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News and postings from 2019
This plate is likely the first of its kind, Distracted Driving Awareness plate. The serial number may seem strange but it's not unusual for plate serials numbers to start at 100 or 101. Sometimes the under 100 plates are kept in reserve. This plate is thanks to Brandon Sowers, and was passed on by Jordan Irazabal.
Here's a new high Dealer plate recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini. This plate now has the map outline, whereas the previous high, K51-037K, according to Tom Perri's website, did not. Based on an inventory sheet, it appears that this changer took place at K51-500K, although the map was seen earlier on Dealer vanities.
This is a new high Official Use Commercial plate for use on a PennDOT vehicle. The term commercial in this case refers to use on a truck, loader, grader, etc., not on an automobile. The type used on an automobile would be formatted as T0001P/A. The state allows agency-specific plates to be used on PennDOT vehicles and PA Turnpike vehicles. So far it does not appear that any agencies other than those have opted for their own plates. Thanks to Charles Switzer for the photo.
We have seen this plate before back in 2012, but when such a rare plate is spotted again, it seems like a good opportunity to show it again. Thanks to Rob Einhorn for sharing this recent traffic shot of a U.S. Congress 1st District plate. After the 2000 Census, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was divided into 19 Congressional Districts, decreasing from 21 due to reapportionment. After the 2010 Census, the number of districts decreased again to 18 according to Wikipedia. Then in 2018 the districts were redrawn.
The center plate is a recent photo of an Autism Society of America plate. It has no sticker well, while the plate to its left still has that feature, and the plate to the right now has the map outline. All of these changes happened within the span of 24 plates, but since graphic organizational plates are produced as the orders are received, it's hard to pinpoint exactly when a change takes place. The far left photo was from Brandon Sowers, while the other two as thanks to Bruce Bufalini.
This plate is part of the first formatting group of 1954 Bus plates. The formatting consists of the letter 'O' + 1 to 4 digits, the second formatting group is the letter 'O' + another letter starting with 'A', then 3 digits, such as OA123. This plate is currently up for grabs on eBay. Thank you to Drewski for the use of the photo.
Here is a continuation of Boat Registration stickers from last week. Again my belief is that stickers with a 31 March 1984 expiration, would indicate that it was valid for the previous year, 1983, and up to the expiration date shown on the sticker. The other being a 1984 sticker with a 3-85 expiration. These stickers were provided by Bob Connison.
Recently I was contacted by Eric Tanner concerning the small porcelain 1908 and 1909 Pittsburgh plates. Eric, as many of you know, is the current editor of Plates Magazine, and a past Archivist for ALPCA. He has done some great research on early Pittsburgh vehicle registrations. Unlike the City of Philadelphia pre-state plates which were used as drivers' licenses, the City of Pittsburgh plates were to be used in addition to state-issued plates as a form of taxation on vehicles. As a result of his research, Eric has expanded that section on his website, License Plate Information, http://www.allaboutlicenseplates.com/, and I would encourage anyone interested to read it. He has also discovered that the vehicle registration records for 1909 were published in the Pittsburgh Press. I have started to post some of the 1909 Pittsburgh Press newspaper clippings of registration records, and will post more next week. The photos shown here were provided courtesy of Eric Taylor, and are from his website, http://porcelainplates.net/. The 1908 white on blue plate above was for a 1-seat/2-person automobile, while the white on slate or gray was for a 2-seat/4-person auto. 1909 followed the same format with the white on green 1-seat/2-person automobile, and the white on brown was for a 2-seat/4-person auto. Next week I should the remainder of the registration records posted.
This is the final group of newly available plate types. These are both Historic Military Vehicle plates with the option of a Motorcycle edition for that type of vehicle. Full size plates can be used on both trucks and trailer.
Here's the first photo of a serial numbered Gettysburg College plate on the graphic base. An earlier photo was taken of a vanity plate; however, both plates still had '17 validation stickers. The most striking feature of this plate is the 4-digit serial number instead of 5. One might think that this is a vanity, but Gettysburg plates have always been 4-digit. We don't know when the switch to the graphic style took place, but it was listed back on 5/31/15. The previous high was G/C3168. This plate was spotted by Jordan Irazabal.
The far left full image and the cropped image are of a new high NRA Foundation plate spotted on the fly by Bruce Bufalini. This is also the second plate spotted with wide character spacing between the serial number and the NRA. Compare the 0828N/R/A photo which shows the original narrow spacing. Can't say if the new high retains the sticker well or not. That plate was previously provided thanks to Brandon Sowers.
Here's the latest high number Combat Infantryman Badge. The photo was recently taken by Jordan Irazabal. These plates are part of a group of 5 combat-related plates which date back to 2014. This plate series started at 20000C/O. Plate 20179C/O was previously spotted with the map outline. They are also available as a vanity.
Here's another high — this one being a U.S. Army Veteran. These date back to 2009, with quite a few of these now sporting the small map. Personalized plates are permitted as well. This plate photo was also taken by Jordan Irazabal.
