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Supporting the hobby, conducting research & preserving the history of Pennsylvania License Plates

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

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Posting 7/5/2020

In Legislative News, House Bill 1710 has been passed and signed into law by the Governor as Act 48.  This will create a USA Semiquincentennial registration plate, similar to the Bicentennial Plate, with the phrase “Let Freedom Ring - 250 years”, and the Liberty Bell.  They will be issued between 2021 and 2026.  The plate would cost an additional $50, and can only be issued for a motorcycle, passenger car, a truck with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds, or a motor home.  The act will take effect in 120 days.  Let's hope PennDOT uses a little more creativity and comes up with something more than just a Bicentennial plate on the visitPA base.

 


This low number vanity plate was recently spotted by Eric Conner.  As previously mentioned, there was a time when such plates were reserved for state officials and dignitaries, but that practice has ended.  If interested in such a plate, the state offers a personalized registration availability tool which allows the user to see if a certain number, letters or a combination is available.

 

 


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https://papl8s.com/stamp_files/pa-128-1_jim_mcdevitt.jpg

The 127 plate above got me thinking of some of my low number vanities.  All of the plates shown here are still in my collection with the exception of the 30 Motorcycle plate.  Sorry, the plates are not currently for sale or trade.

 


This is believed to be a new high Municipal Government plate.  Sorry if I missed a higher posting.  This photo was taken by Richard Ruck and sent to me by Bill Young.  The current style plate started at MG-9000J and was first spotted in February of 2017.  Vanity check suggests the registered high is M/G9907L, with the next series using M as the suffix.

 


Take your choice, before and after the image was cropped, rotated, skewed, and the aspect ratio corrected.  Anyway, this is the current high Official Use PennDOT commercial use plate.  There are two series of these plates with the PennDOT logo, the other series is used on passenger vehicles and uses a T0000P/A format.  This plate was spotted by Bill Young on a small PennDOT trailer. 

 

 


This first generation Disabled Veteran plate is still on the road and was spotted not long ago by Preston Turner.  Vanity check indicates it's still a valid plate, but there aren't many of these 4-digit plates out there.

 

 


These Antique Motorcycle plates are not new images, and recently 6F was spotted, the most logical explanation is that Format 6 which I had listed as 00A to 99Z, actually runs from 0A to 99Z. This provides a plausible explanation of these 2-character plates. The wide hole spacing means that these are not early plates.  I may have more Antique Motorcycle updates in the near future.

 


This is a 1965 base Amateur Radio plate with a 70 validation sticker.  While Amateur Radio plates date back to 1956, it wasn't until around 1988 that such plates had an identifying legend.  The number 3 designates the region which also includes DE, MD and DC.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the plate photo.

 


This National Guard plate was recently acquired by George Kunsman.  While early National Guard plates were issued between 1930 and 1935, they were then discontinued and reemerged in 1984 as an organizational plate as shown here.  This plate is also the high in that series.  To my knowledge this is the only organizational plate with 2 separate logos depicting a Revolutionary War Soldier and an airplane.

 


The State of Pennsylvania first issued license plates in 1906.  Click this link to see early history starting in 1903.  Plates between 1906 and 1909 were assigned to the driver rather than the vehicle.  Beginning in 1910 plates were assigned to the vehicle thus the aluminum keystone with the maker's mark (today's VIN number) was affixed to the plate.  The white on dark blue porcelain 1906 plate series started at 1 and extended to over 13,000.  The plate shown here measures 6 inches by 7 inches — talk about a shorty!  Thanks very much to Bill Krellner for allowing me the opportunity to photograph many of his plates.   

 


Next is this white on red porcelain 1907 plate.  This plate also measures 6 inches by 7 inches.  There were four sizes issued that year depending on the number of digits in the number.  Plate numbers were close to 20,000.  The largest of the sizes was 6 inches by 10 inches.  Another big thank you to Bill Krellner for allowing me the photo opportunity.   

 


Yes, this striking black on white 1909 porcelain beauty is real and authentic.  Of course with each succeeding year the number of plates issued increased with some 34 thousand being issued for 1909.  The Manufacturer of the 1906, 1907 and this plate was Ing-Rich also known as Ingram-Richardson of Beaver Falls, PA.  Another thank you to Bill Krellner.

