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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 4/5/2020

We The People . . . stepping up to America's toughest issues, 1787 - 2020.



You may have noticed that the number of current plates displayed on this site is way down.  This is largely the result of the reduction in travel caused by the pandemic.  This image actually goes back to mid-February, and is the lowest Penn Alumni plate spotted to date.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the image.


This plate and photo are brand new. Thanks to Rob Baran for sharing his new Passenger Vanity plate which is now on his BMW M5.



This WWW-issue is likely a re-make of a Bicentennial issue plate.  Nick Tsilakis points out that the letter 'U' is no longer used in serial progressions.  This plate was spotted by Tom Perri.



Here is a very nice undated 1965 Amateur Radio plate.  This plate was eligible to be re-validated with stickers until 1970.  Judging by the 1x2 call sign, this was likely an Extra Class license.  The owner of this plate requested that the credit for the plate go to his father, Ron Allen.


If you don't recognize these plates, you're not alone.  Thanks to fellow ALPCA member Ned Flynn, who researched these plates, we have a better understanding of Auto Wheel plates.  Auto Wheel plates were issued by the Auto Wheel Coaster Co. of Tonawanda, NY. for small 4-wheeled vehicles. The company made children's wagons, scooters, sleds etc.  These were not official plates and were not issued by PA in spite of PENNA. or PA shown on some plates.  Ned did quite a bit of research to help remove much of the mystery surrounding these plates.  His efforts culminated in an article in the August issue of the ALPCA 2012 Plates Magazine.  The source of the '27 and '29 plates is unknown, the '30 plate is from Worthpoint.


Here are more seldom-seen plates.  Commercial Motorcycle plates were issued for 12 years from 1938 until 1949, except 1943 when metal tabs were issued.  Formatting was essentially the same from year to year.  The 1942 is the only image I have for that year, while the '48 is the first 2-digit plate.  Both are from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research.  If the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them also


This is a 1930 Format 2 Passenger plate.  1925 saw the first use of alpha characters in passenger serial progressions, and by 1930 plates were shortened to 5 characters, thereby reducing the length of the plate as well.  This reduction to 5 characters also necessitated the use of as many as eight serial progressions.  The 10-inch shorty shown here was part of the A to Z9999 series.  This is a Worthpoint image.


This is a 1934 Tractor plate from Tim Gierschick.  After 1923 the word TRACTOR was not used as part of the legend again until 1934.  This year also saw the elimination of TE as a serial prefix, as plates were all numeric.  The plate shown here, 5261, also raises the high.


This pair of 1926 Truck plates represents the R weight class that ran from R1 to R99-999.  There were also overflow plates with the R in the suffix position.  The R plate shown here measures 6" by 13", and was one of four sizes used that year.  The U-weight class plate consists of 4 characters and measures 6" by 12".  These are both Worthpoint images.  Still need T and Y class photos.


This is a 1927 R-weight class truck.  The picture was not good to begin with but it is a decent representation of the R+4 digit plates.  Like the plate above, the series ran from R1 to R99-999.  There were also overflow plates with the R in the suffix position.  This plate measures 6" by 13", and was one of three sizes used that year.  This is a Worthpoint image.


Here is an unused 1961 Passenger Validation Sticker from Tom Firth.  This sticker shows the sticker with serial number.  There were also stickers issued with PA0000.  Stickers with different color combinations were also issued for Suburban, Truck and Trailer.  Click the link to see the other types.



Posting 3/29/2020

Here is a Therapy Dogs United plate recently acquired by Bruce Sakson.  Not only is this a new high, it is also the first one of these spotted without the sticker well.  Plate 00056T/D still had the sticker well.  This plate program has been around since 2010.


Here's a recent Person with Disability traffic shot from Jaska Börner.  I distinctly remember when the www series of PD plates was nearing the end of the Y-suffix plates, and wondered if the Z-series would be on the visitPA base, but it didn't happen that way.  After the Y-series was exhausted, the next plates seen were in the 00001PD series, not PD0000Z.  Then about 3 months later, the Z plates started to appear.  This all took place from May to August of 2007.


2018 Act 91 authorized the issuing of organizational plates in a motorcycle size and format, among other plate related additions.  It now appears that the International Association of Fire Fighters is the first organization to approve such a plate.  No picture or prototype yet, but there are likely 9 plates in use with P/F0001 format.  If you look at the Honoring Our Veteran Motorcycle plates, my concern is that the wide fonts leave little space for the organizational logo, which ends up being the size of a postage stamp.


1925 was only the second year for the use of alpha characters on passenger plates.  The series would have started at A or A1 and progressed to A99-999, then started the B-series.  While each letter series progressed as a group, plate size depended on the number of characters.  Shown here are the second and third sizes used.  A-223 measures 6" by 12', and the A8-696 measures 6" by 13'.  There were also 6" by 10" and 6" by 15" depending on the number of characters.  These images are from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes.  If the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them also


This 1927 Passenger plate also follows the same alpha-numeric rules where the numeric progression advances from 1 to 99999 before moving to the next letter and starting over.  This is a 6" by 10".  There were also 6" by 13" and 6" by 15" sizes depending on the number of characters.  This photo is from Worthpoint.


