News and postings from 2017
Finally an image of a prototype Philadelphia Centurions Motorcycle Club plate. This was forwarded to me by Bill Houser who saw it on a Phil Wenrich Facebook posting. One would think that new organizational plates would be posted on PennDOT's Approved Special Organizations page, but it seems like their page is seldom updated. So far no plates are in use. I listed this plate on the Fire, EMS and Police page since this organization is police related.
The Penn State Alumni Association give the Nittany Lion a fresh new look. We knew this revision was coming for a while thanks to Tom Robillard. My guess is that the plate will have the small map outline and likely start the serial number at P/S30000. The current high is over 29000. This image was from the association's website.
It may be a little hard to read but these two Autism plates use different plate legends. The #1 plate reads Autism Awareness. This road shot photo was provided by Steve Ondik. The #42 plate reads Autism Society of America and came from eBay. Every other plate spotted on the road reads Autism Society of America; however, there were early samples and prototypes that used the Autism Awareness legend. My guess is that the initial run of plates used the Autism Awareness legend, and later plates got Autism Society of America. This plate type have been on the road since 2005 with almost 500 being issued.
Tom Robillard passed this Conserve Wild Resources - Otter plate image along. It's a nice image of a Format 4 Otter plate. The current high is in the R/C0X00 series. Note sure what the life expectancy of this plate is with PA's addiction to moving everything to the visitPA family of plates.
Jeff Hinkle recently acquired that nice Persian Gulf War Veteran plate. At one time there was a run of these plates with the logo inverted. Then, as best as I can recall, the error plates were replaced with the correct plates on a number for number basis. Click the link above to see a couple of the error plates. Anyway, this plate is formatted correctly. This plate type dates back to 1993, and in 2015 the plate was redesigned on the visitPA base with color graphics showing the South West Asia Service Medal.
Ryan Battin photographed this Official Use plate which is the new high for the series. This particular series is for passenger vehicles, including marked State Police vehicles, and light trucks, where 2 plates are issued. Larger trucks are issued singles from the PA-0000A series. There are plans to switch over to the color style plate after inventories are depleted. From a previous posting: state agencies would have the option of using their own logo in place of the coat of arms shown here. That should be interesting with 14 universities, and numerous state government agencies.
As we resume adding old car plates to the history section, we start with this group of three 1953 Passenger plates, and the '55 Passenger plate next to them. From late 1952 thru the end of 1955, which includes all of the above plates, the base was 6" by 10¼" before switching to the 6" by 12" as the standard size in 1956. The '53 plates provides images of a Formats 4, 9 and 11, and the '55 plate provides an image of a Format 14 plate. Thanks to Chuck Sakryd for the use of the '53 photos. The '55 plate was photographed at a car show.
1977 Passenger saw a whole new look. The bicentennial plates were gone and were replaced with a new undated blue paint on yellow reflective sheeting. The separator replacing the liberty bell is a medium size keystone outline and the words Keystone State embossed along the bottom. There are sticker wells in the upper left and right corners, but no sticker the first year. These plates were issued starting in 1977 and continued into 1984; however, plates could to be renewable up thru 2000. Above are examples of the five serial progressions, beginning with all-numeric. Next are three alpha-numeric formats with a single alpha character starting with a 1st position, then the 6th position, and finally the 2nd position. Following that came a new format with 3 letters followed by 3 numbers. The last format was actually the starting point for today's passenger plates, now with one additional digit. Plates in order are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd, my collection, Jim and Lori Wakefield, Chuck Sakryd and George Kunsman.
Getting a vanity plate with a word or initials could now be had without being paired up with a number. The limit at the time was 6 characters. It was getting easier to get a low number plates as there was not such a tight control on some of the under 1000 plates. After all, this was in the period following Watergate and the Nixon resignation. Not every political figure was so keen to be identified as such. The HDE plate is from my collection and likely someone's initials. The MS-626 plate shown here is believed to be Milton Shapp's plate, but I would call this a vanity and not a political plate. The number 2 plate continued to be used by or reserved for the Lt. Governor. These two photos are from Eric Conner.
Here's a strange one. DPL prefix followed by a keystone and a dash separator. According to information received from Ned Flynn, there was a family in the Stroudsburg area some years ago that had an affinity for New York City theatre. They purchased vanity tags with DPL in an effort to appear as diplomats hoping they might receive favorable parking, and other considerations. It is still unknown how the use of the keystone separator and a dash came about, possibly some kind of favor. This plate was previously featured on this site in 2014, and now has also been added to '77 to '84 passenger display. The photo was from John Anshant.
For 1978 a new series of truck plates was issued replacing the 1972 to '78 Commercial plates. These '78 Truck plates went back to using the word Truck as the legend, after the last two plate cycles used the term Commercial, and like the previous plates, the sticker wells were in the upper left and right corners; however, the plates went sticker-less in their first year. The Truck serial numbers started again fresh at CA-10000 and ran thru CZ-99999. Then the 2-letter prefix was moved to the suffix position with 10000-CA which extended into the CD series. The C in the serial did not advance, and the adjacent letter always advanced last after the numbers. A dash separator was used between the letters and numbers. As a point of clarification, this section has no connection to Farm Truck and Apportioned Truck classes that had their beginnings in 1977 and 1982 respectively, and are displayed in their own sections.
The Silver Star Medal is our nation's third highest military award, so definitely not a common sight on the road. This is also the high number plate. The Silver Star plate has been available since 2012. This plate was spotted by Bruce Bufalini.
With so many other military and veterans' plate types, including U.S. Army Veteran and U.S. Army (active duty), these U.S. Army Reserve plates seem to have fallen out of favor. These were also listed as an organizational plate, rather than a veterans' plate. In addition there is no logo, but I've always been drawn to these stacked prefix plates with only a 4-digit serial number. Tom Perri's PA Plates website puts the reported high at A/R1247, so when you consider the starting point at A/R1000, this is a low number plate. PennDOT maintains an inventory of these plates, so they should still be available. Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for sharing this photo.
On the far left is the first image of a Gettysburg College plate on the visitPA graphic base. It's also a personalized or vanity version. We've been expecting to see one of the graphic plates with a serial number, but so far nothing. I'm not going to try guessing why. Again thanks to Nick Tsilakis for spotting this plate.
This Special Mobile Equipment plate was the first of a new series with an alpha character in the prefix position and on the visitPA base. These were issued after the previous series exhausted all available combinations upon hitting SME-999Z. The series shown here has been around since 2013, but Brendan Sherry just spotted this first of its kind plate.
This Mercedes Benz Club of America number 1 plates was spotted by Colin M. Some 85 of these organizational plates have been issued since 2010.
This is the only first generation Allegheny College plate I have seen — I live on the wrong side of the state. Until late afternoon on 7/9 the plate is up for grabs on eBay. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the use of the photo. These plates were first issued in 1997 with some 400 plates being registered by the time that they were replaced with the www base in July of 2001. There is no indication that the plates will be moved to the graphic colorized base.
Here is a beautiful unused 1951 New Car Dealer from Jeff Hinkle. There were two serial progressions for 1951, A000A as seen here and A00A0 as shown in the image gallery. There was also Used Car Dealer which I don't have a photo of. The existence of a C000A Transit Dealer is still unconfirmed, we do know they were in use in '52. The 'X' series Miscellaneous Dealer plate was in use in 1952.
Jeff Hinkle shared his recently acquired 1934 Passenger plate. This plate would be part of the Format 2 serial progression which runs from A to Z999 on a 6" x 10" base, and a longer progression of A1000 to Z9999 on a 6" x 12" base.
This group of 1952 Passenger plates provides examples of additional alpha-numeric formatting. All of the plates except the 9LH4 plate are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd. The 9LH4 is from Steve Ondik. All of the plates shown above measure 6" x 11"; however, the last plate, manufactured later in the year, measures 6" x 10¼".
This low-numbered 1965 base with 66, 67, 68 and 69 stickers was supplied by Tim Gierschick, and he tells me that it was assigned to a Judge from Berks or Lebanon Counties.
For the first time since 1936, these 1971 thru 1976 Passenger car plates have gone map-less. And in anticipation of our nations 200th birthday, passenger plates featured a replica of the Liberty Bell front-and-center on the plate, and used the caption 'Bicentennial State '76'. After all, PA is the home of the Liberty Bell. In 1971 ALPCA gave it the Best Plate of the Year Award. The plates above represent the six standard issue plate serial formate for the period 1971 to 1976 beginning starting with an all-numeric format, then with an alpha character in 5 different positions. Plates issued in 1971 had no sticker, instead had 71 lightly etched into the upper left sticker well. Plates above from left to right are from Chuck Sakryd, Drew Steitz, my collection, Matt Ciecka, Steve Ondik and Chuck Sakryd.
And if the standard issue did not suit your fancy, a special issue plate could be yours for an additional fee. There were all-numeric offerings from 1000 to 99999, and there were many alpha-numeric choices. As far as I know there were no vanity plates with all letters and no numbers, and all alpha-numeric combinations used the liberty bell separator between the letters and numbers. The 1928 plate is thanks to Steve Ondik. The 626-MS is from Eric Conner who connects this plate with Milton Shapp, PA Governor from 1971 to '79. For more information and details on Bicentennial plates, check Rick Kretschmer's website.
But wait, there's more. These low-numbered plates were pretty tough to get if you weren't politically connected. Starting with the # 2 Lt. Governor plate from Chuck Harrington. The 85 plate is thanks to Eric Conner and 400 was provided by Jeff Hinkle.
Last week we covered the the 1964 to 67 Truck series with its many weight and axle classes, and each one assigned its own serial progression. For 1968 to '71 Truck plates, this is all gone — at least it's no longer a part of the plate serial number. A new plate serial coding system was introduced using CA-10000 as the starting point with 'C' as a non-advancing character and the second letter always advancing last after the numbers. Not all C combinations were used such as CI, CO, CQ. In addition all plates were now 7-characters, and the word Truck has been replaced with Commercial. The plates have an embossed sticker well — no question where the sticker goes, and only vestiges of the state map remain. Early plates had 68 etched into the sticker well with no sticker used in '68. The plate shown here is from Steve Ondik.
For 1972 to '77 Truck plates continue to use the legend 'Commercial'. A new series of yellow on blue plates was issued, again using CA-10000 as the starting point; however, the map outline, after many years of reshaping, has been replaced by a narrow embossed border. Sticker wells now appear in the upper left and right corners. Early plates had 72 etched into the upper left sticker well, stickers were then issued for 1973 thru 1977. Plates shown are from Jeff Lawson and my own collection.
Brand new fresh out of the envelope is this Steel Worker plate from Steve Ondik. It appears that at the 05500 point the plate was switched over to the semi-flat color graphic edition shown here. Plate still has the sticker well. While these plates have the look of an organizational plate, they are actually a special class of plate brought about by legislation.
Over the years we've gotten used to always seeing these Person with Disability plates with 5 characters before or after the PD and wheelchair symbol. This eye-catching plate is a vanity or personalized version, and was spotted by Tom Perri. This one still has the renewal sticker, newer PD vanities now have the small map outline and no sticker well.
In 2014 I posted this Honoring Our Veterans image on the far left from an anonymous source. Recently a contributor named Dave, sent me a link to a YouTube video. If you are an automotive enthusiast, you may recognize the name Doug DeMuro. Click the snap shot to watch the YouTube video, or jump ahead to the 3 minutes and 35 seconds point to see the rear of his vehicle.
Last week (6/25) I posted a series of photos of four very nice Philadelphia Pre-State plates from Bob Connison. Ned Flynn pointed out where several corrections to my write-up were needed. I rewrote the PA Pre-State section with some help from Ned, or gleaned from his February 2012 ALPCA Plates article on The Pennsylvania Pre-State Era. Link to article. You must be an ALPCA member to access it. Ned has done outstanding research on the infancy and evolution of early plates here in PA. Thank you Ned.
I spotted this refinished 1916 Passenger plate at a recent car show. Not related to this plate, but while going thru '16 plates I realized that plates between 10000 and 19999 were on a 6" by 14" base, a plate size that I had previously not listed, and a format for which I have no photo.
One additional 1958 Passenger with a 59 sticker is being added. It is a 4-character example of what I list as a Format 8 plate which includes anything from AA00 to ZZ999. This also falls under the broad heading of reserve issue plates which were number & letter combinations available upon request without additional cost. This photo is thanks to Jeff Hinkle.
Next we move forward to 1965 Passenger plates. For 1965 plates were initially undated, then were renewed with annual stickers up thru 1970. Serial progressions were much the same as '58 plates with the addition of a 00A-000 format. The plates in order left to right are from Chuck Sakryd, Jeff Hinkle, Steve Ondik, Shawn, and Steve Ondik.
Special Issue or reserve issue plates were continued but required an additional fee. There were so many alpha-numeric combinations available that I am not going to attempt to show them all, at least for now. The plate shown here is thanks to Jeff Hinkle. Note that this plate and most of the political plates below use a base with a different map outline than the standard plate.
The plates shown here, some may argue, are not true passenger plates but rather are issued to the Lt. Governor, cabinet level positions and state officials and dignitaries. I'm not going to debate the matter, but the plates were issued for use on passenger vehicles, no matter who owns or uses them. I have no provenance for these plates; however, I have no doubt that they were produced for the purposes described herein. The plates shown left to right are courtesy of Chuck Harrington, Jeff Hinkle, my own collection and Jeff Hinkle.
This is considered a 1970 Interim plate. This is a very unusual passenger plate. It is believed to have been used when the blue on yellow '65 plate stock had run out before the new '71 base could be used, which at the time was March 15. Note the use of a '70 sticker and note this interim plate is on the non-passenger base. The plate is apparently owned by another ALPCA member who provided the image to Ned Flynn. The number series comes from the Format 1 series above, possible using some unused or dead tag numbers. The above information and image were provided by Ned Flynn.
I snapped this plate on the go and was unable to get a better shot. Anyway this 1958 Class-T Truck plate image is being added to last week's display of '58 truck plates.
The final series for this week is this group of 1964 Truck plates. This series was used thru 1967. Like some of the '58 plates from last week, a few of the images came from an older group photo from Kelly Brewer. Those particular photos do not enlarge. Here we have an S-class plate from Chuck Sakryd, U-, W- and Y-class plates from Kelly Brewer. The last two include a ZZ-class heavy 3-axle truck plate and a YT-class 3-axle truck tractor plate — these last two uncommon plates are thanks to Clayton Moore.
This Superior Court plate was provided anonymously. In addition to this plate, the plate gallery has plates S/C03 (with badge), S/C06, S/C11 and S/CPJ1 (President Judge 1 with badge). Not much is known about the history of this plate type. Click the link above to read some additional bits and pieces of history.
