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Pennsylvania License Plate History & Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

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Posting 8/12/2018

Here's a newer AFSCME Council 13 plate.  Unlike the previous lower numbered plates shown on this site, this one no longer has has the sticker well.  Next change would be the addition of the map outline.  It's very difficult to know when, or at what point in the sequence, these changes occurred.  These organizational plates are produced on a made-to-order basis and are not held in inventory.  Thanks to Jaska Börner for the use of this photo. 

 


Here is a pair of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. plates.  This organizational plate type dates back to 2012. The far left plate was spotted recently by Jeff Lawson, while the near left plate was photographed a while back by Jordan Irazabal.  The current high is 00253D/S

 


Here's the first image of a Girl Scouts of the USA vanity plate.  As a point of information, vanities on organizational  plates are only available where the logo is flat screened.  They are not available on the www base with an embossed logo.  The Girl Scout plate program dates back to 2008. 

 


This appears to be the latest edition of a Fraternal Order of Police plate, and judging by the plate number, it appears to be a vanity.  The current reported high is F/P21692.  That would be quite a jump to F/P78106.  This plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.

 


This PA State Nurses Association plate was recently photographed by Jeff Lawson.  The current high is R/N00126, but that occurred back in 2013.  That organization announced a new logo in 2015, but so far no plates have been spotted with the new symbol.

 


Here are two Syracuse University Alumni Assn plates.  This type has been around since 2009.  The far left plate was provided by Steve Ondik in early 2017 but never got posted.  In spite of his loss, his efforts to support the plate hobby live on.  The near left plate is the latest high and was spotted recently by Jordan Irazabal.

 


This Severely Disabled Veteran plate is not a new picture, but believed to be the most current design.  It was shared with me in July of 2017 by Ryan Battin, but didn't get posted till now.  Adding this plate also prompted me to update the formatting sections to separate where the sticker wells were discontinued on newer plates as seen here.  The sticker wells had been in the upper left corner.  There is no indication that these plates will use the small map outline.

 


Something old, something new.  The far left plate is part of the original series of Limousine plates, which were first issued in 1990 starting with LM-10000.  This plate would have been issued at or near the end of that original period.  The early plate was provided by Lee Madigan.   On or around 3/26/2000 all Limousine plates were replaced, with the new issue starting at LM-20000.  This a new high Limousine plate.  This plate still has the sticker well.

 


Here is a very nice pair of 1971 PA State Senator plates.  Note the plates have 71 etched into the left sticker well.  These plates represent two formats with the PA in both the prefix and suffix positions to allow the senator to register two vehicles.  The 5 represents the 5th senatorial district.  These plate belonged to Jake Eckenrode and were seen at the ALPCA Valley Forge Convention.

 


Here's another beauty form Jake Eckenrode's recent display at the ALPCA Valley Forge convention.  This  1914 Truck plate is a Class 4 weight as designated by the 4 stars on the aluminum band to the left side of the plate.  Both the 4-star and 5-star plates are tough to collect.  The plate was manufactured by the Brilliant Manufacturing Co. in Philadelphia.

 


This a 1931 R-Class Truck plate.  For 1931 there was no plate legend or weight band to identify it as a Truck plate.  It can be confusing.  The R thru Z prefixes identified the vehicle as a truck; however, there were some R and S overflow plates with the weight class letter in the second position.  Truck plates always had a second letter in the serial number, and never next to the weight class letter.  Click the link to see the serial progression formats.  See also 1931 Passenger.

 


Next up is this 1938 U-Class Truck plate.  1938 was the first year for Truck plates to have the map outline as the plate border.  The word TRUCK was also part of the legend.  The first letter identified the weight class of 2-axle Trucks, and the first two letters showed the weight class of 3-axle Trucks.  There was always a second letter in the serial number.  This plate photo is thanks to Tim Gierschick.

 


This is a 1949 V-Class Truck.  These were very similar in design to the '38 plate above except for the addition of the expiration date..  The '49 V-class used 2 serial progressions — V000A and V00A0.  Plate measures 6" x 11".  Click the link above to see photos of both variations.  This plate was on the front of a mid-size truck at a recent truck show in Macungie.

 


Here is a pair of 1950 Truck plates representing the U-weight class and the W-class.  The U-class used 4 serial formats of which this plate is part of the last progression.  The W-class, being on heavier truck, used only a single serial progression.  These plates also measures 6" x 11".  Thanks to Peter Cohen for the use of his plate photos.