Here is a WFMZ TV screen shot which shows an electric-powered campus vehicle belonging to Lafayette College. The vehicle dubbed a 'bubble car' is shown here with a Special Mobile Equipment tag — strange. To my knowledge, PA does not offer any specialized tags to electric vehicles, slow moving vehicles, autonomous vehicles, etc. and the laws seem vague as they apply to certain vehicle types and uses. The use shown here may even be exempt from registration as prescribed under Act 57 of 2018.
This is a plate from the 1975 Governor's Inauguration. It is also one that bears the name of Venango County. For that year, in addition to the plates with serial numbers, there were also plates that looked similar to 1965 Governor plates, but with Inauguration 1975 as the top legend and a county names below. So far the counties of Allegheny, Philadelphia, Cameron, Clearfield and Philadelphia have been documented. The Philadelphia plate is on a different base. Thanks to Eric Conner for the use of the plate photo.
Starting 3/17, I'm planning to add some history and images of early Pittsburgh plates. These plates are very scarce, at least for now the focus will be on 1908 and 1909 plates. Thanks to Eric Tanner and Eric Taylor for their help.
Here we have another group of Boat Registration stickers. As before, I'm not very familiar with theses stickers, but believe that stickers with a 31 March 1981 expiration, would indicate that it was valid for the previous year, 1980, and up to the expiration date shown on the sticker. So here we also have 1981 with 3-82 expiration, and a 1982 with 3-83 expiration. These stickers were provided by Bob Connison.
Here is a pair of Trailer plates from 1934 and 1936. 1934 was the first year of a new serial numbering system. Up through 1933 plates used T or TT to designate it as a Trailer. Then beginning in 1934 plates used 1 to 9999, then A1 to at least A118, they also now had the legend TRAILER on the plate. Thanks to eBay user simbacurt for the use of these photos.
This is a 1938 Class U Truck plate. Class U includes the following serial formats: U000A, U00A0, U0A00, with this plate being part of the second progression. All 1938 Truck plates measured 6 inches by 12 inches. Thanks to Clayton Moore for the use of this photo.
Last week a number of new Special Fund plates were unveiled. This week prototypes of several new Veterans' plates have been added. From left to right these include a Purple Heart or Combat Wounded Veteran Motorcycle plate, Legion of Merit award plate, Soldier's Medal plate and Veterans of an Allied Foreign Country. No plates in use as of 3/1.
Here's a new high Severely Disabled Veteran plate that was recently spotted. One thing I like about this plate and several other Veterans' plates is that they have not joined the 'family of plates' movement. It is my belief that this is because the legislation that authorized such plates, also spelled out the colors and design of the plate.
Here's a group effort thanks to several friends. This group of Veteran plates were all photographed recently. The far left plate is from Jordan Irazabal showing a plate that was likely issued not too long before the sticker wells ended. The center plate shows the lowest known number without the sticker well and is thanks to Tom Perri. The right-hand photograph of was taken by Bruce Bufalini. This plate is the current new high, but still no map symbol.
This is a recent photo of a Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club plate from Jeff Lawson. The current reported high is 00036B/K. With the recent change in the law which now allows for organizational motorcycle plates, I would think that this club would welcome such an option..
The far left International Association of Fire Fighters photo was snapped by Tom Perri back in August of 2017. I photo-shopped it a bit to try to square it up. Anyway the photo appears to show a plate without the sticker well. The near left photo I took recently showing a plate with the map.
This is a continuation of Boat registrations from last week beginning with 1998 with a 3-31-99 expiration. The others are stickers from 2005-06 and 2008-09. Thanks to Tom Firth for the sticker photos.
These are all 1977 base Motorcycle plates that were issued between that year and 1985. Andrew Turnbull has shared his research on the progression of PA's Motorcycle plates. He unveiled the fact that while almost all '77-base plates had narrow bolt hole spacing, there was a run of plates toward the end where the wide hole spacing came about in preparation for the '85 issue. This is new information for this website, and has resulted in splitting Format 4 plate progression into 2 groups. Format 4A, as seen in the center plate has the narrow holes, while 4B, right-hand plate, has the wide spacing, The far left plate is an example of a low number Format 1 (0A000) plate. The 1AP6S came from an unknown eBay auction.
Andrew Turnbull also focused on the 1985 Motorcycle base. The alpha-numeric progression remained the same throughout the series; however, Andrew noted the use of a wide font and a narrow font used for the legend PENNA. At times the heavy or light application of paint can also create some confusion as to which font was used. The far left plate, from Andrew, has the thicker font, while the other plate has the skinny font. Check back next week for some additional refinement of the www base Motorcycle plates from Andrew.
Here is a very distinctive 1924 Format 1 Passenger plate from eBay user V16. This group consisted of all-numeric plates from 1 to 4 digits. All such plates were 'shorties' measuring 6 inches by x 10 inches. Plates with 5 digits went to 12 inches, and 6 digit plates were 15 inches. Toward the end of the run, alpha-numeric plates made their debut.
