high spotted at a recent antique truck show.  I never understood the connection between the prefix WL and the term salvage yard.



Bruce Bufalini recently spotted this new graphic style Prisoner of War plate on the street.  This new design dates back almost 3 years but so few of these plates are issued today that they are seldom seen.  Just guessing that most are probably re-issues rather than new issues.  Anyway, the most recent issue (high) spotted on the original base was POW-V67 according to Tom Perri's website.



Jeff Lawson shared this low number International Brotherhood of Boilermakers picture.  These plates have been on the street since 2012 with about 80 plates having been issued.



Eric Conner recently acquired this 1963 Governor's Inauguration plate.  '63 was the fist year for Inaugural plates and they were reportedly issued to vehicle dealers who had cars in the inaugural parade.  Eric, who specializes in 'PA Politicals', indicates that there were fewer than 100 such plates issued.  Such plates are considered special event plates and normally have a limited period of validity.


Jim McDevitt sent me this novelty vanity plate he spotted recently in Philadelphia.  A few weeks back I posted a couple others, click the link above to see the others.



Jeff Lawson sent this image of a first generation Implement of Husbandry plate.  These plates date back to 1984 after Tractor plates were discontinued.  Tractor plates were replaced by Implement of Husbandry plates for farm use, and Special Mobile Equipment plates for industrial and construction vehicles.  Of course today Implement of Husbandry plates can also be used on farm machinery other than tractors including vehicles that are not self-propelled; however, they are almost never seen.  The good news is that several of these plates are known to exist within the hobby.  The bad news is that the first generation of Commercial Implement of Husbandry plates seems to have disappeared without a trace, not even a photo.


This 1966 Used Car Dealer plate was provided by Bob Connison and fills a gap in the lineup.  One significant change for 1966 is the end of both the 'X' series Miscellaneous Dealer category and the 'C' (Transit) Dealer plate, the the replacement series, now called Motor Vehicle Business, uses the same format as the previous 'C' series.


The next image is a 1968 New Car Dealer plate, again filling a gap in the photo lineup, and again much thanks to Bob Connison.




Harry Campbell has provided some additional cycle plate images beginning with this 1915 Motorcycle.  The first character on the 1914 and 1915 plates was the letter 'O', which at the time looked like a zero, '0' and was followed 1 to 5 numeric characters to at least 17000.  Click the link to also see 3 and 4-digit plates from 1915.


Harry Campbell has also made available a number of Motorcycle Dealer plates.  I will add them over the next few weeks, and they will help fill a number of gaps in the M/C Dealer displays.  For 1949 Motorcycle Dealers the series is believed to run from 1 to an unknown 3-digit high similar to the plate shown here.  MCD was used as the designator from 1934 to 1966 inclusive, usually in the suffix position.






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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376