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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.

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Posting 4/15/2018

Here's a very nice photo of a Slippery Rock University plate.  This is also a new high plate number.  Slippery Rock has not moved their plate program into the 'family of plates' with the graphic formatting.  I'm not being critical, many plate enthusiasts prefer the older, all embossed formatting shown here.  This photo is thanks to Jordan Irazabal.

 


Here is a recent highway shot of a PA State Senator plate.  Unfortunately when the image of the plate itself is cropped and fully zoomed in, the the image becomes a bit grainy.  Anyway, the plate reads PA 21 and appears to be on the www base.  A few plates have been seen on the visitPA base, none so far with the map outline.  Thanks to Jake Vincent for sharing this photograph.

 


Here are some recent Person With Disability plates — one with numbers, one without.  They both have the small map outline.  The 72245PD is the latest reported high — there is no tracking of vanities, but the combinations are sometimes attention-grabbing.  Thanks to Steve Ondik for the personalized plate photo.

 


Here is a recent photo of a Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue plate.  It's the lowest number on this website.  The current high is listed as 00210G/R on Tom Perri's website.  These plates date back to 2013 — popular plate, popular dog.  This plate photo came from Steve Ondik.

 


This is a Combat Action Ribbon plate.  The number is 1 shy of the current reported high.  This plate is part of a series of five Combat Action plates that came about as a result of Act 109 of 2014.  Thank you to Steve Ondik for the plate photo.

 


We just showcased a pair of these last week.  This Share The Road vanity was spotted this past week.  It still has the sticker well.  The one plate from 4/8 did not.  Brendon Sherry suggests the owner might be saying, "I'm a triathlon".  Anyway, the vanities seem popular.  The numerical high is listed as under 500.

 


The Official Use - Commercial plate photo on the far left changes the the cutoff point for the use of the word COMMERCIAL.  That word should never have been used on Official Use plates for trucks to begin with, but since it was used, it gets tracked.  Previously it was believed that dropping the 'COMMERCIAL' legend and going back to 'OFFICIAL USE' took place at PA-2500A; however, the change took place between PA-2627A and PA-2996A.

 


Compare these two 1925 Passenger plates.  Based on the serial numbers, both plates were produced toward the end of production for that year, yet the B series, which would have been closer to the end, is on a decidedly narrower font.  The far left plate is from an anonymous ebay-er, while the 'B' plate was provided by Tim Gierschick a while back.

 


This is a photo of an interesting plate.  It's a 1920 Commercial plate, which is the first year for that term to be used to designate a truck plate.  That term was then used through 1923.  It also has legend on the top and the bottom which caused the plate size to be increased to 7 inches high instead of the usual 6 inches.  It should be noted that some 16-inch Commercial (Truck) plates from 1920 had all of the plate legend on the bottom line, thus enabling the plate to be 6 inches high.  Click the link above to see additional formats.  It was also the first year that truck plates did not use stars to designate weight classes.  Instead, the first digit of the serial number is believed to indicate the weight class.  By 1924, the weight classes were switched to the more familiar letter prefixes starting with R, S, etc.  The plate is thanks to ebay user Charlesgilbertantiquetoys.

 


Here is a 1935 S-Series Truck plate.  For many years the truck series ran from 'R' to 'Z' for lightest to heaviest single rear axle trucks, and 'RZ' to 'ZZ' for lightest to heaviest with 2 rear axles.  Also within the 'R', 'S' and 'T' classes there were several serial progressions.  In the 'S' series there were S000A, S00A0 (as shown here), S0A00, SA000 in 6" by 12" size and S00-00A in a 15" length.

 


This is a 1937 S-Series Truck plate.  The '37 run included the following 5-characteer progressions S000A, S00A0, S0A00, SA000 on 12-inch plates and an overflow series of 6-character plates that were 15-inch and used the S00-00A series.  Click the link above to see 3 of the 5 progressions.  Thanks to ebay-er Nickelsndiamonds1013 for the use of this photo.

