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Pennsylvania License Plate Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

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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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Posting 11/23/2014

Who would have thought a year ago that such an organizational vanity plate would be possible in PA?  And yes, it's real.  Here is a comparison between the older Virginia Tech 00001VT and this hot off the plate press 1VT plate.  Brendan Sherry, the Virginia Tech plate program administrator, shares these images.  This is the first one of these organizational vanities shown on this website.  The change to allow this came about as the result of Act 23 being signed into law on 3/19/14 and taking effect 7/17/14.  Now most (but not all) organizational and many other plate types can be personalized for a fee.  In most cases it's an additional $100 on top of the standard fee and for some plate types it's a mere $50.


A little PA Plate trivia.  Did you know that PA now has over 500 plate types?  That number does require some explanation.  The largest single group are organizational plates of which there are about 332 listed; however, of that number there are about 18 with no active plates on the street, but they are authorized.  There are also over 50 NASCAR varieties.  These are no longer issued, however, they are still considered current.  It should be noted that a handful of NASCAR plates were never issued due to lack of demand.  The remainder of the 500 are made up of miscellaneous, special fund, official, bus and mass transportation related plates, car enthusiast plates, political and dealer plates.  This number does not include the many type variations seen with certain plates, nor does it include plates no longer on the street such as Foreign Consul, Auto Manufacturer, Fire Department, and a few others.


As mentioned last week there are two new special organizational plates being released.  The first of these is ChildFirst Pennsylvania.  Here is a link to their website, but as of today, there is no mention of plates, and no plates are in use yet.  I'm guessing that the organization will make plates available to the public as a fundraising effort.


The other plates is this St. Charles Borromeo Seminary plate.  Like the plate above there is no listing of the plate on their website.  And again no plates are on the street.  I've also moved this plate listing to the college and university page.


Your choice of colors?  Not really.  The white on blue Emergency Vehicle plate is likely an error plate that was painted with the municipal plate color scheme.  Possibly there was a short run of these.  For some reason this plate is still in use; it should have been replaced back in 2007.  The white on red plate is an example of correct formatting.  Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for this unusual plate picture.


Back to the weekly pursuit of historic Bus plates, we begin with this 1953 plate.  Beginning with the '53 plate, the expiration date for bus plates, which is embossed in the top border, was changed from 3-31 of the following year to 5-31.  As with previous weekly postings, this plate uses the letter O prefix followed by 4 digits.  When the 4-digit number sequence ran out, the plates used OA000 to OA999, then OB000 etc.  The high number is unknown, although records show that some 12,000 plates were issued which may have extended the progression into the OC000 series.


This '51 Bus plate is an excellent example of the low-numbered format.  It appears that the series started at O1, that's the letter O and the number 1, making this the 13th plate that year.  The scarcity of the low numbered plates makes it difficult to say for certain how many years followed this progression.  I can say for certain that the 1935 plates were authorized to run from O1 to O999, then O1000 to O6000.  This image is courtesy of Clayton Moore.


This 1950 Bus plate shows the use of the alpha character in the second position.  While this may look like OB stands for Omnibus, the progression after O9999, went to OA000, and eventually OB as seen here.  Bureau of Motor Vehicles records for 1950 shows almost 12,700 bus registrations, which would likely extend the sequence into the OC000 range.  The source of this plate picture is unknown.



Posting 11/16/2014

Plate News.  Two more tag types have been added to the list of organizational plate.  These include ChildFirst Pennsylvania and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.  Prototype images will be posted by next week.  Neither of these organizations have plates in use yet.


Vern Kreckel of Kreckel Enterprises passes along these images of a high number trailer plate with a 4-20 validation sticker.  The explanation is that this is a 5-year trailer registration.  It is my understanding that stickers are on their way out and soon will be discontinued.  I don't know the exact date, nor do I understand how the system will function as normal without stickers.


