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. This is a reference-only website, no plate sales..
What's new in the last 30 days?
٠ Click thumbnail images to enlarge ٠ Click links to go to plate galleries
A note of clarification: Many of the organizational plate displays have a column marked "PLATES AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC?". With most colleges, universities and fire companies, you must be an alumni or an active member to get a plate, therefore many are marked NO as not being available to the public. On the other hand, many of the fraternal and non-profit groups are quite happy to sell you a plate, but with some they do require that you pay a fee to join the organization and another fee to get a plate. So 'YES' may entail additional costs.
Nick Tsilakis recently snapped this photo of Combat Infantryman Badge with an unusual all-zeros serial number. The 2 in the first position does not advance and is used to differentiate among the other four Combat-related plates. These plates were authorized in 2014.
It's not a new high but this Expeditionary Forces Veteran plate was just sitting there waiting to be photographed. It's the latest in the list of variations on the Expeditionary Forces Veteran plate which is believed to have moved to the current format at E/F2400. These plates date back to 1995 with the current reported high of E/F2820. This is one of only a handful of plates that are issued with a 4-digit serial number.
Lots of Military / Veteran plates this week including this new high Operation Iraqi Freedom plate from Steve Ondik. These plates date back to 2005, and have almost 5000 regular plates plus an unknown number of personalized plates registered so far.
Here's a new high Persian Gulf War Veteran, and was spotted by Nick Tsilakis. Originally this plate type dates back to 1993 on the older red, white and blue military base. The plate was remodeled in 2015 and placed on the visitPA family of plates base.
This Share The Road plate belongs to the Special Fund group and was photographed by Arthur Levine. The current reported high for this plate is now B/K00330. The movement of Special Fund plates away from the full 6" by 12" graphic to a tiny 3" by 3" canvas, as the state calls it, has, in my opinion, sounded the death knell for these plates. Gone are the Owl, Tiger, Flagship Niagara, DARE and recently the Otter plate has also been downsized. I'm sure it's only a matter of time until the Railroad Heritage plate is reduced to a tiny choo-choo. I know that their goal is to make the plates easier to read, but do they also not realize that they are shooting themselves in the foot from the standpoint of loss of sales.
Eric Tanner has been very helpful in providing additional formatting variations, and so it is with this 1926 Dealer plate. The 'X' was the identifying feature used on Dealer plates from 1924 thru 1933, no other legend. For 1926 it appears that there were 4 sizes of Dealer plates depending on the length of the serial number, this plate measuring 6" by 13". There were two shorter sizes and one longer. The longer size is shown in the photo gallery. Also of interest, this plate uses a full size 'X', while the other plate in the gallery uses a smaller 'X'. After 1926 all the letters were smaller.
1928 Dealer plates were much the same as the '26 plate above; however, for 1928 only three plate sizes were used. Again the size (width) of the plate was determined by the number of digits in the serial number. The plate shown here measures 6" by 13", and is the middle of the three sizes. Thanks again to Eric Tanner.
For 1929 Dealer plates again came in three sizes. This plate measures 6" by 13", and is the middle of the three sizes. Click the link to see the largest of the three. For almost all Dealer plates throughout the '20s, the X+1, 2 or 3 digits are tough to find. Thanks again to Eric Tanner for this and so many others.
This 1931 Governor plate was on eBay this week and may still be there till late on 10/15. Anyway, the owner of this plate, the License Plate King Company, gave me the OK to use the photo. The plate would have been used by Governor Gifford Pinchot. There is another photo of a Governor's plate from the same year with the raised loaf in the center. That plate was partially restored and belonged to Jake Eckenrode. The plate shown here was likely the rear plate, white the other was used on the front.
At first glance the identity of this plate might have you scratching your head, or not, if you recognized it as a the number 1 Motorbike plate for 1931. It is motorcycle size, meaning 4½" by 8". The letter 'O' is the distinguishing feature and was used from 1920, the first year for such plates, up thru 1933. Note that the 'O' is smaller than the 1. Beginning in 1934 Motorbike plates began using MB as the identifier, not to be confused with Motorboat which also used MB in later years but did not overlap.