What's up with the sizes of these 1920 Commercial (aka Truck) plates? These plates are part of that 1920 to '23 period that has been the subject of many questions. As previously mentioned Rob Baran's research has shed a lot of light on such plates. Rob has also provided the center and right-hand plate. Those plates with legend on both and top and bottom of the plate measured 7 inches in height, as compared to the plate with the legend along the bottom which measures 6 inches.
This is an extraordinarily nice and very rare 1927 V-Class Truck plate. It would have been the first V-weight class plate produced that year. At least 13,096 V-class plates were issued that year. The plate measures 6" by 10", which is the shortest of the three sizes used that year. It's up for grabs on eBay by eBay user Me, also known as Drewski in the license plate community.
In Legislative News, Act 91, was signed into law on 10/24/2018, becoming effective 2/21/19. The law authorizes a number of new plates, including Honoring Our Women Veterans, Distracted Driving Awareness Registration Plate & Motorcycle plate. The veterans' plate supports the Veterans’ Trust Fund, and the awareness plates are to further public education on the dangers posed by distracted driving. As such, these plates are part of the Special Fund group of plates.
In addition, Act 91 also calls for creation of the following new plates: Historic Military Vehicle, Historic Military Motorcycle, Soldier’s Medal, Veterans of an Allied Foreign Country. This act also provides for Special Organization Registration Plates for motorcycles. In more Legislative News, Act 108, also effective 2/21/19, authorizes the Legion of Merit plate. It also authorizes a Purple Heart for motorcycles plate. Check back for more information and prototypes next week.
A lot of drivers probably wish this were an option, but it's not. It appears that the owner had this white on black plate made up with the same serial number that had been issued on the owner's passenger vehicle plate. The plate also features a 'Blue Lives Matter' flag. Can't really say for certain what the legend says along the bottom of the plate, again maybe 'Blue Lives Matter'. Judging by the JLL-6741, the original plate was probably issued late in 2013. The plate was photographed by Nathan Krawzyk.
These next three plate types are a continuation of the announcement about the Penn State Official plates last week. Here we have a complete facelift of the Temple University Official plates. No word when this change will take place.
Next plate up for remodeling is the University of Pittsburgh Official plate. It appears that except for the addition of the map outline and the flat plate legend the plates will look much the same as they have since they have been on the visitPA base.
Here's a seldom seen plate type. The Lincoln University Official plates were first issued on the yellow on blue base, then replaced with the www base on 9/1/1999. So far only 30-some plates have been issued, and how many remain in inventory before they are switched to the new design? The disturbing thing is that it appears that not a single plate has survived from the original yellow on blue issue.
Here is a new high Official Use Commonwealth-owned passenger vehicle plate. These tags are issued in pairs. They are slated to switch to the family of plates design; however, if this change does not occur until the current inventory is exhausted, it could take a while, possibly up to 41999-PA. Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.
This Dealer - Farm Equipment plate is one of the most unusual dealer types. According to the 2017 Report of Registrations, there was a total of 41 farm equipment dealers in PA with a combined total of 51 plates. This is also the highest plate spotted. With so few plates, who knows if we will ever see these tags on the visitPA base, let alone the map base. Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.
Here is a pair of Support Our Troops license plates. The far left plate, with a 1-13 sticker, is from Clayton Moore who had this plate up for grabs on eBay recently. The near left plate is from Tom Perri. This plate is the current reported high and no longer has the sticker well. We don't know at what point this change took place, but 00203S/T still had the sticker well. Tom helped me narrow this down.
If you guessed Boat Registration Stickers you are correct. I'm going to suggest that the stickers on the far left were for 1987 with an expiration of 3-31-1988. Same with the 1990 stickers expiring in 1991. Not sure if these were issued every year since PA boat plates were discontinued after 1963. These and a few other photos were passed on to me by Tom Firth.
This is a 1939 Format 2 Passenger plate. That series ran from A100 to Z9999, so both 6 inch by 10 inch and and 6 inch by 12 inch bases were used, with this one being 10 inch. Thanks to eBay user ALPCA3217, who some may know better as Jeff.
Here are two welcome additions to the 1953 Passenger series. On the far left is a very nice Format 4 (10A0 to 99Z99), 4-character plate from eBay user ALPCA3217. The near left plate is an example of a Format 10 plate which runs from 00AA to 99ZZ. Thanks to eBay user hpr4661 for the photo. All '53 plates measure 6" x 10¼".
Last week I featured a series of three 1923 Commercial or Truck plates, along with some explanation of these Pennsylvania plates for the period 1920 through 1923. This week we have a pair of very nice 1922 Commercial plates. Many thanks to Rob Baran who recently authored a great article in Plates Magazine about this series. Rob has kindly sent me a number of plate images. This week features a continuation of that period with this Class 3 or B plate, and low number Class 6 or E plate. The 6 88 has a space where a dash might be expected. Again, the weight classes of these vehicles was identified by the first number of the plate serial number. More next week.
If the wheels in Harrisburg turn according to plan, the following two plates should be unveiled this coming week: Combat Wounded Veteran Motorcycle (Purple Heart), and Legion of Merit. The Legion of Merit is authorized for automobiles, or trucks with a GVW of not more than 14,000 lb. These were authorized by Act 108. No photos or prototypes yet. Stay tuned.