 


Posting 8/5/2018

Here's a new high Truck plate.  I post these in both the current plates section of Miscellaneous plate and the Truck History page.  Truck plates with small map have been in use since April of last year.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for sharing this recent image.

 

 


Here's a recent Passenger plate photo sent in by Charles Sweitzer thought to be a new high.  (The original angle of the shot and reflection make it hard to see the map.)   Right before this, Bruce Bufalini spotted plate KVF-5188 but was unable to snap a photo.  Don't forget to also send new highs to Tom Perri at submit@paplates.com.

 


Two plates, same organization, different logo, 23 plates apart.  These Pennsylvania SPCA plates underwent a change to their symbol.  This change happened a while back as the later plate has a 3-17 sticker.  The early plate photo came from Tom Perri's PA Plates high numbers website, while the later plate was just spotted by Nick Tsilakis.  PennDOT still shows the old design on their webpage.

 


It's a little tough to see through the plastic frame, but this is a personalized Blue Lodge plate.  The presence of the map outline suggests that it was issued in 2017 or 2018.  According to my information, the Blue Lodge plate program dates back to 1984, and was one of the earliest.

 

 


Here's the latest Antique Historic Vehicle plate also from Bruce Bufalini.  Back in June the format seen here, 00A0, was first spotted, and already it has advanced into the letter C.  Once this series is exhausted I see A0A0 and 0A0A as the only remaining combinations.

 

 


Here's a recent photo of a personalized Classic Vehicle plate.  Note that the plate has the small map outline, and also has the C-prefix.  Classic vanities are supposed to have a C-prefix, but this rule has not been applied uniformly.  It appears that this plate makes reference to a 1998 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra.  As a point of information, I regrouped some of the Classic vanities to correct some errors.

 


This is a new high Dealer-Multi Purpose plate.  This low-issue plate is still on the www base, and may not make its debut on the visitPA or new map base for a while.  If you're wondering what a Multi-Purpose Dealer is, you're not alone.  I can not define it, but I have seen them in use on vehicles used by mobile home dealers, but their use is not limited to that purpose.  PennDOT has a Fact Sheet on such plates which I did not find very helpful. 

 


This is a 1942 Format 5 Passenger plate with a 1943 metal validation tab.  Since this is a '42 plate with a needed serial format, I'm placing it with plates of that year, not '43.  1942 plates were both 6" by 10" for 4-character plates and 6" by 12" for 5 character as shown here.  Thanks to John Willard for the opportunity to photograph this plate.

 


This is a 1953 Format 8 Passenger plate.  That serial format went from AA10 to ZZ999, so both 4 and 5 character combinations were used.  All plates, regardless of the number of characters, measured 6" by 10¼" in size.  Another thank you goes out to John Willard for this photo op.

 


This plate is a very welcome addition to the 1914 Truck series.  1914 was the first year for Truck plates.  The indication of the plate being as a truck was the aluminum band on the left side of the truck.  This band indicated the weight class of the Truck, with this being a 2-star class.  The classes ranged from 1 to 5 stars indicating the weight rating from low to high.  The plates were porcelain and measured 6" by 15¼".  This photo was from the outstanding early Truck plate display at the recent ALPCA convention by Jake Eckenrode.  Watch for more in the future.

 


This is a 1939 Class R Truck plate with an interesting number.  That year the R Class plates used 4 different serial progressions, with this plate being a part of the second series, or R00A0.  The plates were the standard yellow on dark blue, all had 5 characters, and all measured 6" by 12".  Thanks to Pete Madsen for the photo.

 


Next is this 1948 Class S Truck plate with an S00AA serial progression.  That year there were 4 S-class serial progressions.  All plates were 6 inches by 11 inches.  This plate was spotted at a recent truck show.

 

 


This 1958 - 62 Y-class Truck plate was spotted in use at a recent truck show.  The Y-class was for the next to the heaviest 2-axle class.  Click the link above to see a table that lists the Weight Class Prefixes, Serial Progressions and Axles.  There are also some 25 photos depicting most of the classes.

 


Here are two additions to the 1964 to '67 Truck series.  During the 1958 and 1964 Truck series, there was a big expansion in the number of classes.  Not only were trucks classified by weight, they were also divided up by the number of axles, and the ZT-class shown here was for the heaviest 3-axle Truck Tractor.  The Z-class was for the heaviest 2-axle class Truck.  The Z-class plate is thanks to Drewski.