Here a 1933 version of the the number 1 Motorbike plate on the far left with similar formatting to the 1931 plate above. Shown with this plate is another 1933 Motorbike plate with the plate legend on the opposite end of the plate. We don't know what caused this or at what point the change took place, but this is not the first time formatting changes have been seen during the same year. It still happens today.
Here's a 1936 Motorbike, another great number 1 plate. Beginning in 1934 the MB legend came into use giving the plate a more recognizable look. As far as I know Motorbike and Motorcycle plates were always the same size and always used the same colors as passenger plates. Also, the early years from 1920 to 1930, I have only 1 Motorbike photo, from 1930 to 1940 is better, but still a few gaps.
I found these two alpha-numeric plate photos amongst my archived Motorbike plates. The far left 1948 plate is likely the first year for alpha-numeric plates and was provided by Dave Lincoln. The 1949 Motorbike plate is from alligator02 and is near the end of the '49 run with the reported high of F358. After 1949, Motorboat plates were discontinued as the registration fee was raised to the same as Motorcycles, thereby eliminating the need for a separate plate class.
This is a Format 9, 4-character, 1957 Passenger plate. The plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant. 1957 was the last year before multi-year plates were introduced. There were some 13 serial formats including the expansion to 6-digit plates as the system was running out of 5-character combinations. I'm still planning to put something together on dies sets used in 1957.
Went to the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles this week — worth the trip. I need a long selfie-stick to get better images of plates mounted high on the wall. Got this shot of a 1-star 1914 Truck plate. 1914 was the first year for Truck plates. These were white on black porcelain with an aluminum weight strip along the left border indicating the weight class by the number of stars ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest weight class.
Here's a similar 1915 Truck plate also with a 1-star weight class strip. These are white on sky blue porcelain and measure 6" by 15¼". A group of serial number from 20000 to 29999 was set aside for truck use; however, some plates from that series were not needed for trucks, and in turn were issued to automobiles without the weight band.
This 1921 Truck plate was provided by Eric Tanner. Commercial was used as the plate legend. For a few years after the use of the C-prefix in 1919 and before the introduction of the R thru Z weight classes in 1924, there was a period where according to Eric Tanner's research, an interim weight classification system was used from 1920 to 1923. The weight classes appear to be designated by the first plate digit ranging from 1 to 7, making this a Class 2 or Class A plate. It's also a great number.
This 1924 'U' class truck plate was also provided by Eric Tanner. 1924 had no legend identifying it as a truck plate, in addition, 1924 signaled the beginning of the R thru Z (minus X) weight class system. This system, with some changes, continued thru 1967 after which an entirely new serial numbering system was put into effect. The 1924 plate shown here measures 6" by 15" and is the largest of the three sizes used that year. Click the link above to see additional 1924 Truck plate classes and sizes.
Arthur Levine sent me these images of PA plates questioning the 2018 and 2019 validation stickers after the state stopped issuing such stickers at the end of 2016. My feeling and the consensus of some plate friends is that because PA offers an option of a 2-year renewal, and the owners renewed before the end of December 2016.
Steve Ondik sent this photo of this recently acquired 1983 base plate asking if I had an explanation. My thought was that this plate may have been made up as a favor or courtesy plate, and the word SAMPLE was added to keep the plate from ever being registered. Other ideas?
Here's a new organizational plate — Eureka Volunteer Fire and Ambulance. This organization is located in Stewartstown, York County, PA. At this time it does not appear that there are any plates in use.
Here's a recent image of personalized Dealer plate, now on the map base. It should be noted that a recent standard-issue Dealer plate shows that plates as high as K42-438K are still using plates with the sticker well. I would think that serial Dealer plates would be showing the map symbol before long.
I've always thought single character special organization plates make a bold statement, and so it is with this Mercedes Benz Club of America #3 vanity plate. Note that this plate appears to not have a sticker well, nor does it have a map outline. Some discussion with friends suggested that perhaps organizational vanities will not get the map. Time will tell. The photo was provided by Bill Houser.
Here the first photo of a Sons of the American Legion with a serial number. Fewer than 70 plates standard have been issued so far. A previous image of a vanity plate was posted some time ago. This plate was spotted and photographed by Bruce Bufalini.
Brendan Sherry recently spotted this American Cancer Society vanity plate on the far left. On the near left is an older image of a low number plates from Nick Tsilakis. I didn't realize I had this plate image among my 13,000 plate files.
Brendan Sherry snapped this latest high Shippensburg University Alumni plate. 'Ship', as it is often referred to, has had a plate program since 1989 on the yellow on blue base. Since then they have been moved to the www base and a few years ago to the visitPA base.
This Gettysburg 1863 vanity plate was recently spotted by Brendan Sherry. These plate have been available since late 2014, and the personalized plate option seems to be popular. These are Special Fund plates with proceeds support the cleaning, repairing and restoration of the Pennsylvania Monument.
These are recently spotted high plates at the end of the KLE series passenger series. These still have the sticker well, just prior to the KLF series with the map and without the sticker well. The far left plate is from Bruce Bufalini, and the near left is from Jay Embee.
Recently I had the opportunity to photograph some of John Willard's and John Anshant's plates at the Nazareth Plate Meet. They always have some fine plate specimens including these Dealer plates from 1910, 1911 and 1912. 1910 was the first year for Dealer plates, and while these are not the only photos of those years, they do add some very nice graphic images to the displays. Notice that in 1910 there was no X-prefix. Click the links to see more photos and see additional details.
Here are two additional Dealer plates from 1914 and 1915. Note that the X-prefix is the same size as the numbers on the '12 and '13 plates above, while the '14 and '15 plates the 'X' is the same size. It appears that in 1913, both sizes were used. Confusing — a little, but it's also one of those things that makes the hobby and the history interesting and enjoyable. The 1914 plate is thanks John Willard and John Anshant, while the 1915 plate was from Kelly Brewer. If anyone has contact info for Kelly, please let me know.
This 1918 Dealer depicts a Format 1 plate which is the smaller of the two sizes of Dealer plates issued that year. Plates with X and 1, 2 or 3 digits used a 6" by 13½" base like the plate shown here, while X plus 4 digit plates measured 6" by 16". Some 7,700 Dealer plates were issued that year. Thanks to Eric Tanner for sharing this photo.
This is a 1925 Dealer plate. It measures 6" by 12" and is one of three sixes of Dealer plate for that year. There were also 6" by 10" shorty plates for X+1, 2 or 3 digit plates and 6" by 15" for plates formatted like X12-345. At least 17,000 Dealer tags were issued that year. Again thanks to Eric Tanner for providing this photo. Watch for more additions to the Dealer plate series next week.
Here's a nice 1940 Passenger vehicle plate. This photo represents a Format 4 plate which includes serial numbers from 10A0 to 99Z99, which includes both 4- and 5-character configurations, which also means that both 6" by 10" and 6" by 12" bases were used, with this plate being 12 inches. This plate was in use as a YOM plate.
The 1916 Truck section was in need of a 2-star weight class plate. Two such plates have now been added. In general truck plates were in the 20000 to 29999 range, however, truck plates outside of this series are known. And generally, lower weight class plates were numbered in the lower portion of the range. The far left plate is a John Willard and John Anshant plate while the 23445 plate was thanks to Eric Tanner.
But wait — there's more! This 4-star truck plate was also added to the 1916 display. This plate was provided thanks to Eric Tanner. There is still a need for a 5-star plate. All of these plates were black on orange painted steel.
Here's another welcome addition. This 1918 1-star Truck plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant, and was photographed at the recent Nazareth, PA, ALPCA plate show. All '18 truck plates used a 'C' prefix, and this being a single star plate also had a low serial number. Like most early truck plates, the 5-star weight class plates are the hardest to come by, and so it is for 1918.
Here's another 1918 Truck plate also courtesy of John Willard and John Anshant. This 3-star plate has a higher serial number and measures 6" by 16", whereas the plate above measures 6" by 13½". Both of these plates were white on black painted steel.