Sad day. This, and several legacy plates (far left), are being replaced by what you see on the near left. PennDOT takes pride (really?) in announcing that the official plates issued to Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln Universities will be joining the 'family of plates'. Once the changeover takes place, the new plates will be issued as singles. The A45-28P photo is thanks to from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri. Watch for more on the other plates next week.
Here is a pair of Autism Society of America plates. The plate on the far left was recently acquired by Brandon Sowers and represents a high number before the changeover to the map outline. The near left plate with the map was a street shot taken by Bruce Bufalini.
Every now and then a blank plate of the original series of Special Fund plates comes to the forefront. So it is with this DARE plate which had not yet been given its debossed edge and sticker well. The term DARE is short for Drug Abuse Resistance Education Also not yet part of the plate are the embossed features including the serial number and state name. DARE plates are very sought after by collectors. Thanks to Devan Ciemiewicz for this photo.
Here's an early Disabled Veteran plate. I believe these DV plates date back to 1976, and have never been replaced. So had this plate been registered over the years, it could still be on the street; however, this plate belonging to Tom Firth, has never been used. Current issue is in the DV-37000 series.
Nothing all that remarkable about this Person with Disability plate, but noticed that I had no plate photos between 00009PD and 14808PD — quite a gap. Thanks to Brendan Sherry for the photo.
Here's a well-preserved 1940 Motorbike plate. These are very similar to Motorcycle plates of the time in terms of color, size and shape. The main difference is the use of MB, as shown here, vs. MC for Motorcycle. The other difference is the number of plates issued, with Motorcycle registrations far outnumbering Motorbikes. Thanks to Lee Madigan for the use of this photo.
Here's a nice yellow on green 3-digit 1948 Motorboat License plate. It measure 5⅛" by 11". The 11-inch width started in 1947 to accommodate 5 character serial numbers. Even 1, 2 and 3-digit plates used the 11 inches width. The photo gallery now has examples of 3, 4 and 5-digit plates. Plates were issued in pairs. Thanks to Rob Baran for the use of this photo.
This is a pair of 1949 Motorboat License plates. Like the plate above all measure 5⅛" by 11". The 11-inch width, which started in 1947 would run through1949, after which the use of narrower dies in 1950 allowed the plates to be motorcycle size. Thanks to eBay users rbq507 and mg00000 for the use of these photos.
During the years from 1920 to 1923, the word Commercial was added to truck plates as the identifying legend. ALPCA member, Rob Baran, recently did a very informative article for the February 2019 issue of Plates Magazine entitled Pennsylvania Commercial Plates 1920-1923. Rob put forth a great effort to research these plates and help remove much of the shroud of mystery. The mystery comes about through the apparent lack of a weight classification system. For those not familiar, the weight classes are identified by the first digit in the number, which equates to Classes 1 to 8. Rob has kindly forwarded these 1923 Class 2, 4 and 5 images. The generally held belief was that all plates were 6" by 16" in size regardless of the length of the serial number; however Rob has noted 2 sizes. Most plates are 6" by 16"; however, two plates, 56-188 (shown above) and another, actually measure 6" by 15". The 15-inch plates have the left side of the plate trimmed, and the beveled edge removed. He also notes that the positioning of the holes and the slots are reversed on the short plates. Check back next week for more on this series. A big Thank You to Rob Baran. (Sorry for the long read.)
As truck plates transitioned from 1923 to 1924, the word Commercial disappeared and the R through Z (except X) prefixes were established to identify weight classes. These prefixes, and in some R-class plates as suffixes, were the best identifier of truck plates, since the word TRUCK did not appear on plates until 1934. This 1924 R-Class Truck plate was provided by Jeff Hinkle.
Did Passenger plates suddenly jump ahead to the L-series? The plate image on the far left was sent to me by Nathan Krawzyk wondering if it is a legitimate new high, and indicating that the plate appeared to have a keystone separator, not a dash. What's strange is that recent reported highs have been in the KYJ-series, which makes this plate quite a leap ahead. It would not be the first time a plate was issued out of sequence. Turns out after doing a plate check, this appears to be a vanity.
Here's an eye-catching number 1 vanity version of a Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue plate. Could be the serial number is a little off center? Since the logo supposedly occupies a 3" by 3" canvas on the left, I'm not sure exactly where the center point would be. This is the first plate of this series to be spotted without the sticker well, and without the small map. It is unknown at this point how the current issue of the serial numbered plate is configured. The recorded high still has a validation sticker. Thanks to Tom Perri for the photo.
There are many tales of strange sightings, superstitions and curses surrounding the Gettysburg Battlefield. This Gettysburg 1863 plate may be part of the mystique. Bill Ceravola, who shares the photo, indicates that this is a recent issue. As a new plate it does not have the sticker well, nor does it have the map outline. These plates made their debut in 2014, and have been popular for personalization. Serial numbered plates are currently around 00694G/B.