 


Posting 7/29/2018

Here's a recently reported Passenger plate high sent in by Matt Flamini.  Admittedly I don't put a lot of emphasis on tracking Passenger and Truck plates, but now and then it's good to post a new waypoint on the plate progression journey.  The current formatting with the map outline was first seen on standard passenger plates back in June of 2017, with the starting point of KLF-0000.  Vanities were seen earlier.

 


Here's the first issue of an Autism Awareness plate.  In most cases the lowest number plate started with 1 rather than a 0 as seen here.  This plate was recently spotted by Jeff Lawson.  Unfortunately the frame blocks the legend which would read Autism Awareness, somewhere around or before plate A/U20041 the legend was changed to Autism Society of America.  The current reported high is A/U00455.

 


This pair of low numbered Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association plates was spotted by Nick Tsilakis — one recently and one some time ago.  A plate check reveals that so far only about 24 serialized plates have been issued, and at least one vanity.  The Auctioneers plate program dates back to 2013.

 


This School Vehicle plate on the far left is not a new high, but is is the highest number in the plate group just prior to the removal of the sticker well and the addition of the map outline.  Plate SV-26883, previously posted is shown again for comparison.  The changeover point is believed to be at or around SV-26800. 

 


This is the current high plate spotted in the Special Mobile Equipment series.  It still has the sticker recess.  This was on one of the largest cranes I've ever seen, and it was just sitting there waiting to have its picture taken.  A plate check shows that plates in the low D-series are currently being issued, so it won't be the high for long.

 


We start off this week's group of older plates with this 1949 Motorboat Dealer — note the X prefix.  This year's plates were yellow on red, measured 5⅛ inches by 11 inches.  The dealer series could be X+1, 2 or 3, with X+2 digits shown here.  Click the link to see a 3-digit plate.  Thank you to John Willard for his great display.

 


Next is this 1956 Motorboat Dealer plate.  In 1950 Motorboat and Motorboat Dealer plates became the same size as Motorcycle plates, then in 1955 the map outline became a part of the plate.  Also in 1955 the MBL legend had been shortened to MB, and also the expiration date was added to the top border.  The serial number formatting remained much the same as other years.  The color for 1956 was white on dark green.  Thank you John Willard.

 


This 1958 Motorboat Dealer plate is the last of the dealers series I have to post.  So if anyone has any to photograph, quite a few images are still needed.  This photo also came from John Willard's Valley Forge display.  The short X3 serial gives the plate some extra appeal. 

 


This is not the first time this Penna 1907 plate has been shown here, but Eric Tanner was able to take this photo with the plate outside of its glass enclosure at the Sweigart Museum, thereby eliminating any reflections and shadows.  This 111 year old beauty is the lowest number 1907 plate known to exist.  The size of the plate is only 6 inches by 7 inches — that was all the space needed for 1 and 2-digit plates.

 


Here is a 1930 Format 7 Passenger plate.  This serial progression started at AA and extended to ZZ999.  So the serial number could be as short as 2 letters or as long as 5 characters.  2, 3 and 4 character plates were 6" by 10" in size while the 5 character plates were 12".  Click the link above to see other 1930 plates.  Many thanks to John Willard for the opportunity to photograph many of his plates.  Still need Format 8 from 0AA00 to 9ZZ99.

 


For 1936 Passenger plates had some 9 serial progressions or formats.  The plates shown here represent two of those formats.  The far left plate is part of Format 4 which includes 10A0 to 99Z99.  So both 6" x 10" and 6" x 12" plates were used.  The near left plate is part of Format 8 — which includes AA10 to ZZ999.  Again this allows for 6" x 10" and 6" x 12" sizes.  Both of these plates are 10" shorties.  The plates are thanks to eBay-er Pinkocelot and and Jeff Francis, respectively.   

 


If you made it to the recent ALPCA convention, you know what this display is about, if not, this was one of the finest displays there.  If you're a Pennsylvania enthusiast, this one ranks right at the top.  Jake Eckenrode put together an amazing display of early PA truck plates beginning with 1914, the first year for Truck plates, up through 1919, the final year for stars.  During that 6-year period Truck weight classes were identified by the number of stars on the the plate ranging from 1 star for the lightest gross vehicle weight, up to 5 stars for the heaviest.  The 4 and particularly 5-star plates are tough to collect, but Jake has every class from every year.  Sorry it's difficult to read the caption above the display which describes the weight class system of the time.  Click the thumbnail for a larger image.

 


WOW — the first truck plate made for the first weight class!  This 1933 Truck plate is quite a find and in excellent condition.  It wasn't until 1934 that the word TRUCK first appeared on plates.  For 1933 the size of the Truck plate was always 6" by 15" while Passenger plates used 6" by 10" and 12".  All Truck plates used 6-character serial numbers with the initial character being a letter from R to Z, then RZ, etc.  A big thank you to Clayton Moore for the use of this photo.

 


Posting 7/22/2018

Part of this period from July 11th to the 14st was spent at the 64th annual international ALPCA License Plate Convention and Show which was held at the Valley Forge Convention Center.  It was an outstanding show and venue for Pennsylvania collectors since it has been 9 years since the event was last held in PA.  Lots to see with great displays from all over, thousands of plates for sale and trade, and great camaraderie with old friends and new acquaintances.  Watch for some photos from the event over the next few weeks and months.  Above is my pair of ALPCA souvenir plates.

 


I haven't looked at the Associated Alumni of the Central High School's plate program in a while, but a recent check shows that they now have 2 sequentially numbered plates in use.  Vanities are unknown.  With so few plates in use, photographing one will be a tall order.

 


The far left Cumberland Valley Corvette Club plate photo was taken some months ago by Nick Tsilakis and posted to PAPlates.com, but is a nice representative image and still the current reported high.  The vanity edition of a was recently spotted by Jordan Irazabal.  This plate type went active around March of 2016.

 


This Fraternal Order of Police plate was recently spotted by Jordan Irazabal.  This is one of those in-between plates where the sticker well has been removed but map has not yet been added.  By the time plates reached F/P21420, the map was added.  The FOP logo shown would have been attached by the owner.

 


This recently spotted Women in Transition Inc. plate is one of only five such plates registered, and only the second photographed.  It's unknown if there are vanities in use.  The plate program has been around since 2009.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for sharing this photo.

 


The Vietnam War Veteran plate on the far left does not have a sticker well, while the higher number plate in the center does have a sticker well — aggravating!  I just received the photo with the map outline and is also the new high.  The inconsistencies of the first two plates is tough to track.  I'm just going to state what has been observed, not try to explain it.  The V/W10573 plate photo is thanks to Jordan Irazabal, while the V/W10717 was photographed by Tom Perri.  The V/W10920 is thanks to Arthur Levine.

 


Here's a new high Trailer plate recently spotted by Jordan Irazabal.  The use of the map outline is believed to have started back at XKY-0000.  If the long bolts on the plate look peculiar, it's because I cropped, skewed and sized the original photo to give the plate a straight-on look, but that process does not do the same for the bolts.

 


Here's a mystery, oddball, unknown Bicentennial State '76 plate.  The colors are reversed for that period.  I'm wondering if this might have been an early prototype or test before the liberty bell found its way to the center.  Charlie Metz recently snagged this on ebay.  Can anyone help identify the plate?

 


Finding Motorboat Dealer plate photos or plates to photograph has never been easy.  There is even some uncertainty as to the earliest such plate.  Anyway, we have this very nice multi-year 1934 thru 1936 Dealer plate, which could be renewed annually thru 1936.  Like automotive plates at the time, the 'X' prefix indicated Dealer.  The MBL stood for Motorboat License.  These were 6 inch by 12 inch plates, but unlike automotive plates at the time, these plates had a beveled edge.  This plate was owned by Jake Eckenrode and seen at the recent ALPCA Convention.

 


John Willard had a nice Motorboat plate display along with a smaller group of Motorboat Dealer plates.  Here is a low-digit 1939 Motorboat Dealer.  Beginning in 1937 the plate design was changed, and the size was reduced to 5⅛" by 9½".  The '39 plates were white on green.  We have no statistics on the number issued.

 


Next up is this 1948 Motorboat Dealer plate.  While the colors of the '37 above and this plate may look similar, this plate is actually yellow on green.  The other noticeable difference is the size, which is now 5⅛ inches by 11 inches.  Thanks to John Willard for the fine display.  Check back next week for a few more.

 


Here's an ALPCA Convention photo of Tim Gierschick proudly displaying his newly acquired and very nice original 2-digit 1920 Passenger plate.  Tim has a great collection of 2 and 3-digit early passenger plates.  This plate helped to fill a gap in Tim's collection, as well as on this website.  Single, two and three digit plates for 1920 were 'shorties' measuring 6 inches by 10 inches.  Three other sizes were used that year for 4, 5 and 6-digit plates measuring up to 6 inches by 16 inches  All plates were white on dark blue.  *** Tim is also the foremost collector of PA Tractor plates, not to offend other PA Tractor plate collectors, but Tim has put together an amazing collection.  He is still very much in need of a 1929 Tractor plate.  Tim has always been a great help to me with plate photos.  

