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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 8/9/2020

—> This past week I found a number of broken and missing internal links on this site.  Hopefully they have all been corrected <—


Still looking for a prototype, or better still, an actual image of an International Association of Fire Fighters Motorcycle plate.  Apparently they are in use as vanity check shows 16 plates registered.  Anyone know of any other organizations offering a motorcycle edition? There are several full-size motorcycle-related organizational plates where there could be interest.  Unfortunately the DMV seldom if ever updates their page showing organizational plate designs.

 


The far left photo shows that the Philadelphia Museum of Art has given its plate a new look.  With this being a vanity plate, we don't know if there were any changes to the numbering sequence.  It also seem a little redundant that the plate now has Philadelphia Museum of Art twice.  I also would have expected the new design to have the map outline.  The current high is P/M00120 on PA Plates which is from 2016.

 


Here is a pair of new high Motor Home plates.  It's my understanding that the Covid pandemic has brought about an increase in the sales of motor homes so people can take their vacation accommodations with them.  If you are a PA collector, you may recall that these plates started out as House Car plates back in 1977, at that time having an HC prefix.

 


Here's a new high Municipal Government plate recently spotted by Preston Turner.  This may be the first plate documented in the M-suffix series.  These plates originally date back to the 1971 yellow on blue issue.  They are long since gone, but some of the 1977 through '84 plates are still on the streets.

 


Here the latest Permanent Trailer high also from Preston Turner.  These plates date back to 1997 when they were yellow on blue with the number format being PT-12345.  The www plates used an alpha character in the final position.  The visitPA 'family of plates' look started around March of 2007.  Click the link above to see more history.

 


The photo of this 1953 Passenger was provided by Ed Burr.  This gem would be considered a non-standard issue.  All plates measured 6 inches by 10 inches, and after 1951 were issued as singles.  The standard (Format 1 ) passenger series began at 1001.

 


This pair of 1955 Passenger plates have been added to fill a couple gaps in Format 3 and Format 5 plates.  All passenger plates in 1955 measured 6" x 10".  The following year, 1956 saw all plates standardized at 6" by 12".  These are both Worthpoint photos.

 


This is a pair of 4-character 1956 Passenger plates.  The far left plate is part of what I call Format 4 which includes 10A0 to 99Z99, so it includes both 4- and 5-character plates.  The 1JU3 plate is part of Format 9 which includes 1AA0 to 9ZZ99, so again both 4 and 5 character plates.  There may be a few plates from that group that used the 1957 5-character dies.  These photos are from Worthpoint.

 


Here's an unusual 1916 Truck Plate.  What makes this plate unique is the addition of the 3-star weight band to what appears to have been a 1-star plate.  Weight bands weren't issued on truck plates after 1915; however, when a truck's weight class was changed, instead of issuing a new plate, a weight band was attached identifying the new weight class.  This plate was from the Bill Krellner collection.

 


And if you were wondering what a 1916 3-Star Truck Plate pair looks like in its natural state, here they are. Nominal measurements are considered 6 inches by 16 inches.  Classes included 1-star for the lightest class to 5 stars for the heaviest.  Truck serial numbers generally ran from 20000 to 29999 as seen here, but then there were exceptions, read below.

 

 


Within the 3-star grouping, where the known series was in the 23000 to 26000 range, there was another 3-star series where plates used a leading 0 and ranged from 03371 to 04299. This has only been seen on 3-star plates and was most likely an overflow group.  I've had some collaboration with Rob Baran on this.  Note the pair of 04299 plates are examples of such plates. While they were originally a pair, they are now part of two collections. The far left plate is from the Bill Krellner collection and the other was part of a Jake Eckenrode display.  There is another leading 0 plate in the Archives, 04093, and one recently on eBay, 03371.