Here is a pair of Bronze Star plates. Both now have the map outline. The far left image is from Bruce Bufalini and actually dates back to June of 2018, the near left plate is a recent photograph from John Fedorchak, and is the current high. The previous reported high with the sticker well was 00421B/Z.
Here is a personalized Honoring Our Veterans plate. These plates have been available since 2012. It is part of the Special Fund group of plates with the proceeds benefitting the Veterans Trust Fund. Personalized plates can have up to 5 characters with stacked H/V suffix, with a dash or space counting as a character. This photo is courtesy of Nick Tsilakis. The current high in the serial numbered plates is above 02500H/V. This plate is also available as a motorcycle tag.
They're still legal! These We The People plates, sometimes referred to as Constitution plates, are all over thirty years old, and are the only yellow on blue plates that are still legal. They were issued only during a 3½ month period in 1987 ending on December 31 of that year, with fewer than 5000 issued. They commemorate the 200th anniversary of U.S. Constitution. These plates have never been replaced by a newer design. They may be considered PA's first optional plate. The 9 plate is thanks to Nick Tsilakis, and the 3891 is thanks to Devan Ciemiewicz.
This is an image of a first generation U.S. Armed Forces Retired plate. This plate type dates back to 1990, and were replaced on the www base around 10/17/2001. The www plates were then discontinued by May of 2006; however, they are still eligible for renewal. This photo is thanks to Devan Ciemiewicz.
Consular and Foreign Consul plates are very sought after by collectors. This one has the year 71 lightly etched in the upper left sticker box, along with a 72 sticker in the upper right, with the Bicentennial State slogan at the bottom. They would have been used up through 1976. This plate is in mint unused condition and was provided by Tom Firth. The 1977 base came out next and had the words Foreign Consul spelled out on the plate. Click the link above to see more.
This is a 1939 Format 2 Passenger plate. Format 2 plates consisted of the series from A100 to Z9999. So both 4 and 5 character plates were used, and as a result both 6 inch by 10 inch and 6 inch by 12 inch sizes were used. This image came from eBay user Bonner397.
Here is a 1940 Format 2 Passenger plate. Aside from the color reversal, the formatting of this plate is similar to the '39 plate above in that it is also from the series A100 to Z9999; however, this one is four characters instead of five. The shorter serial also allows for the 6 inch by 10 inch size. Thanks to eBay user Wonderplumber.
Here is a pair of 1946 U-Weight Class Truck plates. Class U plates used four serial progressions, including U000A, U00A0, U0A00 and U00AA. All truck plates were 5 character, and measured 6 inch by 11 inch size. Thanks to from eBay user Geeseautopa and Pl8source for the use of the photos.
This new high Apportioned Truck street shot from Preston Turner is being posted only one week after posting AG-80391. Preston also spotted AG-82802 a week earlier but was not able to get a photo. The plate check tool indicates a high of AG-83287. In looking at the numbers, between June of 2018 and February of 2019, an 8-month period, about 10,000 plates were issued. The AG series would be expected to run out of numbers during 2020. Next series AH?
Here's an eye-catching photo of a personalized Fraternal Order of Police plate. As an organizational plate program, it dates back to 1987. Plate check shows the current high being a few plates shy of 22000. There was a small number of these plates without the sticker well, current issue plates now have the small map. Photo is thanks to Nick Tsilakis.
Here's a recent photo of a nice 32° Masonic Learning Centers for Children from Tim Gierschick. These plates have been around since 2007, with the current high of 00081L/C according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website.
Here's the latest high number Villanova University plate thanks to Jordan Irazabal. Plate 00486V/U was spotted back in May of 2018 with the the map outline. It may be worth mentioning that there was an earlier plate called Villanova University Alumni Assoc. with the V/U on the left of the serial number. It appears that the earlier style was discontinued when the graphic style shown here was introduced in mid-2006.
I went to the state capital on inauguration day, not to take part in the political festivities, but hoping to score some new plate photos. Unfortunately I did not see any political types with the map outline but did get this State Senator #3 plate with the wide-spacing between the district number and the PA symbol. The other plate shows the PA symbol first, then standard spacing between the plate characters.
This is a personalized U.S. Coast Guard Veteran from Nick Tsilakis. Could it mean Chief Warrant Officer 4? In addition to USCG Veteran plates, there are also USCG Active Duty, USCG Auxilliary, and USCG Reserve. The last two are organizational plates. Am I missing any? Still need a photo of an Active Duty type.
Pennsylvania has issued special event plates over the years for a variety of activities. The earliest that I am aware of were Governor's inaugural plates issued every 4 years since 1963 up through 2015; however, after the 1999 issue they were no longer issued by the state. Golf tournaments have also been a popular venue for such plates. The plate shown here, courtesy of Todd Mickinak, is the earliest known golf tournament plate. Such plate were permitted to be displayed for a brief period around the time of the event for state issued plates. Plates not sanctioned by the state would generally be considered souvenirs, and not intended for display on the rear of the vehicle. There were also many official and non-official front plates. Some have been used to identify the vehicle as being official, while others can be described as booster plates or even novelty plates.
