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What's new in the last 30 days?
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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.
Images and photos are always welcome. Please send to:
John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA