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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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The photos on this website, whether provided by me or other contributors, are intended for use solely on this website, and may not be otherwise used without permission.

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Posting 2/16/2020

Recently I visited the Albright College campus in in hopes of finding one of their organizational plates on the new base as shown on the far left.  Unfortunately none were to be found.  I did spot this older plate, which would actually be a new high.  It still retains the sticker well.  Vanity check suggests the issued high is A/L00147.


Here's a recent traffic shot of a Pennsylvania Coal Alliance Inc. plate.  The image is from Bruce Bufalini and shows a new high.  There was a discussion among several friends as to whether or not this plate has a sticker well.  So while that feature may be missing, it can't be determined with certainty.


Such a plate is a visual reminder that the person to whom it was issued likely went through hell.  This is a first generation Prisoner of War plate, which is still a valid format.  This would have been only the second plate issued, likely in 1982.  It appears that this plate was restored.  Thanks to Drewski for the photo.


There are more legislative updates for House Bill 1710, House Bill 1711 and House Bill 1712.  All three of these bills received final passage in the House on Feb. 3, and have moved on to the Senate on Feb. 13.


This is low-number and rare 1910 Dealer plate.  1910 was the fist year for Dealer plates.  The use of the 'X' as the prefix and identifier did not begin until 1911.  This 3-digit plate measured 6 inches by 10 inches, and was the middle of three sizes that year.  The reverse of the plate reads: "ING-RICH PORCELAIN ENAMELED IRON SIGNS COMPANY INGRAM-RICHARDSON MFG. CO. BEAVER FALLS PENNA".  Thanks to Jeff Lesher for the use of the images.


Here is a very low number 1912 Dealer plate, also thanks to Jeff Lesher.  The use of 'X' as part of the serial number started in 1911.  This series started at X1 and continued to well into the X3000 series.  Plate sizes varied according to the number of digits, with sizes going form 6 inches by 8 inches for X+1 digit to 10, 12 and 14-inch sizes for X+2, 3 and 4 characters respectively, making this plate 10 inches.  This plate was manufactured by BRILLIANT MFG. CO. ENAMELED SIGNS 1035-1037 RIDGE AVENUE PHILA., PA, as shown on the reverse of the plate. 


Here is a pair of needed 1934 Passenger plates.  The far left plate is a Format 5 plate which consisted of the run from 000A to 999Z on a 6" x 10" base.  The run also went to 5 characters from 100A0 to 999Z9 on a 6" x 12" base.  The plate is from Worthpoint.  The other plate is a Format 7 which ran from AA to ZZ and AA1 to ZZ99, all on a 6" x 10" base.  This plate is thanks to Forrest Kauffman.


These are 1924 Truck plates.  '24 was the first year to use the more familiar R through Z series of truck weight classes, with R being the lightest class.  (Passenger plates also began using letter prefixes, but only used 'A' in 1924.)  The series started at R1 and progressed to R99-999, then began an overflow series of 1-R to at least 2000-R.  The number of characters also determined the length of the plate with the 4-character plate shown here being 6 by 10 inch and the 5-character S plate being 12 inches.  These images are from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes.  If the owner of a plate wishes, however, I can acknowledge them also.


Yes, it's a 1958 Truck plate with a '64 sticker, but what's a ZT Class?  The 1958 truck series consisted of 21 plate prefixes that designate not only gross vehicle weight and number of axles, but also 3 separate series for truck tractors.  Truck tractors were designated with WT, YT and ZT.  This same prefix designations were used again in the 1964 through 1967 run, after which a new system was used.  Thanks to Drewski for the use of this photo.


I recently acquired the far left 1994 PA Apple Festival plate with PA as the registration.  The other plate I have had for a number of years and is shown for comparison.  That plate has the word official and the the number 51.  Perhaps one was sold as a novelty plate while the numerical plate was issued to those running the event.


Posting 2/9/2020

If you haven't seen the latest Penn State Official plate, these were first spotted in February of 2019.  The starting point was A4700P, with the plate shown here being the lowest number spotted so far.  The previous version appears to have ended at A46-07P.  Unlike the previous version, the large open keystone has been eliminated.


Sometimes tracking license plates is like a game of Trivial Pursuit.  Since PA has removed the sticker well and added the map outline, often not at the same time, it creates more features to track.  This Children's Hospital of Philadelphia plate shows a new low on plates with the map outline.  Previously posted was 00548C/H which is the current high without the map.  Sticker well numbers are unknown.


Here's another low number recently spotted plate.  The Michigan State Alumni plate program dates back to 2012.  Vanity check indicates that around 80 serial numbered plates have been issued to date.



Not the kind of thing I normally post, but why not.  You may be familiar with this sample plate display if you have visited PennDOT's headquarters on South Front St. in Harrisburg.  Because the display is under glass, with bright lights, the plates do not photograph well.  It would be nice to see additional displays, since PA offers so many types.  This display seldom changes.




There are a handful of first generation special organization plates for which I never acquired a photo.  Finally got this Geneva College plate image thanks to eBay user Jeopardyboy1.  This plate program dates back to 1994, with about 765 plates being issued before the changeover to the www base.  These first generation plates are displayed with current College plates, and on the Special Organization History page.  Geneva College is located in Beaver Falls, PA.


Here is another of the first generation plates for which I needed an image.  The Rotary International plate program dates back to 1992, with about 590 plates issued.  These first generation plate are displayed with current plates, and on the Special Organization History page.  This image is from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes.  If the owner of a plate wishes, however, I can acknowledge them also.


This is a 1944 Dealer plate.  Dealer plates traditionally used an 'X' in the serial number.  This image has the 'X' in the second position, thereby making it a Format 2 tag which consists of the progression of 1X00 to 9X999.  So both 6" x 10" and 6" by 11" plates were produced.  Thanks to John Anshant and John Willard for the photo op.


Could this be a pre-1956 Press Photographer plate?  The image came from Edward Lipski several years ago suggesting that other such unofficial Press Photographer plates may have existed into the late 1940s.  Chuck Harrington felt strongly that pre-1956 PP plates were not press-related.  Plates with 2-letter prefixes were part of standard issue passenger plates at the time.  The plates shown here are unofficial and unconfirmed with no provenance; however plates with identical numbers (PP125) were issued in 1957 and 1958.  Of course this could just be coincidence. 



It may be a little hard to read, but this 1920 Commercial (truck) plate is number 167, and Commercial plates between 1920 and '23 used the first digit to designate the weight class.  With the 1 identifying the class, the 67 indicates that this was the 67th plate produced in that class.  It also suggests that plates from 11 to 199 did not use a dash as most higher number classes used.  Also worth mentioning is that plates with Commercial on the top measured 7 inches in height while those with it on the bottom measured 6 inches.  This image is from Worthpoint.


This is a 1949 S-Weight Class Truck plate.  For that year there were 4 serial progressions used: S000A, S00A0, S0A00, S00AA, with this plate being part of the S00AA series.  1949 plates were still issued in pairs, and measured 6 inches by 11 inches.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the use of the photograph.


Posting 2/2/2020

Today is Groundhog Day (or Grundsowdaag).  In western PA it's Punxsutawney Phil who issues the weather forecast  for an early spring, or not; but here in southeastern PA, the Grundsow (Groundhog) Lodges come together to hear the prognostication for the next six weeks.  Of course the Grundsow Lodge gatherings (fersommlings) are conducted entirely in Pennsylvania Dutch with traditional food and humor.  Around 2005 I proposed that the Grundsow Lodge have their own plate.  Unfortunately the idea didn't have enough support, so the image shown here is just to commemorate the day.


There are some legislative updates for House Bill 1710, House Bill 1711 and House Bill 1712.  These bills appear to be moving forward.


Back in November of 2019, Paul Bagnarol, discovered that the Cradle of Liberty Council would be offering Eagle Scout license plates.  Now it appears that 12 or so plates have been issued.  Once again, there is no mention of this plate on PennDOT's website.  Keep your camera handy.


Here is a recent snapshot of a Support Our Troops vanity plate.  This plate series dates back to 2006.  A couple observations on this plate — this is the first one spotted with the map outline, it is also the first vanity plate seen; however, vanities with the map are often seen before serial numbered plates.  Thanks to Tom Perri for the photo.


Here is a mint condition Classic Car plate from Tom Firth.  The plate was likely issued in 2013 not long before the changeover to the visitPA family of plates look with Classic Vehicle as the new legend.  This change took place at C27900.  The most recent series high spotted is C46814.


