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Bruce Bufalini captured this first image of a University of Pittsburgh plate in a personalized or vanity format. In recent months these have been showing up on more organizational plates types as well as Veteran, and Classic tags. Nice, but a little pricey, as it tacks on an additional $100 to the cost of the plate for most types.
The St. Charles Borromeo Seminary plate appears to an active type with some half-dozen plates in use or will be soon.
Which is the correct Lehigh University sample plate? Note the plate on the left has the L/U identifier on the right side while the other sample has it on the left. Also the legend font is different on the two plates. The correct version is the one the far left, and as confirmed by the plate below. Back before the transition to the www plates, there were a number of test plates made as samples, and some of these have found their way into collections. The yellow on blue version is shown for comparison. That image was provided by George Kunsman.
Back in late 2006 Lehigh University moved forward into the graphic plate arena with this upgrade. The plate on the near left, while not a particularly good image, is the current high. The plate on the far left would indicate that some lower numbered plates on the www base were reissued on the visitPA base.
As we continue to add to the Dealer plate history section, we begin this week with a 1948 Dealer plate as identified by DEALER on the plate legend and the characteristic 'X' in the serial number. The X could at least be in the first or second position, and all plates are believed to be five characters. There were also A-prefix NEW CAR DL'R and B-prefix USED CAR DL'R plates at the time. The A and B Dealer plates are believed to have come into use in 1946. The picture was provided by Clayton Moore.
The next plate this week is this 1949 New Car Dealer plate, also from Clayton. This plate has the distinguishing 'A' as the first character of a New Car Dealer plate to identify it as such. The 'A' did not advance but the final letter did advance but was the last character to do so. There were also 'B' series Used Car Dealer plates. I guess there weren't many used car dealers at the time since the plates are pretty rare. Of course the 'X' series dealer plate was also part of the mix.
This 1950 New Car Dealer plate has a lot in common with the '49 plate above. The final 'L' on both plates is just a coincidence. This plate was courtesy of Chuck Sakryd. Again there would also have been a 'B' series Used Car Dealer plate and an 'X' series Dealer plate.
Here's a '51 NEW CAR DL'R. This plate is similar to the plates above and likewise would have had a 'B' series Used Car Dealer companion. At some point in time as the number of dealer plates increased, the second alpha character after reaching A999Z, likely advanced to A00A0. It is unknown when this took place. Also at some unknown point in time besides the A and B-prefix plates, there was a C-series dealer plate such as C001A. This was at a later date referred to as a Transit Dealer while the X-series dealer plates were called Miscellaneous Dealers. Anyone have more insight or knowledge on this?
We're going to jump ahead to this 1970 New Car Dealer plate from Vern Kreckel. In 1957 all dealer plates went to 6 characters, and in 1966 the legend NEW CAR DL'R and USED CAR DL'R was shortened to just DEALER, however, the A and B prefixes still meant new and used. This was from Hauck Chrysler Plymouth in Ridgway PA, which is in beautiful Elk County, PA. This dealer also sold Ford in the late 70s until it closed for business in 1980. For some this may have no meaning but for others this tells the storey behind the plate.
Here's a '74 New Car Dealer plate also telling a storey of its place or origin. On the reverse there is a dealer sticker from Rich Chevrolet Cadillac in Ridgway Pa, which is also in Elk County, PA. This dealer went out of business around 1984.
Last, but certainly not least, is this very nice, low number, 1942 Motorbike plate from Tim Gierschick. No it's not a Motorboat plate. They used MBL at the time, were slightly larger and used different colors. We should all look so good at 73.
Here's the first image of a Classic Vehicle plate in a personalized or vanity format. The picture came from Ryan Battin. According to form MV-11, for Classic registration plates, up to FIVE letters and/or numbers in combination are permitted. The form goes on to say that a pre-printed, stacked letter configuration will appear on the personalized registration plate. So either the plate was made incorrectly or the form was. I'm sure that refers to the C prefix, in fact if you enter the combination shown here into the vanity check, the system shows that the plate would be C 94ZUK.
Here's the latest Going Home Greyhounds high plate from Brandon Sowers. The plate helps to support the Going Home Greyhounds cause.
This Presque Isle Partnership plate represents another new high. This specialty plate helps support the Presque Isle Lighthouse. Presque Isle is a beautiful state park out in Lake Erie. Where else can you go to see a lighthouse in Pennsylvania?