Here's another needed image — a 1919 4-star Truck plate. Thank you to Eric Tanner for sharing this photo with us. 1919 again used the 'C' prefix on truck plates. Most plates being C+5 digits measured 6" by 16", however, 1, 2 and 3-digit plates were shorter. Click the link for more details. The colors were red on black painted steel.
This pair of Penn State Alumni Association plates has an interesting story behind it. Last week we featured the P/S29277 plate and the latest rendition (P/S29294) showing the newest version of the Nittany Lion. The plate owner, Tom Robillard, tells me that the two plates shown here were supposed to have the latest version of the Nittany Lion, but somehow there was a mix-up at PennDOT or Correctional Industries. He has been told that these two plates were the only ones made with the map outline and the 1855 shield. Very collectible items I would say. Go PSU.
Here's a Passenger Vanity plate from Bill Houser. PennDOT's form MV-904, the application for a personalized plate states that "Only one hyphen or space is permitted, but not both." Yet here is a plate with a hyphen AND a space. Bill said he ordered it with the hyphen only.
These are all recent Antique Vehicle plate photos. The two plates on the far left are standard issue, one from the 'O' series and one from the 'P' series. Both still have sticker wells. The two plates to the right are vanity plates and do not have the sticker, nor do they have the map outline. This raises the question as to what features Antique Vehicle plates will have in the future. By the way, the next series will be 'R', not 'Q'. By the way, R-series plates are currently being issued but have not been spotted yet. The 3O31 photo is from Ryan Battin and the PSLS image came from Steve Ondik. The others are my photos.
Bruce Bufalini snapped all three of these Classic Car images at a recent Excela Health Norwin Hills car show. The plate on the far left is the lowest number documented on the original Classic series, and likely issued in 1977. The starting point was 10000. The C-prefix Classic plate in the center is the highest recorded number before the switch was made to the visitPA family of plates with the redundant plate legend at C27900. The C41170 is the newest high for the series which now features the map outline in place of the sticker well.
Here's the latest high number Person with Disability Motorcycle plate. The small PD over the wheelchair symbol, both of which are flat screened, are not part of the registration number. The larger embossed P which is part of the serial number but is a static, non-advancing character. This plate type first came out in late 2007, prior to that a handicapped sticker was available. This plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.
Here are two additional 1905 Philadelphia Pre-State porcelain plates. They measured 4" by 7" making them the size of today's motorcycle plates These were in effect a driver's license tag rather than a vehicle registration plate, even though they were mounted to the rear of the vehicle. The number sequence is believed to have started at 101 and ran into the 4-digit series as shown here. Thanks to John Willard and John Anshant for the opportunity to photograph these plates.
Here's a 1907 Format 2 porcelain. This is the first 3-digit plate photo I have for that year, so it fills the gap. This plate measures 6½" x 7". Most of the plates that year were 6½" tall, only 1- and 2-digit plates were shorter, at 6" since the plate legend was beside the number not over top the serial number. Thanks again to John Willard and John Anshant.
This 1912 3-digit plate also helps fill the the Format 2 gap. For 1912 PA used that distinctive wood grain porcelain with white lettering and numbering. There were 5 different plate widths used that year ranging from 8 inches for 1- and 2-digit plates to 14 inches for plates from 20000 and above. This was also a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
This dark blue over yellow 1934 Passenger plate provides the first photo of a Format 6 plate on this site. Format 6 plates ran from 0000A to 9999Z, and all were on 6-inch by 12-inch bases. This was also a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
Here's a Format 9, 1938 Passenger plate. Format 9 plates ran from 1AA0 to 9ZZ99 which required the use of both 6" by 10" and 6" by 12" sizes. The plate shown here is a 6" by 10" shorty. Both Format 8 and 9 plate, which were toward the end of the run, began using 2 letters in the serial number. Again this was also a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
Here is a pair of 1932 Trailer plates. Plate size depended on the number of characters in the serial number. T+ 1 to 3 digits were 6" by 10", and T+4 digits were 6" by 12". The T prefix was the identifying feature at the time (1930 thru 1933) for Trailer plates since there was no other legend. Both of these Trailer plates are thanks to Eric Tanner, the photo on the near left is new. I have quite a few additional plates from Eric, so please check back over the next couple weeks.
The above plates might easily be confused with T-class Truck plates at the time, but 1932 Truck plates were all 6-characters in length, and measured 6" by 15", such as the plate pictured to the left. This plate photo was posted previously and is thanks to John Willard.
Here is a 1943 Tractor Validation Tab. These were used to revalidate 1942 bases for 1943, thereby supporting the war effort by reducing steel usage. Enlarge the image and see the TR5989 serial number etched into the tab under the 3-31-44 expiration date. This was also a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
Here's a pair of 1926 'O'-series Bus plate. That's the letter O, not the number 0. Some 1926 Passenger and Trailer plates began using smaller letters later in the year, and by 1927 all letters were smaller. Eric Tanner provided the O3-606 plate which measures 6" by 13". The 6" by 10" O-59 'shorty' was previously provided by Jake Eckenrodeand is being shown here for comparison. Beginning in 1926 there were also an 'H'-series bus plates. Confusing, yes. Click this link to read more about them.
Be sure to check back next week, 10/8, for more older Dealer and Truck plates, and a few organizational plates.
Here are two recent updates from Tom Robillard. As previously reported, the Penn State Alumni Association was in the process of giving their plates a new look with an up-close view of the Nittany Lion's head. It appears that there was a short run of the plate version on the 29277 plate with the 1855 lion. This was after the introduction of the map outline and before the change to the up-close lion. There may be another Nittany Lion version looming sometime in the future, think Pozniak. Go PSU.
Here a photo of a late Conserve Wild Resources - River Otter plate. Ironically this plate photo is on Tom Perri's PA PLATES website and I also got a traffic shot of the same plate from Colin M. The consensus among some collector friends is that R/C9X99 will be the end of the road for the full color graphic plate. Future plates are expected to be with the small 3" by 3" picture of the otter on the left side of the plate. I just received a confirmation of the end of the full color graphic plates. The new product will be released in October once any remaining stock is returned to PennDOT.
The River Otter plate section was also revamped by enlarging the thumbnails and also adding these 2-, 3- and 4-digit examples of the all-numeric format. These images are thinks to Tom Perri, Eric Conner and Jeff Lawson, going left to right.
Late addition, I missed posting these plate with the other plate shown here. Obviously these are not new plates but I have done a slight overhaul to the Conserve Wild Resources - Owl plate section. These plates have been added to provide more balance to the display. The far left plate is from Jeff Lawson, the origin of the other plates is unknown.
Recent issue Dealer plate photographed by Jordan Irazabal. This plate still has the sticker well and no state map outline. Based on some limited research it appears likely that the change will be seen once the plate numbers reach K46-500K.
Here's a vanity edition of an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. plate. Nice plate, not so nice frame — it totally covers the name of the organization and covers almost all of the state name. Legal? Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for the photograph.
This Fraternal Order of Police plate is a new high and also has the map outline. Plate F/P21314 was previously spotted and still had the sticker well. Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing this photograph with us. This organizational plate date back to 1987 when they were yellow on blue.
Steve Ondik spotted this vanity edition of a Fraternal Order of Police - Survivor plate. I'm sure each of these plates has a sad story behind it. There are some forty-four of the sequentially numbered plates that have been issued.
This LaSalle University plate was spotted on the move by Jeff Lawson. It happens to be a new high for this plate type. There is also a LaSalle College High School plate. I'm not sure what the connection is between the university and the high school.
What's wrong with this 1930 Passenger plate? It does have two extra holes which is not a big deal, but the colors are reversed. It should be dark blue on yellow. Can't blame PennDOT or the prison system for this one, since this plate was obviously repainted.
Here is a 1958 Passenger base with a 63 sticker. It's a Format 6 plate which is part of the reserve issue, all of which were 4 or 5 character plates, without the keystone separator which was used on all the standard issue 6- character plates. It was spotted at a car show in use as a YOM plate.
A brief note to those who frequent this site. This is a light week in terms of the number of plates being added. I have many plate photos to add but am reconfiguring sections and pages on this site and have just run out of time.