Here's a very nice example of a first generation 3-digit Antique Historic Car plate from Devan Ciemiewicz. This series is believed to have started in 1954, with this plate issued around 1956. Despite its age, many of these plates are still in use today, and to many enthusiasts, are more popular than today's version. The series started with the number 1 and progressed to 9999 before switching to various alpha-numeric combinations.
Here is a Berks County Civil Defense plate from Devan Ciemiewicz. These unique plates were issued during the cold war years of the 1950s and 60s. There were blue on yellow steel plates, then yellow on blue aluminum plates as shown here. Plates were issued by the State Office of Civil Defense, today known as the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency or PEMA, and were distributed by PA's 67 counties. Plates were front mounted on vehicles, and were given to those who had a role in civil defense. Plates measure 4" by 9½". The first part of the plate number represents the County code, the second part is the plate serial number, all are undated.
The 1931 Governor's plate on the far left was recently auctioned on eBay. The embossed center area is sometimes described as a raised loaf. Some earlier plates displayed a state coat of arms in this area. Thanks to eBay user Fairbrozz59 for the use of this photo. It has been suggested that this plate would have been displayed on the front of the vehicle, while the near left #1 plate (previously posted) would have been mounted on the rear. That plate was courtesy of the License Plate King Company.
This Apportioned Truck traffic shot is not pretty, but it is a new high number. It may seem hard to believe but this plate series started at AA back in 1982 on the blue on yellow base. Later the series went to AB, AC was skipped, AD was yellow on blue, AE was on the www base, AF and AG on the visitPA base. Finally there was a run of plates without the sticker well, and the most recent plates have the small map as shown here. Click to see their history.
Here's a perfect image of a hot-off-the-plate-press Franklin and Marshall College tag. The previous high was 00155F/M which had a 2-12 sticker, which suggests to me that the map was added closer to the 00172F/M. This plate program dates back to 2006. Thanks to Jonathan Ortmann for the plate photo, with a little help from Jordan Irazabal.
Here's a new high in the Municipal Government series. As you may recall these plates were originally yellow on blue, then went blue on white in 1977, then white on blue from '84 until early 2017 when this latest format made its debut. The current series started at M/G9000J. Thanks to Bill Houser for the plate photo.
Here's a recent issue Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran plate, now with the map outline. The Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom plates date back to 2005. This photo is courtesy of Ian Emmett. The plate says Jar Head. Ian also had a plate with DVLDG for Devil Dog. I do like these U.S. Marine-themed plates.
The two plates on the far left are the first images of non-commercial PA Turnpike Official Use plates. The term non-commercial refers to passenger type vehicles. The photo on the near left was previously taken by John Clark. Note that the serial formatting is reversed, as this plate version is for use on commercial type vehicles or trucks. Other state agencies have the option of having their own plate but so far only PennDOT and the PA Turnpike have gone in that direction.
This Taxi plate is another new high; however, it still retains the sticker well. Research suggests that the next batch of Taxi plates will start at TX-52000, and will at least eliminate the sticker box. Taxi plates date back to 1977 and were blue on yellow with a starting serial number of TX-10000 or TX10001. Prior to this, Taxis were issued Bus plates. Click to see Taxi history.
This is a 1942 Format 5 Passenger shorty. This series included the progression of 000A to 999Z, with all plates in that range being 4 characters, the plates measured 6 inches by 10 inches. Five character 1942 plates were 6 inches by 12 inches. This photo was made available by eBay user nickelsndiamonds1013.
Here's a beautiful 1954 Format 15 Passenger plate. I can't provide a full description of these plates other than plates with fewer than 4 characters are considered non-standard issue. My thought is that these plates were the predecessor to vanity plates. Formatting could be 3 numbers, 2 letters and 1 number or 1 letter and 2 numbers as shown here. Plates were 6" x 10¼". Thanks to Jonathan Ortmann for the use of this photo.
This is a 1948 Format 5 Trailer plate. That year included the following serial progressions: 0001 to 9999, A000 to Z999, 0A00 to 9Z99, 00A0 to 99Z9, 000A to 999Z, with this plate being a part of the last group. All plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches. Thanks to eBay user Willy-K for the use of the plate photo.
Here's the latest high number Person with Disability plate. These plates have had the small map outline since 72000PD. The PD suffix is a part of the registration number, as were the HP plates in the past. This plate photo is thanks to Bruce Bufalini.
Here's the first image of a personalized 82nd Airborne Division Association plate. This plate program dates back to 2007, and is considered an organizational plate rather than a military or veterans' plate. Thanks to Tim Gierschick for providing the photograph.
This is the second image of a Gwynedd-Mercy University plate with the newer logo. On the previous plate photo, the tag legend was covered by the frame. Now we see that the earlier name Gwynedd-Mercy College has been changed to Gwynedd-Mercy University. The number would suggest that this plate replaced the previous issue. Thanks to Tom Perri for the image.
Here is a Rutgers University sample plate. The Rutgers plate program dates back to 2011. Samples of current type plates are not easy to come by, but they are still sought after by some collectors. Some years back the state used to market samples of almost every type, then they choose to discontinue the practice. Today a few samples are produced for each organizational plate at the start of the plate program. These are intended for the organization to use as they see fit. Thanks to Paul Bagnarol for sharing this plate photo.