 


This is an interesting 1928 Passenger vehicle.  This plate is part of an alpha-numeric format which ran from A to E24-072.  Each letter had its own run, so the A series went to A99-000, then B to B99-999, the C, C1 etc.  So for each letter there were 10-inch, 13-inch and 15-inch plates based on the number of characters.  This plate is also thanks to Bill Krellner.

 


At first glance you might be tempted to describe this 1920 Commercial plate as number 'twelve'.  If you recall, 1920 had a new weight classification system for truck/commercial vehicles, and the first digit indicated the class.  Therefore this would be Class 1, and the 2nd plate made.  An extremely rare plate.  The colors were white on dark blue and plates with COMMERCIAL on top and PENNA 1920 along bottom and measure 7" high.  While plates with PENNA COMMERCIAL 1920 along bottom measure 6" high.

 


Here is another 1920 Truck/Commercial plate pair with these plates representing weight Class 6.  This is also the first Class 6 plate photo I've gotten.  Starting in 1920, there were 7 weight classes replacing the 5-star system used between 1914 and 1919.  These plates are also 7 inches high due to the placement of the top and bottom legend, and they measure 13 inches in length.  Click the link above to see more previously posted 1920 commercial plates.

A huge thank you to Bill Krellner for allowing me to photograph so many plates of his outstanding Pennsylvania collection.  Check back for more in the coming weeks.

 


Posting 6/28/2020

In Legislative News, House Bill 1710 continues to more forward thru the legislative labyrinth.  It was re-reported as committed in the Senate on June 22, and signed in the House on June 24.  The bill, if passed, would pave the way for a USA Semiquincentennial registration plate, similar to the Bicentennial Plate, with the phrase “Let Freedom Ring - 250 years”, for issue between 2021 and 2026.  The plate would cost an additional $50, and can only be issued for a motorcycle, passenger car, a truck with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds, or a motor home.  Stay tuned.

 


Here is a recent Official Use truck plate from Clayton Moore.  Since the start of these new generation Official Use plates, some state-owned vehicles are using the PA state coat of arms as seen here, while PennDOT vehicles are using their own logo and Turnpike vehicles are also using their own.  The option of using their own logo is available to other state agencies, but so far it only applies to those listed here.  Click the link to see more examples.

 


Here is a recent single letter Passenger vanity plate on the www base.  No way of knowing if this is an initial, or favorite grade in school, but it would be considered a vanity plate.  A quick check shows that at the present no single-letter plates are open.  Since this is a current plate I have placed it on the current miscellaneous plate page under Passenger, and also on the Passenger History page.  Yes, it can be confusing.

 

 


This Amateur Radio plate plate was recently acquired by Matt Ciecka.  Around 1990 the legend Amateur Radio Operator was shortened to what you see here.  Such a 1x2 call sign may indicate that the user holds an Amateur Extra Class license.  Click the link above to see more history and images from 1956 to the present.

 


Can you identify this plate?  It's from 1921, and is the same size as a Motorcycle plate.  It's actually a very rare Motorbike plate.  Motorbike plates at the time used the letter 'O' as a prefix to distinguish it from a Motorcycle plate, but at the time letters and numbers were the same size.  This photo is from the Bill Krellner collection.  Over the next week or so I will have additional Motorbike plates.

 


1930 was the first year for National Guard plates.  After 1935 there were no National Guard plates issued until 1984.  The serial numbers are believed to run from 1 to 1000.  I once heard that every year a member remained in the Guard, they would have been eligible for a lower number as other more senior members have left.  Click the link above to see plate #51.  This plate is from Worthpoint.

 


As time moves on, it is becoming increasingly tough to find images to fill gaps.  I purchased a Worthpoint subscription earlier this year which has been a great research tool.  Here are two 1937 shorty Passenger plates from Format 3 and Format 9.  This was the first year for the use of the map outline on Passenger plates, 1938 saw its usage on other types.

 


These 10-inch 'shorty' images represent 1938 Passenger plates belonging to Format 2 and Format 5 serial progressions.  For many years both 6-inch by 10-inch bases were used for 4-character plates, while 5-character plates were 6-inch by 12-inches.  These are Worthpoint images.

