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Supporting the hobby & preserving the history of Pennsylvania License Plates

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

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Posting 6/16/2019

In Legislative News, there are bills pending to authorize the use of low-speed electric scooters.  See House Bill 631 and Senate Bill 542The legislation sets forth certain requirements and restrictions but basically they could be operated like a bicycle.  They will be exempt from registration as a motor vehicle, and no tag required.  Therefore I will not track this legislation.

There are additional bills to authorize a “Child with Autism” Specialty License Plates (House Bill 40), currently stuck in committee; and a recent bill to create a plate to support Pediatric Cancer Research (House Bill 1165).  I will track these if they gain support. 


Attending almost any PA car show and plates like these and older Antique Vehicle plates are in abundance.  This plate, now in the 'N' series, may be the new high, at least for a few days, before it is eclipsed by something higher.



This is the first sample of an International Association of Fire Fighters plate I've seen on the www base.  The original issue on these plates dates back to 1993 on the yellow on blue base, and the plates have gone through a few updates since then.  Thanks to Devan Ciemiewicz for the use of the photo.


Like the plate above, this is the first Emergency Vehicle sample on the visitPA base that I have seen.  This style EV plate dates back to 2007 when a complete replacement of the previous EV plates took place.  This style also replaced any remaining Fire Department plates that were still in use at that time.  Another thank you to Devan Ciemiewicz for the use of the photo. 


Here is a new high NASCAR 8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. plate  This is not to suggest that such plates are still being issued, but rather that this is the highest photographed so far.  NASCAR plates were discontinued in 2010, but are still eligible to be renewed.  According my research about 1,028 such plates have been issued, but since the numbering system started at N/C/80101, it went to N/C/81129.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.


This new style PA Turnpike Official Use passenger vehicle plate is the lowest number spotted so far.  It is not known exactly when these were first released, but they were first seen back in May of 2018.  Thanks to Tom Castelli for the use of this plate photo.


These 1958 base School Bus plates are very similar except for the character spacing.  The plate on the far left is not new, and typifies what most 4-digit plates look like.  The near left plates photo shows a wide separation between numbers.  It is not known if a this is part of a larger run with the wide spacing, or is an error.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for sharing the photo.


And another pair Motorboat registration stickers issued by the PA Fish & Boat Commission.  Apparently they are issued for a 2-year registration period.  The 2018-2019 sticker expires March 31 2020, thus the large 20 and similarly the 2019-2020 sticker expires March 31 2021, thus the large 21 making them visible from a distance.  These have the word POWERED near the top.  There are also UNPOWERED stickers for boats without motors.


This is a 1965 Validation Sticker from Tom Firth.  These were not used on passenger vehicles since they had been issued new undated tags for '65.  Non-passenger types such as trucks, busses, trailers, etc. had new bases issued in 1964 and would have issued a sticker like the one shown here.


Here is a 1944 Weight Class R Truck plate thanks to eBay user Bclark58mx.  The plate belongs to the last of the 4 serial progressions used that year, which included R000A, R00A0, R0A00 and R00AA.  Truck plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches and were issued as singles. 



This is a 1948 Weight Class R Truck plate thanks to Clayton Moore.  For that year there were 5 serial progressions including R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA and R0AA0, of which this plate is part of the fourth group.  Truck plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches and were issued in pairs. 



Next in line is this 1955 Weight Class R Truck plate thanks to Clayton Moore.  For 1955 there were now 6 serial progressions including R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0 and R0A0A of which this plate is part of the fifth group.  Truck plates measured 6 inches by 10 inches and were issued as singles. 


This final truck plate is a 1956 Weight Class R thanks to eBay user Vinylvish.  1946 again used 6 serial formats including R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0 and R0A0A with this plate being part of the second group.  1956 also marked the standardization of plate size to the now familiar 6 inches by 12 inches.  These were issued as singles. 


Posting 6/9/2019

Here's a recent Amateur Radio plate photo from Jonathan Sternthal.  The number 8 in the call sign indicates that it had originally been issued in Region 8 which includes Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.  At some point the licensee moved to PA, bringing the call sign with him.



Here's the first photo of a standard serial numbered Associated Alumni of the Central High School.  It's also likely the first plate issued, although earlier a picture of a vanity plate number 239 was photographed.  Anyway, it's a great find thanks to Matt Ciecka.  Vanity check shows only 3 serial numbered plates in use.


These Harley Owners Group plates are essentially the same with the exception of the plate on the near left now having the map outline.  The far left plate is several years old but has been listed as the current high on Tom Perri's website   The color difference is due to the far left plate photo being taken in a dark setting.  The far left plate is also thanks to Tom Perri, while the newest plate is thanks to Jonathan Ortmann. 


Just one week ago we posted an image of an updated prototype image of a Mario Lemieux Foundation plate, then in a few days this photo arrived from Rick Koll showing his new plate.  The previous high 01791L/F was just posted last week, so this change took place between these two plates.


Here's a recent photo of a Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage vanity plate.  I'm guessing that the WCO14 stands for Wildlife Conservation Officer 14.  These plates help support the mission of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  This plate program dates back to 2014.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the plate photo.


This is a Person with Disability Vanity Motorcycle plate.  The plate has prompted much discussion among my plate friends.  First, thank you to Bruce Bufalini, this was a great find and a great shot of this first of its kind spotted.  You may recall that the PD is not part of the registration number.  The full-size P is part of the number, but is a static, non-advancing character.  So the remainder of the registration is ONU or is it 0NU?  So, is it the letter 'O' or the number '0'?  Vanity check indicates that the actual registration is P 0(zero) N U.  Some other cycle plates with known zeros have a more rounded interior at the top and bottom, whereas this character is flat.  My belief is that the letter 'O' and number '0' are different dies, but at times used interchangeably.  This issue deserves more focus.


Here is another new high Vertical Motorcycle plate thanks to Bruce Bufalini.  As mentioned in a recent post, the M and the C are static non-advancing characters.  Only the characters in the second, third and fourth positions advance.  The order of the progression is such that the number advances first, then the letter in the 4th position, and finally the letter in the 2nd spot.  Confusing . . . yes, but not out of character for Pennsylvania plates.  These plates are the same dimensions as regular motorcycle plates, just meant for vertical display.


This nice pair of Farm Truck plates features two plates in the D-suffix series.  The plate on the far left was snapped over a year ago by Jordan Irazabal, but it's the last reported high, now Brendan Sherry took this recent photo of another D-series, but now with the map outline.  As is often the case, it's tough to establish the transition point.  Hopefully more time and photos will narrow it down.


This is a photo of a PennDOT Official truck displaying a neat number, which I believe is also a new series high.  The photo came courtesy of Bill Young.  You may recall that there is also a similar issue for automobiles but the progression runs T0000P/A.


Here are a couple more Motorboat registration stickers.  These are listing the expirations as March 31 2018 and March 31 2019, thus the larger 18 and 19 making them visible from a distance.  These have the word POWERED near the top, apparently there are also UNPOWERED stickers for boats without motors.


This is a 1949 Format 11 Passenger plate.  That appeared to be the final group used that year, and was likely authorized from 000AA to 999ZZ, but only went as far as 655FF according to Eric Tanner's data.  The plates were issued in pairs, and measured 6" by 11".  Thanks to eBay user X1fstsolx for the use of the photo.


This gem of a 1924 Tractor plate was snagged by Tim Gierschick this past weekend at the ALPCA plate meet in Trexlertown.  The E-prefix was used from the earliest tractor plates in 1914 up through 1927.  It stood for Engine, or Traction Engine, better know as Tractor.  This series began at E1 and ran to at least E1250 in 10 inch and 12 inch widths depending on the number of characters.


Posting 6/2/2019

Passenger vanities don't get much lower than this.  The lowest current issue plate in PA is 3.  The 1 and 2 plates are believed to be kept in reserve in case the Governor and Lt. Governor decide to go flashy.  For many years the need for security seems to trump use of such plates.  This is a Tom Perri photo passed along by Jordan Irazabal


Here's a new high Severely Disabled Veteran plate now in the 97000 series.  Everything on these plates is flat screened except for the 5-digit serial number.  A distinguishing feature about these plates is that they have retained their original color scheme of blue characters on a white background with Disabled Veteran in red.


Here is a pair of recent Omnibus plates.  The low numbered plate on the far left is missing the sticker well, while the other plate, about 750 plates later, has had the map outline added.  A look at another source suggests that this change took place at OB-88200; however, this is not always reliable.  The far left plate photo is thanks to Tom Perri, while the map outline photo came from Preston Turner.


Currently this is the highest Dealer plate still sporting a sticker well.  It is believed that the sticker well departed at K46-500K, and the map appeared at K51-500K.  Of course these numbers are always subject to correction.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for sharing this photo.


Last week I posted an updated Mario Lemieux Foundation prototype.  Along with that I listed the current high on the original series as 01707L/F.  Then Preston Turner sent me another new high on the original base.  So at this point all we know is that plates at least as high as 01791L/F have not yet made the switch.  Vanity check indicates a actual high of 01809L/F, but no way of knowing which base that is on.  Late entry, check back next week for the first photo of the updated base.


These Planned Parenthood of PA plates are pretty rare, but Brandon Sowers spotted this low number tag.  They have been around since 2007 but vanity check suggests that only 27 such plates have made it onto the street.  In contrast, the PA Choose Life has issued about 1,400 plates.  



Here's a nice Ohio State Alumni plate that likely dates back to the May of 2001 plate replacement.  The previous yellow on blue edition of the plate would have been issued in 1997, which marked the start of the Ohio State plate program.  The newest plates have retained the same logo but now with a colored graphic.


This recent photo of a Mass Transit plate was snapped by Bruce Bufalini.  It appears that this plate still has the sticker well — clearly no map.  The first Mass Transit plates date back to 1982, on the yellow on blue base, beginning at M/T10000.  There have been several iterations of this plate over the years, including a run with the MT prefix in-line rather than stacked.  Click here to see their history.



This is a 1920 Truck Class 2 or A.  Between 1914 and 1919 truck plates used 5 weight classifications designated by the number of stars.  Then in 1920 and running thru 1923 there was a new system consisting of 8 weight classes.  In this case the first digit in the serial number designated the weight class.  The plates used a fully embossed legend like the one shown here with Commercial on top and Penna 1920 along bottom and measured 7" high.  Some plates had COMMERCIAL and PENNA 1920 along bottom and they measured 6" high.  Plates with 4 or fewer digits measure 12 inches wide, 5 digit plates are 13 inches, 6 digit plates are 16 inches.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the use of the photo.


This is a 1949 S-Weight Class Truck plate courtesy of Jeff Hinkle.  S-Class plates consisted of the following serial progressions, S000A, S00A0, S0A00 and S00AA, with this plate being part of the second group.  All truck plates that year measured 6 inches by 11 inches.



Posting 5/26/2019

On the far left is a revised Mario Lemieux Foundation prototype.  It is not known if the plate is actually on the street yet.  The other plate is the prototype from the original series.  The latest plates spotted were 01680L/F and 01707L/F both of which had the map outline but still used the original logo.  The organization's website and the application form for the new plate now allows for a motorcycle version.  Unfortunately it appears that PennDOT seldom maintains their page depicting their Approved Special Organizations' plates.


On the far left yet another Antique Vehicle high, this one was recently spotted at a car show near Slatedale in Lehigh County.  On the near left is the oldest ancestor to the current plate, back then called Antique Historic Car.  The #1 image courtesy of Jake Eckenrode and the Swigart Museum.


Here's a Classic Vehicle vanity.  The PennDOT application form, MV-11, states that up to 5 characters are permitted, but also states "A pre-printed letter configuration of 'C' will precede your personalized configuration on your registration plate and cannot be changed.  There is clearly no 'C' as part of this registration plate.  It appears that around half of the Classic Vehicle vanities follow that rule.  This plate appears to still have a sticker well, while the use of the 'C' prefix seems to be more uniform on the newer plates with the map outline.


Bruce Bufalini managed to snap this very tough shot of a Dealer error plate.  The error is in the placement of the keystone separator, the number itself appears correct.  I tried to skew the image, but If you're still having trouble reading it, it reads K0-3321K, but should read K03-321K.  Interesting plate.  I wonder if this was one of a kind, or did a few of these slip through as the only one number die is changed after each plate.





Here's the latest high Official Use Passenger plate now in the 40000 series.  As you may be aware, the current series of Official Use plates has been split into three main sub-groups, and each of those groups further divided into passenger and truck.  The plate on left is the sole remaining legacy plate. It may be easier to visualize these changes in the form of a table.  The 40023-PA was photographed by Nick Tsilakis.  The switchover to the new format may occur at 42000P/A.

Other state agencies PennDOT Turnpike







current issue

current issue

current issue

current issue

current issue

current issue

future issue

At this time there is no indication that other state agencies will take advantage of the option to have department / agency-specific plates.  Personally I'd like to see the State Police take advantage of this option.











Here's a 1985 base Motorcycle Vanity plate with an 11-00 validation sticker.  Nice plate, sorry about the shadow.  I'm going to guess the plate means 3 cubic inches, which may be more commonly expressed in motorcycle jargon as 50 cc (or cubic centimeters), as the size of the bike's engine.  The sticker covers the PENNA legend.


This is a Passenger Vanity plate issued on the 'You've Got a Friend' base between 1983 and '87.  In spite of when it was issued, it has 12-99 and 12-00 validation stickers.  This nice plate photo is courtesy of Jeff Hinkle.



These are both 1944 Passenger plates.  The far left is a Format 4 which included the progression of 10A0 to 99Z99, with the 4-character plates being 6" x 10" and while 5 character plates measured 6" x 11".  This plate is courtesy of Pl8source.  The near left is a Format 5 plate which ran from 000A to 999Z, with all measuring 6" x 10".  This photo is courtesy of bantamjeep1116.


This is a 1948 V-Weight Class Truck plate.  For that year there were two V-class serial progressions, V000A and V00A0, of which this plate is part of the second group.  All truck plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches.  Thanks to eBay user totommyto for the use of the photo.



Posting 5/19/2019

This is an early edition of the Disabled Veteran with 11-85 and 11-86 stickers.  After all of the first edition 4-digit (DV-0000) plates were issued, the 5-digit series was next.  Both versions so far had sticker wells in the upper left and right corners as seen here, making this plate the observed series high.  The next group beginning at DV-22000 had the sticker well moved to the bottom left.  Jordan Irazabal spotted this plate on ebay, and the owner, Darren Bianco, gave me the OK to use it.  Some of these early plates are still on the road.


Here are two recently spotted Emergency Vehicle plates.  The EV-36580 may be a new high.  They are both from the lower tier of plates issued to paying customers, as opposed to non-profit organizations who receive the upper tier (plates above EV-50000) at no cost.  These lower tier plates still have the sticker well, unlike the plates above EV-71000 that now have the map outline. 


This is a new high U.S. Marine Corps active duty or reserve, thus the the AD suffix.  These are much less common than the U.S. Marine Corps Veteran plates which date back to 2009, while the active duty type shown hear only goes back to 2017.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for sharing this photo.


This pair of Vertical Motorcycle plates were posted by Tim Martin.  They represent a move to a new serial format.  The first format was M0A0C, with only the three characters in the center advancing.  The M and the C are static non-advancing characters.  After the series above hit M9Z9C, a new format was introduced starting at MA0AC.  Again only characters in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions advance.  The progression is such that the number advances first, then the letter in the 4th position, and finally the letter in the 2nd spot.  These are also eligible as vanity plates with up to 5 characters.


Nothing all that special about this Penn State University plate, but thanks to Tom Perri, it does help establish the approximate high on the this series prior to the addition of the the map outline.  The low number spotted with the map was 11110P/S, also thanks to Tom Perri.


This is only the second photo of a Saint Francis University plate displaying the color graphic format.  This plate may actually be the low point on this base.  No plates without the sticker well or with the map outline have been spotted yet.  The history of these plates dates back to 1999 with the yellow on blue base.  These were about 335 issued for which I have no photos.  Thanks much to Bruce Bufalini for providing this photo.


This is a 1946 Format 1 Motorcycle plate.  This format started with 1 and ran to 9999, then switched to Format 2 which was alpha-numeric format as A, A1 to A999, then B, B1, etc.  All motorcycle plates measured 4 inches by 8 inches.  Thank you to eBay user Spillercb21 for the use of the photo.


This very nice 1954 Format 5 Passenger plate image came from Shane Oake.  Format 5 consists of plates from 000A to 999Z, so only 4-character plates in this group, while some other groups had 5.  Plate size was 6 inches by 10 inches regardless of the number of characters.


Not quite sure what to call this plate.  The owner, Jeff Hinkle, suggests that it's a prototype, so I'm going to agree.  Anyway it appears to be a 1965 (to '70) base, and I have placed in with the passenger series.  There were samples at that time but configured with SAM-PLE.


This group shot of Validation Stickers below was recently acquired by Tom Firth and shared with this website.  As you may know the sticker colors are cyclic, and repeat themselves every 8 years as shown in the table below.  The individual stickers have been added to the Sticker page.  You may also be aware that PA discontinued issuing stickers at the end of 2016; however, stickers as far ahead as 2022 were issued to vehicles such a small trailers with a 5-year registration.

WHITE ON BLUE 1999 2007 2015
BLACK ON WHITE 2000 2008 2016
WHITE ON GREEN 2001 2009 2017
BLUE ON WHITE 2002 2010 2018
WHITE ON RED 2003 2011 2019
GREEN ON WHITE 2004 2012 2020
WHITE ON BLACK 2005 2013 2021
RED ON WHITE 2006 2014 2022




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John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376