The NASCAR 3 Dale Earnhardt Legacy plate image on the far left was recently provided by Brandon Sowers, and with its black and white NASCAR graphic along the bottom of the plate, it is typical of the 5 or 6 images I have. By contrast, the serial number on the near left is less than 30 plates apart, yet it has a colored NASCAR graphic. Of the many NASCAR plates produced, the Dale Earnhardt Legacy plate is believed to be the only one to use the black and white graphic.
This is the first image of a 1987 base Amateur Radio plate. While these may not have been all that hard to come by, there were four different plate variations of the yellow on blue base beginning in 1984. First there was the "You've Got a Friend" base, then about 1987 the Keystone base as shown here, then in 1988 the "AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR" legend and finally in 1990 the the legend was shortened to "AMATEUR RADIO". Click the link above to see them all. This plate image was provided courtesy of eBay seller thisnthatnc14.
Here we have a 1934 Dealer plate. For the first time since 1923 the word Dealer is back, but, the expected X is gone. The plates were short at 6 by 10 inches and therefore limited to 4 characters. With a 4-digit limit, it was necessary to use alpha-numeric combinations such as A123 to accommodate the needed number of dealer plates. It is also known that Dealer plates with fewer than 4 characters were issued, such as A12. The plate image was provided by Clayton Moore.
We jump ahead to this 1936 Dealer plate, also courtesy of Clayton Moore. Immediately it is apparent that the plate is longer, now 6 by 12 inches, has 5 characters, and the X has returned. At this point not much more is known about '36 Dealer plates; however, if they followed the same formatting as 1935 plates, there would have been 6 by 10 inch Dealer plates and the serial sequence would have been X1 to 99X9 on the shorter plates, and X1000 to 29X99 on the longer plates. Hopefully in time some of these questions will be answered.
As I add more Dealer plates from the '70s and '80s I will cross-list some of the MV Business and Tractor Dealer plates that were previously posted in their own categories. In this case these '71 MV Business and Tractor Dealer plates were added to the '71 New Car Dealer and Used car Dealer plates that were posted last week.
NOTE: The first year for Trailer Dealer or Utility Trailer Dealer plates, E00-000E format, is uncertain. It could have been as early as 1971. They are confirmed to exist by 1973.
Next up this week is this pair of '72 New Car Dealer and Used car Dealer plates, again with the 'A' series representing New Car Dealer and the 'B' series representing Used Car Dealer. During this period Dealer plates were issued annually until 1975 when an undated plate was issued with a sticker. That plate was then renewable in '76. Following the 2-year plate, the series went back to an annual issue of dated plates in 1977. The 'A' series plate is from Clayton Moore and the 'B' series plate came from Chuck Sakryd.
This 'C' series MV Business and 'D' series Tractor Dealer plates from 1972 are being cross-listed with the other '72 Dealer plates shown above. The early history of Trailer Dealer or Utility Trailer Dealer plates (E00-000E) is not well documented. Any information would be welcome.
Despite the fact that these Conserve Wild Resources plates were discontinued 15 years ago, a large number are still on the road, including this low number plate from Nick Tsilakis. According to a BMV report, there were 66,443 such plates still in use at the end of 2014. This is actually the most of any Special Fund plate. Next is the Tiger plate with 63,000, then the Otter with almost 32,000, the Railroad Heritage with 27,800 plates, DARE with 19,600, Flagship Niagara with almost 10,000, and the newest plate, Honoring Our Veterans with 1,800.
It's very obvious that these beautiful graphic plates sold very well and supported their causes. Unfortunately the gradual migration to the mundane 'family of plates' has sounded the death knell for most of these plates.
Arthur Levine provided this image of a West Manchester Township Fire Co. plate. The plate is also the current new high. West Manchester Township is located in York County.
Chuck Harrington provided this image of a low number Official Use plate. I had mistakenly listed this series as starting at 00000-PA, while Chuck states correctly that the series started at 10000-PA, making this the 5th plate off the line. This plate would have been issued as part of a pair since it is used on a passenger vehicle, whereas a commercial vehicle would receive a single plate, and a different number series. I have done some revamping of the current Official Use section as well as the history section on Official Plates. It has been a challenge to keep track of the single and dual plate series since the starting point of such practice seems obscure.
