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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 11/22/2020

On 11/1 we showcased the first one of these new Let Freedom Ring - 250 Years plates with serial number 00087F/R which was the first plate issued.  Now, thanks to George Kunsman and Bruce Sakson we have 00052F/R and 00108F/R.  It appears that higher and lower numbers are being issued simultanously.  Vanity check also shows 51, 52, 53, 60, 87, 88, 107 through 111, so I'm guessing some plates are arriving by mail while others are over the counter.  No cycle plates yet.


At first glance this Clayton Moore plate looks like an Amateur Radio plate.  However, Bruce Bufalini comments that "It's a call sign but one no longer in use. Without an FCC license submitted as proof of licensure, it cannot be made as a plate with amateur radio as the caption. That technically makes this a vanity plate".  These have been seen on the www base also.


This is an Expeditionary Forces Veteran,configured as a vanity plate.  I'm not going to speculate on the meaning of H2P.  As a personalized plate, up to 5 characters are permitted + the E/F prefix.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photograph.


This recently spotted Gettysburg College plate from Matt Ciecka is starting to show its age.  I also revised the number range on the www base from a high of C/G2331 to C/G2358.  I always thought the few special org plates with a 4-digit serial were more eye-catching than those with 5 numbers.  This plate program dates back to 1999 on the yellow on blue base.  If anyone has a photo of a first generation plate, I'd appreciate it.


This beautiful 1919 1-Star Truck plate is from Brandon Sowers.  While these plates are labeled as truck plates they were also issued to cars with solid tires. You may recall that truck weight classes were shown with stars ranging from 1 star for the lightest weight class to 5 stars for the heaviest.  This plate is made of steel, and was prison made.  Plate measures 6" by 13½", which is one of three sizes used.


This is a 1963 Motorcycle Sample plate.  All of the characteristics of the plate are correct except that the colors are reversed.  Add this to the ever-growing list of unexplained variations.  The image is from Worthpoint.



These are low number Motorcycle Dealer plates from 1954 and 1955.  For 1954 the series started at 1 and progressed to at least 160, and for '55 the series ran from 1 to at least 170.  All such plates were 4½" by 8", the standard motorcycle size at the time.  Both images are from Worthpoint.


A little Déjà Vu here.  I had posted a picture of this plate on 11/1, but the picture was poor.  This plate deserved a second chance.  This beautifully refinished 1935 3-digit Tractor plate belongs to Tim Gierschick, who sent me this photo.  The serial numbers began at 1 and extended to at least 2903.  Plates were authorized up to 4699.


Next is this 1955 Tractor plate, also courtesy of Tim Gierschick.  All such plates were 4 characters starting at 0001 to 9999, then A000 to U609 or above.  Plates were issued as singles and 1955 was the last year for 6 inch by 10¼ inch tags.  Future plates were all 6 inches by 12 inches.  More plates from Tim next week.


Here is a very well preserved 1930 Official plate.  Official plates are known as far back as 1924 in a somewhat different format.  The format shown here is believed to have begun in 1925 and ran until 1935.  The serial numbers likely started at 1 and extended above 1000, at least in some years.  This photo came from Worthpoint.


Posting 11/15/2020

This past week I spent 5 days in the hospital, not Covid-related.  I'm home now mending and catching up on sleep.  As a result, this week will be very short on material.  Also, as more plate photos are added it has become increasingly challenging to fill the remaining plate gaps, so future updates will likely have less material.  Enough said.


These are extremely rare 1918 Passenger plates.  These were white on black, made of steel, manufactured in the PA prison system, and issued in pairs.  1, 2 and 3 digit plates all measured 6" by 10".  Plates from 1000 to 99999 measured 6" x 13½" and 100000 and above, 6" x 16".  The maker's number was stamped into the keystone.  I've had these images for years, and don't know where they came from.  If either happen to be yours, please let me know.


This 3-digit 1920 Passenger plate is thanks to Tim Gierschick.  Original colors were white on dark blue.  Like the 1918 plates above, tags with 1 to 3 digits measured 6 inches by 10 inches.  Other 1920 passenger plates with 4, 5 and 6 characters measured 6 inches by 12, 13½ and 16 inches respectively.  It may be worth noting that 10-inch plates only had strap slots, and no bolt holes.


This is a 1933 passenger plate.  The serial number may seem a little odd, but it is part of what I call Format 3.  Starting in 1924 passenger plates began using alpha-numeric combinations.  By 1933 there were 8 different serial progressions with this plate being a part of the 0A to 9Z999 series.  The use of alpha-numeric combinations allowed serial numbers to be limited to 5 characters.  Plates with up to 4 characters were 6" by 10", as shown here.  5-character plates were and 6" by 12".


Here is a pair of very nice 1919 Trailer plates.  The far left plate photo is thanks to Jeff Hinkle, and is the lowest known plate; however the series likely started as T1.  The T1123 was previously posted and is thanks to Clayton Moore.  Note that the plates are different sizes, with the T190 being 6" by 13½", and the other plate being 6" by 16".  Plates with 1 or 2 digits are believed to measure 6" by 10".