 

 


These are both 1935 Passenger Format 5 plates.  While it appears confusing that both 4 and 5 character plates would be a part of the same 'format', it is my understanding that this progression started at 000A, then 001A, and after hitting 999A, it continued now with the addition of another digit in the final position, 100A0, 100A1, etc  The entire A progression was used before going to the B, so as usual, the letter is the last to advance.  With the plates shown here, the 12-inch plate with the 'A' in the serial would have been produced before the 'shortie' with the 'J'.  Confusing, absolutely!  The far left plate is thanks to Stephen, who goes by ohghcllc on ebay.  The 984J is thanks to John Willard. 

 


Speaking of such plates, here's a 1922 Tractor courtesy of Tim Gierschick.  As best as I can figure, all '22 Tractor plates were the same size at 6 inches by 16 inches.  This is because the Tractor base used PENNA TRACTOR 1922 as the legend spread across the bottom.  So the size of the plate was determined by the legend rather than the serial.  Still I'd very much like to see a plate with an E+1 digit serial number to know for certain.

 


Here is a 1955 Tractor plate.  Beginning in 1934 Tractor plate were limited to 4 characters and the length was shortened to 10¼" by 1953.  This then required alpha-numeric plates once the all numeric series topped 9999.  Click the link to see several other '55 Tractor plates.  Another thank you to Tim Gierschick for his ongoing help and support.

 


Posting 7/15/2018

Due to time away at the ALPCA convention in Valley Forge this past week, this will be a shortened edition.

 


First new style Commonwealth Official Use plate photographed.  This was on a state-owned pickup truck used by the PA Game Commission.  Some state agencies have opted to use their own logo such as PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission, but apparently the Game Commission has chosen to go with the more generic state coat of arms version.  It is unknown at what point this change took place, but PA-0409B was still on the white on blue base.

 


Here's another example of the recently 'discovered' PA Turnpike Official Use plates.  So far only PennDOT and the PA Turnpike have opted to use their own logo on Official Use plates.  Compare this to the plate above that uses the more generic coat of arms insignia.

 


The vanity plate photo on the far left we recently taken by Bruce Bufalini.  Nick Tsilakis pointed out the use of the bold visitPA.com legend, which happens to be the same as is being used on the Teen Driver plate in the center.  Compare this to the normal visitPA legend of the 89 vanity and other standard issue plates.  The Teen Driver and 89 plate photos were from Ryan Battin.

 


This is a 1927 'O' series Bus or Omnibus plate.  Click the link and go to the top of the section for an explanation of this plate type.  This O+4-digit plate measures 6 inches by 13 inches.  Plates with 'O'+3 or fewer digits measured 6 inches by 10 inches and did not use the dash separator.  Thanks to Drewski for the use of this plate photo.

 


Here's a needed 1956 Used Car Dealer plate.  At the time there were letter prefixes designating dealer types — A for New Car Dealer, B for Used Car Dealer and C for Transit Dealer. There were also X plates for Miscellaneous Dealers, but the X could be in any of the first 3 positions.  This picture is thanks to Rodd Day, and was passed along to me by Eric Tanner. 

 


This is a 1935 Format 1 Passenger plate.  Format 1 was all-numeric from 1 or 2 up to 99999.  I have several 2, 3 and 4 digit plates but this is the first all-numeric with 5.  Plates up to 4 characters were 6" by 10" and 5 digit plates were 6" by 12".  Both 10 and 12-inch plates were used in most of the serial progressions that year.  Thanks to eBay user Yosteveyo for the use of the photo.

 


Here's a very nice 1931 R-Class Truck plate.  Clayton Moore had this plate and another up for grabs on eBay as a matching pair.  Plate size was 6 inches by 12 inches and there were 4 serial formats — R0A00, R00A0, R000A and 0R0A0, whit this plate being part of the second group.

 

 


This is a 1945 R-Class Truck plate.  For that year the R-Class employed 4 serial progressions including R000A, R00A0, R0A00 and R00AA of which this plate is a part.  Therefore all truck plates were 5 characters in length, and were 6 inches by 11 inches in size.  Thanks to Peter Cohen for sharing his photos.

 


The formatting of this 1947 Truck plate is much the same as the plate above; however, for 1947 there were now 5 serial formats — R0A00, R00A0, R000A, R00AA and R0AA0, with this plate being part of the last group.  Again the plates were 6" by 11", still issued in pairs.  More kudos to Peter Cohen for the photo.

 


 

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John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

 

 

 

 

                  

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