 


During the 1958 to '63 run and the 1964 to '67 Truck run, there were 21 truck classes in use.  There was the usual R to Z weight classes for trucks with a single rear axle, RZ to ZZ for trucks with 2 rear axles, of which this plate is a part.  Next was WT to ZT for truck tractors with 2 rear axles, and finally YX and ZX for trucks with 3 rear axles.  This mint condition plate shown here is thanks to an ebay user who did not want credit.  Beginning in 1968 an entirely new truck plate numbering system was used.  Truck weight classes and axle combinations were no longer linked to the plate serial number.

 


Posting 4/8/2018

You're not seeing double, but these personalized Person with Disability plates were issued as a pair.  There is a two-plate option that applies to both standard and personalized Person with Disability plates.  Vehicle owners who have a carrier on the rear of the vehicle for transporting a wheelchair or personal assistive device are authorized to be issued two identical plates since the assistive device and carrier may block visibility of the vehicle mounted plate.  Standard issue dual PD plates come from the 98000PD series.  The two-plate provision is also available to those who use Disabled Veteran plates or Severely Disabled Veteran plates. 

 

 

 


Here's a new high number Animal Friends plate.  This plate type dates back to mid-2009.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for snapping this recent traffic shot.  These plates cost $36, or if you'd like one personalized, the cost is $140.  The organization is headquartered near Pittsburgh.

 

 


Here's a recent street shot of a Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby Football Assoc.  This organization has had a plate program since 2008.  A plate check indicates they've had about 22 plates registered, vanity plates are unknown.  This plate was photographed by Bruce Bufalini.

 

 


The Share The Road plate on the far left was recently spotted, while the plate on the near left was previously posted.  While the 3-letter vanity arrangement makes them very similar, note the inconsistent spacing between the stacked prefix and the first letter.  Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for the SAG image and for making the comparison.  Since these vanities are not made as a series, there may not be a standard for spacing.  The WNH plate photo came from Arthur Levine.

 


The Steel Worker plate photo on the far left I took in 2002 or 2003.  To my knowledge no plates at the time had a colored logo.  Aside from that, the plate appeared normal and legitimate.  The plate photo in the near left was a recent shot of what at first glance looks like the same plate.  Upon closer examination the fading bands of the www base are now solid like the visitPA base, the PENNSYLVANIA at the top, however, has retained the font used by the www base.  It may have been repainted, but then the shape of the zeros is a little different.  I really don't know what to make of this plate.  Thanks to John Clark for the plate and the mystery.

 


This is a 1922 Format 1 Passenger plate.  Click the thumbnail for a better view.  Format 1 plates ran from 1 or 2 to 999, and measured 6 inches by 10 inches.  The original colors on this plate were brown on cream.  Click the link above to see a 2-digit plate as well as 4, 5 and 6-digit versions.  Thanks to Ed for allowing the use of this plate photo.

 


Here's a pair of 1930 Passenger plates.  The far left plate is a Format 3 plate with that series running from 0A to 9Z999.  The near left is a Format 4 plate plate with that series going 00A to 99Z99.  As can be seen the Format 3 series could be 2 to 5 characters, while the 4 series could be 3 to 5 characters.  Either series can be 10 inches in length like the plates shown here, or 12 inches for 5 character editions.  The far left plate is thanks to ebay-er Pinkocelot, and the other plates is thanks to ebay-er Powerfullhammer.

 


This is a 1934 Format 5 Passenger plate.  That serial progression consists of 4 character plates from 000A to 999Z, and measuring 6" x 10", and 5-character plates running from 100A0 to 999Z9 which measure 6" x 12".  Thanks to ebay-er Jeopardyboy1 for allowing the use of the photo.

 

 


Here is a 1945 Format 1 Passenger plate.  This format includes the all-numeric progression of 1000 to 99999  Previously I posted a 4-digit plate, now with the addition of this 5-digit plate Format 1 is complete.  Even with both 4 and 5 characters, all plates measured 6" x 11".  From 1944 through 1946 plates were issued as singles.  Again thanks to ebay user jeopardyboy1 for allowing the use of the photo.

 


Next up is this 1946 Format 3 Passenger.  The Format 3 progression ran from 1A00 to 9Z999, so both 4 and 5-character serial numbers were used.  Again the plate size was 6 inches by 11 inches, and they were issued as singles.  Thanks to ebay user Fruitie1 for the use of the photo.  For 1946 there are still three format groups for which I have no images. 