Posting 11/8/2020

On the far left is a Persian Gulf War Veteran vanity from Jordan Irazabal.  Such plates may contain up to 5 characters + the stacked PG.  The P/G03652 plate is the latest high from Tom Perri's PA Plates.  This plate type dates back to 1993, then in 2015 the plate got a completely new look on the current base.


The far left plate caught my attention while driving by a corn field that was being harvested.  It was on the front bumper of the truck tractor that was hauling corn.  Pennsylvania offers several Farm Truck registration options, some of which do not require a license plate, but instead require a Farm Vehicle Registration Exemption such as the example shown here.  Bottom line, this is not an official plate (note the slotted bolt holes), but something the owner made up, or had made up, to avoid being stopped for having no plate.


Here is a low number Motor Home plate from Clayton Moore.  The HG-series was issued as part of the re-plating process which started in May of 2000.  That process replaced those plates still in use from as far back as 1977, and included HC, HD and HF series.  There were no HE Motor Home plates as that prefix is reserved for Hearing Impaired plates.  Current issue plates are in the HH-80000 series.


This is a first generation House Car plate.  These were first issued in 1977 starting at HC-10000.  The plate shown here is a new high; however, it is possible but not confirmed, that plates up to HC-99999 were issued before switching to the yellow on blue '84 issue with a new series starting at HD-00000, while still retaining the term House Car.  House Car was rebranded Motor Home between HD-41740 and HD-42215.  This photo was from Worthpoint.


This was one of the first generation Handicapped Person plates.  This plate is on the 1965 base.  Today's term would be Person with Disability (PD).  This plate raises the known high in this series, although it is quite possible that the series went all the way to HP-9999, with the next series starting at HP10000 on the '71 Bicentennial base.  This photo was from Worthpoint.


If you guessed 1934 Passenger plate, you are correct.  This plate is what I list as a Format 3, which includes 0A to 9Z99 on 6-inch by 10-inch plates, and 1A000 to 9Z999 on 6-inch by 12-inch.  This plate is currently available on eBay if interested.  Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the use of the photo.



Next is this 1954 Passenger plate.  Plates with fewer than 4 characters are considered non-standard issue.  A number of 3-character combinations were seen during 1953, '54 and '55.  All 1954 plates measured 6 inches by 10¼ inches.  This photo was from Worthpoint.



These are City of Philadelphia porcelain plates that were issued between 1903 and 1906.  They are often referred to as pre-state plates.  These were the equivalent of an operator's license rather than a vehicle registration plate, even though they were mounted to the rear of the vehicle.  The 1903 plate is the highest I've seen, and the 1906 is the lowest I've seen.  All of the Philadelphia plates reportedly started at 101.  These plates measure 4 inches by 7 inches, and were part of a Dave Lincoln display.  With the state taking over the licensing process state-wide in 1906, and after some legal wrangling, the Philadelphia pre-state era had come to an end.  


This 1935 3-digit Tractor plate has been beautifully restored thanks to Tim Gierschick.  Unfortunately my photographic skills fell a little short the day I snapped this image.  We don't know just how many were issued but 4699 were authorized with the series starting at 1.  The highest I've seen was 2903.


Posting 11/1/2020

Didn't expect to see one of these Let Freedom Ring plates quite so soon.  Clayton Moore is the owner of what appears to be the first and only plate issued so far.  Vanity check of the number sequence from 00000F/R to 00105F/R shows this plate as the only number issued.  Why start at 87?



Spotted this new high Disabled Veteran myself recently.  In addition to recognition of the veteran and his or her service and sacrifice, what I like about the plate is that it's not part of the "family of plates".  It's my understanding that the plate design was determined by the wording of the original legislation that authorized the plate, so it can't arbitrarily be changed.  All of the legend and the DV- are screened, only the 5-digit serial number is embossed.


Here is a recent vintage Expeditionary Forces Veteran plate.  It's not a new high but it does help narrow the gap for the removal of the sticker well which was still present on E/F2902.  I'm going out on a limb and say that the change occurred at E/F3000 since these are produced in lots of 100 with the starting point at each 100 mark.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.


Here's a new Distracted Driving Awareness plate image from Bruce Bufalini.  These are part of the Special Fund group of plates.  Sales of these plates have been anything but brisk with the series starting at D/A00101 and vanity check showing a current high of D/A00133.  That's 32 plates issued in 20 months making them a rarity and therefore collectible.  Better yet, the Motorcycle version shows only 4 sold, if I am correct. 


This is a low number Special Mobile Equipment plate.  What makes it low is that when this series transitioned to the www base, the starting point was SME-000D.  The previous yellow on blue series was authorized to SME-999C, but the highest known plate is SME-266A.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for sharing this photo.


This is a new high Pennsylvanians for Nebraska Alumni Chapter, courtesy of Arthur Levine.  These plates date back to 2011.  While this plate still has a validation sticker, the current registered high is 10058N/U, so it is unknown if later plates have been issued without the sticker well or with the map outline.