 


This group of 1937 Truck plates has been added.  Most truck classes that year were 5 characters, but there were 6-character overflow plates in the R- and S-weight classes.  5-character plates measured 6 inches by 12 inches, while the 6-character plates were 6 inches by 15 inches.  These are Worthpoint images.

 


This first generation Watercraft Trailer/Dealer should be at the top of the page, as it's the first one I've seen after many years of looking.  Thanks to Brandon Sowers who recently snagged this plate.  These plates are believed to date back to 1995.  The serial progression likely started at WD-00001 and ran at least to WD-00127 which is known to exist.  In many cases these plates were issued to boat dealers, and then spent most of the time in a filing cabinet, seldom seeing the street. 

 


Posting 6/21/2020

Here's the plate of the week which was spotted by Nick Tsilakis!  This is the first image of a Veterans of an Allied Foreign Country plate.  The serial number suggests that it is a vanity; however, vanity check also indicates that there are no serial numbered plates in use yet.  This plate type dates back to February of 2019.

 


New serial progression, new high.  This is the first image of the newest Antique Vehicle plate; however, they have been in use at least back to March 15 of this year.  It features a new serial progression starting at A0AA after the 00A0 progression was exhausted.  In most cases, numbers would advance first, then the letters from right to left.  So starting at A0AA, then A1AA to A9AA, then A0AB to A9AB, then A0AC, etc.  With the state on lock-down, and many car shows cancelled, such plates will be harder to spot.  Thanks to Jerry McCoy for the photo.

 


This is a new high Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services plate  They are headquartered in Warrendale near Pittsburgh.  Their mission is to provide specialized services to address the unique needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities, autism, and behavioral health needs.  This plate type only dates back to October of 2019, with some 39 serial numbered plates registered.  Thanks to John Fedorchak for the photo.

 


Maybe not plate of the week, but when Knights of Columbus plates were first issued in 1987, the series ran to K/C01652, then when they were replaced in 2001 they were reissued on a plate for plate basis, making this near the end.  Plates that were subsequently issued on the visitPA base started a new series at K/C02000.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the photo.

 


Here's a new high Apportioned Truck photo from Preston Turner.  Click the photo to enlarge it, but if you have trouble reading it, the plate number is AG-95439.  With it being so close to the end of the AG-series, I did a vanity check and it shows the actual current high as of 6/21 as AG-97657.  The next series will be AH-00000 probably on the road within the next few months.

 

 

 


The far left Fire Fighter plate is the lowest number plate of this type that I have a photo of.  It came from Worthpoint.  Anyone have a 1- or 2-digit plate?  The near left plate establishes a new high number, and was provided by George Kunsman.  The previous high was listed as FF14900.  Fire Fighter plates were the earliest organizational plates dating back to 1983 and were issued using the 1977 base colors in use at the time.  Later plates continued with this color scheme until the changeover to the www base late in 1999.  The current page of Fire Fighter plates has also been updated.  Has anyone seen a newer Fire Fighter plate with the map outline?

 


Here is a first generation Steel Worker plate that is still on the road today.  It was recently spotted by Preston Turner.  While this plate has all the outward characteristics of a Special Organization plate, it is not.  It's actually in a class by itself.  To qualify for such a plate, one must certify that the applicant is "currently or was/were formerly employed in the manufacture of steel or a surviving member of a steelworker’s family" etc.

 


On the far left is a 1948 Fermat 1 Motorcycle plate.  This group ran from 1 to 9999, then progressed to the alpha-numeric format shown here with a single letter followed by 1 to 3 digits.  Both images are from Worthpoint.

 

 


Here is a very nice Format 1, 1929 Passenger plate.  Format 1 was all-numeric and ran from 1 or 2 to 9999.  All such plates were 'shorties' measuring 6 inches by 10 inches.  There were many additional formats with serial numbers running up to 999-999, before going to an alpha-numeric format extending into the F00-000 series.  This is a Worthpoint image.   

 


Last week I posted several images of School Bus plates which helped to establish a new high in the SB-series.  Then Clayton Moore sent me a group photo which included this SB-60394 plate.  This plate would have been one of the last before the www base was issued.

 

 


As a continuation of last week's tractor posting, on the far left is an E+3-digit 1917 Tractor plate.  1917 was somewhat unique in that there were two classes of Tractor plates.  Click the link above to read more about the two classes which started as a law in 1915, but it is unknown when it ended or changed.  The 1919 plate is a new high.  Both of these plates are thanks to Tim Gierschick.

 


This is a 1928 S-Weight Class Truck plate from Worthpoint.  While it is not a great image, it does help complete a pictorial progression of the S-series including S-9, S-47, S127, S5-165, and now S32-880 shown here.  The plates include 6" by 10", 6" by 13" and 6" by 15" sizes. 

 

 


Posting 6/14/2020

Concerning this website, I've had to split the A to M History page into two pages, now A to F and G to M.  This creates hyperlink issues which I'm working to resolve over the next week or so.  You may need to refresh a page.  Some links on the 2018 and older Archives will not work correctly.  Please let me know if you see problems.  Sorry for any inconvenience.

 


This new high Mass Transit is a late entry just posted by Bruce Bufalini, but goes well with the Mass Transit plates further down the page.  This is part of the latest group of plates now with the map outline which is believed to have begun at M/T48700.

 


Here's a recent photo of a current National Ski Patrol plate.  These plates date back to 2011, but this is the first one reported with the map outline.  The previous high was 00242S/P.  Thanks to Jonathan Ortmann for the use of the photograph.

 


These low-numbered plates are generally considered Passenger vanity plates today; however, this was not the case years ago when at one time such plates were reserved for high-ranking officials and dignitaries.  Judging by the www base, this plate has likely been in use for some years.  Thanks to John Fedorchak for sharing this photo. 

To see more, Tom Perri has a page of PA Low Numbered Plates.

 


This is a well preserved 1931 Judiciary plate.  1928 was the first year for such plates, but were in a different format originally. Then in 1929 the plates were redesigned to the style seen here where only the color and placement of the year and Penna would alternate.  These plates were discontinued after 1935 and did not reappear until the 1980s and '90s when the Superior Court and Supreme Court plates were issued.  Plate photo is from Worthpoint.

 


This is a 1929 Legislative plate.  These were also first issued in 1928, then part way through 1929 the plates were given a totally new look as seen here.  Like the plate above, these plates were discontinued after 1935 and did not return until the late 1950s.  Plate photo is from Worthpoint.

 

 


These Mass Transit tags on the far left and center show plates from the 1977 and 1984 MT formats.  The later plate is from the series from MT-33000 to MT-39999 which were the only Mass Transit plate series with the prefix in-line instead of stacked, and were likely issued in the 2003 to 2005 period.  Thanks to Worthpoint for the images.

 


I want to showcase the near-left 1911 Passenger plate from Shane Oake.  This plate clearly shows the use of beveled edges, whereas the far left plate (from Worthpoint) does not.  Beveled edge plates were produced part way through the year to improve the strength of the plate.  Plates up to 30794 have flat edges, plates from 31022 and above have beveled edges.  Some plates below the 31022 mark were reissued on the beveled edge base.  

 


The far left plate image represents the high number observed on the 1978 School Bus base.  Then around 1992 or '93 a new yellow on blue school bus plate was issued.  The new base did not replace the previous issue but was in addition to it, therefore the number series from the previous series continued.  So while the base plate color scheme changed, the number series continued on.  The far left plate photo is from Clayton Moore.  The other photo is from Worthpoint.

 


These yellow on blue School Bus images are part of the same series described above.  They are also the highest numbers I could find.  Pardon the half-image, I cut that from a group photo but that was all that was visible.  It may be worth noting that the Archives lists the high at SB-59678.  These high plates would have been issued shortly before the full scale plate replacement in June 2000.  These photos are from Worthpoint.

 


Here is a very nice 104 year-old Tractor plate.  The E prefix stands for Engine, short for Traction Engine also known as Tractor.  This large format plate measures 6 inches by 16 inches.  Beginning in 1916 plates were embossed on painted steel.  This is also the highest recorded number for that year.  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the photo.  Check back next week for 1917 and 1919 plate photos.

 


This pair of 1931 oddball Truck plates is part of the mystery series previously described here.  Click the link to see a write-up of this mystery, but the short version is that these were made in anticipation of the 1931 truck issue, and made before the decision was made to revert to the R through Z series formats.  So while 1931 truck plates did use the R through Z series, rather than discard the plates with these somewhat cryptic 2-letter suffixes as shown here, they were issued.  These photos are from Worthpoint.

 


Nothing earth-shattering here, just some additional and better quality 1958 Truck plates.  Where possible, I've tried to show plates both with and without the tab slot.  If you're not familiar with this, the early plate runs had a slot to the left of the 58 intended to be used to mount a metal tab to validate the plate in future years.  This never happened.  Instead vinyl stickers were issued for later years, and later plates were issued, still marked 58, but minus the tab slot.

 


Posting 6/7/2020

As I said last week, Passenger plate highs probably change by the minute.  So from the LJA-series last week to LJC-2964 this week.  This plate was spotted by Bruce Bufalini.

 

 


Here is a bright and shiny new high La Roche University plate from Bruce Bufalini.  This name change from college to university was first seen on plate 00081 in November of 2019.  The map outline was also seen at the same time; however, it is not known if both of these changes occurred together.

 


Here's the latest high number Municipal Government plate from Bruce Bufalini.  The current series on the visitPA with map base started at M/G9000J, which was first seen in February of 2017.  Once the L-suffix series is exhausted, the next series will advance to the M-suffix.

 

 


This is a new high Temporary Intransit cardboard tag.  Jordan Irazabal appears to be well in control of spotting new highs on a regular basis.

 

 


On the far left is a low number 1946 alpha-numeric Motorcycle plate.  After the original numeric progression hit 9999, an alpha character was used in the first position.  Next the E157 is a 1947 Motorcycle from the alpha series.  Both of these plates are from Worthpoint.

 


This is a very nice 1947 Motorbike plate.  This plate is from Worthpoint.

 

 


Here is a very well preserved 1911 Format 2 plate.  This format included the series of 100 to 999.  These 3-digit plates measured 6 inches by 10 inches.  Almost 44-thousand plates were issued that year.  The aluminum keystone is referred to the maker's mark, or VIN number in today's parlance.  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the photo.

 


Next is this 1921 Format 1 Passenger plate.  Starting in 1917 plates were made in the PA prison system.  Being part of the group with the lowest serial numbers which ran from 2 to 999, these plates measured 6-inches by 10-inches.  Plate 1 is believed to have been used by the Governor.  This image is from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research.  If the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them also.

 


A number of changes have been made to the 1932 Passenger display with the addition of these photos.  The plates shown here represent 4 different serial formats, and describing them individually on the home page is probably not as effective as looking at them on the display page.  The far left plate photo is from Jeff Hinkle, while the other three are from Worthpoint.

 


What's wrong with these plate photos?  They are both 1920 Truck plates, and they both adhere to the correct aspect ratio and scale.  The difference is that the far left plate, with both top and bottom legends, is seven inches tall, one inch taller than the other plate.  They are both Class 2 Truck plates and both 16 inches in length.  For 1920, both 6- and 7-inch height formats were used.  (The far left plate was previously posted.)  Both plate photos are from Worthpoint.

 


After instituting the R through Z truck weight class designations starting in 1924, 1930 Truck plates embarked on new and cryptic alpha-numeric formats.  This was likely done to reduce size of the plates by keeping the number of characters to a maximum of 5, unlike previous years where plates could be 6 characters.  The R through Z classes were still in use but were now linked to 2-letter suffixes as shown here.  The far left plate is an R-Weight Class and the 724LR plate is a T-Class.  Click the link above to see a list of classes and the associated letter suffixes.  These are both Worthpoint photos.

 


These are 1938 Truck plates representing the W- and Z-Weight Classes.  For this year all plates were 5 characters and measured 6 inches by 12 inches.  1938 was the first year for truck plates to use the map outline, although it was used on Passenger plates a year earlier.  These are Worthpoint pictures.

 


 

Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

 

 

 

   
 

 
 

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