 


Here's another very rare plate.  This being a low number 1920 Truck or Commercial plate.  If you are familiar with 1920 through 1923 Commercial or Truck plates, you will recognize this plate as being weight Class 1, and the 12th plate produced in that class.  Another uncommon feature of this plate is the height.  6-inch plate height is almost a given, but many (but not all) of these 1920 truck plates had both a top and bottom legend causing the height to be increased to 7 inches.  Thanks to Jeff Lesher for the use of this photo.  

 


And one more rare plate is this 1923 Class 2 Truck / Commercial plate, also thanks to Jeff Lesher.  Like the 1920 plate above, this is part of the 1920 to 1923 truck series where the weight class was identified by the first digit of the serial number.  Classes went from 1 to 7.  Eric Tanner's website lists class 2 plates as high as 214-052.  If you have an interest in these 1920 to '23 truck plates, Rob Baran did a very informative article on Pennsylvania Commercial Plates 1920-1923 in February 2019 issue of Plates Magazine.  If you have additional information or photos please let me know, or share with Rob Baran.

 


The final plate of the week is this 1948 Z-Weight Class Truck.  Z Class are the highest weight 2-axle (front & rear) truck.  In general as weight classes progressed from R to Z, so did the scarcity of the plate.  This is especially true for 3-axle truck plates which are extremely rare.  This may be the highest known Z-class for that year and was provided thanks to Rob Baran.

 


Posting 8/2/2020

These Let Freedom Ring - 250 Years, Semiquincentennial images are conceptual designs by John Fedorchak.  A little background here: Recently House Bill 1170, was passed and signed into law as Act 48 of 2020. The act should take effect on October 29, 2020, and paves the way for the creation of a Semiquincentennial registration plate, similar to the Bicentennial Plate, with the phrase “Let Freedom Ring - 250 years”, for issue between 2021 and 2026. We don't know what such plates will look like, but through John Fedorchak's impressive graphic skills we have these conceptual images.  The cost of the plate will be $50 and will be available for passenger cars, trucks 14,000 lb. and under, motorcycles and motor homes. 

 


Believe it or not, these plates share the same ancestry.  The far left low number Antique Historic Car plate was recently acquired by Jerry McCoy, and likely dates back to the mid-1950s. Next is the latest Antique Vehicle high.  This latest sequence began with A0AA.  This plate was spotted by Jordan Irazabal.

 


This pair of Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America shows the previous high from Tom Perri's PA Plates website, and the new high from Jordan Irazabal. Somewhere in between these plates the map outline was added.  It does appear that the name of this organization is the longest one in use in PA with 54 characters and spaces.

 


These latest East Allen Twp. Vol. Fire Dept. plates were just received.  I am the plate coordinator for this organization and was definitely surprised to see these plates arrive without the small map outline.  We also ordered plates in 2018 and those were also received without the map, and without the sticker well.  What I don't understand is how other organizational plates have been issued with the map outline for the past several years.  Correspondence sent to PennDOT after the previous purchase was of little help.

 


We knew for a while that Mercyhurst College had become Mercyhurst University, and along with the name change came a new plate.  This first photo was recently posted by Jonathan Ortmann showing the new number series.  Note also the new prefix, the old one was M/C.

 


This West Chester University plate is also a new high.  In fact this plate is only 1 number off of the issued high according to vanity check, so it may be that West Chester is also receiving new plates without the map.  It does make you wonder.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the photo.

 


This pair of 1938 Passenger plates would have been the lowest number issued.  Plates with 1, 2 or 3 digit numbers had not been issued since 1935.  The series shown here progressed to 99999 and then expanded into various alpha-numeric combinations.  These photos came from the William Krellner collection.

 


These are both 1941 Passenger plates.  Several of the serial progressions included both 4- and 5-character formats as was the case with the far left plate.  The 514F plate remained a 4-character series; however there was another grouping with 000A0.  Both from Worthpoint.

 


This is a 1946 Format 7 Passenger plate.  This group ran from 0000A to 9999Z.  All 1946 Passenger plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches.  This photo is from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research.  If the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them also.