Ever wonder how many types of Motorcycle plates are currently issued by the state?  Below are 13 motorcycle types.  There are certainly additional variations within some of the types.  There is also at least one organizational motorcycle plate, that being the International Association of Fire Fighters, for which I have no photo.  ATV plates have not been included here.  Have I missed any?





This is a 1914 1-star weight class truck, or car with solid rubber tires.  This was the first year for truck plates.  This plate is thanks to Jeff Hinkle.  The aluminum band on the far left shows the single star designating this as the lightest class.  To the right is an aluminum keystone which would normally show the maker's number.  This number was the the equivalent of today's VIN or Vehicle Identification Number; however, in this case the word 'SPECIAL' appears on the tag in place of a number.  The meaning of this term is unclear, but likely a truck that was produced, or put together outside of a vehicle manufacturing facility.


These are 1949 R-Weight Class Truck plates.  The R Class had 6 serial progressions that year and these plates help to provide examples of R00A0 and R00AA.  Since the letter R designates the weight class, it does not progress.  Thanks to Worthpoint for the photos.


These are similar to the plates above but represent the 1954 U & V Weight Class Truck plates.  Still looking for a W-Class plate.  Thanks to Worthpoint for the photos.



Posting 10/25/2020

These are prototypes of the new Let Freedom Ring - 250 Years, Semiquincentennial plate.  This optional plate type will be available October 29.  The application form, MV-919, is now available.  The plates are eligible for use on a motorcycle, a passenger car or a truck with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds, or a motor home.  They are also available to be personalized.  I'm disappointed to see that there is no departure from the "family of plates" look, where every PA plate looks like every other PA plate.  These could easily be mistaken for an organizational plate.


This Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plate is the first I've spotted with the map outline, although Tom Perri's PA Plates listed higher plates — 01063H/T & 01069H/T as early as 8/6/19.  This plate type has been in use since late June of 2015, and is also popular as a vanity.



This Honoring Our Veterans Special Fund plate was spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  These also appear to be popular as vanities.  These plates date back to November of 2012.  Vanity check shows the current high of 03157H/V.  There is also a motorcycle version of this plate, unfortunately the flag and eagle symbol is the size of a postage stamp.


This is an Amateur Radio plate with the map outline.  The map was first spotted in February of 2018.  The 2-by-1 configuration (2 letters, region 3, 1 letter), indicates that the holder possesses an Amateur Extra Class license.  That license pertains to the call letters, not the vehicle.



This is a Person with Disability Motorcycle plate configured as a vanity.  Standard issue plates would have P in the first position, which does not advance, followed by 2 numbers and a letter in the fourth position.  Personalized plates still have the P in the first position followed by up to 3 characters.  Again the first character in the serial number, P, does not advance.  The small PD and wheelchair symbol are not part of the registration.


This is a 1953 Motorboat License (MBL) plate from the Bill Krellner collection.  1953 was unique in that early plates were made of steel while later plate used fiberboard.  The plate shown here, 7399, raises the bar on the recorded high number steel plate.  The fiberboard plates are documented to be in use by plate 8952, that still leaves a significant gap.  Fiberboard plates were never used again  Can anyone help narrow the gap?


These are 1954 Motorboat Licenses, thus the MBL.  The far left is a very nice early low number plate from the Bill Krellner collection.  The other two plates are from the end of production and have a white border.  This was only seen in the 41 & 42 thousand range.  The source of the 41458 plate is unknown, the 42690 plate belongs to John Willard.  Click that image to see how nice.


These are both 1935 Format 3 Passenger plates.  Format 3 consisted of 1A to 9Z99 on 6" x 10" plates, and 1A000 to 9Z999 on 6" x 12".  It may be worth mentioning that the progression during this time period may need some explanation.  All plates using A in a sequence would exhaust all of the numbers before advancing to B.  Therefore in this series 1A0 would advance to 9A9, then 1A00 to 9A99 on 10" plates, then continue with 1A000 to 9A999 on 12" plates before advancing to the letter B with 1B00 back on 10" plates.  These plate photos are thanks to Worthpoint. 


Here is another non-standard issue 1953 Passenger plate from Ed Burr.  Non-standard issue would include plates with fewer than 4 characters, and includes the following formats: 000, A00, 0A0, 00A, AA0, 0AA, A0A.  3, 4 or 5 characters, all plates measured 6" x 10¼".



This is a very rare 1924 Tractor (or Trailer) Dealer.  The original colors would have been dark blue over yellow, and while most of the paint is gone, the plate itself is in great condition.  The plate measures 6-inches by 10-inches.  We don't know the number of plates issued, so if numbers went to TX100 and above, the plate size would likely have been 6-inches by 10-inches.  Many thanks to Jeff Lesher for the photo of this plate.


Next up is this 1954 Tractor Dealer plate.  Tractor Dealer plates are so rare that I do not have a single image of any between 1931 and 1949, as well as some years in the '20s and '50s.  Anyway the plate shown here measures 6" x 10¼", and all such plates would use the TX000 serial format.  Thanks to Jeff Lesher for the photo.


Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376