 


The final photo for this week is this 1949 Format 5 Passenger tag.  Again, as in other years of this era, both 4 and 5-character plates were issued; however, all measured 6 inches by 11 inches, and again from 1947 through 1951 they were issued in pairs.  Another thank you to ebay-er Pinkocelot for the use of this plate photograph.

 


Posting 4/1/2018

A short edition this week.  Too many other projects and commitments.


This is a high number first generation Combat Infantryman Badge plate.  By first generation I mean those plates that were issued prior to the removal of the sticker well and the addition of the small map.  Plate 20179C/O was previously spotted showing the map.  Thanks to Steve Ondik for the photo.

 


The U.S. Army Veteran plate on the far left was spotted this past week, and the plate on the near left was spotted a couple weeks ago.  Note that the far left plate is now sporting the small map outline.  This change likely took place at 13701A/R.  Thanks to Tom Perri for both photographs.

 


Here's a traffic shot of a low number Lower Frederick Fire Company plate.  Lower Frederick is part of Montgomery County.  Their plate program has been around since 2011.  Thanks to Steve Ondik for the plate photograph.

 


Here's the first image of a regular issue Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics plate.  There was a previous image of a vanity.  A plate check shows there have been some 45 plates registered since early 2016.  This plate was spotted by Bruce Bufalini in Pittsburgh in the rain.

 

 


Eureka Volunteer Fire and Ambulance now has 5 plates in use.  They are located in Stewartstown, south of York.  Fairview Township Fire Dept. has 2 plates on the street.  They are located a little south of Camp Hill.  It won't be easy to spot plates with so few in use.

 


Legislative Update House Bill 215 provides for the creation a special registration plate honoring women veterans, and for a special registration plate for recipients of the Legion of Merit.  This bill was passed by the House in 2017, and first consideration by the Senate on March 26, 2018.  This bill is likely to be passed.

 


This is a 1921 Format 3 Passenger plate.  Format 3 covers serial numbers from 10-000 to 99-999.  The plates measure 6" x 13".  Four sizes were used that year ranging from 6" by 10" for 1 to 3 digits up to 6" by 16" for 6 character plates.  Thanks to ebay user Securityautoparts for the use of the photo.

 


Here's a 1955 Format 9 Passenger plate.  I actually posted this on the Passenger page last week but missed posting it here on the home page.  Format 9 plates consisted of the serial sequence of 1AA0 to 9ZZ99, allowing for both 4 and 5 character plates.  Thanks to ebay user Jukeboxman for the use of this nice plate photo.

 


This plate might not look like anything unusual, especially since there is no identifying legend except for the year and state.  It turns out that this is an R-Class overflow Truck plate.  The R-series started at R-1 and after hitting R99-999, the R prefix became a suffix and the sequence started over.  I saw this on ebay and the owner, Egostarlynx, gave the OK to use it.

 


Posting 3/25/2018

A couple words to those who visit this website:  As time goes on the, number of plate types continues to grow, and with that growth comes variations in formatting.  Some variations are planned, some are unexplainable.  In any case, it makes tracking the changes a growing challenge.  On the plus side, this website would be nothing without the support of so many generous viewers, and members of Facebook and eBay. 

 


Case in point.  These are both recent Antique Vehicle issues.  The far left plate in the V series would (or should) come before the the W series on the near left, but somehow the V-series has the map outline as expected, while the W series does not.  At this point we don't know if the W without the map is one of, or if more of the series is like this.  Thanks to Vern Kreckel of Kreckel Enterprises for sharing the V series photo, and thanks to Ryan Battin for the W plate which was previously featured.

 


In a previous post I had indicated that it seemed likely that Apportioned Truck plates would add the map outline at AG-67500.  Obviously that didn't happen.  I really don't like to make predictions, but when I do, they are usually based on some kind of data, not just on a wild guess.  Anyway, it now appears that the change to the map will likely be at AG-72500.  Thanks to Tom Perri for the use of his photo.

 


Here's the latest high Severely Disabled Veteran plate.  This semi-flat version was first seen around June of 2013.  Noteworthy is that this plate has escaped being brought into the family of plates.  To the best of my understanding this is because the design of this plate is spelled out in the law that enabled the plate.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.

 


This is also a new high U.S. Army Veteran plate.  This series started at 10000A/R, and dates back to the latter part of 2009.  It's a little hard to tell if this plate still has the sticker well but it does not have the small map outline.  Thanks to Tom Perri for the use of this photo.

 


The continuing effort to locate pictures of older plates is becoming more of a challenge.  As photos of the many format variations are found and posted, those remaining have become increasingly difficult to find.

 


These three Motorcycle Dealer plates have been added.  For 1977, DLR plates were a single year issue after the '75 and '76 multi-year plate.  Then in 1979, DLR plates were undated and used stickers up thru 2000.  That series started at 1000 and likely went at 6999.  That series never reversed the colors to yellow on blue as regular Motorcycle plates did around 1985.  The 8874 plate is un-stickered, but likely issued toward the middle of the 7000 to 9999 issue which ran from September of 1999 to early 2006.  Both blue and yellow plates are courtesy of Dave Lincoln.

 


Here's a 1923 Format 5 Passenger high number.  What's unique about this plate is that Format 4 plates that ran from 100-000 to 852-394 or so were all 6" by 16" plates.  Then plates starting somewhere around 883-073 and above were 6" by 15".  This was likely done as a cost saving measure by reducing the size.  Chuck Sakryd is offering this plate on his website.

 


This is a 1934 Format 4 Passenger plate.  Format 4 consisted of plates from 00A to 99Z99.  This format can be further broken down into 00A to 99Z as 6" x 10" plates, then 00A0 to 99Z99, also on 6" x 10" plates, and finally 00A00 to 99Z99 on 6" x 12" plates.  The photo gallery now has images of all three sub-formats.  Thanks to John Willard for the use of this image.

 


Here is a 1944 Format 7 Passenger plate.  Format 7 was made up of the serial progression of 0000A to 9999Z, all of which measured 6" by 11", although some other progressions using 4 character were 6" by 10".  Still needed for 1944 are Format 4 - 10A0 to 99Z99, Format 5 - 000A to 999Z and Format 9 - 1AA0 to 9ZZ9.  Thanks to ebay-er Barklywheat for the use of the photo.

 


This is a 1945 Format 3 Passenger plate.  Format 3 included the serial progression from 1A00 to 9Z999.  This format includes both 4 and 5 character plates; however, all measured the same at 6" by 11".  Still needed for 1945 are Format 5 - 000A to 999Z, and Format 9 - 1AA0 to 9ZZ9.  Thanks to Charles Gilbert for allowing me to use this image from ebay.

 


Here's a 1951 Format 6 Passenger plate.  Format 6 was made up of the serial progression of 000A0 to 999Z9, all of which were 6 inches by 11 inches.  Still needed for 1951 is Format 10, which is made up of plates from 00AA to 99ZZ.  This plate was made available from ebay user Ricksbestbuybooks.

 


While looking thru vehicle registration records of 1917, I noted that there were two classes of 1917 Traction Engine or Tractor registrations, and a two-tiered plate numbering system.  I received help from Jake Eckenrode with the law and from Eric Tanner concerning the registration numbers.  First Class traction-engines or tractors were used exclusively for agricultural purposes, road-grading, and transporting the machinery and appliances, which, when at rest, they operate with their own power; and excluding engines used for hauling of freight of any kind.  Second Class traction-engines or tractors were used for freighting, which shall include all hauling upon the public highway, excepting such as is specified in [First Class].  The law dates back to 2015.  So far there is nothing to suggest that there were physical differences in the plate classes themselves.  It is also unknown how long the 2-class system was in effect, but is believed to be in use at least until 1920.

 


Posting 3/18/2018

This the first U.S. Marine Corps (Active Duty) plate photographed.  While this may seem like the 14th plate issued, plates 60001A/D and 60002A/D have been issued but then none until 60011A/D.  It appears that this may be another 2-tiered numbering system, but I can't confirm this.  This and other active duty plate types were announced in February of last year.  This photo is thanks to Jordan Irazabal.

 


Here's another first-of-its-kind photo.  This is the newest plate version from Saint Francis University, now on the visitPA base with a color graphic, and apparently the new series started at S/F00800.  Thanks to Tom Perri's diligent efforts in getting this image.  These may have been on the road for a while but a check indicates that there are only about 25 of the newer plates in use.  Still need a photo of the first generation yellow on blue plate if anyone has one.

 


Here's another western PA organizational plate, this one from Point Park University, located in downtown Pittsburgh.  Their plate program goes back to 2008.  This low number photo is thanks to Tom Perri who indicated that these plates are in use on many of the college's own vehicles.  There are about 40 or so plates in use.

 


Here's a new high Fraternal Order of Police plate.  Somewhere between F/P21314 and F/P21420 this plate type made the transition to the small map base.  These plates made their debut in 1987 on the yellow on blue base, and after being reissued in 2001 on the www base, they have made several minor changes.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for sharing this photo.

 


I have to give a lot of credit to Tom Perri for his diligence and persistence in spotting these recent issue fire department plates now with the small map outline.  From left to right these include Berwyn Fire Company, Brookhaven Fire Co. No. 1, and Tinicum Township Fire Company.  As new plates are ordered, they are coming thru with the map.  For all the latest in Pennsylvania highs, check out Tom's website http://www.paplates.com/ .

 


This is a 1930 Format 2 Dealer plate.  Starting in 1924, plates had no legend identifying them as a Dealer plates, the X in the serial number became the identifier.  This format had the X in the second position with the serial progression as follows — 0X to 9X999.  This also means that 4-character plate were 6" by 10", as shown here.  5 character plates measured 6" by 12".  This plate is courtesy of ebay user oldies_museum.

 


Here is a 1930 Format 6 Passenger plate.  This serial format consisted of plates from 0000A to 9999Z and was 1 of 10 formats.  Plates with 4 or fewer characters were 6" by 10" and 5 character plates measured 6" by 12".  This plate was part of a pair on ebay and was provided courtesy of contorakes1234.

 


This is a 1931 Format 3 Passenger plate.  The serial numbers for this format ran from 0A to 9Z999, which would include 2, 3, 4 and 5-character plates on both 6" by 10" for 2 to 4 characters, and 6" by 12" for 5 characters as shown here.  Thanks to ebay user 1bidder for allowing the use of this photo which was a part of a pair.

 


Here are two nice additions to the 1933 Passenger plate section.  The first is a 4 character Format 4 plate which included serial numbers from 00A to 99Z99.  As can be seen, plates can be 3, 4 or 5 characters.  The 3 and 4-charater plate measured 6" by 10" as shown here.  This plate is thanks to ebay user carstuffstore.  The KV444 plate is a Format 8 plate with the serial progression from AA100 to ZZ999, all plates being the larger 6" by 12".  Credit for this plate goes to ebay seller licenseplatekingcompany.

 


Here is a nice example of a 1932 R-Class Truck plate.  The legend Truck or Commercial was not used at the time; the alpha-numeric formatting was the clue.  For 1932 truck plate weight classes went from R to Z, excluding X, for single rear axle vehicles and RZ to ZZ for duel rear axle trucks.  All truck plates had 6-characters and measured 6" by 15".  Thanks to Troy E. Payson, fellow ALPCA member #8766 from New York who was offering this plate on ebay.

 


This is a 1936 R-Class Truck plate.  For that year, there were five serial progressions for the R-class including R000A, R00A0, R0A00, RA000 all of which were 5 characters and measured 6" by 12".  Then there was an overflow series of R00-00A, which because of the 6 characters were on 6" by 15" plates.  The plate shown here is part of that overflow series.  The photo was provided by ebay user ustho-dffvjx. 

 


This is a 1954 Y-Class Truck.  For that year, there were two serial progressions for the Y-class including Y000A to Y999Z and Y00A0 to Y99Z9.  The Y was the weight class, see description under the 1932 plate above.  All truck plates in 1954 measured 6" x 10", and all were 5 characters.  The photo was provided by ebay user allmdona.

 


 

 

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John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

 

 

 

 

                  

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