Here is a 1990s vintage State Representative plate.  Despite the multiple stickers, the plate appears unused.  These plates were made available to members of the state legislature upon request.  The plate number corresponds to the representative's district number.  There are currently 203 districts.  Plates were also issued with the HR in the prefix position.  The ownership of this plate is listed as undetermined at this time.


Back in 1983 the state began issuing a new yellow on blue license Passenger plate.  The "Keystone State" slogan was dropped, and a new, more tourism-friendly, but grammatically poor catchphrase "You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania" was put in its place.  This new series did not replace the the previous '77 base but continued the serial progression starting at HAA-000.  Thanks to Tom Firth for the photo of this unused '83 plate.


This is a low number 1918 Dealer plate.  This plate measures 6" x 13" — note the size difference with the longer serial number on the plate below.  Dealer plates date back to 1910 and were made with porcelain through 1915, then switched to painted steel.  The plate shown here is white on black.  This image is from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes.  If the owner of a plate wishes, however, I can acknowledge them also.


Here's a nice 1919 Dealer plate.   The red on black colors shown here are correct as PA hadn't standardized the colors for a few more years.  The plate measures 6" by 16", however, plates with fewer characters were smaller as seen on the 1918 plate above.  Thanks to Platedog for the use of this image.


Hard to believe these before and after plate photos.  The un-restored look may have its place for some collectors, but it's hard to argue with these results on this 1946 Tractor plate.  The serial number starting point is believed to be 0001, making this the 22nd plate produced.  The un-restored image was from Clayton Moore some years ago, and the restored photo is from Tim Gierschick.


Old but very nice!  This low number 1926 R-Weight Class Truck plate is very unusual as most plates seen are of the 6-caharacter variety such as R12-345 and measure 6" by 16", whereas this plate is 6" by 12".  The R-series started at R-1 and progressed to 6 characters before shifting the R to the suffix position.  This image is from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes.  If the owner of a plate wishes, however, I can acknowledge them also.


I've always been fascinated by 2-letter prefix truck plates.  Maybe it's because they are so rare, and so few have survived.  Here we have a 1948 UZ-Weight Class Truck plate.  The 2-letter prefix truck plates issued that year went from TZ00A to ZZ00A, and were issued to 3-axle (2 rear axles) trucks.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the photo.


Posting 1/26/2020

Here's the first of two 'plates of the week'.  This Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services plate was recently photographed by Bruce Bufalini. Here is a link to the organization's website.  Presently about 29 such plates have been issued, yet the PennDOT page of Approved Special Organizations doesn't even list the plate!  It would be an improvement if the official page would at least be up to date and reflect what's current and what's pending.  There are other organizational plates that are not listed as well. 


Here's the other plate of the week.  This Ridley School District has been mentioned several times recently but this is the first image of an issued plate.  There are about 22 serial numbered plates in use.  It is also one of several plates that is not listed on PennDOT's page of Approved Special Organizations.  Thanks to Tom Perri for this perfect image.


Here is a photo of a Pennsylvania Equine Council sample plate which was provided to Paul Bargnarol by the organization.  At present some 149 serial numbered plates have been issued.  Their plate program dates back to 2012, and plates are available to non-members.


PA Amateur Radio plates with the number 3 as the call sign indicator for this region would not be considered rare.  On the other hand, PA plates with other than 3 would be considered unusual.  The plate shown here with the call sign with 9 as the region identifier would have originally been issued to someone from Indiana, Illinois or Wisconsin who later moved to PA.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for sharing this photo.


This is a very early www base Dealer plate likely issued on or close to 9/1/1999.  This plate was also likely a replacement for one the previous series Dealer plates.  The previous series progressions used A00-000A, through F99-999F, excluding C00-000C.  The G00-000G series was never needed.  The re-plating in 1999 launched the series shown here.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for sharing this photo. 


This personalized Disabled Veteran plate was recently spotted by Arthur Levine.  I'm going to guess that 1STID stands for 1st Infantry Division.  It appears that this plate does not have the sticker well.  This change was previously spotted on serial numbered plates.


Here is a new high number Mass Transit plate spotted by Brandon Sowers.  This series, which is believed to have begun in 1982, started at M/T10000.  The series has continued with that progression since the start, and now 38 years later the series is still below 50,000, which means actually less than 40,000 considering the starting point was 10-thousand.  These were also number gaps when switching to new bases in 1984 and 2000.