Here is a 1933 Passenger plate.  Like the plates above, the numeric portion of the plate advances to the end of the sequence then the letter advances.  By 1933 there were many additional alpha-numeric combinations in use to accommodate the growing number of cars on the street.  1 to 4 character plates measured 6" x 10", 5 character plates measured 6" x 12".  This photo is from Worthpoint.


While a few 1953 Passenger plates with only 3 characters are known to exist, this is the first one I've seen.  Such plates are considered be a non-standard issue.  All standard plates are 4 or 5 characters and measure 6" x 10¼", this plate included.  This plate belonged to Forrest Kauffman when I took the photo.


These are 1925 Truck plate photos.  The far left is a low number S-weight class plate.  That series ran from S-1 to S99-999, then went to an overflow series with the R in the suffix position.  The center is a U-weight class plate.  Both of these are 6" by 12" plates.  The right hand plate represents the V-class; however, the additional digit makes this a 6" by 13" plate.  These photos are from Worthpoint.


This is a 1928 T-weight class truck.  There was still no 'TRUCK' legend until 1934, so the alpha-numeric configuration was the key to identifying the type.  Some passenger plates also used single letter prefixes, but for 1928 only A through E were used, while truck plates used R through Z, except X.  This plate measures 6" by 13" and the photo is from Worthpoint.


Posting 3/22/2020

This Bus plate is actually a low number for the group of plates without the sticker well.  This change is believed to have come about starting at BA-80900 and likely ran to BA-81899.  At BA-81900 the map outline was added.  The current high is in the BA-83000 series.


This Sons of the American Legion plate was spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  This plate type has been around since 2014 and the only one I've seen on the road so far was a vanity.  Vanity check indicates that the serial number high is 00073S/L.  This plate definitely lacks the sticker well.


Here's the latest Temporary Intransit high number from Jordan Irazabal.



Here's the latest Seton Hill University high number as recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  The plate now has the map outline.  Bruce notes that plate S/H00112 also had the map.  Seton Hill has been in the license plate business since 2006.  Seton Hill is located in Greensburg, PA



This is a new high U.S. Air Force Veteran recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  This plate, and one previously spotted, 22932A/F, now have the map outline.  This plate is part of a series of veteran plates that date back to 2009 with the starting point for Air Force plates being 20000A/F.



I'm showing this Apportioned Bus plate again as a point of discussion.  After receiving additional comments from John Anshant, I have now been persuaded that there was a yellow on blue version of this plate.  The plate would essentially look the same but with the colors reversed, and the sticker well on the lower left.  Now . . . how to find one, or at least a picture.  I have tried PennDOT in the past by way of a Right to Know request, which was futile.  So I'm begging for help with this.


The far left image is the lowest number I've seen on a 1910 Dealer plate.  1910 was the first year for Dealer plates.  The number progression is believed to have started at 1 on a 6" by 8" base, whereas the plate shown here measures 6" by 10".  The center plate is from 1911, and shows the introduction of the 'X'-prefix on this 6" by 12" plate.  Click that link to see an 'X'+single digit plate.  In 1916 Dealer plates were stamped steel.  The plate shown here is 6" by 13", the middle size between the 11" and 16" sizes.  These images are from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes.  If the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them also.


On the far left of this group of 1953 Truck plates is an R-weight class that completes the run of all six serial progressions.  Next the T-class shows the first of two progressions, while the Y plate depicts one of the two series in that weight class.  The R and Y plates are from Worthpoint.  The T -late is thanks to Blasco38.


Here are a few more 1956 Truck plates.  The far left was the only remaining R-weight class progression needed.  The T-weight class plate was the second of two serial progressions used.  The U-weight class was the first of four serial progressions used in '56.  These photos are from Worthpoint.


For some reason, 1957 Truck plates seem not to be as plentiful as other truck plates of the same era.  All '57 truck plates were 6 characters.  The addition of the 6th character almost completely eliminated the need for multiple serial progressions within each weight class.  The plates shown here are the first T- and V-weight class plates shown for that year.  These photos are from Worthpoint.


Posting 3/15/2020

The Teen Driver plate program has been around since 2013 and yet plate sales have so far not passed the 100 mark.  Apparently not many teens find them appealing.  It appears that many of these plates are being purchased as part of a plate collection.  The unused 87 plate photo is from Tom Firth, the 88 and 89 plate photos were snapped by Jordan IrazabalT/D00089 is also the new high.


Here is a recently spotted Antique Vehicle plate from Bill Stephens.  It represents the end of the progression for this run, which would end at 99Z9.  The next sequence will be A0AA.  The numerical character will advance first, followed by the final letter.  So after the series hits A9AA, it will advance to A0AB, etc.  This series is already in use.


Here's the first personalized plate photo of an Indiana University of PA Alumni Association, or just IUP for short.  IUP has been in the plate business since 1985.  The color graphic design dates back to 2012.  This traffic shot was taken by Bruce Bufalini.  Can't discern the presence or absence of a sticker well, but surely no map.


