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Supporting the hobby & preserving the history of Pennsylvania License Plates

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 9/15/2019

A number one plate always deserves top billing, and so it is with this Number 1 Christian Homeschool Association of PA, located in Palmyra.  This organization has had a plate program since 2008, and according to Tom Perri's PA Plates highs page, the current reported high is 00019H/S.  Thanks to Brendan Sherry for the plate photo.


Which is it CHARITY or CHARITIES?  The Flyers Wives Charities plate legend started out as plural in 2006, then the singular form was seen in 2017.  Recently a new high was spotted and the legend is now plural, again.  Thanks to Tom Perri for the far left photo from 2018, and to Jaska Börner for the new high.  Anyone know what's going on here?


This is the number 2 plate from the Saxonburg Volunteer Fire Company (Butler County).  The leading 2 may be confusing if you are not familiar with the organizational numbering system.  PennDOT will generally assign a block of 10,000 numbers to an organization.  Saxonburg received the 20000 block, after other groups received 00000S/F, 10000S/F, etc.  The current high is listed as 20021S/F.  The image is thanks to Jonathan Ortmann.


Here's the first image of a personalized Perdue University plate.  The sticker would indicate that it's not a new plate.  The Purdue plate program dates back to 2006.  Purdue, which is located in Indiana, is an example of an out of state organizational plate.  PA has about 18 out-of-state college/university plates.  Thanks to George Kunsman for the photo.


Here's a recent photo of a Seton Hill University plate.  This moves the bar forward as a new high thanks to Bruce Bufalini.  Vanity check shows the registered high is now S/H00113.  The Seton Hill plate program dates back to 2006, and the facility is located in Greensburg, PA.


Here's a recent photo of a personalized International Association of Fire Fighters plate from Bruce Bufalini.  The IAFF plate program dates back to 1993.  Legislation in 2014 paved the way for personalized organizational plates.  This plate does not have the sticker well; however, the latest plates have the map outline.


This Tall Cedars of Lebanon plate photo represents a new high.  The presence of '15 and '17 stickers would suggest that it is not a recent issue.  Vanity check indicates that the registered high is now T/C00072.  This plate type dates back to 2005.  Thanks to Tom Firth for the picture.


Got quite a few motorcycle-related plates at Lansdale Bike Night starting with this new high Moped.  Where I live in east-central PA Mopeds are very scarce, and of the approx. 1,500 bikes at Lansdale, this was the only Moped plate I saw. There were some 374,000 motorcycles registered in PA in 2018 and only 2,054 mopeds.  Moped plates date back to 1977, with the plates being replaced in April of 2000 and starting new at BA000, today, almost 20 years later, the progression has only reached CF053.


Next in the lineup is this current issue Motorcycle high number.  The current serial progression started at 0AA00.  As recently mentioned, since the 2000 plate changeover, a number of plate serial progressions have been used starting with AAA00, 0000A, A0000, and finally to the current run of 0AA00.  Letter L, is the last character to advance.


The Vertical Motorcycle tag on the far left is also a new high.  I don't know if it's the small font or the vertical layout, but I find these plates hard to read.  Too much of the plate is white space.

The center and near left plates both have a zero (0) as the 4th character of their registration numbers, but they are not the same character on the plates.  Note the correct zero is rounded, while the letter O has square corners.  The near-left plate is actually using the letter O in place of the zero.  It is not a vanity.

Check back next week for more Motorcycle updates, including Antique, Municipal, Person w/ Disability and Vanity.


The far left plate is a new photo from Bruce Bufalini and represents the highest number spotted on the Format 5 Municipal Government series before the move to the visitPA base with the stacked M/G and the map outline.  The M/G9007J plate, which was previously provided by Bill Houser, shows the low on the current series.  The transition took place at M/G9000J, and was first seen in February of 2017.


This is a 1948 U-Weight Class Truck plate.  For that year, the U Class consisted of these four serial progressions: U000A, U00A0, U0A00 and U00AA, of which the plate shown here is part of the third group.  All plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches, and were issued in pairs.  Thanks to Pl8source for the use of the photo.