This very recent image of a personalized Penn Alumni plate was photographed by Jordan Irazabal. Note the lack of a sticker well and no map outline in its place. This suggests that organizational plates or at least personalized ones, will not have the map outline, while standard issue vanity plates have been issued with the map outline.
ON JULY 2, WATCH FOR CORRECTIONS ON THIS ARTICLE WITH REGARD TO DRIVER LICENSING AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION.
They don't get any older and they don't get any nicer. These 1903 to 1906 Philadelphia Pre-State plate images were provided by Bob Connison. After the state passed a law requiring vehicles to show a registration number as early as 1903, and the state did not issue plates until 1906, the registration process was handled at the county level during the intervening years. The City of Philadelphia (or County, as they are the same) began issuing 4-inch by 7-inch porcelain plates in 1903. Eric Taylor's Porcelain Plates website (http://porcelainplates.net/) has an excellent write-up and is a must-read if you have any interest in license plate beginnings here in PA. According to Eric, there were no single or 2-digit plates.
This 3-digit 1916 Passenger plate photo was provided by Bob Connison. 1916 saw the switch from porcelain to painted steel. The makers number was now stamped into the embossed keystone. An aluminum keystone was only used if the plate was transferred to another vehicle.
This 1933 R-Class Truck plate was made available by eBay user rqb507. This is the only '33 truck plate photo I have, so it does fill a gap. These plates were yellow on dark blue and measured 6" by 15". All plates used 6 characters with the first one or two alpha characters indicating the weight class and number of axles. Since there was no legend identifying the vehicle as a truck, the first one or two letters and 6-character serial format identified the vehicle as a truck.
This beautifully refinished 1934 Passenger plate helps to fill one of the serial progression gaps. This 10-inch shorty is (or was) up for grabs on eBay, and the owner, Graham Ham of West Australia, gave me the OK to use the image. I don't say this often enough, but one of the benefits of this plate hobby is the great people with whom you come in contact.
Here are a couple additional format variations to the 1944 Passenger and 1947 Passenger plates. The 4-character '44 plate is a 10-inch shorty, and the 5-character '47 plate is a scant 1 inch wider. Thanks to Steve Ondik for providing the photos.
Here are two more formatting additions to the 1949 Passenger run including these 4-character and 5-character photos. For 1949 all plates were either 4 or 5 characters, and measure 11 inches. The far left plate is from Steve Ondik and the near left plate is thanks to Chuck Sakryd.
The picture on the far left with one plate above the other shows the difference in die types used on 1956 Passenger plates. The upper portion of the photo shows the thinner dies used later in the year and the lower plate shows the standard dies used up to the changeover. Note the difference between the 4 and the 2 shown on both plates. The M4K25 is part of what I categorize as Format 15. I want to thank fellow ALPCA member and friend Ned Flynn for his help with these photos.
Here's another example of a '56 Passenger plate with '57 dies; however, it is from a different serial format than the plate shown above. Three serial formats with '57 dies were issued concurrently. The image is from an eBay user who did not request credit for the picture. The left edge of the plate is clipped off. This is how the plate was when the owner acquired the plate from another auction.
We're finally up to 1958 Passenger plates with lots of additional images since the first few standard issue plates were posted some months ago. Other than the 1942 plates with the 43 tabs to aid the war effort, 1958 was the first modern plate to venture into the use of multi-year registration plates. Initially plates were manufactured with a rectangular slot to the left of the 58 where a metal tab was planned to be affixed annually. No tabs were ever issued and the idea was scrapped in favor of the now-familiar annual validation sticker. Eventually the tab slot was eliminated. Only the far left plate above shows standard formatting of six characters with a small keystone separator in the center between the 3rd and 4th characters. The other plates shown in this group are all reserve issue which were available upon request. The 1139 plate above is from Tim Gierschick, while the other three are from Steve Ondik. The 312M and HF850 are from the America on Wheels Museum, 3712P is from Runkle's Notary and the 282DP is from Steve Ondik.
Keep in mind that during this period there were also Amateur Radio plates, Suburban plates beginning in 1960, and Press Photographer plates which all shared some common elements with Passenger plates.
I'm starting the 1958 Truck run with these two R-series that are in the same R00-0A0 serial progression. The main difference is the earlier plate on the far left has the tab slot. The near left plate was manufactured later which was after the tab slot had been eliminated. These plates are from Chuck Sakryd.
Below is a continuation of 1958 Truck plates. These photos were almost all a part of a group picture provided Kelly Brewer. Unfortunately the original picture is not a high enough resolution to allow for larger individual photos. As a result these photos do not enlarge by clicking them. That's the down side. The up side is that we now have photos of the complete RZ to ZZ series of 3-axle trucks.
The ZZ class, heaviest 3-axle truck, plate from John Willard is shown here to complete the sequence.
For 1958 there was a new class of truck plates for truck tractors, or think of it as the truck portion of an 18-wheeler minus the trailer. Obviously such trucks existed before, but now had their own plates series made up of WT, YT and ZT 3-axls truck tractors. Don't know what 2-axle truck tractors used.
The last group of '58 truck plates includes these YX and ZX 4-axle trucks. Again such trucks existed before, but were likely licensed with the heaviest 3-axle trucks. The ZX class plate is from John Willard is shown here to complete the sequence.
Here's the first standard issue Passenger plate I've seen with the small PA map outline where the sticker well used to be. This plate was photographed in Delaware by Ryan Battin. Map outline passenger vanity plates were seen as early as January 2017.
Here's a personalized Person with Disability plate on the latest base with the small map outline taking the place of the sticker well. A thank you to George Kunsman for the use of the plate photo.
I received a note from Tom Robillard stating that within a few weeks the Penn State Alumni Association plate will be undergoing a facelift. He has been in touch with the Alumni Association and was provided with this update. No pictures or prototypes yet.
This new Municipal Government plate is thought to be the current high. If you recall these switched from the more official-looking white on blue fully embossed base to this semi-embossed base with the small map outline. This change took place at M/G9000J and was first seen in early February of 2017.
This Share The Road plate is a Special Fund plate, and again one of those types that are issued in two tiers. This two-tier thing was seen with the 3-digit Otter plates, the under-100 Honoring Our Veterans plates, and now this plate. Don't expect to get an explanation of this from the state, I've tried and so have others. Stonewalling is what you will get. Enough editorializing. Steve Ondik photographed this plate.
This Kutztown University vanity plate photo was snapped by Steve Ondik.
This very nice 1916 Passenger plate has been added and fills a gap for the 4-digit 6" by 13" plate series. The owner of the plate wished to remain anonymous.
Last week's plate progression ended with 1955, this week we pick up again with the 1956 Passenger series. A couple changes came about for 1956. First, all full-size plates were standardized at 6 inches by 12 inches. This is quite a switch from 1955's 10¼-inch width. Later in the '56 production run, thinner 1957 dies were put in play. These dies were used in the later part of several serial progressions being issued concurrently. While I have many examples of the different formatting variations, unfortunately, at present, I don't have photos of any of these thinner-die plates.
The first two all-numeric plates above are from Tim Gierschick, the E999 is from Sarge at Klassy Karz, 2S343 from Chuck Sakryd, 47L37 from Aimee Senott, next row, 201M America on Wheels, 1425B Drew Steitz, SL53 Tim Gierschick, AD120 Jeff Hinkle, 7DE20 Steve Ondik, bottom row, 60MG2 Runkle's Notary, 212YJ Steve Ondik, E0F59 Aimee Senott, finally the Sample plate is from Chuck Sakryd.
Next we move ahead to 1957 Passenger plates. Again there were at least a dozen serial progression formats used, which eventually brought about the first 6-digit passenger plate since 1929. The 6-digit plates used a thinner font and can be seen in the next to the last example below. The 6-digit plates did not use any kind of separator or extra space for '57 plates.
The first two all-numeric plates above are from Tim Gierschick, E717 is from Steve Ondik, B5670 Lori Wakefield, 300M America on Wheels, CN945 AACA Museum, 912DM Runkle's Notary, 431095 America on Wheels.
These R- and S-class 1936 Truck plates photos were recently snapped at a truck show by Steve Ondik. They show additional serial formatting variations over what was previously shown. The R-plate appears to be a repaint.
Next up is this group of 1956 Truck plates. Shown are four examples of R-series weight class plates each with a different alpha-numeric serial format. There were actually eight total formats, including a run of 6-character plates using thinner '57 dies. Some 5-character plates also used the '57 dies near the end of the run. If anyone has '56 Truck (or Passenger) with '57 dies, a photo or photos would be much appreciated. Also shown above are two examples of S-series. Photo credit goes to Jeff Hinkle for R6G88, Jim Moini for R46LM, eBay user dustyjr for R2TN8, Bob Connison for R1H3B, S369E and S8S28.
For 1957 Truck plates all plates are now 6 character. The additional character reduces the number of serial progressions needed. Shown here are an R-class and an S-class plate. Both are courtesy of Bob Connison. The gallery also shows a Z-class from a previous posting.
This is a Repair Towing vanity plate, and was photographed by Bill Ceravola. The RT is a required prefix and up to 5 numbers and / or letters are permitted. A hyphen or space will count as one of the available spaces.
This 1963 Member of Congress plate is up for grabs on eBay by pinkocelot. I've been looking for a '58 to '64 Member of Congress plate for several years and the owner was kind enough to allow me to use the photo. This plate would have been issued to the representative of the 27th Congressional District. That district is now defunct as a result of redistricting. I'm guessing the plate was produced early thus the tab slot, and then held in reserve. The plate was eventually issued with a 63 PA0000 new issue validation sticker.
While detailing plate history, Ned Flynn points out that some 1913 plates were actually re-fired 1912 plates that were not issued for some reason, maybe a quality issue. Then they were reused in 1913. The evidence for this is where chipping of the outer layer of enamel around the keystone reveals the layer below is the 1912 color. Also in the 'shadow' you can see some of the original number, which is close to the current number. The 9497 plate above belongs to Ned. In addition, the boxed markings on the rear of the 9497 plate from the maker, Brilliant Manufacturing, were used on the early 1912 plates and later switched to the larger stenciled marking. Full-fledged 1913 plates used the stenciled marking on the reverse side as shown on the reverse of the 1913 plate from David at Platedog.com. There is also a 5-digit plate with similar indications of re-firing a 1912 plate.
This is a 6-digit, 16-inch, 1921 Passenger plate. It has been added to the plate gallery and is a better image than the existing one. The plate is credited to John Willard.
This shorty 1934 Passenger plate is part of the AA to ZZ and AA1 to ZZ99 serial progression, and has been added to that year's display. The plate is credited to John Willard.
This well preserved 10" shorty 1937 Passenger plate belongs to John Willard and was photographed at the recent Trexlertown plate meet. This 4-character plate is part of the A100 to Z9999 serial progression. Of course 5-character issues were on 12" plates.
Here are two additional 1953 Passenger plates filling some gaps. The 3957 plate comes from the first series of 1000 to 99999, and was provided by Tim Gierschick. The S308 comes from the A100 to Z9999 serial progression and was photographed at Runkle's Notary.
This week 1954 and '55 plates are being featured. For 1954 Passenger plates there were some 15 serial format progressions used. The plates above and below show examples of 7 serial groupings, beginning with the unusual 3-digit 666 plate. Plates with 3 or fewer characters were not a standard issue, but rather some kind of reserve group. With so many variations from the same year, it's probably easier to click the link above to view the plates by format groups. The photos in order are top row, left to right, Charlie Metz, Tim Gierschick (2 plates), Amber, Steve Ondik, Aimee Senott, America on Wheels. Bottom row, unknown, Tim Gierschick and Runkle's Notary.
For 1955 Passenger plates there are some 16 serial groupings. So many that they will be shown here in two groups, above and below. The plates shown here are from 11 formatting progressions. The 19187 and 38039 plates are part of the same group. The RN60 and LZ295 are also part of the AA10 to ZZ999 progression. Like the 1954 plates above, it's easier to click the link above to view the plates in a more organized format. The photos in order are top row, left to right, Tim Gierschick (first 2 plates), Steve Ondik, Aimee Senott, Steve Ondik, Runkle's Notary and Steve Ondik. Bottom row, Eric Conner/R Nixon, Don, America on Wheels, AACA Museum, YOM plate, and YOM plate.
Switching gears to 1954 Truck, we have a pair of R-class plates showing two serial progressions, and a pair of S-class plates also from two different serial formats. In addition a T-class and a V-class plate are shown. All plates contained 5 characters, were 6" x 10¼" in size and were issued as singles. Plates shown from left to right are courtesy of Jim Moini (both R plates), Bob Connison, Jim Moini (second S plate and T plate), and Bob Connison.
We end this week with this group of 1955 Truck plates where except for the colors and years, the plates are essentially the same as their 1954 predecessor. Shown here are 3 R-class and 2 S-class plates each with a different serial format, and a Y-class. Plates shown from left to right are courtesy of Bob Connison, Jim Moini, Chuck Sakryd, Jim Moini, Bob Connison, and the Y-class plate is unknown.
*** Currently I have a backlog of photos from contributors. Thank you. This is a good thing, keep sending; however, my available time limits how much I can get posted. Check future updates. Also, the Passenger and Truck history pages are a current priority. ***
Normally in PA plate serial progressions skip over a few letters that could easily be confused with numbers or other letters. Certainly the letter 'I' is a prime example. And while it is used in several low production plates as part of the identifier such as Implement of Husbandry with IMP-0000, I'm not aware of its use as part of the serial progression. The use of the 'I' in this Antique Historic plate is believed to be part of the progression between the 'H' and the 'K'. This plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini at a recent car show.
Here is a National Police Defense Foundation personalized plate. This plate type has been around since late 2010 and has over 100 plates in use. The image is courtesy of Arthur Levine.
Nice image of a Philadelphia Fire Fighters' Union sample plate from Dave Kearney. Their plate program dates back to 2005. While the state produces a limited number of sample plates for the organization to use, their decision to discontinue selling sample plates to the public some years ago was unfortunate in my opinion.
This very nice 1937 Trailer plate photo was provided by Jeff Hinkle. In '37 Trailer plate started with a numeric series of 1 to 9999, then went to an alpha-numeric series as shown here with a letter the first position — and the letter always the last character to advance. These plates were all 6" by 12"
It's always nice to go back and fill in license plate gaps among the displays. And so it is with this beautiful 1910 porcelain 3-digit plate. 1910 plates were white on dark blue, and the 3-digit plates measured 6" by 10" which is one of 5 sizes that year. The plates were manufactured by Ing-Rich, also know as Ingram Richardson of Beaver Falls, PA. This gem was provided by Tim Gierschick.
Tim Gierschick also supplied these 1946 all-numeric passenger plate photos. The series started at 1000 and ran to 99999, all on 6" by 11" base plates. Following the all-numeric plates some 9 other alpha-numeric serial progressions were needed to provide enough combinations of 5-character plates to meet the post-war demand.