At a central PA collectors' meet in early February, I brought up the subject of first generation, blue on yellow, Apportioned Bus plates.  I already knew that no such plates were believed to have made it into the hands of collectors, but John Anshant stated that he had a photo of one.  I wanted that picture and here it is!  The series began in 1982, apparently at the same time as Apportioned Truck plates.  The series began at BL-10000, and progressed to at least BL-10501.  Several attempts to contact and visit bus companies proved futile.  A respected ALPCA collector has stated in the past that this plate was also issued on the yellow-on-blue base.  I personally have no recollection of such an edition.  I do know for certain that there never was a BM prefix, plates went directly from BL to BN when the www base was issued.


Here is a pair of 1925 Bus plates.  Since there is no identifying legend, the letter 'O' as the first character is the distinguishing feature.  Bus plates at the time used the same size alpha and numeric characters until 1927 when the 'O' became smaller.  4 character plates were 6" x 12", 5 character plates were 6" x 13".  These images are from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes.  If the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them also.


This group of motorcycle tag photos are nice examples of 1920s-era plates. The 1923 is a Format 1, yellow on blue tag which measures 4½" by 6".  The center tag is a 1924, also measuring 4½" by 6" but blue on yellow.  The 1925 5-digit tag is the more familiar size of 4½" by 8".  This plate is also yellow on blue.  These photos are from Worthpoint.


More 1955 Truck plates.  The far left and center plates represent the two remaining U-weight class serial progressions.  The V-weight class plate is one of three serial progressions used that year.  The far left plate is from Worthpoint.  The center plate is thanks to eBay user Securityautoparts, and the right-hand plate photo is thanks to Tper3750.


These 1956 Truck plates show a marked evolution in plate formatting and design.  Let us look at this group of R-weight class plates.  For starters, 1956 saw the standardization of plate sizes to 6" by 12", previously plates were 6" by 10¼".  Next, beginning with the center plate, new dies are apparent.  I'm going to call the dies on the center plate '57 5-character dies, and there was another new set of dies which I'm describing as '57 6-character dies.  Compare the 'R' on the three plates.  There were also three map bases, again compare the plates above.  The far left plate was from Bob Connison and was previously posted, the center and right plates are from Worthpoint.


Posting 3/8/2020

This is a U.S. Navy (Active Duty) plate, thus the AD suffix.  The active duty series dates back to 2017, and have not been easy to spot.  This photo was taken by Tom Perri and edited by Jordan Irazabal.  (Editing generally consist of cropping, rotating, skewing, etc. to yield a truer image.  It does not include altering the content of the plate.)  There are also a U.S. Navy Veteran plate and a U.S. Navy Reserve organizational plate.


See anything strange about the far left plate?  It has the graphic background of the center owl plate and the serial formatting of the right-hand tiger plate.  The image was provided by Paul Bagnarol and is believed to be a prototype or test plate.


Here are three of the four faces of the Penn State Nittany Lion.  These vanity plates were recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini on his travels through University Park.  The SUSIE plate and the TEXAS plate are both Penn State Alumni Association plates of different vintages.  The SNO17 is a Penn State University plate which is another option.  So which face of the Nittany Lion is missing?  It's the original Pozniak Lion dating back to 1985 and issued up through the 2004-2005 changeover.


Here's a recent shot of a Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue plate from Jordan Irazabal.  Their plate program dates back to 2013, and so far this is the highest plate spotted.  Vanity check shows an issued high of 00229G/R.  Note the removal of the validation sticker.



Here is a new high National Ski Patrol plate traffic shot from Jaska Börner.  Jaska reports that this plate still has the sticker well.  A vanity check of this plate type shows that the issued serial number high is 00285S/P.  This organizational plate type dates back to 2011.



Bruce Bufalini also snapped this low-number Passenger vanity plate.  At one time plates from 3 to 23 were reserved for cabinet members, and 24 to 999 were reserved for state officials and dignitaries.  While those designations have been extinct for a number of years, don't expect to walk into the DMV, plunk down your cash and walk out with such a plate.  It is my understanding that the lowest numbered plates are still tightly controlled.  


Here is a trio of 1936 Truck plates.  The far left and center T-weight class have provided examples of the serial progressions of T000A and T0A00, with a T00A0 plate having been previously posted.  The finish is gone from the U-weight class plate; however, it is a solid representation of the class which has only one serial progression.  The far left plate is thanks to eBay user Blasco38, the other two are from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research purposes.  If the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them also.


We continuing with this trio of 1954 Truck plates.  The R-weight class plate is part of R0A00 format which is one of six serial progressions that year.  Thanks to eBay user Blasco38 for that plate.  The center S-weight class plate is part of S00AA format, which is one of five serial progressions.  The T-class is part of T00A0 format which is one of two serial progressions for 1954.  The S and T plates were from Worthpoint.


Next is this 3-plate series of 1955 Truck plates.  The S9U73 plate on the far left completes the display all five S-class serial progressions used that year.  Thanks to eBay user Blasco38 for that plate.  The center image is the first T-class plate shown here and is the second of two serial progressions used in '55.  The U-class is the first of first of four serial progressions used in '55.  The T and U plates were from Worthpoint.




Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376