WEBSITE UPDATE - Several web pages and sections have been reformatted to allow for larger thumbnail images. So far this includes the Bus Plates page and the Official Plates page, as well as the Classic Car / Vehicle section. The Passenger and Truck History pages have always be formatted with the larger thumbnails.
Here's a recent personalized Classic Vehicle plate. Note that this plate also has the map outline, a feature recently seen on the standard issue Classic Vehicle plate as well. This plate also has the compressed PA CLASSIC VEHICLE legend on the left. The image was provided by J. C. Sarge.
The far left street shot is the highest recorded KLE Passenger plate prior to the changeover. In the center is lowest number photographed so far in the new series that began at KLF-0000. On the near left is what may be the current high plate in the same series. If you recall, this 'map' issue started at KLF-0000. Thanks to Jeff Lawson for the far left image and to C.R. Sweitzer for the near left plate.
Following the same message as the Passenger plate above, these recent Truck plates also show additional examples of the 'with map and without sticker well' formatting. The plate on the far left provided by Steve Ondik, and by Jeff Lawson on the near left.
These Trevose Fire Company plate photos were provided by Jeff Lawson on the far left and by Jordan Irazabal on the near left. Trevose is located in lower Bucks County and has had a plate program since 2011.
This first of it kind MV Business plate was provided by J.C. Sarge. In 1966 PA began issuing Motor Vehicle Business plates. This series has an illusive beginning and ending. While the first plate with MV Business was issued in 1966, the C0000A formatting was used back to 1957, and C000A at least as far back as 1952, possibly further with the Dealer legend, and described as Transit Dealer by the state. They were last issued on an undated 1979 base which continued into the 1980s before the Motor Vehicle Business was split into Repair/Service Towing, Salvage Yard, Transporter and Repossessor. Read more by clicking the link above.
This 1934 Official plate is the first images of such a plate from 1934. The image is from a display at the Boyertown Auto Museum and the photo was taken by Tim Gierschick. It is likely that plate serial numbers extended beyond 999 in which a 4 digit number was used and the keystone on the right was eliminated.
The 1933 Passenger plate on the far left was provided by Jeff Hinkle and the near left plate is courtesy of Dennis Miglicio. The 7962 plate is part of Formatting group 1 which runs from 1, (the governor at the time did not use the #1 plate) to 99999, including this 6" by 10" shorty. 5-digit plates went to a 12" width. The 0055D plate is a Format 6 entry. For 1933 2-digit and 3-digit plate photos are still needed along with 000A to 999Z9 and AA100 to ZZ999.
Next are these 1938 Passenger plates. Note the 12" length on the far left 5-character plate and the 10" width on the near left 4-character plate. The 12-06 validation sticker certainly looks out out of place. My guess is that the owner wanted to use the '38 plate on the car, and the time period was before the YOM law came along, so the plate number was requested and got registered as a vanity, resulting in a current plate being issued and never used, but the validation sticker applied to the '38 plate.
This group of 1954 Passenger plate photos provides nice examples of Formats 2, 3, 7 and 9. With so many vehicles to register and plate being limited to 5 characters, it required at least 15 serial progression formats. These plate images are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd. Still need images for Formats 5, 7 and 11.
This 1920 Truck photo was taken at the Boyertown Auto Museum by Tim Gierschick. The paint at the time did not hold up well as can be seen from several of the plates, which made repainting popular with some. The original color were white on dark blue. The other 1920 truck plates were all 7 inches high because there was plate legend on the top and bottom. This plate being 16 inch wide allowed both legends to be along the bottom, thus allowing the height to be reduced from 7 to 6 inches. I'm listing this plate as a Class 1, the lightest truckweight class, based on the first digit of the plate.
Next is this 1921 Truck plate. The picture was also taken at the Boyertown Auto Museum and again thanks to Tim Gierschick. The original colors were black on yellow. This plate was also formatted much the same as the 1920 plate above; however, this plate is being listed as a Class 3 plate again bases on the first digit of the serial number. For 1921 all truck plates are believed to measure 6" by 16" regardless of the number of characters.
Images and photos are always welcome. Please send to:
John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA