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Pennsylvania License Plate Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

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REFERENCE MATERIAL


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  2006 Archives (from 7/22)

Posting 3/1/2015

On the far left Ryan Battin provided this first image of a an Antique Motorcycle plate in a personalized or vanity format.  On the near left is an example of a typical 5-digit  Antique Motorcycle plate.  Legislation in 2014 made it possible for many plate types to be issued as vanity plates.

 


On the far left is an image of a personalized / vanity version of a Gettysburg 1863 - Pennsylvania Monuments plate.  The image came from the Civil War Dance Foundation's website — http://www.civilwardance.org/    For more information on ordering this or another Special Fund plate, go to http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/license_plates/special_fund.shtml

The yellow on blue plate was part of an earlier private effort to raise funds for the preservation and restoration of the approximately 140 Gettysburg battlefield monuments.  These were used as front plates, what we might call a booster plate.

 


Spotted this new Municipal high plate.  Hate plate frames — at least you can read the entire plate.

 

 

 


Millersville University of Pennsylvania (Lancaster County) has given their plate a complete remake on the far left.  The symbol has been replaced, the name has been fully spelled out and of course it's now on the visitPA base.  It is not known if existing plates will be replaced, or if old and new will both be in use.  Millersville has had a plate program since 1994.

 


Ryan Batting spotted this change to the PA State Nurses Association plate on the far left.  On the near left is the version that has been in use since 2005.  As with the the plate above, it is not known if existing plates will be replaced, or if old and new will both be in use.  The older style plate image was provided by Tom Perri.

 


Having one Motorbike plate picture to post is an accomplishment, but this week we have two such images.  The first on the far left is a 1939 MB plate thanks to Lee Madigan.  The plate on the near left is a 1944 Motorbike from Dave Lincoln.  1938 plate would have been the first year for the map outline.  The 1944 plate also has the expiration date of 3-31-45 in the upper border.  The use of the expiration date began in 1941.

 


This is an inversion error plate.  May have been a bad day in the big house when this '77 base Motorcycle plate was made.  Somehow it got through, and the owner used it, judging by the wear around the bolt holes.  This unusual find was courtesy of Dave Lincoln.  I have been posting these plates in the Oddball section but I will also show them with other plates of their period.

 


I have thrown in another pair of pictures from Bill Pratt of an inversion error plate that was posted some time ago in the Oddball section.  This plate is a '71 base Motorcycle with a '75 sticker.  These oddballs are not everyone's cup of tea, but they definitely have a place in the hobby for some collectors.  These error plates still manage to slip thru the system.

 


The 4-digit '67 Motorcycle Dealer plate on the far left is from Dave Lincoln and is a new addition.  The 3-digit on the near left was from Jerry McCoy.  It was posted some time ago but is shown here again to compare the two.  Up thru 1967 the Motorcycle Dealer plate series started at plate # 1.  Beginning in 1968 M/C Dealer plates started at 1000. 

 


For 1969 Motorcycle Dealer plate were similarly formatted except for the obvious year change, and the series starting point mentioned above.  Dave Lincoln has been kind enough to let me use many of his very nice M/C Dealer plates and others.  Dave is downsizing his Pennsylvania collection and is selling many plates on eBay under the user name Tagbarn.  Watch for more in the future.

 


 

Posting 2/22/2015

As mentioned last week, Ducks Unlimited gave their plate a new graphic look with the duck image now flat screened, and the plate is now on the 'family of plates' / visitPA base.  This action also makes the plate eligible to be personalized.

 

 


Also mentioned last week was the addition of an organizational plate for the Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster, PA.  No plates are on the street yet.

 

 


Another new issues comes from the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society or PAWS.  No plates are on the street yet either; however, the organization is advertising the plate.

 

 


The PA Game Commission is now marketing the Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage specialty plate.  The fee for the plate is $56; however, the plate will not be available in a personalized version.  The link to their website is: http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/ then click on the Hunting License Plate.  The link will take you to the application form and instructions.  I don't think they are selling any samples.

 


Jordan Irazabal hit the eBay jackpot with this one.  What looked like a Dealer-Farm Equipment sample at first glance was actually the number 0 plate, or first plate of its type to be produced.  It's definitely the real thing as it came from a farm machinery dealership auction.  These plates were first issued in 1991 or '92.