In plate news, it appears that Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Company will soon have about 6 plates on the road.
A good portion of each weekly update includes a segment aimed at depicting and documenting plate history. So much good work has been done by a number of enthusiasts, yet so much of PA's license plate history remains to be written. If this piques your interest consider getting involved, becoming a member of the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association, or ALPCA. ALPCA has an extensive and ever-expanding plate archive section as well as many opportunities to meet others with similar interests at local and national events. ALPCA has a great magazine also.
The first historical plate this week is this 1927 Dealer plate comes from Clayton Moore. Note the absence of a Dealer legend, being left with the characteristic 'X' prefix to make the identification. This is also the first year for the X to be smaller than the serial number. Also by this point all plates adhered to the yellow and blue color scheme. This plate is believed to be 6" x 15".
Clayton also provided this 1932 Dealer plate. Note the shorter length, but the plate retains the characteristic 'X', and no plate legend. The shorter size restricted the number of characters, and would have required the use of the "X" in other positions as the number of Dealer plates easily exceeded 20,000.
Here is a 1966 New Car Dealer plate. By contrast the 1965 plate legend spelled out NEW CAR DEALER and USED CAR DEALER, whereas the words new and used were dropped in '66 just using the word DEALER for both types. The distinguishing feature was the serial formatting with New Car Dealer using A00-00A, and Used Car Dealer being B00-00A, with the A and B prefix letter being static non-advancing characters. The plate image is courtesy of Clayton Moore.
This is not a new plate on this website, but since we're doing the dealer plate series, it seemed logical to discuss the evolution of the Motor Vehicle Business plate. Beginning in 1966 this new dealer series category called Motor Vehicle Business was created. The plate formatting is similar to what previously had been called Transit Dealer which used the same format of C00-00A. Also gone for 1966 was the Miscellaneous Dealer with its characteristic X00-00A format. It is believed that Transit Dealer and Miscellaneous Dealer were by, and consolidated into the Motor Vehicle Business series.
For 1971 Dealer plates there were some significant changes to the design and layout. Gone was the map outline, replaced by an embossed border, and the serial number has been expanded to 7 characters. All New Car Dealer plates used an A prefix and suffix with 5 numeric characters in between, starting at A10-000A. There is now a small keystone separator between the third and fourth character. Used Car Dealer plates were very similar except for the use of a B in the prefix and suffix position. The A and B characters were non-advancing. These pictures are courtesy of
A few weeks ago I posted a couple older Motorbike and Motorcycle Dealer plates from Alcova Jones. The plate had actually belonged to his father, Edward F. Jones, when he rode in the 1940s. Here we have another plate from Mr. Jones, this being a 1945 Motorcycle plate. DMV records indicate that Motorcycle registrations for 1945 were around 13,800; however, this likely included Motorbike registrations as well.
As time goes on we are starting to see more and more specialty and veterans' plates in a vanity format. So it is for this Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America recently spotted by Jaska Börner. I'm anxious to see some of the many eligible miscellaneous types in a vanity format, however, some, like Implement of Husbandry and Moped Dealer will most likely never be made into a vanity.
Speaking of vanities, this PA Breast Cancer Coalition 'FIGHT' plate was photographed by Nick Tsilakis. Too bad the owner of the plate covered up so much of it with a frame. Up to 5 alpha-numeric characters are permitted. Wonder if the system would permit just the B/C prefix and no characters.
Here's a nice new In God We Trust plate from Clayton Moore. It's also the current high number. These plates were first seen in December of 2014.
Another image from Jaska Börner is this Operation Enduring Freedom plate. It's also a new high.
As mentioned last week, the Lung Cancer Alliance will soon be offering a specialty plate. Don't know if this plate will be limited to those associated with the organization, or if it will be available to the public as a fund raiser. So far there are no plates on the street.
The other new plate is this Spring Mill Fire Company No. 1. Again, no plates on the street yet. It is likely that the sale of these plates will be limited to those associated with the fire company.
Fellow ALPCA member Arthur Levine sent me a number of PA plate pictures recently. Here's a low number AFSCME Council 13 plate. According to Tom Perri's PA Plates website, at least 79 plates have been issued.
Continuing with the Dealer run, is this 1917 Dealer plate from Clayton Moore. By 1916, porcelain had been replaced by painted steel. For 1917 there two sizes of plates. The X+3 digits pictured here and X+1 digit and X+2 digits, were 6" x 13½". For X+4 digits those plates were somewhat longer 6" x 16". According to DMV records there were 7891 plates issued, according to the ALPCA Archives the number is a few hundred less.
This 1922 Dealer plate image again was provided by Clayton Moore. This is a wide plate measuring 6" by 16". Because of the way the legend is spread out across the bottom of the plate, all plates are believed to be the same size regardless of the number of characters. The color is brown on cream, and the formatting ran from X1 to X999, then a dash separator was added from X1-000 to the high which was above X10-000.
This nice undated 1965 Used Car Dealer plate picture was provided by Clayton Moore. The plate legend and the B00-00A formatting identify it as a Used Car Dealer. The other Dealer types from this series for that year were New Car (A00-00A), Transit (C00-00A) and Miscellaneous (X00-000). Of course there were also Motorcycle and Tractor Dealers which for purposes of organizing them, are considered to be a different series.
This is a 1979 base Tractor Dealer plate as identified by the D prefix and suffix. '79 was the last base where the D00-000D could be identified as Tractor Dealer; however, these plate could be revalidated into the early '90s when Dealer-Farm Equipment plates made their debut. Later yellow on blue D-series Dealer plates can not be identified as to which dealer type they were since the A, B, D and E dealer type designators was done away with in the mid-80s and they were more or less merged together as generic Dealer plates.
Here's a very nice Combat Action Badge vanity plate — I suppose it stands for GUNNER. This was a great find for Tom Perri. So far I don't have a picture of a standard issue Combat Action Badge with the 5 digits, only this personalized version.
Nick Tsilakis spotted this Barbershopper plate recently. Nice number. In the image gallery, there is also a picture of plate B/Q01000. This organization so far has not switched over to the family of plates base which would allow color graphics and personalization.
The two photos on the far left show the first image of a Philadelphia University plate on the redesigned format. The plate on the near left shows the original formatting. The two images on the far left are from Jaska Borner, while the near left image is from Tom Perri.
Terrible picture — but new high. This School Vehicle plate is part of the 9th formatting variations, just since the the www base was introduced.
This week PennDOT's list of organizational plates was updated to include four new organizations. These include Bucks County Community College and Northampton Fire Department which was first shown here on 3/22.
In addition to the new organizations above, Lung Cancer Alliance and Spring Mill Fire Company No. 1 (Montgomery County) have been added to the list. I plan to have prototype images of the last two with the next posting. None of the organizations have plates in use yet.
Last week we added additional Dealer plates beginning with 1910, the first year of issue, and included 1911 and 1912. This week we start with this 1913 Dealer plate from Clayton Moore. Again the progression was the same as earlier plates with the series beginning at X1 and advancing to somewhere around X3391 according to DMV records.
Next in order is this 1914 Dealer plate also from Clayton Moore. Throughout this early porcelain series the biggest change form year to year was the color. The other formatting is pretty consistent. According to DMV records some 3367 dealer plates were issued for that year. Note that the elongated slots at the top of these early plates was for the use of straps as an alternate way to mount the plates.
This trio of 1915 Dealer plates is a group effort. The X29 and X5093 plates were provided by Tim Gierschick, while the X365 picture was provided by Clayton Moore. Note that as the number of digits on the plates increases, so does the length of the plates. They started at 6" x 8" for X+1 digit, 6" x 10" for X+2 digits, and 6" x 12" for X+3 digits and 6" x 14" for X+4 digit plates. DMV records indicate that there were some 4834 Dealer plates issued that year.
Coleman of TLH Plates /
ShopLicensePlates.com has been kind enough
to allow me to use images from his on-line license plate shop. He has a
nice selection of plates the US and
other countries. Right now he has quite a few Pennsylvania Dealer plates available. First up is this undated
of TLH Plates / ShopLicensePlates.com has been kind enough to allow me to use images from his on-line license plate shop. He has a nice selection of
plates the US and other countries. Right now he has quite a few
Pennsylvania Dealer plates available. First up is this
undatedMiscellaneous Dealer plate. More to come.
I have added a new page of Links where I list websites that have helped me with pictures or information. I will also list other helpful plate related website — basically anything that benefits the hobby. Feel free to send me a link to your favorite plate-related website.
Images and photos are always welcome. Please send to:
John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA