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Pennsylvania License Plate Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

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News and postings from 2017

Posting 1/15/2017

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.


Posting 1/8/2017

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!

Posting 1/1/2017

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 10" 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 10"




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 10".  It wasn't until 1956 that plate size was standardized to 6" x 12".  Again I express my appreciation to John Willard.




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