West Virginia Alumni Association plate W/V01715 was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini. It was a new high, and Bruce reports that it now has the map outline. Plate W/V01653 still has the sticker well. These is no way to pinpoint at what number the change took place. Photo not available.
This is a recent photo of a Severely Disabled Veteran plate that still has the sticker well. Previously posted plate D/V95738 does not have the sticker well. After looking at an old inventory sheet, it appears that the removal of the sticker well took place at D/V95700. Thanks to Tom Perri for the plate photo.
Here is a very well preserved 105 year old 1914 Porcelain Dealer plate. In addition it is an X+3 digit format. The series that year began at X1 and ran to X3367 according to DMV records. Four different plates lengths were used that year. Thanks to eBay user Pars1-2 for the use of this image.
These 1960 and 1961 Motorboat plates are the final chapter of this series that was part of John Willard's display at the Valley Forge ALPCA Convention. The serial numbers of these numeric plates could have 1 to 5 digits making 1, 2 or 3-digit plates very desirable. Note some similarities between the '61 MB plate and Motorcycle plates of the time.
These are both 1933 Format 3 Passenger plates. Format 3 includes the series progression of 0A to 9Z999. Plates with 4-character would be a tougher find than those with 5 characters. Note that while these are both 1933 plates the legends are reversed. PENNA 1933 is the correct legend, while the transposed legend on the 1B612 plate is considered an error, of which a sizeable number were produced. 4-character plates measured 6" by 10", while the 5-character plates measured 6" by 12". Thanks to eBay user Hildenbrandmilitaria for the 1V10 plate photo, and America on Wheels for the other.
Next is this 1950 Format 4 Passenger plate. This format consists of plates from10A0 to 99Z99. All passenger plates for 1951 were 6 inches by 11 inches in size for both 4 and 5-character plates. This plate is courtesy of eBay user Jeopardyboy1. Anyone have a 1950 Sample?
This is a 1924 Class T Weight Class Truck plate. The Class T series went from T1 to at least as high as the plate shown here. This plate marks a new class high. 1924 was the first year for truck plates to use the R through Z prefix system to designate weight classes. X was reserved for Dealer plates. This plate measures 6 inches by 12 inches. There were also 10 inch plates, and 15 inch (R & S only) plates depending on the number of characters. Thanks to eBay user tw19670 for the use of this plate photo.
Here is a 1937 Class T Weight Class Truck plate. Class T used 3 serial progressions that year including T000A, T00A0 and T0A00 of which the plate shown here is part of the first group. All Class T plates had 5 characters and measured 6 inches by 12 inches; however, the R and S classes had some 6-character overflow plates that measured 6 inches by 15 inches. This photo is thanks to eBay user centipede16.
This personalized Antique Vehicle tag was seen as part of a display at the America on Wheels Antique Auto Museum in Allentown. The plate suggests a connection to the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) located in Hershey. The small map suggests that it is a relatively recent issue.
Couple of Blue Lodge items from Bruce Bufalini. First, the plate shown here is from a short run of about 200 plates with embossed logos and legends on visitPA base. These were issued around 2006. On the next run the graphic and legend were flat. Bruce also spotted M/B13255 with the map outline — no photo.
What's new? It's not hard to see the difference between the old and new logos of these Children's Hospital of Philadelphia plates. The plate with the updated logo also features the map outline. Both plates were spotted by Tom Perri. The changeover point is unknown.
This is a new high Juniata College plate. This is one of those plates that came along not long after the www plates were introduced and it has remained on the same base since that time. It appears that affiliation with the college is not necessary to purchase a plate. The college is located in Huntingdon, PA.
The first two Lebanon Valley College plates on the far left are part of the upper tier of the www plates. When the www plates (3 fading bands) were first issued, they were the result of the replacing the yellow on blue plates on a number for number basis. New plates that were issued afterward were from a higher number block of L/V01000 to L/V01172. The L/V01035 is an example of later plates issued on the visitPA graphic base. These are not new photos, but thanks to Tom Perri they do help to fill some gaps.
Concerning the Mario Lemieux Foundation plate series, Bruce Bufalini spotted tag 01680L/F which had the map outline, but was unable to obtain a photo. This helps to narrow the gap between those known to still have the sticker well, 01520L/F, and the plate mentioned above.
Here's a University of Notre Dame plate recently spotted by John Fedorchak. Note that the plate no longer has the sticker well, but does not yet have the small map outline. Plate 02646N/D, shown on Tom Perri's website still had the sticker well, so the change occurred between these two plates. The Notre Dame plate program dates back to 1988.
This low number Seton Hill University (not to be confused with Seton Hall which is in New Jersey) plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini. The college is located in Greensburg, PA. Their plate program dates back to 2006, and about 111 numbered plates have been issued to date.
The change to the prototype of this Shady Side Academy took place some time ago. I blame myself for not noticing that the logo had been redesigned. The original prototype is on the far left. The revised prototype is in the center. The other photo is a comparison of the two logos side by side. Click to enlarge. It is unknown if the redesigned plates are on the street.
*** The focus of this website has always been to keep up with newly issued PA plates, and current plates that as they go through changes. Over the past few years this website has also focused on older plates by listing them according to type, date range, formatting, etc. Much progress has been made, but much more work remains. The task of finding pictures, or rare plates to photograph, in order to fill the remaining gaps, has become increasingly challenging. As a result the weekly posting of older plates will not be as plentiful. ***
This is a 1924 Format 3 Dealer plate. Format 3 consisted of the sequence from X10-000 to X20-404 or above. Because the plates were 6 characters they measured 6 inches by 15 inches. Plates with X+1, 2 or 3 characters were 6 inches by 10 inches, and X+4 plates were 6 inches by 12 inches. This plate is courtesy of Drewski.
Dealer plates for 1926 was one of the years where the 'X' identifier could be in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd position. Plate serial numbers could be as low as X1 or 1X to a high such as shown here. Plates are believed to be 6" x 10" for 4 or fewer character and 6" x 12" for 5-character plates. Thanks to Chuck Sakryd for the use of this photo.
Here is a U.S. Air Force Veteran personalized plate. Thanks to Arthur Levine for sharing this image. This is the first of this plate type spotted without the sticker well. About 2 months ago a sequentially numbered plate was spotted that had the map outline. As I've stated on previous occasions, the evolution of plate design appears to be inconsistent at times, and frustrating to track.
The original block of numbers on this Lebanon Valley College series was believed to be L/V00001 to L/V00414, then Jeff Lawson sent me this image of a plate outside that range. Some additional checking suggests that a block of numbers from L/V00445 to L/V00482 was also issued. Any attempt to explain this 'number gap' would only be conjecture on my part. Still need a photo of the first generation yellow on blue Lebanon Valley plate.
This Warwick Twp. Vol. Fire Co. No. 1 photo is not new. It actually dates back to 2012, but it got buried in my archives until now. The photo came from Tom Perri, who has the current Warwick high listed as 10017W/T. A plate check shows that about 23 tags have been issued. They are located in Bucks County.
Prior to two weeks ago we didn't even know that a Zeta Phi Alpha Sorority, Inc. organizational plate existed. Now we have two nice photos to provide a low and a high. Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for the #2 plate photo and to Jordan Irazabal for the #29 photo.
This is a 1958 Amateur Radio plate. The FCC call sign is the identifier. This one is without the tab slot, a feature that is present on the other two photos I have posted. The tab slot is generally considered to be a part of the initial run, but dropped from later issues even though they all have 58 even if issued after that year. Thanks to Platedog for the use of this photo.
This is a low-number steel 1953 Motor Boat License. Serial numbers ran from 1 to at least 28406; however, at some point in between 4251 and 9433 the plate material was changed from steel to fiberboard. If anyone has an in-between plate, please let me know. 1953 was the only year for non-metallic plates. Plates measure 4½" by 8". Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the use of the plate photo.
Here is a nice 3-digit 1959 Motor Boat License plate. Notice that the MBL designator has now been shortened to MB, not to be confused with Motorbike which ended after 1949. Also the use of the state map outline was added in 1955. The colors could also be confusing, but at least for 1959 they were the opposite of automotive plates. This photo is from a John Willard display at the ALPCA convention.
This is a very nice 1958 Motorcycle Dealer plate, which may have been professionally refinished. This was the first year for multi-year plates with the exception of the 1942 - '43 used during WW2. The slots were never used, instead stickers were used in their place, and the plates could be revalidated through 1961. Thanks to ebay user jeopardyboy1 for the plate photo.
This 1972 Base School Bus plate may not win any prizes for beauty, but it does provide two important pieces. First it presents a new high in the SA-series. Secondly, and of greater importance, this plate was photographed as part of a larger group of older Bus plates with 7-00 validation stickers. Previously I listed that series of plates as used from 1972 to 1977. Thanks to Clayton Moore for sharing a larger group of photos of which this plate was a part.
These are Vehicle Registration Credentials for yellow on blue Omnibus plates. They show that Omnibus plates were issued at least as high as OB-49201 on the 1984 thru 2000 yellow on blue base. These credentials also indicate that plates were not necessarily issued in order. The OB47415 registration has a validation date of 2/3/2000. The next generation of plates on the www base began issue shortly thereafter on 4/16/2000. Thanks to Clayton Moore for sharing these and other bus-related images.
Here is a 1940 T-Weight Class Truck plate. Class T for 1940 consisted of three serial progressions — T000A, T00A0 and T0A00. The plate shown here is part of the first group. All such plates used 5 characters and measured 6 inches by 12 inches. Thanks to eBay user Pinkocelot for the use of this photo.
Next is this 1953 U-Weight Class Truck plate. Class U plates that year used four serial formats — U000A, U00A0, U0A00 and U00AA. The plate shown here is part of the second group. All such plates used 5 characters and measured 6 inches by 10¼ inches. Thanks to eBay user Carstuffstore for the use of the picture.