This Format 2 1937 Trailer plate shows what the PA Archivist describes as a new high number.  While the paint is not in great condition, Drewski, the owner, feels it a nice candidate for a restoration.  This plate measures 6 inches by 12 inches.  Format 1 was all numeric from 0001 to 9999, Format 2 started at A000.


Here's a very nice 1915 3-Star Weight Class Truck plate.  As you may know, truck plates were first issued in 1914.  During 1914 and '15 the plates were porcelain on steel.  The aluminum band on the left depicted the weight class by the number of stars ranging from 1 to 5 for the lightest to the heaviest classes.  The aluminum keystone was riveted to the plate with the words NON TRANSFERRABLE showing the MAKERS NUMBER which is the same as today's VIN number.  Thanks to Tim Geirschick for the plate photo.


Here are several welcome additions to the 1924 Truck photo gallery.  1924 marked the beginning of the R to Z letter classes.  1924 also saw the first use of alpha characters on Passenger plates starting with A.  So to keep the series separate, the Truck series used 8 letter classes at the end of the alphabet excluding X.  Here we have an R-overflow plate on a 6" by 12" base.  These with the R in the suffix position were used after the original series hit R99-999.  Next is a Class W plate.  While many 5-character plates measured 6" by 12", this plate with the wide W used the 6" by 15" base.  Finally the addition of this Y Class plate.  These images are from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes; however, if the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them as well.


Posting 1/19/2020

I had knee surgery this past week.  While recovering over the next couple weeks, additions to this website may be limited.


While this is not a new Boy Scouts of America high, it is the highest plate spotted that still retains the sticker well.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.  Plate 00171B/S, without the sticker well, was previously spotted by Brendan Sherry.  This organization's plate program dates back to 2007.



To the left and below are a couple recent veteran's plates from Bruce Bufalini.  Oft times these traffic shots aren't perfect, but always worth the effort as with this Expeditionary Forces.  This is one of those 'tweener' plates without a sticker well but still no map outline.  This plate type dates back to 1996.


This tough traffic shot was also taken by Bruce Bufalini.  And while it's not the first example of a vanity Vietnam War Veteran plate, it is the first one spotted with the map outline.  These veteran plates date back to 1999 when they were fully embossed and remained so until 2014 when the color graphic base was introduced.


This remarkable 65 year old plate is part of a matching pair of 1955 Motorboat plates.  For 1955 the series ran from 1 to at least 43609.  Starting in 1955 Motorboat plates looked much like motorcycle plates of the day except for the colors and legend.  These plates were on eBay this past week, and my thanks to eBay user snortwheeze55 for the use of the photo.  There were also Motorboat Dealer plates which used an 'X' prefix.


Here is a pair of 1933 Passenger plates.  The first of these shorties is a 3-digit Format 1 plate which went from 1 to 99999.  The next is a Format 2 which ran from A to Z9999.  Both plates measure 6 inches by 10 inches.  The first image is from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes; however, if the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them as well.  The other plate is from eBay user zekeyman50. 


These photos are of before and after 1916 Trailer plates.  The early photo was from Judd Clemens which I've had for several years, the new owner of the plate is Clayton Moore who refinished the plate.  He also confirms the actual size of the plate to be 6 inches by 14 inches.  The series started at T1 and extended to at least T427.  T+1 digit and T+2 digit plates are believed to be 6 inches by 11 inches.


This 1951 Trailer plate is thanks to eBay user j0hnnyo (not a typo).  It is part of Format 3 where the progression ran from 0A00 to 9Z99.  Plates measure 6" x 11".  The Archives lists 667R as the high, but in 1952 the series went to a 5 digit format at least as high as 17663.  I would not be surprised if some 5 digit plates were issued late in 1951.


This is a 1942 R-Weight Class Truck plate with a '43 tag.  The R weight class used 4 serial progressions that year including: R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA.  The photo gallery now has an image of each of the four serial progressions.  Thanks to eBay user PA-Collector for the use of this photo.



This is a 1951 Y-Weight Class Truck plate.  Unlike the '42 above, there was only a single serial progression for the Y-class — Y000A.  All plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches.  Thanks to eBay user j0hnnyo for the photo.




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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376