 


Here's a very unusual 1967 Motorcycle Sample plate from Dave Lincoln.  What makes it unusual is the fact that it's a '63 base — see embossed year under the sticker. In addition the colors are reversed for a '63 base, but correct for a '67.  The sticker has 'PA0000' on it.  I don't think any '63 bases were actually isssed during the '65 to '70 run, so this anomaly only appears on samples like the one here.

 


This is the first and only image of a '72 Motorcycle Dealer plate on this website.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln for sharing so many images from his collection.  Motorcycle Dealer plates are much harder to find than regular motorcycle plates.  In addition where regular motorcycle plates would make multi-year runs, dealer tags were often reissued yearly.  In any case, my pictorial run of MC Dealer still has many gaps in it.

 


This is the first image of a 1931 Official (Use) plate to be posted on this site.  Thanks to Eric Tanner for making the image available.  These were issued to state-owned vehicles such as state police cars.  There are some gaps in the history of this plate type, such as were there plates issued in 1924 and '25?  Pictures are needs of a '34, '37 and '39 Official plates.  All the subsequent plates up thru 1956 have no official legend.

 


I obtained the 5-digit 1952 Trailer plate on the far left this week.  In comparison on the near left is a previously shown 4-digit low number.  What I don't have for this year are any of the alpha-numeric combinations of A000 to Z999, 0A00 to 9Z99, 00A0 to 99Z9, 000A to 999Z that are believed to have been issued before going to the 5-digit version.

 


I have updated the Omnibus plate history section.  The changeover points between when the 1974 base left off and the 1984 base began, have been refined, based on a plate spotted on eBay.  We now know that the '74 base ran at least as high as OB-24604 and the '84 base started at OB-29000 or below.  There also could have been a gap between numbers that were actually issued.  In other words '74 bases may have been produced as high as OB-28999, but only issued as high as 27000, meanwhile in anticipation of the '84 run the new plate series started at OB-29000.

 


 

Posting 2/15/2015

Thanks to the many generous contributors, I have been able to complete or nearly complete several runs of older plates over the past few months.  At the moment I am pretty much out of older plate images.  If anyone has a collection of plates or pictures of a particular type not displayed on this site, let's talk.

 


PA Plate News

 • The Carnegie Mellon University organizational plate is now listed by PennDOT as not available.  The plate had about a 10-year run with about 396 plates being issued.

  Ducks Unlimited has given their plate a facelift to the newer graphic style base.  Prototype image coming.

  Lancaster Bible College and Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society are new organizational plates.  Prototype images coming soon.  No plates in use yet.

 


Community Life Team EMS (Harrisburg, PA) now has several plates on the street.

 

 

 


Here's a pair right off the plate press.  These newer Severely Disabled Veteran and Antique Motorcycle plates have had many showings on this website thanks to Ryan Battin.  Nice number on the Antique MC.  Both plates represent new highs.

 

 


I have actually received pictures of this plate from 3 people.  This very low number Save Wild Animals - Tiger plate, from Ryan Battin, happens to be the best image.  After a run from 1996 to 2013, this plate was discontinued and was replaced by the less popular Support Your Zoo plate.

 

 


This larger image and cropped image of a Limousine plate were provided by James (Jaska) Börner.  The picture appears to have been taken near Philadelphia City Hall.  The plate is also the new high.

 

 

 


This 1917 Motorcycle plate is one of some 24,000 that were issued that year.  The series is believed to have started a plate # 1 and advanced in an all-numeric progression.  The colors were white on brown.  The plates were 4½ inches high, and were either 6 or 8 inches wide depending on the number of digits.  The plate gallery shows 3, 4 and 5 digit plates.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln for the nice image.

 


This 1970 motorcycle sample shows a change in format that took place when the undated '65 series ran out of 4-character combinations and went to a revised 5-character format.  This change likely took place about 1967 and the use of 5 characters eliminated the space for the stacked MC.  The MC was replaced by the legend MOTORCYCLE along the bottom of the plate.  The 5 character format was 0A000 to 9Z999.  Another thank you to Dave Lincoln for the nice image.

 


Another pair of beauties from Dave Lincoln are these first issue Municipal Motorcycle plates.  These came out in 1974 or '75 after the full-size municipal plates were first issued in 1971.  They were only in use a couple years when they were replaced by the '77 base.  The MG000 plate is a sample.  Logic might suggest that if there were Municipal MC plates, were there also Commonwealth Official Use motorcycle plates.  The answer is no.  State Police motorcycles use standard issue motorcycle plates.

 


I have been following Antique Motorcycle plates for a number of years and have probably seen close to a thousand plates, and have close to 150 pictures, but have never seen an all-numeric plate, except for the one pictured here and the new style plate the visitPA base.  If 1, 2, or 3-digit Antique Motorcycle plates were produced, most likely it would have been at the beginning of production, however, the 18 plate on the left has wide hole spacing, indicating it was probably issued after 1985 when regular motorcycle plates switched to the wide hole spacing.  Therefore I believe the 18 plate was not issued as part of a normal plate progression but rather was made up as a favor, souvenir or test.  There were 2-character alpha-numeric plates issues, such a A5 and C8, I have one in my collection, but it is unknown if single letter plates were ever issued.

 


This is quite a lineup of Antique Motorcycle Sample plate images.  I can't say with certainty in which order they was produced, but the center plate with the letters SAMP centered, is the only plate with the wide bolt hole spacing, making it the last one of the older style issued.  The plate on the far left is the first sample I've seen with the Q 00 formatting.  This plate is courtesy of Dave Lincoln.

 


 

Posting 2/8/2015

The plate on the far left is a front 2015 Inaugural plate and the # 17 plate is for the rear.  These plates were produced for members of the Governor's inauguration committee as souvenir plates and placed on the dashboard for vehicle identification during Inauguration event on January 20.  Although rear plates were produced, they were not used due to the overall negativity that the public has toward legislative officials and concerns about terrorism. Governor Tom Wolf was offered #1 and Lt. Governor Mike Stack was offered #2.

 


These Honoring Our Veterans plates became available in November of 2012, and they have just surpassed the 2,000 mark; however, the starting point was 00100H/V, so technically 1,900 plates have been issued.  These are one of the Special Fund plate series, and have a price tag of $35, however the vanity version costs an additional $100.  Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing the image.

 


Bruce Bufalini shares this traffic shot of a high number Thiel College plate.  It's only the second image of such a plate.  Thiel College is located in Greenville, Mercer County, PA, about 90 minutes from Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

 

 

 


The value of this Disabled Veteran plate picture from Nick Tsilakis is in what it contains.  It helps to narrow down the changeover point between Format 7 and 8.  Format 7 used a keystone separator, as shown here, while format 8 went back to the expected dash separator.  The changeover is between DV-34641 and DV-34708.  These changeovers do not always occur at logical points.

 


Here's a gem — this 1916 Motorcycle plate from the collection of Dave Lincoln.  This low number plate is on the narrow six-inch base, while four and five-digit plates were eight inches wide.  Click the link to see three, four and five-digit examples.  This and several of Dave's plates shown here are being auctioned on eBay but ending later in the day on 2/8.

 


Some may say that Sample plates aren't the real thing, but for many collectors it's a sought-after category.  They fill a special niche in that they help preserve plate formatting and generally survive the ravages of time and wear with few scars.  So it goes with this 1938 Motorbike plate from Dave Lincoln.  Confused with Motorboat plates?  Motorboat plates at the time used MBL as the designator and they were larger.  I'm not aware of a Motorbike Dealer plate until the Moped Dealer plates came along in the late '70s.

 


Here's another unusual sample.  Also from 1938 is this Motorcycle Dealer sample.  By 1938 the use of an X to designate a dealer plate had been replaced by the MCD.  Actual plates would have had 1 to 3 numeric characters, and likely didn't exceed a few hundred plates.  This image is also from Dave Lincoln.

 


Here is a pair of undated 1965 Motorcycle Dealer and '65 Motorcycle license plates courtesy of Dave Lincoln. This was the first year for a series that ran through 1970, with date stickers for all but the first year.  These particular plates with the nice low number were actually displayed as samples in one of the State locations. Dave obtained these, directly from a collector-friendly Motor Vehicle Department employee who rescued them from the recycle bin.

 


Here's a nice 1965 Motorcycle Sample with a '66 sticker. There were several alpha-numeric variations on this base.  Most used 1 letter and 3 numbers but as these combinations ran out there was a 5-character version without the stacked MC and with the word MOTORCYCLE along the bottom border.  I do believe there were samples plates made with 5 zeros, but no plates were issued with five numeric characters.  This image is also from Dave Lincoln.

 


The last image this week is also thanks to Dave Lincoln, and is also the first image (on this website) of a '78 Motorcycle Dealer.  This was the final year for an embossed date, after which the undated '79 base was re-stickered and used until the plate changeover around 2000.

 


 

Posting 2/1/2015

Very nice Farm Truck plate image from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  The is only the second of these spotted on the visitPA base.  The changeover took place at the start of the D suffix, and was first seen in October of 2014.

 

 


It seems challenging to get a good clean image of a Bronze Star for Valor plate.  This is a good picture unfortunately the frame is kind of a detractor.  These are also much less plentiful than the Bronze Star which has some 370 plates in use, while the Bronze Star for Valor has slightly more than100 plates issued.  This image also came from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.

 


I'm certain very few of us have one of these hanging on our plate wall.  Dave Lincoln has been kind enough to share two of these extremely rare PA Commercial Motorcycle plate pictures.  These were only issued from 1938 until 1949, except 1943 when metal tabs were issued.  In 1950 a change in the registration fee structure eliminated the need for this plate type.  All of the plates were formatted similarly with COMM over MC over PA and the 2-digit year all to the left of the serial number.  Serial number started at 1 and I have never seen one higher than 675.

 


Over the past couple weeks we've pretty well covered the H-series bus plates, but we still have a couple O series images to show.  This nice, low-number, 1926 Bus plate image is from Jake Eckenrode.  1926 was also the last year that letter characters were the same size as the numeric characters, thus the large O.  This is also a short plate likely measuring 6" by 10".  Larger sizes were used on plates with additional characters; however, the actual size or sizes need to be confirmed.

 


The final O-series bus plate image for this week is this 1928 Bus is also from Jake Eckenrode's collection.  Note that the letter O is now a smaller character than the numbers.  This change took place in 1927 making it easier to differentiate.  This also appears to be 6" by 10" in size, while 1928 the 5-character bus plate shown in the plate gallery measures 6" by 13".

There are still about 8 years without bus plate images, and other years with missing format and size variations.

 


Would you believe these are both 1929 Legislative plates?  The L-16 plate on the far left follows the same format as the 1928 Legislative plates; however, based on information from Jake Eckenrode, it appears that there was a change in the design of the Legislative plates part way thru the year giving the plates a bolder more distinctive look.  It's likely all of the early issue plates were replaced with the plates bearing the LEGISLATIVE legend.  Interesting piece of plate history.  Thanks to Jake for sharing some of his vast plate knowledge, thanks to Dave Lincoln for the use of the early legislative image, and thanks to the ALPCA Archives for allowing me to use the other image.

 


This is the first image of a 1919 Motorcycle plate on this website.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln for the nice image.  As can be seen, PA had not yet adopted the standardized colors of dark blue and yellow.  Some 25 thousand plates were issued that year, and plates came in two lengths depending on the number of characters.  1 to 3 number plates were 6 inches across, while 4 and 5 character plates were 8".  All were 4½" high.

 


This 1929 Motorcycle plate shows that the formatting was somewhat similar to the '19 plate above.  The 2-digit year is now stacked over PA where the '19 plate was just the opposite.  It's kind of hard to distinguish on this plate but the colors had become standardized to yellow and dark blue.  The other interesting thing about this plate is the high number.  BMV records show some 13,600 plates were issued making this close to the end.  On the other end of the spectrum the image gallery page shows a picture of the # 3 plate — quite a contrast between the 6-inch single-digit plate and the 8-inch 5-digit plate.  Another thank you to Dave Lincoln for the nice image.  

 


It appears that 1931 Motorcycle plates began to use alpha-numeric formatting for the first time.  Plates were limited to 4 characters.  Once 9999 was reached, an alpha prefix was used with up to 3 number, or 2 numbers in the plate shown here.  Some 12,432 plates were issued.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln again for the fine image.

 


 

 

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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

 

 

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