Here is an actual Honoring Our veterans sample plate.  This is a Special Fund plate.  It's unfortunate that PennDOT choose to discontinue marketing samples some years ago; however, a few samples are produced with each plate type.  This one found its way onto a display area at PennDOT headquarters.


As we move back thru Bus plate history, we are starting this week with a nice '58 Bus tag.  All Bus plates from 1924 and prior to the '68 base used the letter O as an identifying prefix.  Note that the letter O is smaller than the numbers.  This plate series started at O10-000.


Moving backward to '57 Bus plates we have two examples.  Besides the colors being reversed annually, the keystone separator has not come into use yet; however there are now keystones flanking the word BUS.  The plate on the far left is from Chuck Sakryd, and the near left is from Clayton Moore.


The final bus plate this week is a 1955 Bus from Clayton Moore.  Note that plates now measure 6" x 10" use only 5 characters and use a larger font.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this series likely started went from O0001 to O9999, then OA001, etc.  The further back in time bus history is pursued, the less certainty there is.

Anyone have a '56 Bus plate or picture of one?


A note about early bus plates: Prior to 1924 buses or omnibuses used commercial tags.  There has always been some confusion about the early years of bus plates and omnibus plates.  There is also confusion about the term bus and omnibus.  There was reportedly a bus type plate that used the letter H as a prefix.  My guess is that the "H" plates were used on buses "For Hire" and the "O" plates were considered "Omnibus" plates, although this conflicts with one source.  In any case, I have never seen an H bus plate, or even a photo of one.  This is certainly an area needing additional research.


From Michael Wiener here is an image of a '66 State Senator with the serial number (18) before the PA.  The PA could be used in the prefix or suffix position to permit the registration of 2 vehicles.  The 18 likely represents the 18th PA senatorial district.  PA has 50 senatorial districts.  This plate may have been unused.


The senator elected from PA's 1st senatorial district would have had this plate during the 1971-76 period, however, it looks like this plate was never used.  This is a Jake Eckenrode plate.



This is a 77 base State Senator plate.  Theses were issued from 1977 thru 1983 and could be revalidated until the www base was issued in 1999 or 2000.  Judging by the general condition, the wear marks around the bolt holes and the mid-80s validation stickers, this plate saw a fair amount of time on the street. The image is from Michael Wiener.



Posting 11/9/2014

Vietnam War Veteran — from the beginning to the present.  These plates debuted in 1999.  Until very recently all the plates were the same.  The low-numbered plate on the far left had the Vietnam Service Medal hand painted, probably by the owner.  Theis plate type has recently seen a switch to the "family of plates" look which replaced the familiar red, white and blue format seen over the past 15 years.  The two most recent plate pictures shown here are from Ryan Battin. 


This nice low-number Girl Scouts of the USA plate picture was provided by Sarge of Klassy Karz.




This is a prototype image of the new Pennsylvania Monuments - Gettysburg 1863 plate.  As mentioned last week, this is also a new special fund plate.  The cost of the plate is $54 of which $23 goes to support the cleaning, repairing and restoration of Pennsylvania's Gettysburg Civil War monuments.  The plate can be personalized for an additional $100.


This next prototype is the Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plate.  This is a new a organizational plate available for $25 plus an additional fee for the PA Game Commission, again personalizing the plate will add $100.



In other plate news — concerning the "In God We Trust" plate, no image yet, but the plate is available and will have an image of an eagle.  The United States Olympic plate remains a mystery.  It was part of the legislation, but so far no listing or info for the plate.


Here's a new pending/proposed plate from the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society or PAWS.  The organization has the PennDOT application form on their website with tag type IT and is now taking pre-orders.  Their website is  There is no listing on PennDOT's organizational plate list yet.  Thanks to Sarge from Klassy Karz for the heads up.


Continuing on from last week with more Bus plate history, a new base was issued in 1972 and remained in use thru 1977.  The series started at BA-10000 or BA-10001 and progressed at least into the 30000 series.  These plate were similar to the '84 series; however, the '84 series used a dash separator while the '72 base used a small keystone separator.  Sticker well placement was also different.  The image on the far left is from Clayton Moore.


This previous bus issue ran from 1968 thru 1971.  This was the last run of bus plates to use the state map outline, if you can really call it a map, and it was the first time the BA prefix was used on bus plates.  Again the starting point was BA-10000 or BA-10001.  The far left plate picture is from Clayton Moore and near left is from Chuck Sakryd.


The final Bus plate for this week in the movement back thru time is this 1964 base.  This base was used up thru 1967 with renewal stickers.  It uses a more realistic map but the biggest difference is the use of the letter O as a prefix where all later bus plates use BA.  The O was used every year back to the first plates in 1924.  This picture is from Clayton Moore.


This rare single-digit 1939 Motorboat License is quite a beauty, and has been added to the Motorboat run.  This picture is from Clayton Moore.



Sarge of Klassy Karz shares this rare pair of 1932 Official plates.  Most pairs of older rare plates have been split up, which makes this group a nice find.  These plates measured 6" by 12" and with the large serial number font, any plates that exceeded 3 digits required the dropping of the keystone on the right side.





Posting 11/2/2014

There is so much plate news this week it's hard to decide where to begin.

NEW PLATE TYPES — According to Act 109, several new plates were available as of 10/30/2014.  These are now a part of the PA Vehicle Code Section 1369.1 and include the following plates:

Combat Action Badge registration plate is one of five Combat Action veterans' plates now available.



Next is the Combat Infantryman Badge.  Note that all plates use the C/O identifier, and the plate numbers are assigned in blocks of 20-thousand.



The Combat Action Ribbon plate comes in at the 40000C/O point.



Next is the Combat Action Medal plate.



And finally the Combat Medical Badge plate.  None of these Combat Action plate series is in use yet.  Not all links for these newer plates have been set up.



There is also a new organizational plate — Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage.  No plates in use yet.  I plan to have an image by next week.  The formatting will be 00000H/T.

There is also a new Special Fund plate — Pennsylvania Monuments - Gettysburg 1863.  I plan to have an image by next week.  The formatting will be 00000G/B.

The "In God We Trust" plate appears to be available as optional registration type, available to any PA vehicle owner for $20.  The formatting will be G/T00000.  No image available.

The United States Olympic plate is a mystery.  Perhaps it's still going thru the development process.  So far it is not listed on the PennDOT website.

DELAYS WITH PERSONALIZED PLATES — I was contacted by someone who was interested in getting a personalized Preserve Our Heritage special fund plate only to receive a letter from PennDOT saying the plate is no longer available for personalization; however, the vanity check page is states "This registration plate is not yet available for personalization."  One source says 'no longer available' the other says 'not yet available.'  If that's not enough, the application form, MV-911, shows no restrictions or delays.  Upon checking other plates on the vanity check page, the message "This registration plate is not yet available for personalization" also applies to Pearl Harbor Survivor, Korean War Veteran, WWII Veteran, and Street Rod.  It appears that before a plate is eligible to be personalized, it must be on the all-too-familiar family of plates base which requires the change depicted below.  Compare the two Conserve Wild Resources plates below.  On the left is the design that has been in use for almost 15 years, and next to it is the new 'family of plates' version.

Tom Perri image

I wonder why it is necessary to rid PA of many of the most beautiful license plates ever produced.  What a shame.  I’m sure once these beautiful plates take on the generic look of the ‘family of plates’ that sales will drop off dramatically.  And little by little PA's beautiful picture plates will disappear.


On the history pages, the newer court-related plates from the 1980s and later, which include Commonwealth Court, Superior Court and Supreme Court, which had been with the Judiciary plates, have been relocated to their own respective sections.  In addition, I have added an '84 base Supreme Court plate from the ALPCA Archives.  I have received permission from the ALPCA Archivist to use images.


These two 1984 to 1999 vintage U.S. Congress plates have been added to the Congressional History section.  The U/S 1 plate image is from Eric Getchell.  The source of the 23 U/S plate is unknown.  Please let me know if it's yours.



Here's the first image of for the U.S. Senate plate history section.  It's a '58 base with a '61 sticker.  The plate is from Jake Eckenrode's display.  There may also have been a US2, and 1US and 2US plates.  It may not have been until the 1970s that the plates actually had U.S. Senate as part of the legend.  Today neither of Pennsylvania's senators use state-issued senatorial plates, probably for security reasons.


The Bus History section has been started.  Plates from 2000 and newer have been posted on the history page but not shown on this page.  Working backward from the current plates, next is the yellow on blue base that dates back as far as 1984.  Unfortunately the two plates from that vintage shown here have been revalidated well beyond their expected replacement date of around 2000.  The next older grouping will be the blue on yellow '78 base shown below.  The '78 base was still eligible for renewal up thru 2000 or 2001.  Watch for additional images in the upcoming weeks.

The BA-36157, BA-16696 and BA-23810 images are thanks to Clayton Moore.




Posting 10/26/2014

Here's the first image of Pennsylvania's newest plate from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  These plates hit the street this past week with about 117 now in use.  The #29 plate shown here is from Ryan Battin.  If you are interested in one of these plates click this link.  AT plates are also available in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.  By the way, 230 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs thru PA.


This same Little League Baseball plate was shown here about a year ago but without a sticker.  It was provided by Bruce Sakson.  This newer image was taken recently by Bruce Bufalini and now has a 9-15 sticker.



This is the current National Wild Turkey Federation high.  Anyone have a sample plate or image of this type?  They don't seem to exist.  There is no indication that these plates are being updated onto the visitPA base and color graphics.  For all the latest PA highs, check out Tom Perri's PA Plates website.


The Motorboat section is complete in that at least one image and data are being shown for every year the plates were issued.  Now I'm adding a few additional images with more or fewer characters than the plate previously posted.  So it is for this 5-character 1955 plate; the previous posting showed a 4-character configuration.  The source of this plate is unknown.


Next is this 4-character '59 Motorboat plate.  The previous 1959 posting was a 5-character plate.  This plate is from my own collection.



Here's a 4-character '63 Motorboat plate.  This plate is now a companion to thr rare 3-character that was previously posted.  The source of this plate is unknown.  If anyone has any 1- or 2-character plates or images they would be a welcome addition.


Here is a very nice 1970 PA State Senator plate on what I describe as the '66 political base.  It is from the collection of Jake Eckenrode.  In 1965 a new base was issued.  Senator plates were issued with PENNSYLVANIA below the top border, and PA plus a 1- or 2- digit number — pretty plain.  About 1966 the plates were given a facelift and the result is what you see here — a more distinctive and attractive plate, in fact the configuration is very similar to plates in use today, with the obvious changing of bases.

Anyone have a '57 Sate Senator plate or image?


This is a 1965 Member of Congress (MC) or a Congressional plate.  One of these could have been issued to each Member of Congress from PA.  It is unknown if the number, in this case 1, stood for the congressional district or not.  Today it does, although not many are issued.  The plate configuration could also have been reversed with the 1 followed by MC.  This practice allows for two vehicles to be registered.  The plate is from the collection of Jake Eckenrode.


This plate configuration is unconfirmed but is likely a 1966 Member of Congress update that was seen in other political plates at the time.  PENNSYLVANIA was now embossed in the top border, US stacked on the left, a C and a 1- or 2-digit number.  The U/SC stood for United States Congress.  A reversed configuration, such as 16 U/SC was also likely available.  The sources of this image is unknown.  If you own this plate, please let me know and I'll give you credit for the image.  If you know more about this plate, any information would be appreciated.


I am giving some thought to adding a history section on PA Bus plates.  There aren't many bus plates in my collection and I'm certainly not an expert on such plates, but why not.  Watch for more in the near future.


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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376