 


This is a 1947 Format 1 Passenger plate.  This group ran from 1001 and 99999 which would make this the 4th one off the press.  There were 9 other serial progressions for 1947.  This plate has been treated to a nice facelift making it look brand new, maybe better.  This plate measures 6 inches by 11 inches and would have been issued in pairs.

 


This is a 1916 Format 2 Tractor plate.  The colors are black on orange and the plate has obviously been refinished.  Format 2 runs from E100 to E999, and measures 6 inches by 14 inches.  Still needed are photos from any Format 1 series which ran from E1 to E99.  This was part of Bill Krellner's amazing displays of mostly PA plates.

 


Next up is this 1917 Format 3 Tractor plate which is painted white on brown.  This is a large plate measuring 6 inches by 16 inches.  There are still unknown aspects of the history of 1917 Tractor plates.  Click the link above to read the notes about there being two classes of Tractors, one for agricultural purposes, and the second for freight hauling.  This second usage of the term tractor sounds like it could be the origin for the terms tractor trailer or truck tractor.  This plate was part of Bill Krellner's collection.

 


These 1945 Truck plates provide an example of both a U- and a W-Weight Class plate.  The U plate is one of four serial formats used that year, while the W class had only one serial format.  All truck plates that year measured 6 inches by 11 inches, and were issued as singles.  The pictures shown here are from Worthpoint.

 


The final plates this week are these 1949 T-Weight Class and W-Weight Class Truck.  This is one of two T-Class formats, the other being T00A0, the plate shown is the only W-class format.  All '49 truck plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches and were issued in pairs.  The T-class is from Bill Krellner, and the W-class is from Worthpoint.

 


Posting 7/26/2020

If you are wondering where the latest Passenger and Truck highs stand, here they are.  Of course, these highs probably change by the minute, so they are really a snapshot in time.  The Passenger image came from Bruce Bufalini, and the Truck is thanks to Bill Setphens.

 


Here's a new Omnibus high recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  These plates have been using the map outline since about OB-88200.  Factoid, the plate legend OMNIBUS first appeared on PA plates in 1974.  The first series began at OB-10000 has progressed through several generations to what you see here.

 


Recently I posted a new high Conserve Wild Resources - Otter plate R/C3428, now just 2 weeks later we have a new high by some 400 plates.  Remember new highs spotted on the street are random observations, and do not necessarily reflect the actual issued high or the rate of plate sales.  By the way, the issued high as of 7/24 is R/C3861.

 


Recently a photograph of a high number, first generation Purple Heart (a/k/a Combat Wounded Veteran) was posted on Facebook.  The photo was from an eBay auction.  The plate number was P/H02223, a big jump.  I have contacted the seller for permission to use the photo, but so far no response and the auction has ended.  Anyone know who got the plate?

 


Preston Turner observed a change in the font or typeface used on the legend of Trailer plates.  He was also able to narrow down the changeover point based on the plates shown here.  The difference is noticeable on the 'R's and 'A's.  Trailer plates are historically produced in lots starting at 0000 and ending at 9999.  In all likelihood, this change took place at XJG-0000, and likely took place in 2014, as best as I can determine. 

 


This is a 1949 3-digit Format 1 Motorcycle plate.  Format 1 ran from 1 to 9999 before advancing to the alpha-numeric series.  This image is from Worthpoint, a service I subscribed to for research.  If the owner of a plate wishes, I can acknowledge them also.

 


Next is this pair of 1952 Motorcycle plates, starting with 2-digit (Format 1) plate, followed by a 3-character Format 2 alpha-numeric plate.  The 1949 and '52 M/C plates are laid out essentially the same.  They all measure 4" by 8".  These are also Worthpoint photos.

 


This is a 1939 Format 5 Passenger plate.  This series ran from 000A to 999Z, so with the run being limited to 4 characters, with all such plates being 6" x 10".  This was an elusive plate to find likely due to the limited number produced.  This is also a Worthpoint photo.

 


This 1945 Passenger plate and the one above help to fill photo gaps in the Format 5 series that ran from 000A to 999Z.  Notice that by 1945 plates had the expiration date of 3-31-46 in the top border.  For 1945 all passenger plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches.  This is also a Worthpoint photo.

 


This is a 1921 Format 1 Tractor plate from the Bill Krellner collection.  Format 1 ran from E1 to E999 and did not employ a dash separator in the serial number.  The E stood for engine and was the earliest designation for tractor.  Click the link above to see a couple higher numbered plates with a dash.  Colors were black on yellow.  All Tractor plates that year are believed to be 6" by 16".

 


This is a 1922 Tractor plate.  This plate measures 6" by 16", unfortunately, the right hand border and lower right corner were obscured when the picture was taken.  It appears to be the highest known tractor plate number that year.  This plate is also from the Bill Krellner collection.

 


Here is a beautifully restored 1925 Tractor plate belonging to Tim Gierschick.  Beginning in 1924 the use of the word Tractor was dropped, but the E prefix continued through 1927.  Removal of the word Tractor allowed the size of the plate to be shortened with this plate measuring 6" by 12".

 


If you're wondering, it's a rare 1917 Tractor Dealer plate, and the first one I've seen.  The Archives indicate that there were 71 such plates.  I wonder how many of those are still in existence?  The colors are white on brown and the plate measures 6" by 13".  This plate photo was from the Bill Krellner collection.

 


This next group of tags are all 1929 Truck plates.  They represent Class R, Class S and Class T.  The R and S Class are shorties, measuring 6" by 10", while the T Class plate is 6" by 15".  Click the link to see the three sizes of R Class plates.  Note the absence of the dash on the R and S plates, presumably to avoid having to go to the 13" plate. The R and S plates are from Worthpoint, and the T plate is thanks to Rob Baran.

 


Next up is this 1936 V Weight Class Truck plate.  By 1936 most truck plates were 5 characters and measured 6" by 12", however, there were still some 6-character R- and S-series 15" plates.  Thanks to Rob Baran for this plate photo.

 

 


This is a 1945 T-Weight Class Truck plate, which is one of two T-class progressions with the other being T00A0.  This plate measures 6 inches by 11 inches.  This plate is part of the Bill Krellner collection.

 

 


Posting 7/19/2020

Here's a one-of-a-kind Eastern University personalized plate that was recently photographed by a family member of Nick Tsilakis.  The facility is located in St. Davids, PA, not far from Valley Forge.  This plate program dates back to 2012, and according to Tom Perri's http://www.paplates.com/ website, the current high is 00045E/U.

 


Here's a recent image of a Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics from Bruce Bufalini.  The plate now has the small map outline.  This change likely took place between 00022A/P and the plate shown here.  The current issued high is 00048A/P.

 


Here's a new high Limousine plate.  Still has sticker well.  A comment was made that these plates are slow to advance.  I'm seeing more limo type vehicles with Bus plates and Apportioned Bus plates these days.  Also at a local transportation company, many limos are now parked without plates.  I'm guessing that with the pandemic, limos are seeing little use and the owner has likely surrendered the plates rather than pay minimum $78 annual renewal fee.

 


Here is a personalized National MS Society plate.  This picture came from Arthur Levine who was kind enough to share some snapshots with me that I scanned in.  This organization's plate program dates back to 2008.  Vanity check shows the numerical high at 00091M/S.

 


Here is a recent image of a current issue West Catholic High School plate.  This plate type dates back to 1997 on the yellow on blue base.  This organization has never updated their plate to the graphic design, so the plates issued today are likely to still be on the www base as shown here.  Thanks to Matt Ciecka for the photo.

 


In Plate News, Pennsylvania's vanity check webpage for organizational plates, now lists Pennsylvania Fire Chiefs Association as a new plate type.  It appears that the format will be 10001F/C.  There are no plates in use yet.  Unfortunately, the page that shows prototype images of organizational plates is a couple years out of date.

 


This ham radio plate was recently acquired by George Kunsman.  Prior to 1988 there was no identifying legend, only the call sign.  Then starting around 1988, plates began using Amateur Radio Operator as the legend.  After a couple years the word Operator was dropped.

 


This is a U.S. Marine Reserve plate from Matt Ciecka.  This plate type dates back to about 1987 and is considered an organizational plate.  These were part of a group which also included Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard Reserve plates.  Unique features included a 4-digit serial number and the absence of a logo.  These 'branch of service reserve' plates appear to still be available today, but are uncommon sightings.

 


These like-new restored 1931 Format 8 Passenger plates are from Bill Krellner's collection.  I debated whether to show this as a single plate, then decided to go with the pair.  The Format 8 progression ran from 0AA to 6AH79.  So while the progression indicates that it was a limited run, likely near the end of production, it shows that there were also 3- and 4-digit plates.

 

 

 


This is a 1932 Format 1 Passenger plate.  That initial group ran from 1 to 99999, after which there were several alpha-numeric progressions, but no more than 5 characters.  Plates with 4 or fewer characters measured 6" by 10", 5-character plates were 12".  This plate is also part of Bill Krellner's collection.

 


Lots of interesting truck plates this week, starting with this low number 1917 1-Star Weight Class Truck.  Truck plates made their debut in 1914 and from then through 1919 used 1 to 5 stars to designate the class, with 1 star being the lightest.  This plate was mounted with a plastic sleeve around it, so it didn't photograph well.  Click the link to see more photos and information.  This plate is from the Bill Krellner collection.

 


Last week I added two 1922 Commercial (Truck) plates, but still needed a Class 5.  This week thanks to Rob Baran we now have one.  The first digit in the serial number indicates the weight class.  All '22 plates are believed to be 6" by 16" regardless of the length of the serial number. Plate colors were brown on cream.  The 1922 truck series now has at least one photo for all seven weight classes.

 


1923 Commercial (Truck) plates were similar to the previous year.  This is a refinished Class 1 weight class with a very low number.  The series started at 11 indicating that the plate shown here was the 52nd Class 1 plate produced.  Serial numbers could go as high as 6 digits with the first character indicating the weight class.  1923 plates were yellow on dark blue and was the starting point for these colors, and dark blue on yellow, to become the standard for many years.  This plate is from the Bill Krellner collection.

 


Beginning in 1924 truck weight classes were expanded from 7 to 8 and a new weight class identification system was introduced using the letters R through Z in the prefix position, without the X which was reserved for Dealer plates.  The plate shown here is a 1925 T Weight Class Truck plate.  For the class shown here the series is known to run from T-1 to T14-333.  Some plates used dash separators, and some R Class plates placed the R in the suffix position for overflow plates.  This plate is from the Bill Krellner collection.

 


Posting 7/12/2020

Here's the latest high Preserve Our Heritage - Railroad plate from Nathan Krawzyk.  These Special Fund plates date back to 1998 and are the sole remaining full canvas graphic plates still available in PA.  Plates up to R/R9Z99 are still in inventory, so they could be around for a while.  These are not available for personalization.

 


Here's another Special Fund plate, this one being a new high Conserve Wild Resources.  From 1999 to 2017 they were a full graphic, then the graphic was reduced down to what you see here.  I'm a little surprised to see almost 3500 issued so far.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the photo.

 


Here's the latest Steel Worker high from Bruce Sakson.  This plate still shows the sticker well; however, in checking a reference source, a new batch of plates will start at SW05600.  While this plate type appears to be a special organization plate, it's actually a special class of plates.  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.

 


To my knowledge this is the first State Representative plate spotted with the map outline.  The HR signifies House of Representatives and the 67 denotes the district.  Plates can also be configured with the district number first followed by the HR.  This allows the registration of two vehicles.  Today the use of such political plates is much less than it was 20 years ago due to security and privacy concerns.  Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for the photo. 

 


Here's a recent photo of a Special Mobile (Equipment) plate.  These are seen on road graders, back hoes, excavators, etc.  Previously spotted plate D444-SME did not have the map outline and D716-SME did have it.  Vanity check shows that there are now plates in the E series in use.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the photo.

 


This is a Thiel College vanity plate.  The facility is located in Greenville, Mercer County, which is south of Erie near the Ohio state line.  139 serial numbered plates have been issued with their plate program dating back to 2013.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.

 

 


This Antique Motorcycle plate may not be the best picture, but the serial number clearly shows a 2-character configuration which appears to be part of Format 3.  I now believe Format 3 ran from F0 to G99.  The photo offers further evidence that the entire run from A0 to Z99 started each letter progression with 0 to 9.  In typical Pennsylvania fashion the letter would be the last character to advance, so A0 to A9, then A10 to A99, then B0 to B99, etc. eventually reaching Z99 before switching to 0A to 99Z.  I received this photo from Bill Ceravola.

 

 


Preston Turner passed this street shot of a Truck plate along with a comment 'how is this still active'.  Good question!  The plate reads YM-34222 which was likely issued late in the 1980s or early 90s.  Regardless, it should have been replaced during the 1999 - 2000 plate replacement process.  Vanity check indicates that the registration number is no longer valid.

 

 

 


Seems like we have a new high first generation Fire Fighter plate every few weeks.  Keep 'em comin'.  This super-nice plate had belonged to Brandon Sowers then recently went to George Kunsman.  I posted it to Fire Fighter history section of organizational plates and to also under Fire Fighter on the Fire / Police & EMS page.

 


These three Motorcycle plates are from 1949, 1950 and 1951.  The '49 is part of the A through G146 alpha-numeric series, while the '50 and '51 are part of the all-numeric 1 to 9999 series.  These photos are thanks to Worthpoint.

 


These 1922 Commercial (truck) plates are from the Bill Krellner collection.  The far left plate is a weight Class 1 (or AA) as indicated by the first digit.  The near left is a weight Class 7 (or F), again as indicated by the first digit.  These two plates cover the lightest and the heaviest classes.  All commercial plates that year measured 6 inches by 16 inches.  Still looking for a 1922 Class 5 plate. 

 


Next is this 1925 T-Weight Class Truck plate thanks to Rob Baran.  Backing up a year to 1924, Pennsylvania marked a new era in how weight classifications were designated, and the use of the more familiar R through Z system came about.  With the first letter showing the weight class, each series would start with a letter followed by a numeric progression from 1 to 99999 as needed.  The R-class exceeded this number and used the R in the suffix position.

 


Here are three additions to the 1928 Truck plate section.  The R102 is the lowest number in that weight class and joins an R+4 and an R+5  plate.  The T309 is the lowest number in that class and joins a T+4 plate.  The U-32 is the only U-class photo for that year.  Due to the length of the serial numbers, these are all 6" by 10" plates; however 13" and 15" plates were also used.  The R- and the U-class plates are from Worthpoint.  The T-class plate is thanks to Rob Baran.

 


After hitting the 1-million mark in all-numeric 1924 Passenger plates, something had to be done to allow more plates.  Thus began the use of alpha numeric Passenger plates.  This new series started at A-1 and went to over A-48000 in 1924.  In discussing this with Eric Tanner, he is of the opinion that all such plates, regardless of the number of characters, were on 6" by 15" bases.  This A+4 plate and the A+5 plate previously posted measure 15 inches.  Attempts to find a plate with a shorter serial number have been unsuccessful so far.  Many thanks to Vern Kreckel for this photo.

 


The far left 1926 Passenger plate is also from Vern Kreckel.  The B-387 plate photo was from Keff Hinkle and was previously posted.  Note the A812 plate does not use a dash which permits a 6-inch by 10-inch base, while the B-387 uses a dash which now is on a 6-inch by 12-inch base.  Strange.  Anyone have other examples of this? 

 


Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

 

 

 

   
 

 
 

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