1947 Passenger plates are similar in their formatting and series progressions to the '46 plates above. Again thanks to Tim Gierschick for sharing these all-numeric 4-digit and 5-digit plates.
Again passenger plates for 1949, 1950 and 1951, the numeric series 4-digit plates started at 1000 and progressed to 99999. I'm not aware of 1, 2 or 3 digit plates during this period. These plate photos are all from Tim Gierschick with my appreciation.
From 1944 thru much of 1952, passenger plates have been 6" by 11", but during the latter portion of the year there was a switch to 6" by 10¼" plates. This narrowing brought about a change in map outline in order to accommodate 5 characters. This change is most noticeable on the right-hand border where the Delaware River takes a slightly straighter course. It is seen above on the far right 562VH plate. The 1952 Passenger plates shown in order from left to right are from the State Museum, Steve Ondik, America on Wheels, America on Wheels, Runkle's Notary, and Drew Steitz.
Following the change in 1952, all 1953 Passenger and other plates were now 6" by 10¼". This size remained in use until 1956 when all plates were standardized at 6" by 12". The group shown hear depicts 6 of the 13 serial progressions beginning with the all-numeric format. The plates shown in order from left to right are from Steve Ondik, my collection, Steve Ondik, Jeff Hinkle, Lori Wakefield and Drew Steitz.
Switching over to 1952 Truck plates, the same as previous 2-axle and 3-axle weight class designations continue starting from R to Z for 2-axle, and from RZ to ZZ for 3 axle trucks. The group shown here are all from the 2-axle group. Far fewer 3-axle trucks were on the road at the time and therefore the plates are far more scarce. The plates shown above from left to right are thanks to Jeff Hinkle, Jim Moini, Bob Connison, and Jim Moini.
For 1953 Truck plates we see a couple changes — first the plates have shrunk from 6" by 11" to 6" by 10¼". Secondly the expiration date has been changed from 3-31 of the following year to 5-31 of the following year, or in this case 1954. The first and last image are thanks to Bob Connison and the center image is from Jim Moini.
The introduction of new organizational plates has slowed way down over the past couple years especially when compared to 2005 thru 2007 period following the introduction of color graphic plates. Earlier in 2017 the Hummelstown Chemical Fire Company No. 1 was added to the organizational plate list which I missed at the time. No prototype picture at this point; however, it appears that their format is 10000H/C and there may be 8 plates in use at present.
More recently the Philadelphia Centurions Motorcycle Club has been added to the organizational plate list. Since this is a police-related organization, it is being listed with Fire, Police and EMS page. No prototype for this plate either. The likely plate format will be 30000P/C.
This pair of images sets the start of the map outline for Truck plates at ZKJ-0000, with the previous run ending at ZKH-9999. The ZKH-9999 is also an endpoint on a inventory sheet. The would be no ZKI run. Thanks to Steve Ondik and Kyle Kuser for the pictures.
It's that time of the year for car shows and the like. Here are two recent shots of Antique Vehicles plates. The 4K00 looks like a new high. The letter K is the last character to advance. Of course the Y-V8 is a vanity or personalized version of the Antique Vehicle plate. These have become popular with up to four characters allowed. The 4K00 photo is from Bruce Bufalini, and the Y-V8 is from Arthur Levine.
Here's a personalized version of a Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plate. As I recall when this plate was in the planning process, the PA Game Commission said there would be no personalized plates, and yet here they are. Obviously there was a policy change. For anyone interested in such a plate click this link to the information sheet and application. Thanks to Steve Ondik for this image of a friend's plate. The NCPA stands for North Central PA Outdoors. Click this link (http://www.ncpaoutdoors.com/) to check out their website.
Here's a photo of the #1 PA Choose Life plate from William Young. I find it interesting that the highest reported Choose Life plate is 1363, while the Planned Parenthood of PA plate has a reported high of 22.
On the far left is a 1958 Motorcycle Dealer plate from Bob Connison with the tab slots. On higher plates such as the 838 plate shown in the plate gallery, there were no tab slots. This change is common on many '58 bases that were planned for metal tabs but instead received stickers. The '71 Motorcycle Dealer plate is from Steve Ondik. From 1934 until 1966, MCD was used as the designator, then switched to DLR as shown on this '71 plate. This continued until the 1999 plate changeover when the use of MCD came back into use.
This very nice 104-year-old 1913 4-digit porcelain plate was made possible thanks to ALPCA member Dave Livingston at PlateDog.com or http://stores.platedog.com/. The reverse also authenticates the plate as having been manufactured by the Brilliant Manufacturing Co. of Philadelphia who made plates for PA between 1912 and 1916. The plate fills the gap for a 4-digit, 6" by 12" plate.
We start off this week's progression of older plates at the mid-century point with this display of 1950 Passenger plates. Shown here are eight examples of the eleven formatting progressions used that year. The plates shown are 61R68, courtesy of Don; 472F, America on Wheels; 5305N, Steve Ondik; JY102, State Museum; 7ER9, Aimee Senott; 5DV64 & 72FV8 (below), Steve Ondik; and 542AP (below), Runkles Notary.
Next in order are 1951 Passenger plates. The plates shown here represent six of the 13 serial progressions, including both 4- and 5-character examples. Plates starting with 95394 are from Steve Ondik; 96H63, Don; 139P & PR64, Sarge / Klassy Karz; JD796, Steve Ondik; and 5AD18 is from my collection. The 1950 and '51 plates are all 6" by 11" and still issued in pairs.
This trio of 1950 Truck plates represent the R and S weight class. The same 2-axle and 3-axle weight classes continued thru 1950. The 5-character limit on the 11-inch plates necessitated as many as 6 alpha-numeric progressions in the R-Class, fewer in other classes. Thanks to Bob Connison for the first plate and Jim Moini for the remaining two.
For the 1951 Truck series we have a group of plate photos representing the R-, S-, T- and V- series of 2-axle weight classes. Since serial numbers were limited to 5 characters, certain classes, especially the lower weights, required as many as six serial progression formats to accommodate the numbers of registrations. The R-class plates shown here depict two such formats. The R plates are from Jim Moini and Bob Connison respectively, the S class is from Chuck Sakryd, the T and V-class are both thanks to Jim Moini.
Spotted this from outside a secure parking area. The fence kept me out but not the camera lens. Anyway after a long wait, we finally see an Apportioned Bus plate on the visitPA base. The plate still has the sticker well but no sticker. Missing is the expected keystone separator and in its place we have a dash. I'm going to suggest that the starting point was BN-04200.
What is still a mystery is first issue BL Apportioned Bus plates. They don't seem to exist within the hobby, or any other place for that matter.
More on the Active Duty series of military plates. Tom Perri has done some additional research showing that there are now active plates for all 5 service branches; however, the number issued varies from as few as 2 for U.S Navy to 10 for Army plates. (My previous count of 18 Army was incorrect.) Except for U.S. Army, which starts at 00001A/D, most begin at 00011A/D, and there are also outliers.
The far left image was snapped by Bruce Bufalini of what appears to be a personalized Person with Disability plate. A standard issue Person with Disability plate would have an all-numeric serial such as 12345 before the P/D symbol. On the second plate, the plate frame gives it away — University of Tennessee. The 70 suggest 1970 as the year of graduation on this personalized Person with Disability plate.
Here's a new high Korean War Veteran plate spotted by Jeff Lawson. This plate type has never been updated and is one of only a few military types that can't be personalized. The others include Pearl Harbor Survivor and World War II Veteran, and since the legislation authorizing these plates spelled out the design and colors, the plates don't lend themselves to the visitPA base. I view the Korean Defense Service Medal plate as the intended replacement for this plate. The other two plate types are very seldom issued any more.
Nick Tsilakis recently snapped these two low-number Combat Wounded Veteran / Purple Heart plates. These plates range from P/H00001 to over P/H10100. The plate type dates back to 1986, this latest edition of the plate was first seen in November of 2004.
I've gotten a lot of help from a couple of Berks County plate collectors. The all-numeric 1936 car plate on the far left comes from Tim Gierschick with my thanks and appreciation. The shorty 4-character plate is from Jeff Hinkle also with my thanks and appreciation. These plates help fill a couple formatting gaps. It appears that as of 1936 the 1-, 2- and 3-digit plates were no longer in the standard mix.
These three all-numeric Passenger plates from 1938, 1940 and 1941 help to provide good examples to the all-digital plate progression. It appears that beginning in 1936 and extending to, but not including 1944, all of the numeric plates were 5 digits in length as shown above starting at 10000 to 99999. Thanks to Tim Gierschick for these images.
Beginning with 1944 Passenger, the two plates sizes were 6" by 10" for 4-character plates, and 6" by 11" for 5-character plates. These two Tim Gierschick plates are nice examples of both sizes, as well as the initial all-numeric series.
For 1945 Passenger, and non-passenger plates, were all 6" by 11" for both 4- and 5-character configurations. Tim Gierschick helped fill the all-numeric gap with this image.
Here's one I missed last week. This 1947 Passenger 4-digit 11-inch plate photo was taken at the America on Wheels Museum. Sorry the photo is poor. It was part of a sequential group display of about 35 plates once belonging to the Magee family from the Bloomsburg area. I'm confident that while this plate and the others fall into the 000A format, the plate numbering was provided as a favor or courtesy.
1948 Passenger plates had 10 different plate progression formats, seven of which are shown here. All plates were either 4 or 5 characters and all were 6" by 11". As with 1947, the '48 plates were issued in pairs. Plate credits from left to right go to Sarge from Klassy Karz for the first and third plates, the second plate is from Steve Ondik. Next is from my own collection, then Runkle's Notary, Bob Griffen, and America on Wheels.
Next is this group of 1949 Passenger plates. Again the plates are all 6" by 11" and were issued in pairs. Throughout this period there were marked increases in the number registrations every year. 1949 had 11 formatting progressions.
Here's a 1947 S-Class Truck plate that should have been part of last week's update. In '47 there were four S-Class formatting variations. With the addition of this plate, three of the four variations are displayed. Thanks to Jim Moini for the use of this photo.
These 1948 Truck R- and S-Weight Class plate images have been added to '48 plates that were previously posted. All plates are 11", and issued in pairs. Letter prefix weight classes continue from R to Z for 2-axle trucks and from RZ to ZZ for 3-axle trucks. X class was not used. The first R-class shown here is courtesy of Jim Moini, and the second is thanks to Bob Connison, and S-class is courtesy of eBay user dustyjr.
The final group this week is made up of these 1949 Truck plates. Shown here are three 2-axle plates from the S-, U- and V-weight classes. They were still issued in pairs. Note the U-class plate has two letters at the end while most plates have only one. This was done to provide enough serial combinations in the U-class as well as the R- and S-classes. The S- and V-class plates shown above are courtesy of Bob Connison. I just purchased the U-class plate.
Here are two recent issue Truck plates — the ZKA plate on the far left is typical of recent issues. It's a little hard to distinguish, but it still has the sticker well, while the near left ZKJ plate now has the small map outline in place of the sticker well. Late word from Steve Ondik on 5/13 is that ZKF-5617 has no map outline. The ZKA image is from Steve Ondik, and the ZKJ is from Kyle Kuser.
Here's a very recent issue Support Your Zoo - Special Fund plate. No changes, but a new high serial number. These plates got their facelift in April of 2013 when they changed from the full graphic tiger and cub to 'Tiny the Tiger' on this version. Four years of plates sales suggests about 700 plates per year. The plate image is from Steve Ondik.
It appears that the U.S. Army (Active Duty) plate type is now in use on about 18 vehicles. By law these became available in February. So far none of the other military active duty plates have been issued. Those include Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.
Arthur Levine recently spotted this personalized version of an International Association of Fire Fighters plate.
Here is St. Charles Borromeo Seminary plate number 9 of 12 issued — so not an easy plate to spot. This plate was photographed by Jaska Börner
This 3-digit Vietnam Vets or Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. plate was recently spotted by Jeff Lawson. This is an organizational plate rather than a military or veterans' plate. This organization's plate program dates back to 1988.
These are 1945 Passenger vehicle plates. They represent 5 of the 9 serial number formatting variations. These plates were all 5-characters in length and measured 6" by 11", there were also 4-character plates that also measured 6" by 11", as the 10" plates were eliminated after 1944. The plates in the order shown are from Aimee Senott, Bob Griffen, America on Wheels Museum, Runkle's Notary and Chuck Sakryd.
Moving to 1946 Passenger plates the colors are reversed but the serial formatting is much the same but with one additional grouping. The far left plate is from the America on Wheels Museum, next is from Don (no last name given), and the final plate is unknown.
Again for 1947 Passenger plates the serial number formatting is essentially the same. The plates shown here are from Don (unknown last name) on the far left, Aimee Senott on the center left, and the America on Wheels Museum on the right-hand plate. The 4-character plates now measure 11-inchs also.
For 1946 Truck plates continued with R to Z classes (except for X) for 2-axle trucks and RZ to ZZ (again no X series) for 3-axle trucks. The serial number progression as shown here, R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0, was used to the extent needed for each class, where the R represents the weight class and the A portion of the serial number that progresses after the numbers. The R-class plate shown hers is from Chuck Sakryd; the U-class plate is thanks to Bob Connison.
We conclude this week with a group of 1947 Truck plates including an R-class, two S-class plates and one T-class. Note the placement of the letters in the third, fourth and fifth positions to allow for sufficient serial formats. The R- and T-plates were provided by Chuck Sakryd, and the two S-plates were from Bob Connison.
Here's a very recent Passenger plate. Just spotted KKP-3063 on another site. These still have the sticker well, but no sticker, and no sign of the anticipated small map outline. Apparently the map outline plates are already on the street on Truck plates. ZKJ-5841 with map outline was spotted on another site. This plate shown here was spotted by Steve Ondik.
Here's a Springfield Fire Company plate photographed by Jeff Lawson. They are located in Delaware County, and have some 23 plates on the street. Their plates first came out around December of 2015,
Jeff Hinkle passed along this very nice 1914 Passenger plate; however, this plate was made as part of the Truck series. It was not needed as too many truck plates were produced and some were assigned to passenger vehicles. If it had remained a truck plate, it would have a truck weight band attached in the vertical space to the left of the legend.
Here's another gem from Tim Gierschick. This 3-digit 10-inch 1934 Passenger plate has been added to the plate gallery to show additional formatting variations. The all-numeric series ran from 1 to 9999 on the 10" shorty base and from 10000 to 99999 on the 12" base.
Here's an addition to the 1938 Passenger plate display. The plate is from the 0000A to 9999Z series, one of nine serial formatting groups used that year. Both the 6" by 10" and 6" by 12" bases were used. The plate is courtesy of Chuck Sakryd.
This is a 1942 Passenger plate with a '43 tab. This plate is part of the initial run from 10000 to 99999, which was part of 10 formatting variations. The photo was provided by Tim Gierschick. Almost all of the '42 Passenger plates were 6" by 12", but there was a small run of plates in the 000A to 999Z series that were on the 6" by 10" base
Many of these 1943 Tabs have been preserved over the years. These were issued as part of the war effort to help conserve steel. Click the tab thumbnail to see the detail of the embossed year 43 over embossed 3-31-44 over a lightly stamped serial number. It appears that there is a relationship between that serial number and the plate number. The serial number can have identifying prefixes and suffixes on other plate types. Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the tab, and the plate with tab from America on Wheels Museum.
Here's a trio of 1944 Passenger plates. Each plate represents a different serial number grouping. The A7408 picture is from Runkle's Notary, the 471S4 is from Don, no last name given. The source of the final plate is unknown. They represent 3 of the 9 formatting groups. The plate shown here are all 6" by 12"; however, there were also 4-digit plates measuring 6" by 10"
Ned Flynn points out that during the 1942 plate run, the expiration date embossed in the top border was issued both with, and without, a period after the EXP. This inconsistency can be seen in both 1942 Truck and 1942 Passenger plates. The plate on the far left, from Jim Moini, lacks the period, while the plate on the near left, from Kelly Brewer, shows the period.
These 1943 Truck tabs are very similar to other '43 Tabs. The lightly stamped area below the 43 shows a serial number of up to 6 characters made up of an alpha character and up to 5 digits, with the alpha character corresponds to the weight class prefix. The far left tab is from Kelly Brewer, the next tab and the S-Class plate are thanks to Jim Moini.
The final truck plates this week are these three 1944 Truck plates representing the R, S and T-weight classes. Each of these plates has a letter in the 5th position of the serial number. Some plates, especially in the lower weight classes could have the final letter in the third or forth position. Click the link to see all the formatting variations. The R and T -class plates are from Bob Connison. The S-class is thanks to Jim Moini.
The final plate for the week is this 1937 Tractor plate from Jim Moini. Previously I had listed the 1937 tractor plate serial numbers with a starting point of 1; however, this plate indicates that the starting point would have been 0001, with all plates being 4-digit.
Here's the latest high Vertical Motorcycle plate. The formatting of these plates is not very obvious with the series starting point of M0A0C, and the M and the C are non-advancing characters, at least so far. The alpha character in the center, in this case a 'V', is the final character to advance. These plates have been around a little over 3 years, and if my calculations are correct, some 19-hundred plates have been issued, as not all letters are used. These vertical plate are also available as vanities with up to 5 characters permitted. Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing the photo.
These older passenger plates have been added to the plate gallery. They are all formatting variations not previously shown on this site. We begin with this 13½" 1923 Passenger plate on the far left. Next is a 1926 4-digit 12" plate. Next is a 4-digit 1927 10" shortie, and finally this 1930 Passenger shortie. I want to recognize Chuck Sakryd for his support of the hobby by allowing me to use these images. These plates are available on his website.
These 1940 Passenger plates may look random but they each represent a different serial formatting group. Click the link to see the list of serial progressions. The plates in the order displayed are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd, Runkle's Notary, America on Wheels, Bob Griffin, State Museum and Bruce Bufalini.
For 1941 note the addition of the expiration date in the top map border with EXP. 3-31-42. This grouping of 1941 Passenger plates shows examples of seven of the ten serial progression formats. The plates shown here are all 6" by 12"; however, there were 6" by 10" plates in several of the progressions. Plates shown left to right are from America on Wheels, Runkle's Notary, Aimee Senott, Chuck Sakryd (2 plates), my collection. Bottom row plate unknown source.
1942 Passenger plates, except for reversing colors, were very similar to the '41 plates. Shown here are plates from 4 of the 10 serial progressions. The far left plate is from Chuck Sakryd, next is from Joe Bosche, then the State Museum, and the final plate is from Aimee Senott.
These 1939 Truck plates represent the S weight class and the T weight class. Click the link for additional details. These old truck plates are not nearly as common as Passenger plates. The S class plate photo was supplied by Bob Connison, while the T class came from Jim Moini.
1940 Trucks retained the same weight classes as the previous year, in these photos, an S-class and a T-class plate. These are the only photos I have of a '40 truck plate (and '39 above), so any additional images would be welcome. I do want to thank Jim Moini and Bob Connison for supplying me with many older truck plate photos, including these.
Again 1941 Truck plates and weight classes were similar to previous years, but now the plates have the expiration date embossed into the top border reading EXP. 3-31-42. Click the link to also see a Z class plate. The S and V class plates shown here are courtesy of Bob Connison.
Moving ahead to 1942 Trucks we have two R-class, a T-class and a U-class plate. The series, as in previous years, ran from R to Z for 2-axle trucks, and RZ to ZZ for 3-axle trucks. Note the U-class plate also has a 1943 validation tab attached. The first R-class is from Bob Connison, the next R-class from Jim Moini, the T-class plate image was provided by Bob Connison. The U-class photo came from Kelly Brewer.
Here's the latest Municipal Government plate, now in the K-series. This new format was first seen in February of this year. It appears that the change took place at M/G9000J. Wonder when we'll see this change trickle down to the Municipal Motorcycle plate? Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing this plate photo.
Here's a couple of fairly recent Truck plates. The one of the far left is a near-high and was provided by Steve Ondik. The photo on the near left would be the latest reported high and was taken by Bruce Bufalini. I'm wondering if the plates without the sticker well will have the small map symbol on Truck plates when they hit the street?
Here is a 1962 Motorboat sample plate — first one I've seen. Motorboat plates were issued from 1931 to 1963, with the MB designator used in later years sometimes being mistaken for Motorbike. Thanks to Rick Kretchmer for the plate image. Rick, a fellow member of ALPCA, has an excellent website covering Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia plates (http://www.ricksplates.com/) . Rick also conducts an ALPCA Regional Plate meet in Mount Airy, MD.
I have not done much with Bus plates for a while, but there's never a bad time to add more plate images. Anyway, Jim Moini passed along this low number 1955 Bus plate. The first character is the letter 'O'. The series started at O1, went to O9999, then OA000, etc.
If you look close at this 1915 plate, there is a gap between the left border and the plate legend. This gap was intended for an aluminum weight class band to be riveted to the top and the bottom of the plate; however, in this case the plate was assigned to a passenger vehicle, so no weight band was applied. The series ran from 20000 to 29999 was reserved for the truck series with space for the weight class band to the left of the legend. Too many plates were produced, so some plates from this series were issued to cars and did not have the weight strip attached. Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the plate photo.
This trio of 3-, 4- and 5-digit plates adds some variety to the 1st progression of 1931 Passenger plates. The two plates on the left are 6" by 10" shorties, while the 5-digit plate measures 6" by 12', all are thanks to Tim Gierschick.
Here are more '31 Passenger plate from a later series. The far left plate is from the 000A to 999Z9 series and the near left plate from 0000A to 9999Z series. This far left plate photo is thanks to Chuck Sakryd and the near left photo was provided by Jim Moini.
Next is this group of 1932 Passenger plates, starting with this 3-digit shortie measuring 6" by 10", followed by a 5-digit. These are both from the initial series of 1 to 99999. The final plate is from a later series of 00A to 99Z99. By 1932 these were over 1.4 million car registrations necessitating eight different serial formatting progressions. Thanks once again to Tim Gierschick for the 472 plate, and to Chuck Sakryd for the other two images.
Next in the lineup is this group of 1938 Passenger plates. With each succeeding year, there was a marked increase in the number of registrations. The challenge was to come up with enough serial combinations while being limited to 4 and 5 characters. The plate photo on the far left was taken at a car show. My guess is the owner registered the number as a vanity and then applied the sticker. The second plate is from Joe Bosche, the third plate is from Chuck Sakryd, next is from Runkle's Notary, and the final plate is unknown.
1939 Passenger plates were very similar to the '38 plates above except for the color reversal. Serial formatting appears to be the same with some nine different serial formats. Far left plate is courtesy of Chuck Sakryd, next plate is from Bill Ceravola, the center plate is from Runkle's Notary, the fourth photo is from America on Wheels Museum, and the final plate is from a car show.
These two 1937 Truck plates have been added to the matrix, including the R-series 6-character overflow plate which measures 6" by 15". The 6-character plates were issued after all of the authorized 5-character plates were issued in the R and S weight class. Most plates were 6" by 12" as seen in the S-series plate. These images are courtesy of Jim Moini.
For 1938 Trucks, the map base has been adopted, and the same weight classes of R to ZZ remain in effect; however, missing from the lineup are the 15-inch overflow plates being replaced by a new serial format — R00AA which fits the 12-inch base. The R, S and T class plates shown here are thanks to Bob Connison.
Tom Perri spotted this high serial number Flyers Wives Charity plate on the far left. Tom also points out that the plate legend changed from Flyers Wives Charities to the singular Flyers Wives Charity — compare both plates. In addition, the sticker well is no longer present and the small PA map outline, that was previously announced, will likely not be a part of organizational plates.
Here's a Conserve Wild Resources a/k/a an Otter plate in a vanity format. Vanities have been available for several years now but it appears that most drivers prefer the full-size plate photo on the standard issue over the much scaled down version shown here. Nick Tsilakis spotted this plate.
This very low number Gold Star Family plate was spotted recently by Jordan Irazabal. From the Gold Star Legacy website, "The term 'Gold Star' describes a family member who has lost a loved one in military service. The Gold Star signifies the family's pride in the loved one's sacrifice rather than the mourning of their personal loss." Sadly over 700 of these plates have been issued.
This personalized Vietnam War Veteran plate photo has been passed along by Steve Ondik. The first generation of these plates dates back to 1999, then they were redesigned in 2014 on the graphic base.
These three Passenger plates from 1927, 1928 and 1929 have been added to the plate galleries to show some additional variety. I had received these photos from Jim Moini a couple years ago. Jim has an amazing website, http://moini.net/, covering New Jersey plates, Apportioned plates from just about everywhere, license plates of Mexico, Truck & Trailer plates, and a great section on Corporate Fleet plates.
Thanks to Jim Moini for this 1931 Passenger plate from this 0000A to 9999Z serial grouping of plates. Some 7 different serial formatting groups were used to allow over 1.5 million passenger registrations while holding the plates to a maximum of 5 characters, and limiting the size 6" by 12".
Here's a nice group of original 1935 Passenger plates from the first serial progression going from 1 to 99999. Plates from 1 to 4 characters were 10-inches in width and 5-character plates were 12 inches. These plate photos were provided by Tim Gierschick.
This grouping of 1935 Passenger plates shows several serial formatting variations and both the 12-inch and 10-inch sizes. There are eight serial formatting variations. Click link above to see additional information on both serial formatting and sizes. Plate photos in order are courtesy of America on Wheels Museum, Jim Moini, John Willard & John Anshant, and the JH1 from Jeff Hinkle.
For 1936 Passenger plates there were some changes in serial formatting; however, the same two sizes of 10- and 12-inches continue unchanged. Plate credits, U481, Chuck Sakryd; 6B529, Joe Bosche; 2J236, Jim Moini; 94Y19, Runles Notary; 9581J, America on Wheels Museum.
1937 Passenger plates are marked with the addition of an embossed state map outline. Most other plate had the map added in 1938. 10- and 12-inch sizes continued to be used. The use of the small keystones was dropped until it reappeared briefly on a late run of plates — note the two plates on the right have the keystones which were used between the MC and PK series. Plate credits: 30250, Runkles Notary; 2G418 from a car show; 545A, unknown; 7MZ28, Christopher Zavatski; and 2PB08, Dave Lincoln.
A number of older Truck plates has been added to the mix including a 1915 3-Star, a 1918 3-Star with a C+4 digit serial, and a pair of 1919 2-Star plates with a C+4 digit serial numbers. Thanks to Jim Moini for sharing so many photos.
This is the first image on this website of a 1931 Truck plate. A quick look at the plate and it's easy to see why this plate would not easily be recognized as a truck plate. The S prefix, which is part of the R thru Z classes, might suggest truck but the lack of any legend might leave one wondering. Click the link above to see more on this tough plate year. This image is courtesy of Jim Moini.
This U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc. plate photo has been added to the Fraternal, Non-Profit and Misc. Organizational Plates page. While the plate is military-related, it is not considered a veterans plate. These plates have been around since 2005 with a reported high of 00144S/V according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website. Thanks to Jeff Lawson for the photo.
Here is a nice 1921 Passenger 4-digit plate. Mike at PL8 SOURCE was kind enough to let me use some of his sale plates. This plate helps to fill a gap between a 2-digit and 6-digit plates. There were 4 plate sizes used that year, this one measures 6" by 12". There were two larger sizes and one smaller.
The photo gallery now shows two examples of 6-digit 1924 Passenger plates. The earlier one, 398-516, has strap slots and bolt holes, the plate shown here has bolt holes only, but no slots. 5-digit plates were also known to have been made both with and without slots. Thanks to Mike at PL8 SOURCE for the use of the image.
Here is a partial run of 1932 Passenger plates. After 1924 alpha-numeric plates were needed due to the increase in registrations. This, combined with the elimination of plates wider than 12 inches for passenger use, limited plates to 5 characters, and made for quite a letter and number combinations. Pictured above are 6 of the 8 different plate formats. Credit for the images: 1779, Sweigart Museum via Eric Conner; R5653, Bob Connison; 8P, Jeff Hinkle; 63A78, Joe Bosche; 2051H, John Willard; PM88, Runkle's Notary; VZ779, America on Wheels.
These 1933 Passenger plates represent several of the formats used that year. Again 1 to 4 character plates measure 6" x 10", and 5 character plates are 6" x 12". Note that the N6246 plate has the legend reversed. Click the link above to see more of serial formatting. Plates shown, H1057 belongs to John Willard, 3V156 is from Joe Bosche, the 6V360 was photographed at America on Wheels, and finally the YR plate is from Sarge at Klassy K.arz.
This 1933 plate was an experimental or test plate, made of aluminum with a reflective year tab riveted to the plate. The color is burnt orange or copper, while the embossed features are not painted. The reverse is also painted orange. The tab appears to contain the year, 33, and a serial number A25369. Plate measures 6" x 10". The concept of a replaceable feature to revalidate the plate, in this case a reflective tab, was about 25 years ahead of it's time. To me the average driver would encounter issues dealing with replacing a tab riveted to the plate, if that was the idea. This plate was provided by John Lemons.
Next is this group of 1934 Passenger plates represents several different serial number formats in both the 10-inch and 12-inch widths. In 1934 there were some 1,700,000 passenger registrations. This serial numbering system would have presented a challenge with a maximum of 5 spaces available. Click the link above for a listing of the various alpha-numeric progressions. Plates shown in order are courtesy of America on Wheels, Runkles Notary, unknown, and Joe Bosche.
This is a 1926 R-Class truck plate with the R weight class designator in the suffix position. This was the result of R class plates running out of numbers where the R was in the prefix position. Once plates reached R99-999 additional R class plates used the suffix position. This plate is courtesy of Mike at PL8 SOURCE.
Here is an R-Class 1935 Truck plate — the R-Class being the lightest weight and most common plate. Like the 1932 to 1934 plates the same truck classes were in use from R to Z for 2-axle and ZR to ZZ for 3-axle, skipping the X series. Almost all truck plates were 6" by 12"; however, it appears that the R-series ran out of 5-character combinations toward the end of the run and went to 6-character, R00-00A serial format measuring 6" by 15". The plate shown here is courtesy of Bob Connison.
This grouping of 1936 Truck plates shows two R weight class plates, one with the second alpha character in the 4th position and the other in the 3rd position. The other is a T weight class plate with the second alpha character in the 4th position. Click the link above for more detail on plate serial formatting. The 1st and 3rd plates shown hear are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd; the 2nd plate is from Bob Connison.
The final run this week consists of these 1937 Truck plates. Four classes are shown here beginning with R, the lightest weight, then S, T and U as the weight classes progressed higher. All truck plates had a second alpha character in addition to the weight class. 1937 was also the beginning of the familiar map outline, but it was only used on Passenger and Official plates that first year. The R- and S-class photos are from Bob Connison, the T-class is from Chuck Sakryd, and the U-class is unknown.
Spotted this newly issued Passenger Vanity with map outline, and without the sticker well. This revised base should be showing up in the not too distant future on passenger and other plate types.
It appears that the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables now has, or is about to have 1 active plate. With only a single plate, confirmation of this information is difficult.
This may not look like anything special, but this is the only first-generation Commercial Implement of Husbandry plate to be photo-documented. And that is not from a lack of trying. A little history might be helpful. Yellow-on-blue Commercial Implement plates were first released in 1997, then in September of 1999 they were reissued on the www base. It is not known how many were issued but this plate suggests a few hundred. Also, they were only issued for about two years before being replaced. It is my understanding that originally the non-commercial Implement of Husbandry plates, which go back to about 1984, were issued to both non-commercial and commercial vehicles, then in 1997 commercial vehicles were split off and issued tags as shown here. This plate was on a recent ebay auction and the owner, Tighe N., gave me the OK to use the photo.
This 1914 porcelain plate was produced a part of a number block of plates from 20000 to 39000 destined to be used for truck plates; however, the demand for truck plates did not meet expectations, so some of that block were registered to passenger vehicles. 1914 truck plates would have had a vertical aluminum weight band or strip on the left side of the plate between the border and the legend. The small mounting holes are visible especially on the full size image. This plate was also on eBay recently the owner, old2new4u gave me the OK to use it.
This 6-character alpha-numeric plate has been added to the 1926 Passenger display. The plate series ran from 1 to 999-999, then moved to a leading letter format starting with A, A1, A2 etc. This plate measures 6" by 15" and the photo was taken at Runkles Notary in Hanover, PA.
Here is a B-series alpha-numeric format 1927 Passenger plate. The initial run was all-numeric, then after reaching 999-999, an alpha-numeric plate run followed the same format as the '26 plate shown above. This photo was taken at the State Museum in Harrisburg.
This is a pair of 1929 'shorty' passenger plates. The 76 plate would have been 76th plate issued in the passenger series that extended to 999-999. After reaching that point, the series began with A, A1, up to A99-999 and eventually to the F series and this F-28 plate. Plate size depended on the number of characters with up to four using 6" by 10", 5 character were 6" by 13" and 6 character were 6" by 15". The 76 plate is from Tim Gierschick and the F-28 is thanks to Ned Flynn.
These plates have been added to the 1930 Passenger display. While these plates may appear to in random order, they actually follow a newly established order that the serial numbering system followed for 1930. Apparently there was a goal to eliminate the use of 15" plates limiting sizes to 6" by 10" and 6" by 12", but in order to do this plate serials had to be limited to 5 characters. Click the link above to see the progression of alpha-numeric combinations. Plate credit: C1, Jeff Hinkle; N6708, Joe Bosche; 1B1, unknown; 8F630, AACA Museum; 27Z24, America on Wheels; FL1, Nick Smith.
This group of 1931 Passenger plates has been added to the plate photo gallery. In an effort to limit the size (width) of passenger plates to a maximum of 12" required limiting the plates to 5 characters. As a result a number of permutations and combinations of numbers and letters were used. Note the 4-character plates shown above are 6" by 10". Click the link to see the list of formats. Plates shown above: 9006, unknown source; J506, America on Wheels; S9441, Joe Bosche; 715U, Runkle's Notary, FL1, Nick Smith; LB65, Fred Carlton.
On the far left is an photo of an Allentown Fair truck back in the day with a 1929 U-class tag, U11-962, click photo to enlarge. Also shown is this pair of R-Class 1929 Truck plate photos. There was no plate legend at the time to identify these as truck plates, just the letter prefix. R-Class is the lightest weight class and the most common plate. As can be seen these plates are different lengths depending on the number of characters in the serial number. These are 6" by 13" and 6" by 15" respectively. There was also a 6" by 10" for 2, 3 and 4 character plates.
Truck plates during the early 1930s are tough finds. Before 1934 they are missing any kind of identifying legend. In addition some passenger plates at the time can be confused with, and easily misidentified as truck plates. If anyone has truck plates for this period that they would be willing to share photos of, it would be appreciated. Take a look at the formatting of the 1931 thru 1933 truck plates for more information. THANKS!
In legislative news, House Bill 215, which would create a special registration plate honoring women veterans, and also a plate for recipients of the Legion of Merit, has received final passage by the House on 3/21/17. The Bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
We lead off this week with two great shots of fire company plates. This image is of a #3 Friendship Fire Company of Bressler plate. This is also the first plate to be photographed, and it's all thanks to Tom Perri. Tom runs the www.paplates.com/ website, which tracks high numbers of every current type of plate issued in PA. This fire company currently has about 9 plates on the road. Plates were first issued around mid-December 2016.
This next plate, also from Tom Perri, and also a perfect shot, is this Rescue Hose Company No. 1. These plates have been around since about July of 2016. They currently have about 40 plates in use. Thanks Tom for sharing these outstanding photos.
It appears that the number of new organizations seeking their own license plate is slowing down. At the same time the number of organizational members applying for vanity plates has increased. The St. Charles Borromeo Seminary only has about a dozen standard-issue organizational plates out there — many of these remaining inside the confines of a secure facility. For the purpose of categorizing this plate type, it has been listed with other educational or college plates. This image was provided by Colin M.
The Disabled Veteran and Severely Disabled Veteran series have become popular as vanities. The DV- is required. This plate might represent Operation Enduring Freedom 2010. In my opinion this series is also popular due to the fact that they are not part of the family of plates. As I recall this is due to the legislation which sponsored these plates which also spelled out what the plate would look like. This image was provided by Steve Ondik.
This low number 1919 Passenger plate is a bit of a mystery. The plate was up for auction on eBay recently and the owner, Kettering Enterprises, gave me the OK to use the image. It was part of an estate sale so no further information was available. The plate is the expected 6 inches high but only 8 inches wide. The normal small version was 6" by 10". The plate does not appear to have been altered based on several other photos.
This three-digit shorty on the far left and this 6-character alpha-numeric 1925 Passenger plates make a nice addition to that year's display. The alpha-numeric plate also seems to use a narrower font than others of the same year. These plates are thanks to Tim Gierschick. Click the link to see more.
The far left 1926 #25 plate has a unique history. Not only is it a nice low number, but it was part of the Good Roads campaign which was a North American initiative to improve road travel nationwide at the time. Roads at the time were largely dirt on a good day, and mud the rest of the time. The number 25 plate was issued in almost every state, possession and Canadian Provinces as a symbol of this effort. Thanks Tim Gierschick for sharing this photograph.
These next two 1926 plates show a 5-digit format and a 6-digit format. These plates measure 6" by 13" and 6" by 15" respectively. The 5-digit picture is from Tim Gierschick and a 6-digit format was taken at a show in Bellefonte.
Next we move forward to 1927 Passenger plates. The plates shown here show the three lengths as the number of characters increase. The shortest length was used for 1, 2, 3 and 4 digit numbers as well as shorter alpha-numeric plates. The first two plates above are courtesy of Tim Gierschick.
Here are several nice additions to the 1928 Passenger group, beginning with Tim Gierschick's 76 shorty, then a pair of 4-digit shorties, all three of which measure 6" by 10". The final two plate are from Tim. The 6476 plate is thanks to Chuck Sakryd. Anyone have an alpha prefix plate they would be willing to share? Beginning in 1924, and each succeeding year, saw an increase in the number of letter prefix plates with 1928 advancing into the 'E' series.
Moving on to truck plates. Again 1926 Truck plates have no legend indicating what they are. In this case the R prefix is the indicator. The series ran from R to Z and excluded X which was used for Dealer tags. The R thru Z letters designated truck weight classes. With R being the lightest class, it also had the most trucks causing the numeric progression to exceed R99-999. Then the R designator was plated in the suffix position. Plate length also varied according to the length of the serial number. This photo is thanks to Bob Connison.
For 1927 Truck plates we have a similar mixture of truck weight classes and plate sizes. Shown here on the far left is a low number, 6" by 10" R-class 'shorty' from Tim Gierschick. Next in line is a 6-character, 6" by 15", also R-class, full size plate from Bob Connison. There was also a mid-size plate measuring 6" by 13" for 5-character plates. Again for 1927 there were also R-class overflow plates with the 'R' in the suffix position. Also notice that beginning in 1927, the letter size was smaller than the numbers.
Here is a 1928 Truck R-class plate. Again the classes went from R to Z skipping X, and also used three plate widths depending on the number of characters. Like the previous few years, 1928 also had R-class overflow plates where the R was in the final position. This plate was provided by Bob Connison.
This Antique Vehicle vanity was recently snapped by Brendan Sherry. Vanities seem particularly attractive to antique vehicle owners.
Here's a new high Official Use plate also photographed by Jordan. This is the first one photographed with the B-suffix. Soon we should be seeing the new version of this plate in the 'family of plates' edition.
This is the latest high University of Pittsburgh plate. The current graphic format dates back to mid-2016, while several previous evolutions date back to 1988. This plate image is courtesy of Brendan Sherry.
This nice 4-digit 1908 porcelain tag has been added to the plate gallery thanks to Drew Steitz. With the addition of this plate, there is now an example of all four plate sizes used that year.
This brown on cream 1922 'shorty' passenger plate was provided by Tim Gierschick, and makes a nice addition. Beginning in 1920 there was a shift in plate formatting which continued thru most of the 20s, with only minor changes to the plate design except for the color.
This 1923 Passenger 'shorty' has been added to last weeks posting of a 5-digit and a 6-digit plate. Yes, it's a tough year for paint. This plate is thanks to Tim Gierschick. Click the link above to see additional details.
Here is an almost complete display of the
1924 Passenger plate
series. A couple features are worth pointing out — of the two 5-digit
plates, one has strap slots and bolt holes while the other has bolt holes only.
I use the term strap slots to describe the wide openings, as many vehicles at
the time mounted plates with leather straps. The first three plates are
courtesy of Tim Gierschick. The 6-digit plate photo is from the America on
Wheels Museum. It is my understanding that 1-000-000 plate was
commemorative plate to mark the one-millionth registration which first occurred
This is a close-up of the upper right corner of the #3 plate above. Note that the bolt hole area is pre-punched or scribed to allow a strap slot.
1925 Passenger plates had much in common with their 1924 counterpart. Four different plate widths were used, three of which are shown here. The plates progressed from single digits up to 999-999, then moved to the alpha-numeric format beginning with A-1 and extending beyond B57-000. The 7-067 is courtesy of Drew Steitz, the 32-957 plate is thenks to Jeff Hinkle. Anyone have a 1, 2 or 3 digit, or an A or B prefix plate they would be willing to share?
Again for 1923 Truck plates are all believed to be 6" by 16". This is due to the very long legend of PENNA COMMERCIAL 1923. The plates shown here are from Bob Connison on the far left and Clayton Moore on the near left.
This is a 1924 Truck plate, and for the first time truck weight classes were designated with letter prefixes. These is no legend designating truck plates, only the alpha-numeric series described here. The series started at R for the lightest weight and ran to Z for the heaviest, of course excluding X which was reserved for the Dealer series. The series for example would start at R1 and went to R9999, once reached there was an overflow series with the R in the suffix position.
The final round for this week covers 1925 Truck plates. In 1924 truck plates began to use the familiar R to Z prefixes to designate truck weight classes, and as seen here the practice continued into 1925. The R series for the lightest weight class would have started at R1 and advanced to R99-999. Once the series was full, the R was placed in the final position as seen on the 25-41R above. This was only needed for R-class trucks. The R5679 plate was photographed at the America on Wheels Museum, while the other two plate photos are thanks to Bob Connison.
Here's the first image of a Commonwealth Constables Association plate. These were considered active plates late last September; however, this plate was just received by a friend of Bill Ceravola who provided the photo. Note this plate has no sticker well.
Spotted this personalized International Association of Fire Fighters plate. The plate appears to reference IAFF Local 302 but the plate actually says 3O2, with the letter 'O'.
No special reason for posting these Porsche Club of America plates, mainly to add some photo-variety. This club got their plate program off the ground in 2002, so there are no earlier yellow on blue plates. So far there has been no switch to the visitPA / graphic base. The P/C00580 photo was taken by Jordan Irazabal.
These three Motorbike plates have been added to the mix starting with this 3-digit 1944 plate, followed by a 1948 and 1949. Dave Lincoln was kind enough to send me these. They are also on eBay. Motorbike plates have kind of a limited history running from 1920 to 1949. It seems that plates from the 20s and thru most of the 30s are very rare.
Here's another gem from Dave Lincoln — a 3-digit 1954 Motorcycle plate. It's also available on eBay.
Here's a very nice 3-digit 1908 porcelain plate from Tim Geirschick. These 3-character plates measure 6½" x 7, and is one of four sizes issued that year.
Next in ascending order is this pair of 1914 porcelains. They measure 6" by 12" for the 4692 plate and 6" by 13" for the other. This 4692 plate was photographed Runkle's Notary in Hanover, PA, and the other at the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown, PA. There were as many as seven sizes and configurations of plates for 1914. Several sizes are still needed. Click the link above to see more detail.
This nice 4-digit 1919 Passenger plate has been added to the display which now shows plates from that year starting from 2 digits and going to 6 digits. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the photo. The 1919 number 1 plate can also be seen in the Governor's Plate page.
These are the first 1920 Passenger on this site and we begin with a run of all four sizes of plates. The sizes ranged from 6" by 10" for 1 to 3 digits, and up to 6" by 16" for 6-digit plates. These plates in the order shown are thanks to Jeff Hinkle, Tim Gierschick, the State Museum and Drew Steitz.
For 1921 Passenger we have this '17 shorty' (6" by 10") from Tim Gierschick. And like the 1920 plates above there were four sizes including this 6" by 16" for 6-digit plates shown here. That photo was taken at the America On Wheels Museum. Over 630,00 passenger plates were issued in 1921.
Here is a nice 5-digit 1922 Passenger plate from Runkle's Notary and a 6-digit from Jeff Hinkle. Paint was not good in the early '20s so many plates have been refinished. I have also reconfigured the formatting groups and have reduced the groups from 6 to 4. These formats (Format 1, 2, 3 etc.) are somewhat arbitrary groupings of plates usually based on plate size, legend variations and/or serial number ranges. They are not official in any manner. Note the different placement of the dash separators on these two plates. Some are high-centered. This is seen on some 1922 and '23 plates.
1923 Passenger plates ranged from plate #2 to over 985-000. These were produced in five different widths depending on the number of digits; however, the final round of plates may have used a slightly different die allowing the plates to be 1 inch narrower. The source of the 298 plate shown here is unknown. If this is your plate, please let me know. That plate measures 6" by 10". The other two plates are formatted the same and are 6" by 16". The 379-615 plate is from America on Wheels, while the 622-977 picture was taken at Runkle's Notary.
This 1918 3-star truck plate was provided by Bob Connison. The colors were white on black, the 3 stars designated the weight class in a system of 1 to 5, with 5 being the heaviest. As pointed out last week, the S prefix used on 1917 trucks has been replaced with a C. The plate shown here is 6" by 16", however, shorter plates were produced for shorter numbers. Click link above for more details.
1919 Truck plates saw the continuation of the C prefix. These two plates have been added to the image gallery. The far left is a 2-star weight class, while the higher number plate is a 3-star weight class, both are from Jeff Hinkle. These plates measure 6" by 16"; however, there were shorter plates for shorter serial numbers. In general lower weight classes had lower numbers, but this was not always the case.
During the teens and early 20s the Bureau of Motor Vehicles appeared to be struggling with how to best format plates. Previously we had truck plates with weight class stars, the maker's number on the keystone, then came a C or S prefix, now the stars, letter prefixes and large keystones are gone, and along comes plates with COMMERCIAL and also had a top and bottom legend with no discernable weight class. This 1920 Truck plate is from Bob Connison. This plate measures 7" by 13½". The use of both a top and bottom legend forced the plates to go from 6" to 7". There were also 7" by 12" plates with shorter serial numbers, and 6" by 16" for 6-digit plates which allowed for all of the legend to be placed along the bottom and making the 6" height possible.
The early '20s was a tough time for paint — it just didn't hold up. As a result some plates were refinished, while many prefer the original look. Anyway, this 1921 COMMERCIAL (truck) was provided by Bob Connison. All truck plates for that year had the full legend spelled out across the bottom of the plate resulting in all plates, even those with short numbers, being 6" by 16".
For 1922, Truck plates were brown on cream. Their formatting was much the same as the previous year with the full legend spelled out across the bottom of the plate, thus retaining the 6" by 16" dimensions from the previous year. Unfortunately there just aren't a lot of plates surviving from the early '20s to provide numerous examples. Thanks to Bob Connison for this plate and his help with early truck plates.
We knew the revamped Street Rod plate was coming, but this "Family of Plates" initiative, where every PA plate looks like every other plate, is surely disappointing, not only to me as a PA plate enthusiast, but to many others as well. The new series began at 7000S/R. This plate still has the sticker well. Thanks to Bill Ceravola for the photo.
Ryan Battin spotted this Gwynedd-Mercy College plate on the far left sporting a newly revised graphic. The near left plate is shown for comparison. It is not known if all plates are being replaced or if it up to the individual.
This new high Bus plate was recently spotted by Bill Stephens. New plate, still showing the sticker well and no tiny map.
It's sad that at least 688 family members display this license plate as a reminder of such a sacrifice. This new high Gold Star Family was spotted by Steve Ondik.
This 1953 Motorboat License is an example of the only year for which steel plates and fiberboard plates were issued. It was assumed that the fiberboard plates started at 10000. Now we know that it was somewhere below that point. Thanks to Bob Connison for the update.
This 1927 Dealer plate was photographed at America On Wheels, an over-the-road transportation museum in Allentown, PA. It was part of a plate display listed as being from Kyle Gross. The 'X' identifies the it as a Dealer plate. This plate measures 6" by 13" and was added to a couple other 27 Dealer plates measuring 6" by 15" due to a longer serial number.
These are 1904 Pre-State plates that were issued by the City of Philadelphia. They are white on black porcelain and measure 4 inches by 7 inches. The far left plate is from the Swiegart Museum in Huntingdon, PA, and was photographed by Eric Conner, and the near left photo was taken at the State Museum in Harrisburg.
I don't know if this will preview correctly on different screens, resolutions and operating systems, but I could not resist showcasing all of these early number 49 plates of Tim Gierschick's. Some of these were from last week and some are new this week, see more below.
The far left 1915 Passenger plate was on display at the State Museum in Harrisburg. Sorry, it's not a good photo. The near left plate belonged to John Anshant & John Willard and was seen at a recent event in Bellefonte, PA. These plate photos have been added to the mix of plate sizes. 1915 is a very complex and confusing year with raised and sunken characters, plates with and without a period after PENNA, six or seven sizes, even some truck plates used on cars.
Next in the lineup is this grouping of 1916 Passenger plates. For 1916 the number of plate sizes was reduced to three. The 49 plate from Tim Gierschick shows the shorty length at 6" by 11" for 1 to 3-digit plates. The other plate photos are both 6" by 16" plates even though one is 5-digit and the other is 6-digit. plates. The 5-digit plate was provided thanks to Jeff Hinkle, while the 6-digit was on display at America on Wheels.
Here is very nice run of 1917 Passenger plates showing four different lengths. The 49 and the 140 plate are the same size at 6" by 11". The 49 is Tim Gierschick's, the 140 is Jeff Hinkle's, as is the next larger 1421 plate at 6" by 13½". The 19642 was photographed at the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown, PA, and measures 14". Finally the longest plate of the series belongs to Jeff Hinkle and is 16" across.
For 1918 Passenger plates we're back to 3 sizes and serial number starting at 1 for the Governor and going over 367 thousand. With each year there is a marked increase in registrations. The 93 plate photo is from Tim Gierschick. The 440 plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant. The 60656 came from the State Museum and the final plate from America on Wheels.
Here's the last of the 49-ers. This grouping shows all three plate widths for 1919 Passenger plates and the legend has been moved to the right. The first three plates are the same size at 6" x 10", the 93063 plate is 6" x 13½", and 394114 measures 6" x 16". The 49 is from Tim Gierschick, the 140 & 503 belonged to John Willard and John Anshant, the 93063 was photographed at the State Museum, and biggest plate was photographed at the America on Wheels Museum.
A 1965 - '70 Passenger vanity with all letters? I don't think so. I remember there was a section in the Bulletin Almanac dealing with vehicle registrations way back before all letter vanities were permitted that said radio and TV stations were eligible to have their call sign on a license plate — not the same as amateur radio. Anyway WHLM is a radio station in Bloomsburg, PA. One of the early principals of the station was Harry L. Magee, a well known businessman in that part of the state, got his initials as the FCC call sign.
Last week I posted a single star weight class 1916 Truck, this week thanks to Bob Connison, this 3-star plate is being added. It's still in the 20000 to 29999 range. Please click the link above or see last weeks' description for more details.
Here's a nice pair of 1917 Truck plates from Jeff Hinkle on the far left and Bob Connison on the near left. Note the layout is very similar to the 1916 Truck plate above. One notable change from 1916 is the S prefix. This did not denote the weight class since all 1917 Truck plates had an S. These plates were white on brown, the S757 has a single star for the weight class while the other plate has three stars. The single star plate has PENNA over the keystone over 1917, the 3-star has PA in place of PENNA and 17 in place of 1917. I can't say where this change took place, PENNA and 1917 were used on lower number plates, while PA & 17 were used on higher plates.
1918 Truck plates again are similar to the '17 plates, but with a few changes. Plates are now white on black. Gone is PENNA replaced by PA over the keystone, and the four digit year is now just 18. These changes were seen in the later 1917 plates. Another difference the S prefix has been replaced with a C. Generally higher numbered plates had more stars, but not always. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the plate photo.
PA has given its Official Use plates a facelift, or in their words bringing them into the "Family of Plates". The plate on the left would be for passenger vehicles, where plates are issued in pairs, the other plate is for commercial vehicles or trucks where a single plate is issued. The formatting appears just the opposite of current plates. State agencies will have the option of using their own logo in place of the coat of arms shown here. That should be interesting with 14 universities, and numerous state government agencies.
Ryan Battin snapped this photo of the latest Antique Vehicle plate. This plate still has the sticker well and has not moved to the redesigned base with the small map outline.
Matt Z. passes along this Honoring Our Veterans plate photo. This is part of the Special Fund plate group which means that a portion of the fee goes to benefit the Veterans' Trust Fund. This plate is also the new high for this plate type. This plate is also available in a motorcycle version.
From W. Young comes this Harley Owner Group plate. This organization has had plates since 2004, then some, but not all, plate holders switched to the newer graphic style which was first available in 2006. Today the reported high according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website is H/D01864.
Here is the first image on this site of a 'reverse order' House of Representatives / Legislator plate on the 1971 to '76 base with this one wearing 75 and 76 stickers. The photo was provided by Matt Boyer, who suggests that if the number correlates to the district, this tag would have belonged to Benjamin H. Wilson who held the seat in Bucks County from 1969 until he died in office in 1988.
Last week we had several very nice 1940s to 1950 Motorcycle Dealer plates from Dave Lincoln. This week's catch is a little newer, with these 1964 and '66 Motorcycle Dealer very low number gems, also thanks to Dave. These were recently auctioned on eBay.
My attempt to put together pages showing the history of Passenger and Truck plates has blossomed into a monumental effort, but thanks to a number of friends and supporters steady progress is being made. Thanks to all who have had a hand in this, couldn't do it alone. And hey, it's also been fun.
Tim Gierschick has shared a number of porcelains. Look at this amazing trio of number 49 plates from 1912, 1913 and 1914, here and below. I have a copy of the page from the 1912 registration book from the State Highway Department which I shared with Tim. It gives the name and address of the person to whom the plate was originally issued. It's likely that the 1913 and '14 plates went to the same person as the Maker's Number is the same on all three plates. The center plate above is also from Tim, while the highest number plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant. Note the progression of sizes.
The 1913 plate, except for the color is very similar to the 1912 above and 1914 below. Again this fine plate is from Tim Gierschick.
These 1914 Passenger plates show two formats. The two larger plates are the same size at 6" by 14", but there are actually three sizes in between the 49 (6" by 8") and the other two, and there is one size larger. Click the link above for a better description of sizes and serial numbers. The 49 comes from Tim Gierschick, while the center plate was from eBayer ouily2013, and the right hand plate was courtesy of John Willard and John Anshant.
Here's a group 1958 to 64 Passenger plates. Each plate shows a different alpha-numeric format. This is the first year for multi-year plates aside from the 1942-43 thing. The original plan was to issue metal tabs for placement over the 58, thus early plates were issued with tab slots. Instead validation stickers were issued. The first two plates are courtesy of Drew Steitz, while the 3rd and 4th plates are my own.
This is a 1915 Truck plate. Truck plates at the time were similar to car plates with the addition of a weight class strip riveted to the left side of the plate, thus making the plate wider at 6" by 15¼". The weight strip could have 1 to 5 stars depicting the weight class. This is not a great image — hard to read the weight class. I got it many years ago from Kelly Brewer and have been unsuccessful in contacting him. Anyone know how to reach him?
For 1916 porcelain was gone, being replaced by embossed steel as on this Truck plate. The formatting was much the same but now the weight class was embossed into the plate and the maker's number was stamped into the keystone. An aluminum keystone maker's number was only issued if the plate was transferred to another truck, and a weight class strip could be issued for a weight class change. Truck plates were generally in the 20000 series; however, some truck plates were issued outside that series. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for this image. I just received a number of great images from Jeff which will find their way onto this site over the next several weeks.
Here's a 1922 Truck plate from Kelly Brewer. From 1920 thru 1923 truck plates were branded Commercial and for 1921 thru '23 they had PENNA then COMMERCIAL and the 4-digit year along the bottom. All this verbiage necessitated making the plates 16 inches long even for relatively short serial numbers as seen here. Gone are the weight class stars and the connection between plate serial number and weight class may be related to the first digit in the serial number. The serial number can have 1 to 3 digits in the first grouping, then a dash or a space, then the second grouping which can have up to 3 digits.
This 1928 Truck S-47 could leave you scratching your head. By 1924 the use of the term Commercial was gone with no plate legend replacing it until 1934. At the same time PA began showing truck weight classes of R thru Z in the prefix position. It is believed that as some of the lighter weight prefix series ran out of numbers, then some plates were issued with the class letter in the suffix position. This S-class, shown here, started at S-1, with this being the 47th in that series. Also the numbers of characters allows this plate to be 6" by 10". There were also 6" by 13" for 5 character and 6" by 15" for 6 character plates. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for this image which was part of a very nice plate pair.
We move ahead to 1945 Trucks with this group of plates. This group shows four of the weight classes as designated by the first letter. All plates were 5 characters. Classes run from R to Z, and then TZ to ZZ for larger classes — no X class as they were reserved for dealer plates. These photos are thanks to Bob Connison.
The final plate for the week is this 1948 Truck. Again all plates were 5 characters in length with the first letter or first two letters designating the weight class. All plates measured 6" by 11". Plates were not standardized until 1956 when 6" by 12" was required for full size plates.
Alvernia University, Reading, PA, is the latest organization to start a license plate program. No plates are in use at this time.
This Honoring Our Veterans personalized plate was provided by W. Young. This plate is part of the Special Fund plate group. With the vehicle code now permitting vanity plates, these are becoming more common. There are currently over 2000 regular issue Honoring Our veterans plates in use. The plates are also available in a Motorcycle version.
Arthur Levine spotted this U.S. Army Veteran personalized plate. These, like the plate above, are popular with those who want more than a serial number on a plate.
Whenever a plate goes thru a transition, such as these Expeditionary Forces Veteran plates, marking the transition point is always a goal. Based on these plate photos from Tom Perri, it appears that the change likely occurred at E/F2000 This change was not recent, and actually dates back to march of 2014.
Concerning Disabled Veteran plates, for a while now we've been seeing DV- vanity plates where the DV- was flat screened. Recently Nick Tsilakis spotted DV-37007 with the DV- now flat screened. Disabled Veteran plates in the previous DV-36000 series were still completely embossed. This is not to be confused with Severely Disabled Veteran that uses the wheelchair symbol and stacked D/V.
These Motorcycle Dealer plates are courtesy of Dave Lincoln. These and a couple others are also currently on eBay till around 8PM eastern time today 2/19. Anyway, the 1940 MCD plate is in addition to a 2-digit plate previously posted. The 1946 MCD is the first such plate of that year on this site — a welcome addition. And the 1950 MCD is also in addition to a 2-digit plate previously posted. Check back next week for more MCD plates.
These 1910 porcelain plate photos were taken at the Antique Automobile Club of America or AACA Museum in Hershey, PA. For 1910 there were some 33,000 plates issued. The far left plate is in the 10000 to 19999 series and therefore measures 6" by 13", while the near left plate is in the 20000 and above group and measures 6" by 14". The difference being the space required for the 1 is less than that required for plates beginning with a 2 or 3. The end result was 5 different plate widths that year.
For 1911 there were some 43-thousand plates issued. Like the plates above, there were 5 different plate sizes depending on the number of digits and if there was a leading 1 on 5-digit plates. Click the link for a more detailed description. The 6666 plate is from the Sweigart Museum and was provided by Eric Conner. The 37650 plate was from Tim Gierschick. This plate also has beveled edges. This feature seemed to be common on higher numbered plates and some replacement plates.
Here's a group of all sizes of 1929 Passenger plates. Three sizes were used depending on the number of characters, and ranged from 6" by 10" to 6" by 15". The plates shown here are in the order in which they were issued. Click the link above for more information. The first plate is from, AACA; next is Joe Bosche; the C-1 is Jeff Hinkle, and the last is a photo I snapped.
Next up a number of truck plates starting with this 1914 Truck 3 star. 1914 was the first year for truck plates, and while they looked similar to passenger plates, except for the aluminum band to the left end of the plate. Plate size is 6" by 15¼". This particular band or strip has 3 stars which is the weight designation of this truck. The strip could have 1 to 5 stars. These plates in the 20000 range were also issued to solid rubber tire passenger vehicles. Apparently too many plates were produced and some were issued to cars without the weight strip but with the gap on the left side of the plate.
Next is this Z-series 1957 Truck plate. 1957 saw the start of 6 character plates after many years of plates being only 5 characters. To accomplish this the east and west map borders were pulled back to allow more space. In addition a new font was used with thinner characters. The formatting consisted of one and two-letter prefixes indicating the weight class and number of axles. My listing of weight classes has not been confirmed. This was also the final year for single-year plates. This is a John Willard plate.
In 1958, truck and other plates began a multiyear run to 1963. All plates, regardless of when issued, had 58 embossed in the upper right corner. Early plates also came thru with a rectangular tab slot to the left of the 58. Tabs were never issued, instead annual renewal stickers were issued to be placed in the upper left corner. Later plates had no tab slot. Also note the use of a small keystone separator between the 3rd and 4th characters. Above we have an R-class with the slot and one without. Note the R-series plate progression is R00-00A, then R00-0A0, and finally R00-A00 as the final letter moves left. Note also the heavier weight class ZZ and ZX plates. I believe the ZZ is a 3-axle truck and ZX is a 4-axle truck. The first 3 plates are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd, while the remaining two are from John Willard.
Here are three 1964 R-Class truck multi-year plates showing all three alpha-numeric progressions. A Class R is the lightest weight 2-axle truck. Remember the R is a non-advancing character while the final alpha character starts in the 6th position, and as the series fills it moves to the 5th position and finally to the 4th position. The first and the third plates are from Chuck Sakryd, the center plate is from Jeff Lawson.
Just to add a few more 1964 truck classes, here are Classes S, T, and V, each licensing a heavier weight vehicle. These are all Chuck Sakryd plates.
For 1968 to '71 Truck plates took on a new appearance, a new name, COMMERCIAL and PENNSYLVANIA fully spelled out. We also have the addition of an outlined box for the renewal sticker. For now lets limit the discussion to the far left plate only. Early plates had 68 etched into the sticker well. A completely new plate coding system is also evident with CA-10000 as the starting point, and unlike the past, the plate display had nothing to do with vehicle weight. The 'C' at the start of the serial number was a non-advancing character. The second character, always a letter, advances after the 5-digit number reaches 99999. The cneter plate with BC-54870 is an error plate with the CB reversed. That plate is from Clayton Moore. The CA0 000 is a test plate. Originally it had a decal of the outline of a large keystone in the center.
Municipal Government plates, such as the one on the far left, have received a major facelift as seen on the two plates in the center. The older plates are still valid and can continue to be used. The new plate pictures were provided by Bill Houser. The small plate on the right side a a prototype of the revised Municipal Government Motorcycle plate.
Not an easy plate to spot, but Tom Perri snapped this # 13 Cumberland Valley Corvette Club. This is also the first picture taken of this this plate type. The club has about 23 plates on the road, and they have been in use since around March of 2016.
The Silver Star plate on the far left was photographed by Tom Perri, I snapped the Bronze Star image. For those not familiar: The Silver Star Medal, is the U.S. military's third-highest decoration for valor in combat, and is awarded primarily for gallantry in action against an enemy of the U.S. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone. There are some 542 Bronze Star plates in use and only about 42 Silver Star plates. Note, there is also a Bronze Star for Valor medal and license plate.
This Disabled Veteran vanity plate was spotted recently in traffic. Not sure why the DV is on the plate twice, but my guess is that the owner wanted DV718 as the entire serial number, but since the DV is a 'required' part of the vanity, it's there twice. Also note that the two DVs are different sizes. The first DV is screened, while the second DV is embossed.
This Dealer vanity plate was spotted by Nick Tsilakis. Click the link to see a couple others. It appears that all of the dealer types allow personalized plates, but so far the only other type to be spotted as a vanity was a Repair Towing plate.
The word AMENDMENT appeared below this plate leaving no doubt about the owner showing his or her support for the 2nd Amendment. I've always liked the triple stacked suffix on these NRA Foundation plates. For those who follow the numbers, the current reported high is 0798N/R/A according to http://www.paplates.com/.
Brendan Sherri spotted this Fraternal Order of Police plate belonging to this Bon Jovi Junkie. The plate frame does a good job of blocking most of the state and the organization names. Legal frame?
Every once in a while one or two of these all-zeros plates turns up which are not samples. This appears to be more common with organizations that have had plates since the yellow on blue plate days, but this is not always the case. This National Greyhound Adoption Program picture was provided by Jeff Lawson. The Community LifeTeam EMS plate photo is from Tom Perri and I'm guessing was the first plate issued, rather than a vanity plate. Hideous frame covers up the name of the organization and the state.
This 1968 Republican Governors Conference plate was issued to Governor Shafer who was PA's Governor from 1967 to 1971. The image came from Chuck Harrington who commented something to the effect, it's not a PA plate but it was issued to a PA Governor. It was added to the PA Governors' Plate Page.
These are both '71 Member of Congress plates on the Bicentennial base. Later in the '71 to 76 run there was a change similar to the design shown below but with less space between the numbers and letters. The far left plate is from Eric Conner and the near left plate is from Barefoot Jaime. Both plate have 71 etched in the upper left sticker well.
These are also Member of Congress plates issued during the 1984 to '99 period. The formatting allowed for a congressman to register two vehicles. Both of these plate photos are from Eric Conner. Today's congressional plate are seldom seen for a number of reasons, and no senatorial plates have been issued, although they have been produced.
Check out these Motorbike plates from 1941, '42-'43, '44 and '45, and no they're not motorboat plates. The layout of the plates is essentially the same except for the colors. The 42 with the 43 tab is original and the first I've seen on a Motorbike plate. Unlike Motorcycles these were all issued in relatively small numbers. The highest number issued among the plates shown here was about 2265 in the 1942-43 series. Thanks to Jake Eckenrode for allowing me to take these photos, and best wishes to Harry Campbell who may now own some of these.
This is a 1906 Pre-State plate issued by the City of Philadelphia. This was at the same time that the state began issuing plates. The matter turned into a legal battle. If you want to read the details see Eric Taylor's website on the history of porcelain plates. By the following year the Philly plates were history. This is a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
These plates are all nice enough to be shown separately but here they are grouped together. The far left plate is a black on yellow 1908 from Tim Gierschick, as are all three plates. The black on white 1909 plate is as nice as any I've seen. Tim does say the characters on the plate were professionally restored. Both of these plate measure 6" by 7". The white on dark blue 1910 plate, now wearing the badge with maker's number, is slightly larger at 6" by 8".
We finish out this week with these 1955 Truck and 1956 Truck, both Z-series. Aside from the color difference, the '56 plate has a wider base as the plate went from 10¼ inches to a width of 12 inches, making the 6 x 12 plate the standard from that year forward. Both plate are thanks to John Willard.
These new plates, announced on 2/1, are in response to Act 108, signed into law on 10/4/16, which called for the creation of special license plates for current members of the U.S. Armed Forces including members of the reserves, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Pennsylvania National Guard. Images from PennDOT announcement. Plates are $20, personalized for an extra $100, form MV-150AD.
Jeff Lawson sent this PA State Society Daughters of the American Revolution plate picture. The title is so long it makes reading it difficult from a distance, but it's not the longest. That distinction goes to the Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America.
This is an encore appearance of this beautiful 1929 Tractor plate belonging to John Willard. When I originally posted this plate on 10/16/16, I suggested that the plate had been refinished. This plate is original as you see it, just as it came out of the wrapper, never refinished.
These fine US Congress plate images were provided by Barefoot Jaime. The plate on the far left is a 1965 base with a 66 sticker U/SC18 and was used by Congressman Robert J. Corbett (R), Pittsburgh. The 1971 base with a 75 sticker was used by Congressman Joseph Gaydos (D), 20th District, McKeesport, PA.
Here is a 1905 Pre-State porcelain plate issued by the City of Philadelphia. Such plates were issued in Philadelphia from 1903 up to and including 1906, when the state began issuing plates. Yes, there was an overlap. These were smaller in size than most plates measuring 4 inches by 7 inches, but since manufactured license plates were new at the time there was no standard size to go by. Eric Taylor has an excellent website on the evolution and eventual demise of porcelain plates, http://porcelainplates.net/ . This plate was photographed at by Eric Conner at the Sweigart Museum in Huntington, PA.
This very nice 1907 porcelain plate was recently being auctioned on eBay. The owner, Don Bucchi, kindly gave me the go-ahead to use the image. These five-digit plates measured 6½" x 10½", and was the largest of the four sizes used that year. From 1906 thru 1911 the plates were manufactured by Ing-Rich, also known as Ingram Richardson of Beaver Falls, PA.
The following year, 1908, again thanks to Don Bucchi we have this near perfect black on yellow porcelain plate. Like the plate above, also being 5 digits, it too measures 6½" x 10½". The wide slots seen at the top of most of these early plates was for leather straps used to fasten the plate to the vehicle. At that time vehicles didn't come with predrilled plate mounting holes.
Beginning in 1910 the aluminum maker's number tag, as described last week, was riveted to the left side of the porcelain plate. Colors were white on dark blue. This particular plate measures 6" by 12". There were also two smaller sizes and two larger, all depending on the number of digits. Another thanks to Don Bucchi.
Here are three examples of 1915 Passenger plates. There are a number of variations with 1915 and I have rewritten the description on the Passenger Plates Page. The first and the third plates shown here are courtesy of Tim Gierschick. The center plate is mine, and while not a great plate, it does does show PENNA. with a period. It also has sunken numbers.
These are the first 1945 Motorcycle Dealer plates to be shown on this site. Tim Gierschick spotted these at a recent event. Nice numbers.
This very nice pair of 1953 and 1954 Z-Class Truck plate are again thanks to John Willard. These were both 'shorties' measuring 6" by 10¼". It wasn't until 1956 that plate dimensions were standardized at 6" by 12". Weight classes ran from R to Z on 2-axle trucks, with Z being the heaviest. Of course X was reserved for Dealer plates. Then for larger 3-axle trucks the series went from RZ to ZZ. I remember as a kid seeing ZZ plates on big tandem-axle cement mixers. Apparently this 'license plate thing' was in my blood even back then as a kid.
New Military plates just around the corner. Act 108, signed into law on 10/4/16, calls for the creation of special license plates for current members of the U.S. Armed Forces including members of the reserves, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Pennsylvania National Guard. These plate are due 2/1/17.
Tom Perri shared this picture perfect Knights of Columbus plate. After those who got earlier plates re-issued, the series jumped ahead to K/C02000 for those getting plates for the first time. This plate is a part of the latest series. Click the link above to see the plate gallery which may make it easier to understand. The K/C plates have a 30-year history.
Here's the latest high Antique Vehicle plate from Jeff Lawson. In this series the single letter in the second position is the last character to advance. This plate was just received and notice the presence of the sticker well and no map outline yet. There appears to be a large inventory of these plates, so it will be a while before any change is expected.
This Penn State University plate was photographed by Jeff Lawson. As you may know there is also a Penn State Alumni plate as well as a Penn State official plate. There's also the Pennsylvania College of Technology which has affiliation with Penn State.
This Bronze Star vanity plate was also provided by Jeff Lawson. Personalized Veteran plates seem to be increasingly popular. The plates are displayed proudly and the personalization tells an additional story.
Both 1907 # 6 white on red porcelain plates are actually photos of the same plate from the Sweigart Museum in Huntington, PA, as is the # 1820 plate. The photo on the far left is from Eric Conner, while the other #6 photo on the near left is thanks to Tim Gierschick. The #72 plate belongs to Tim Gierschick. The 1820 photo is also from the Sweigart Museum. These 3 plates on the left measure 6" high by 7" across. The 4-digit plate is 6½" high by 8¼" across. This being the second year for state-issued plates, there were almost 20-thousand plates issued. Anyone have a 3 or 5-digit plate?
Here's a nice trio of 4 and 5 digit 1909 black on white porcelain plates. Notice that the two 4-digit plates are different widths, this is unexpected. And the 4 and 5-digit plates are the same width, this is also unexpected. When I post images I do try to maintain the correct aspect ratio. The source of the plate on the far left is unknown, the middle plate was photographed on a vehicle, and the final plate belongs to Clayton Moore.
Next in the lineup is this group of 1913 white on green plates. Note the aluminum keystone on the far left. This feature came out in 1910, and is usually referred to as the makers number, which in today's parlance would be called the VIN or Vehicle Information Number. The aluminum tag reads, NOT TRANSFERABLE, over the number itself, over MAKERS NUMBER. Note the two 5-digit plates are different lengths. Clink the link above to see a further description. These plates are all thanks to Tim Gierschick.
Update 1:00 PM 1/29: Ned Flynn points out that the 18596 is one of the "rare “overfires” where the ’13 was created over a 1912 base. Note the red where the green has chipped off." Ned also suggests that the back of the plate likely has the boxed Brilliant seal of the early ‘12s.
The 1915 plate posted earlier on 1/29 has been removed pending further refinement of facts. The plate shown earlier was a truck plate with the left portion of the photo showing the weight strip being cut off.
Last week I posted a single # 51 1935 Passenger plate from from an unknown source. Tim Gierschick took ownership of the plate and sent me a nice shot of this great pair. With one-and-a-half-million passenger registrations that year, and with plates limited to a maximum of five characters, the result was at least thirteen different registration formats were used. These were split between 6" by 10" plates and 6" by 12" depending on the number of characters in the plate. The plates shown here were 6" by 10" shorties.
These 1950 Truck and 1952 Truck plates share a lot of characteristics. In fact almost everything except the year, expiration and serial are the same. The serial denotes the same weight class truck as designated by the 'Z' prefix indicating the heaviest class of 2-axle trucks. Thanks to John Willard for allowing me to photograph so many of his plates.
They're here! The updated plates with the small map outline were not expected out till mid-2017, but they have made their debut on vanity plates. The far left is on a Trailer vanity of Codey Bowman. I would have expected the legend TRAILER, but this is the first Trailer vanity I've seen. An earlier Truck vanity had TRUCK spelled out. The other plate is an anonymous submission of a remake of an older Press Photographer plate which I've placed with Passenger vanities. According to a PennDOT bulletin, the updated design will be noticed first on personalized and special organization registration plates. Starting in the summer of 2017, the updated design will be seen on the standard-issue plates as the old-style plate inventory is depleted.
Here's another of the University of Pittsburgh's latest plate revisions. This one was spotted by Brendan Sherry. It appears likely that Pitt switched to this new graphic format at or around U/P05000. This plate is also the new high. If you want to keep up with the latest highs, check Tom Perri's PA Plates website.
Here a new high Omnibus spotted recently. This series started at OB-50000 on the www base, then switched to the visitPA base at OB-69000. There were some minor variations along the way with the font used for the OMNIBUS legend.
These Operation Iraqi Freedom plate photos are from Ian Emmett, who served as a U.S. Marine in Iraq from 2002 to 2006, hence the Devil Dog vanity.
Last week I posted a photo of the 1903 # 46 and 47 leather pre-state license plates. This week thanks to Tim Gierschick we have the provenance for the # 47 to go with the picture. Below left is the Berks County registration document, followed by a photo of the proud owner of the first car in Fleetwood. The final document is the treasure's receipt for the fee for the license to operate the vehicle.
The vehicle is a 1903 Oldsmobile (spelled Olds Mobile on the document) belonging to Allen Seaman.
Spotlight on 1906. Next are these 5 very nice 111-year old 1906 state issued plates. These are all white on dark blue porcelain. Most plates from this era are not nearly so nice. Many thanks to Tim Gierschick for sharing these photos for the benefit of the hobby, and for helping preserve and share plate history.
The next plate for this week is this 1928 Passenger. The colors were dark blue on yellow. This 6-digit plate measures 6" by 15". The plate series went from a single digit to 6 digits, then started again with an alpha-numeric series starting with A, A1 and extending into the E series + 5 numbers. Plates with shorter serial numbers also used shorter plates. Up to 4 characters were 6" by 10", 5 character were 6" by 13" and 6 character were 6" by 15" as shown here. Dash separators were used on 5 and 6 character plates placed before the final 3 characters.
This 1934 Passenger plate is similar to the 1931 plate posted last week with the letters ER, and the '35 UF plate below. John Willard, owner of the plates, believes these are all early vanity plates. We do know that two-character plates were believed issued (AA to ZZ999) as part of the 1934 and other plate runs.
Here is a grouping of 1935 Passenger plates. It shows several different formats. On the far left are 2 and 4-digit examples on the 6" by 10" base, then a two-letter format variations also on the short base, and finally a 5-character 6" by 12" base. Source, 51, unknown; 3075, Chuck Sakryd; 90R5, Joe Bosche; UF, John Willard, and PS509, Jeff Hinkle.
These 1943 registration tabs were issued in place of new plates, and were to be bolted over top of the 1942 plates. This was done to save steel as part of the war effort. The plates measured 1⅞ by 2⅛, were made of steel, painted red, had 43 painted black and embossed with the 4 and the 3 to the left and right of the bolt hole. Below the 43 was the expiration date of 3-31-44 , below that etched into the tab was a serial number of up to 6 digits or an alpha character and up to 5 digits. Thanks to John Walters for the photo.
The final plate this week is this Z-series 1948 Truck form John Willard. The Z-series was likely the heaviest class of 2-axle trucks, then there were 3 axle trucks with a 2-letter prefix. All plates were 5 characters.
Bruce Bufalini recently snapped this new high Conserve Wild Resources - Otter plate — a Special Fund plate. This style of plate has bee around almost 17 years. This and the Preserve Our Heritage - Railroad plate appear to still be selling well since they are the only remaining picture plates. In my opinion moving these plates to the family of plates format with a tiny image will be their death knell.
These 1979 base Moped Dealer plates are certainly a rare find. The first image was left larger to make it easier to see the details. The four shown here are from the same dealership. I don't know their history but note the final picture is in the 2200 series suggesting that over a thousand plates were issued. Also the low number plates don't seem not to have a stack of stickers, while the 2215 plate has an 11-89 sticker. Were they not issued in order? At the present time there appears to be about 14 Moped Dealer plates in use. More questions than answers. These plate images were provided by Jordan Irazabal.
This is a 1977 base State House of Representatives plate with 1-86 being the most recent sticker. The legend used on these plates is a bit confusing. There was an early group in 1928 and early '29 that had no legend but likely included the House and Senate, then later in '29 used Legislative until 1935 after which no plates were issued until 1957, and again no legend was used until Legislator was added in 1966, and later changed to Representative in 1984. Thanks to Lee Madigan for the image.
Lee also provided this rare 1977 base number 3 U.S. Congress plate on the far left with 78 and 82 stickers. Not certain if the 3 was used to designate the congressional district at the time, but likely it was. The owner of this plate also had been issued this 3-USC 1977 base vanity plate, although the vanity plate does not appear to have ever been used.
This would appear to the first 1971 New Car Dealer plate, and '71 was the first year for the 7-character plates and marked the end of the map outline which had been in use since 1938 on Dealer plates. Thanks to Lee Madigan for the image.
Pennsylvania passed legislation as early as 1903 requiring automobiles to display a rear registration number. Pennsylvania did not issue plates until 1906, so earlier plates are referred to as pre-state plates. The registration process was handled at the county level, while the vehicle owner was responsible for placing the assigned number on the rear of the vehicle. Many used leather tags and fastened numbers as shown here. These 1903 Pre-State tags are from Berks County and were provided by Tim Gierschick. Information on the 46 tag is unknown, but the 47 has provenance and is from Fleetwood, PA.
This 1931 Passenger plate is similar to the 1930 plate posted last week with the letters CR. John Willard, owner of the plate, believes this is also an early vanity plate. We do know that two-character plates were believed issued (AA to ZZ999) as part of the 1931 plate run.
Fellow ALPCA member Robert Rosengarten gave me the nod to use this 1919 Tractor Dealer plate from an eBay auction. The TX prefix has always indicated Tractor Dealer starting with the earliest plates in 1916 up thru 1970 with the exception of a few years in the mid-1930s, and not to be confused with later Taxi plates. This plate measures 6" x 16". It is not known if shorter lengths were used for TX+1 or 2 digit serial numbers.
These 1919 Truck plates are courtesy of Kelly Brewer (far left plate) and Phil Tedeschi (near left plate). Phil's plate is up for auction on eBay. All 1919 truck plates used a 'C' prefix. The manufacturer's number or VIN is inscribed into the keystone. These are 3-star plates which designates the weight rating of the truck. Plates ranged from 1 star for the lightest to 4 stars for the heaviest. There was also a numerical association between the serial number and number of stars — low plate number had fewer stars. These plates measures 6" x 16", while shorter lengths were used with shorter serial numbers.
This is a 1941 Z-Class Truck plate. For '41 all plates were 5 characters with the first 1 or 2 alpha characters designating the weight class and number of axles. It is not my intention to publish the entire matrix of plates serial numbers, number of axles, unladen weight and gross vehicle weight. The classes run from R to Z skipping X, then RZ to ZZ again skipping X. This is a John Willard plate.
Here's the first photo of a Pennsylvania Coal Alliance Inc. plate that was approved in 2016. The plate image was provided by Brent Blake. The organization is headquartered in Harrisburg. About 140 of these plates have been issued to far.
Bruce Bufalini spotted this University of Pittsburgh high number. Not only is this a new high, it's also the first 'Pitt' script plate spotted from the serial number series. A vanity plate was spotted a few weeks ago. It appears that the transition to the new style plate likely took place at or around U/P05000.
Last week we had a personalized Fraternal Order of Police-Survivor and this week a plate with a serial number, which is also the new high. Both variations are quite rare. Bruce Bufalini also provided this photo.
Bill Stephens just got under the wire getting this 2-22 Validation Sticker. Yes, PA quit issuing stickers as of the end of 2016, and this sticker is part of a 5-year renewal which is allowed on light-weight trailers. The Trailer plate is also the new high.
Last week I called the Lincoln University Official plate rare, but not as rare as this week's Commonwealth Court plate C/C 1. The addition of the gold coat of arms certainly adds to the mystique of the plate. So far every one of these plates spotted has had the coat of arms and used the C/C prefix followed by a single digit number, or C/C J followed by 2 numbers. So far no plates have been seen with the C/C in the suffix position. Thanks to Tom Perri for the image.
It's always a bonus to be able to display a plate format that has not been shown on this website before. Lee Madigan sent me a number of images of political plates beginning with this 1984 State Representative base with '92 and '93 stickers. The use of the PA and the HR makes this plate unique, although a State Senator plate with comparable features has also been documented. There are also samples with the HR inside a keystone and no PA, so there could very well have been two formats used, in addition to the reverse formatting. At this point additional photos and data are needed. Check back next week for more political plates from Lee Madigan.
This trio of 1922 Passenger plates raises questions. Yes, they were issued in pairs, but how do you account for the third plate with the same number? It appears that two of the plates had a similar environment, but the third plate did not. John Willard provided this mystery.
This interesting 1928 Passenger plate is believed to be a test plate. The colors should be dark blue on yellow. This plate is also made of aluminum, believe me, I handled it. The other formatting seems to be as expected. The plate measures 6"x 15", and belongs to John Willard.
Here is a 1930 Passenger plate. Note the unusual 2-letter configuration. John Willard, owner of the plate, believes it to be an early vanity plate. We also know that two-character plates were issued (AA to ZZ999) as part of the 1930 plate run. Information obtained from the 1930 Bulletin Almanac.
Bruce Sakson sent me this image of an early Passenger plate on the visitPA base. This plate was likely issued very late 2004 or early 2005 with a 1-06 sticker.
These are all 1930 Truck plates. The three plates on the left are for Class R trucks based on the 2-letter suffix. Class R series are the lightest weight trucks and with the lightest carrying capacity. The series progresses from Class R to Class Z, or possibly ZZ. Click the link above for a listing of the weight classes, number progressions and letter suffixes.
This plate is a Class S plate again based on the 2-letter suffix. All of the 5 character plates are thanks to John Willard. The 32DG plate was spotted in use as a Year of Manufacture or YOM plate.
Happy New Year!
Couple changes for 2017, thumbnail images of standard size plates on this home page will be slightly larger, while motorcycle size will be slightly smaller to better match actual plate sizes and aspect ratios. As mentioned a while back, new pages on older Passenger Plates and older Truck Plates are up and running but with very limited content for now.
Here's a very rare Fraternal Order of Police-Survivor plate which happens to be configured as a vanity, thus personalizing the term 'Survivor' in a more sad and telling manor. Thanks to Tom Perri for sharing this image.
Here's one of PA's rarest modern plates, with only about 30 of these plates in use. Lincoln University is a state-related facility, thus has been issued official plates for their vehicle fleet. The facility is located in Chester County, PA. Other college or university-related official plates include Penn State, Pitt and Temple. This plate was spotted by Jordan Irazabal. It appears that none of the yellow on blue first generation LU plate exist today.
These '77-base Municipal Government plates are getting pretty old looking, much older in fact than the vehicle it is currently on. This plate type was not subject to replacement when the majority of PA plates were reissued during the 1999 to 2002 replacement program. There was a later issue in 1984 with the colors reversed, but these older '77 base plates were not replaced.
I'm getting close to the end of the large group of plates that were made available for picture taking by John Willard. This 1952 Bus plate, along with a group of other '52 plates, is believed to be a sample. In fact I have another '52 Bus plate with the same serial number previously posted from Jerry McCoy. They are not the same plate, so apparently more than one group of samples was made.
This trio of 1952 Dealer plates are also considered samples, and include New Car, Used Car and Tractor varieties. They all measure 6" x 10¼" and were also provided courtesy of John Willard. Also see Transit Dealer (C000A) below.
While looking at some old emails I came across this image of what does appear to be a 1952 Transit Dealer sample plate. This plate was part of an eBay auction in 2012 and unfortunately I didn't get a better image, BUT the most important fact is that it does show a '52 Transit Dealer with C000A format. Official records are unclear or lacking as to when this plate type was introduced. Could it have been as early as 1946 when the A New Car and B Used car were introduced? This same auction included many 1952 Truck samples from various classes from R to YZ.
The next sample is this 1952 Motorcycle. This group of samples looks like they were pulled right off the production line, therefore leaving them without the typical serial numbers used on samples, such as PA00 or 0000. Again another thank you goes out to John Willard.
Next in the lineup is this '52 Truck sample. The 'R' in the serial number is the indicator of the weight class. There is a long series of 1 and 2 letter prefixes indicating different weight classes and number of axles. The R class is for 2-axle trucks with a gross weight of up to 5,000 lb. So far I have next to nothing in the new Truck section, but it's a start. Again thanks to John Willard for the opportunity to photograph his plates.
We're almost at the end of samples which brings us to this 1952 Trailer. This, like most of the plates above, is a shorty and has a width of 10¼"
This 1952 Passenger sample is the last plate for this week, and now we're moving to Passenger History, a new section for this website. At this point the page is essentially empty. This plate, unlike the others above, measures 6" by 11", while some later plates measured 6" x 10¼". It wasn't until 1956 that plate size was standardized to 6" x 12". Again I express my appreciation to John Willard.