Here is a 1956 R-Weight Class Truck plate.  Class R utilized many serial formats including  R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0, R0A0A, R00TA and R0000A.  Some later plates that year used 1957 dies, and the last serial format in '56 was a 6-character plate using the '57 map base.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the use of the photo.


Posting 9/8/2019

NOTICE: The 'PLATE LOOKUP' feature above, which has not been working since 9/3, has been fixed.

It's not a new plate, but it is the new high Circus-Carnival Truck tag.  The current series on the www base began at B/Z01500.  The original series dates back to 1990 and was on the yellow on blue base.  Over the years the meaning of the BZ prefix has often been questioned.  The most frequent answer I've heard is for Bozo the Clown.


The previous photos of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation plates were all with sticker wells.  The more recent plate shown here does not have the sticker well.  These plates made their debut back in 2012.  Thanks to Jonathan Ortmann for the use of this photo.


As Bruce Bufalini said when he shared this International Brotherhood of Boilermakers 00069B/M near left photo, this is one that we don't often see.  The other photo shows the current high of 00074B/M, which is a Ryan Battin photo and was borrowed from Tom Perri's website.  That photo dates back to 2014 but is still the current reported high.  Vanity check shows an issued high of only 00082B/M. 


This is a photo of a recently issued PA State Society Daughters of the American Revolution vanity plate.  The plate legend is the second or third longest of any PA special organization plate.  The sticker well is no longer seen, but no map yet.  Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for the use of the photo.


I somehow missed posting this perfect photo of a Shippensburg University Alumni plate which is also the latest high.  This plate has the map outline, which was first spotted on S/U01767.  The image was taken by Nick Tsilakis, and was slightly edited by Jordan Irazabal in preparation for posting.  Shippensburg plates date back to 1989.


This low number Philadelphia Fire Fighters' Union plates was recently photographed by Jordan Irazabal.  This plate would date back to 2005, the first year for this plate type.  According to Tom Perri's PA Plates highs page the current reported high is P/F21063.  It should be noted that there was a group of outliers from P/F23055 to P/F23116.  The reason for this is not known — possibly an error.


Here is a new high School Vehicle plate from Nick Tsilakis.  It has the map outline which was added at about SV-26800.  These plates have seen many minor changes in formatting over the years with this plate being part of Format 10.  These changes included plates with and without separators, narrow and wide legend fonts, etc.


This trio of gems was provided by Bryan Hummel.  They are all part of what I have listed as Format 7 Passenger plates for 1930, 1931 and 1932.  That format consists of the serial progression of AA to ZZ999.  So yes, there are 2-alpha character plates, and 2-alpha plus 1 numeric character plates as shown here.  It it believed that such plates, while not actual vanities, lent themselves to be issued as political favors, etc.  Plates up to 4 character were all 6 inches by 10 inches.


This is a 1949 Format 9 Passenger plate.  Format 9 is made up of the serial progression of 1AA0 to 9ZZ99.  So both 4 and 5 character plates were issued; however, all such plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches, were issued in pairs and had an expiration date of 3-31-50 embossed in top map border.  Thanks to eBay user Mikym4 for the use of the photo.


This is a very fine 1925 S-Weight Class Truck plate courtesy of Rob Baran.  There was no Truck or Commercial legend used between 1924 and 1933, and while Passenger plates also used an alpha-numeric format similar to this plate; Passenger plates only used A and B as the first character, while the truck series ran from R through Z.  X was not used.


Here's another beauty from Rob Baran, this one being a 1927 S-Weight Class Truck plate.  As described with the 1925 plate above, the identification of this plate as a truck was is based on the alpha character in the first position, although there was some R-Class overflow plates where the R was used in the suffix position.  Both the 1925 above and the '27 shown here measure 6" by 15".


Here is another Motorboat registration sticker, this one showing an expiration date of March 31, 2013.



Posting 9/3/2019

NOTICE: To anyone who has experienced difficulty enlarging this page on a smart phone, I apologize. 

Hopefully the issue has now been resolved.

Posting 9/1/2019

Here are two of the latest examples of Classic Vehicle plates.  The far left traffic shot is the new high and reads C46814.  It was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  The near left plate was provided by Bruce Bufalini and offers a closer view of another plate also in the C46000-series.  This plate type dates back to 1977, serial number starting at 10000, antique style numbers, tag legend reading Classic Car, purple on white colors.


Here's another new Street Rod high on the family of plates base.  Street Rod plates date back to 1981 and after issuing 7000 plates on the original 'roadster' base, the new 'redundant' base takes its place.  After all of these changes it still retains the sticker well.



Take your choice, same Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran personalized plate.  A little difficult to see, but the plate may still have the sticker well.  This plate type dates back to 2005.  Thanks to Jeff Lawson for the photo(s).



Next is this personalized Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran plate.  While the standard issue Iraqi Freedom plates have not been documented with the map outline yet, a few vanities have been seen.  It's not uncommon for personalized plates to lead the way with changes to the plate.



This pair of U.S. Navy Veteran plates both display the map outline.  The serial number plate is the first of the regular issue series photographed with the map, whereas vanity plates such as the NURSE plate have been spotted with the map for a while.  Thanks to Ryan Battin and Jeff Lawson respectively for the plate photos.


This is a 1946 Format 10 Passenger plate was not an easy find.  The series ran from 10AA0 and ended at 47DB0 which was the end of the issue.  This last run only ran from AA to DB.  I'm still looking for a '46 plate in the 0000A to 9999Z series.  Thanks to eBay user Dimaulo123 for the use of the photo.


Next is this 1948 Format 4 Passenger plate being part of the serial progression of 10A0 to 99Z99.  So both 4 and 5-digits numbers were part of this series.  All plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches regardless of the number of characters.  Thanks to eBay seller Securityautoparts for the use of the photo.


This is a 1922 Class 4 Truck plate.  The truck series from 1920 to 1923 inclusive, embarked on a whole new system in terms of how weight classes were designated.  From 1914 to 1919 weight classes were designated by the number of stars on the plate ranging from 1 to 5.  Then in 1920 a new system was employed using an all numeric format with the first digit on the plates denoting the weight class.  The class numbers which ranged from 1 to 7.  In 1924 the more familiar system or R through Z minus the X came into use.  This image was recently shown by Clayton Moore with an indication that it will be at an auction on Sept 4th in Reading.  I have no additional auction information.  Sorry for the long read. 


This is a 1949 U-Weight Class Truck plate.  For that year there were four U-class serial progressions including U000A, U00A0, U0A00, U00AA.  With the addition of this photo, all four classes are represented.  This plate was spotted at the Wheels of Time Rod and Custom Show in Macungie, PA.



Here's another U-Weight Class Truck from 1954.  Like the above plate, the U-class was made up of U000A, U00A0, U0A00, U00AA, with this plate being part of the first group.  This plate appears to have been professionally restored, however, the expiration date and the keystones should have been yellow.


This is a 1956 W-Class Truck plate in near perfect condition.  The W-class was part of the progression of gross vehicle weight trucks that ran from R for the lightest weight through Z for the heaviest 2-axle trucks.  X was reserved for Dealer plates.  1956 also saw the standardization of plate sizes to 6 inches by 12 inches.  Thanks to Jeff Lesher for the use of this photo.


This 2-18 validation sticker was provided by Tom Firth.  While such stickers stopped being issued after 12-31-16, vehicles with multi-year registrations, such as trailers, could have stickers as far out as 2022.  And now there is legislation to bring the stickers back, in combination with the vehicle inspection process.  


Posting 8/25/2019

Here is the first plate issued, and the fist photo of a North Strabane Fire Department tag.  Thanks go out to John Fedorchak for the image.  This plate type was approved in 2017, but until June of this year there were still no tags on the road.  Plate check shows only one active tag; however, there could be vanities in use.


Here's the latest high PA Choose Life plate.  This plate no longer has the sticker recess, but still lacks the map outline.  The previous high of 01363C/L still had a 1-17 sticker.  This plate type dates back to 2007.  The Choose Life plates always outdistance the Planned Parenthood plates.



While we are always looking for new highs, nothing quite measures up to a number 1 plate.  There is always a story behind an award, such as the Silver Star.  I had a friend from back in high school who gave his life to save his platoon leader, and for this he was posthumously awarded a Silver Star.


I posted another Veteran Motorcycle plate three weeks ago that also showed the wide VETERAN font.  This plate helps to narrow the transition point where this would have occurred  The change would have been after V2675 and before the plate shown here.



This is a new high Motorcycle Dealer plate, note the MCD tag legend.  The MCD is actually part of the registration number, which would read MCD269E  The letter 'E' in the final position is always the last to advance.  The history of these plates dates back to 1923, with numerous gaps in my photo gallery.



Motorcycle Vanities don't appear to be nearly as popular as with Passenger plates.  Of course Motorcycle plates are limited to 5 characters.  This is a recent photo from Ryan Battin.  It shows the MC legend as being flat screened, whereas regular issue motorcycle plates still use an embossed MC.  While the flat screened MC legend was first seen in September of 2017, it was also used on the 'Live Free Ride Alive' run.


This is an Omnibus plate from around 2003 - 2004.  It is part of the series that used a sans serif I on the tag line.  At the time the serif (I) vs. sans serif I would go back and forth every few thousand plates. This is a good example of the high end of Format 3.  Thanks to Alex Wiedlich for the plate photo.



School Buses after finally making the switch to no sticker well, have now added the map outline as shown here.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for this update.  A resource document suggests that this latest change may have taken place at SC-82300, but we know that such data is not always reliable.  From a historical perspective, School Bus plates had their origin in 1956.  Prior to that it may seem logical that School Buses would have used a regular Bus plate, however, Clayton Moore recently posted a period photo of a School Bus with what appears to be a 1938 U-Class Truck plate!  Keeps the hobby interesting. 



This on-the-fly highway shot of a new high Permanent Trailer plate was provided by Preston Turner.  This series began using the small map outline in the mid-PT-000D0 series, but it's hard to see on this plate.  Since this is a series of permanent registration plates, they never did use validation stickers.


Here's the latest high Taxi plate.  This photo was also provided by Preston Turner.  The use of Taxi plates dates back to 1977 where the series started at TX-10000.  Before '77 the registration card listed the vehicle as a Taxi, but the registration number came from the Bus series, BA24###.



This very nice 1935 Legislative plate photo was provided by Bob Connison.  We know from a 1935 BMV document that the serial progression of 1 to 400 was authorized.  Unfortunately 1935 was the final year for such plates, after which they were discontinued until 1957.



This is a 1929 'shorty' Passenger plate.  Despite being 90 years old, it still looks good.  It is part of Format 4 which ran from A to F-999, so all plates within this 1 to 4 character series measured 6 inches by 10 inches.  This unique plate is courtesy of Platedog.



Next in line is another 'shorty', this being a 1935 Format 2 Passenger plate.  This group was made up of A to Z999, on 6-inch by 10-inch plates, and A1000 to Z9999, being 6-inch by 12-inch in size.  Thanks to eBay user Theoutfittersnd5 for the use of this photo.



This is a 1947 U-Weight Class Truck plate, and the first one of that class I have for that year.  There were however, a total of 4 serial progressions including U000A, U00A0, U0A00, U00AA with this plate being part of the 3rd group.  All plates were 6-inches by 11-inches.  Thanks to Platesource for the use of the photo.


Judging by the number, the far left plate is the earliest First Generation Temporary plate I've seen.  The dates are no longer visible, but the previous low number plate, 715-131, has a 1949 date, so it is likely that this plate is several years older.  The other plate is the highest number spotted on these first generation plates.  Here's a link to the plates on eBay.


Whenever I spot a needed year PA Boat Sticker in my travels, it often finds its way onto my camera.  In this case this was a graphic depiction in a document the state had on-line.  It's also a sticker for a 14 - 15 Unpowered Watercraft.


Posting 8/18/2019

More Legislative News.  The elimination of validation stickers was supposed to save PennDOT $3 million a year, instead it has created a loss of $33 million in revenue.  To correct this situation, House Bill 1509 was introduced calling for the creation of a new two-in-one sticker to be placed on a vehicle’s license plate. The new sticker would combine the requirement that a vehicle pass inspection and be registered.

Here is the the number 1 Edge Hill Fire Company plate, which is also the first plate of this type spotted.  So it is also the current high; however, vanity check indicates that 10 plates have been issued.  Thanks to Tom Perri for the image, and knowing Tom, I'm sure he made an extra effort to find this plate.  If you go to PA's list of Approved Special Organizations, you will not find this or several other new organizational plates. 

On the far left is a perfect image of a Philadelphia University plate.  It was recently photographed by Nick Tsilakis.  While only about 69 of these plates have been issued so far, this plate is part of the second generation.  A first generation plate is shown for comparison.  Somewhere between these plates the change took place.

Some of my friends may have already seen this plate photo.  Spotted this plate in traffic about a week ago. I wonder if the low number gets the owner any special privileges?  Person with Disability vanities have been around for a few years.  You may recall that the earliest plates date back to 1965 and with HP enclosed in a box, which was prior to the use of the wheelchair symbol.

Here is a new high number Motorcycle plate.  Since the 2000 plate changeover, a number of plate serial progressions have been used starting with AAA00, then 0000A, followed by A0000, and finally to the current run of 0AA00.  The first letter, in this case L, is the last character to advance.


Here is another Motorcycle plate from the same serial progression as the plate above.  What caught my eye on this plate was the use of the letter 'I' and the numeral '1' on the same plate.  Very easy to spot the difference, at least when up close.  Not every progression used the letter 'I'.


Next in this motorcycle series is this Person with Disability M/C plate, which is a new high.  This plate type became available at the end of 2007, with a starting point of P00A.  The PD and wheelchair symbol which are flat screened, are not part of the registration number.  The embossed P is part of the number but is a static, non-advancing character.  These are also available as vanities where up to three characters can follow the P.

This is a new high Vertical Motorcycle plate.  PA began issuing these plates in 2014.  If not familiar, many custom bikes have their plates mounted to the side of the rear wheel, with the mounting space turned vertical, so it makes sense to have plates that conform.  The series starting point was M0A0C, and the current series is MA0AC.  Both the M and the C are part of the registration but are non-advancing characters, at least for now.  Vertical vanities are also an option on which the M and the C are not used allowing up to 5 characters.


Always happy to post veteran and military plates.  I posted another Distinguished Flying Cross plate last week, and now we have this plate which was on a vehicle carrying a Vietnam era Huey helicopter, the type used with a door gunner.


This is a very nice 1919 Format 2 Passenger plate.  This format group included the run from 1000 to 99999.  It included both 4 and 5 digit sequences; however, all format 2 plates measured 6 inches by 13½" inches.  Note that this plate has an aluminum keystone which would indicate that the plate was transferred to another vehicle.  Thank you to Tim Gierschick for the use of this plate photo.


This is a 1929 Sample plate, which measures 6 inches by 10 inches.  It is thought that all early Passenger samples were formatted with 3 zeros, as shown here.  Later they were changed to PA00 and other formats.  Samples go back at least as far as 1926, maybe earlier.  Thanks to Jeff Lesher for the use of the photo.


Here is a 1934 Format 3 Passenger plate.  This group included the progression of 0A to 9Z99 which would have been on 6 inch by 10 inch shorty base plates, while the rest of format 3, which included 1A000 to 9Z999, would have been on 6 inch by 12 plates.  Thank you to James Andreucci for the use of the photo.


This is a 1929 Tractor plate with the TE prefix standing for Traction Engine, now considered an archaic term.  Thanks to Bob Connison for the photo.  Previously I listed the '29 tractor series as all being 6 inches by 15 inches, and thanks to Bob we now know that plates with 5 characters (TE-000) instead of 6 (TE1-000) measure 13½ inches.  Could the TE-1 to TE-00 series been even shorter?





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John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376