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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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 6/13/2021 Posting

I knew these were out there, but finding one has not been easy.  This one turned up at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum's World War II Weekend at the Reading Regional Airport.  It's another redundant PennDOT plate with Historic  Military Vehicle needlessly spelled out twice.  The availability of these plates dates back to 2019.  So far vanity check shows that the series started at MV0001, with MV0034 as the high, but not all numbers in between have been assigned.  There is also a Motorcycle version of this plate with no indication of any being issued yet.

 


This is a new high Autism Society of America plate thanks to Matt Ciecka.  These plates date back to 2005 and started out using the legend 'Autism Awareness' on the first few plates, then switched to the current name.  The latest plates, at least from A/U20504, have had the map outline.

 


This is a Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage vanity plate.  Such plates are permitted to have up to 5 characters + the H/T suffix.  Thanks to Jaska Börner for the plate photo.  These plates date back to 2014, with the documented high being 01069H/T.

 


This is a new high Philadelphia Fire Fighters' Union spotted by Jaska Börner.  This series started at P/F20001 back in 2005.  This plate reads P/F21172.  Vanity check shows the registered high as P/F21212.  It should be noted that there was a run of plates outside the expected series from P/F23055 and P/F23115.

 

 


Here is a new high Implement of Husbandry plate thanks to Preston Turner.  Pennsylvania has several very rare plate types, and this certainly is one of them.  I can't explain why it would be on a pickup, it doesn't look like it's been set up to do field work.  I have seen a pickup with a Commercial Implement of Husbandry tag where the vehicle was used to haul fertilizer trailers.

 


Here is a pair of veteran types, the far left being a personalized U.S. Military Airborne Units from Clayton Moore.  The near left is also a personalized plate, this one being a Veteran plate from Matt Ciecka.  Both of these plates have the map outline.

 


Click this Vanity Page link to see this week's gallery of personalized plates.  Most are from Arthur Levine, and a couple are from Richard Than and Nick Tsilakis.  The photos in the vanity section will generally not be arranged or saved in any particular order.

 

 


Not sure how to describe this Fire Fighter plate that came from the late Jake Eckenrode's collection and now belongs to George Kunsman.  George is a collector who specializes in Fire Fighter plates.  While it is a Fire Fighter plate, PA never issued such plates on the yellow on blue base, except for some samples.  The use of two stickers is also strange.  Very likely this was made as a courtesy or favor for a PennDOT official at the time.  Whatever the reason, I like the plate.

 


This is a Penn State University Official plate.  It's part of the early plates that have sticker wells in both upper left and right corners.  Later plates had a single sticker well in the lower left — not that they needed a sticker, although a few plates were issued with permanent stickers. This plate helps to narrow down the changeover from 2 sticker wells to 1.  Click the link for more details.  This plate is from the late Jake Eckenrode collection and was for sale by John Anshant at the time of the photo.

 


This is a low number 1932 Format 2 Passenger plate.  Format 1 was all-numeric from 1 to 99999, then Format 2 consisted of a single letter plus a numeric sequence such as A, A1 to A99999, then B, B1 etc.  Each alpha sequence was filled before advancing to the next letter.  A number of other serial progressions were also used that year.  1 to 4 character plates measured 6" x 10", 5 character plates measured 6" x 12".   This plate is from the late Jake Eckenrode collection and for sale by John Anshant at the time of the photo.

 


Here's another shortie, this one being a 1933 Format 2 Passenger plate.  Like the '32 plate above, this 1933 follows the same progression with each alpha sequence being filled before advancing to the next letter.  This plate is also from the late Jake Eckenrode collection and for sale by John Anshant at the time of the photo.

 


Finally we have this beautifully restored 1937 Format 9 Passenger plate with keystones.  1937 plates were not supposed to have keystones, however, a small run of plates was produced within the Format 9 series where the legend '#1937 PENNA#' was flanked by keystones.  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the opportunity to photograph this plate.

 


6/6/2021 Posting

I have decided to add a new feature to this website, not that I'm looking for more to do, but fellow ALPCA member and friend Arthur Levine asked if I would consider doing something with vanity tags.  Vanities are not my strong suite, but I know that many in the hobby take an interest in them.  One of my fears is getting bombarded with photos, so I need to set some limits.  For now I'm going to limit plates to those from PA.  I also don't plan to edit photos, but I have to reduce the file size in some cases.  Vanities associated with non-passenger types will generally be posted within existing plate types as I have been doing.  The first plate on display is Arthur's plate.  Click to go to the Vanities Page.

 


Last week I posted 03214H/V from Bruce Bufalini but missed posting this slightly higher Honoring Our Veterans plate thanks to Zach Taylor.  Both plates are now without the sticker well.  As mentioned last week, these are Special Fund plates with proceeds benefiting the Veterans Trust Fund.

 


Here's a brand new arrival from Bruce Sakson.  This In God We Trust plate is a new high.  It's also considered an optional issue.  The cost is only $22, but if you want to personalize it, you'll need to plunk down an additional $108.  This new plate still has the sticker well.

 


This is a new high Greenfield Township Volunteer Fire Company Of Lackawanna County.  The previous high of 00002G/T was last updated in 2011.  The current issued high is 00022G/T.  This plate program dates back to 2008.  Thanks to John Kerestes for the image.

 


This PA District Kiwanis International vanity is not a new plate, but it's a nicer photo than the one taken several years ago, which at the time still had a validation sticker where the scar remains on the lower left.  Yes, it still has the sticker well.

 


Received this photo from Paul Bagnarol comparing the La Roche College sample plate with the La Roche University sample plate.  The new logo has both color and wording changes.  The University plate now has the map outline.  The La Roche plate program dates back to 2009, and the change to La Roche University came about in late 2019.  The number series appears to go from 00001L/R to at least 00046L/R on the La Roche College base, while the lowest La Roche University plate spotted is 00081L/R, with the current registered high of 00097L/R.

 

 


This is a new high Motor Home plate thanks to Richard Than.  It appears that these began using the map outline at HH-73000. 

 

 


These are Pennsylvania Boat Registration stickers issued in pairs by the PA Fish & Boat Commission with 3/31/22 and 3/31/23 expirations.  They are today's equivalent of the old Motor Boat (MBL & MB) plates issued up through 1963, although they are issued in both Powered and Unpowered versions.  There are still a number of years for which sticker photos are still needed if anyone collects this stuff.

 


This is a very nice 1911 Passenger 4-digit porcelain plate.  4-digit plates measured 6 inches by 12 inches.  Fewer than 60,000 passenger plates were issued that year.  The image is thanks to Mike Sells.  If anyone owns this plate, let me know and I'll give you credit.

 

 


I'm sure there is a story behind these plates and not just coincidence that these plates ended up in Bill Krellner's collection.  I was very fortunate in being able to visit with Bill in June of last year.  Sadly he passed away later in the year.  These are all shortie Passenger plates from 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1932.

 


Look closely — these low-number Official plates may look like a matching pair, but they are from 1928 and 1930.  The 1928 series likely extended to at least 973 and the 1930 series extended to 1415.  Plates from 1000 and above did not have the right hand keystone.  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for these photos.

 


 5/30/2021 Posting

This is a new high Ancient Order of Hibernians plate from Bruce Bufalini.  Bruce believes that this plate no longer has the sticker well, which was present on the previous high of 00199I/R.  This organizational plate program has been active since 2008.

 

 


Any guess what this is?  Rob Baran, who sent the photo, said he had to look up the DR suffix.  The plate is a new high PA State Society Daughters of the American Revolution.  With so many letters squeezed between the bolt holes, it is no wonder it is very difficult to read, especially with a plate frame.  It's almost the longest tag legend in PA.

 


Here is a new high William Penn Charter School plate, in spite of it still having a sticker.  Almost from the start, there was unusual number sequencing with this plate type. After the first two plates, the serial numbers appear to advance by increments of 10 such as 20190 then 20200 instead of 20019 and 20020.  Plate check didn't show any numbers above this plate.  Maybe the plate is no longer available.  It's not on the school's website.  This plate type dates back to 2006.  Image was posted by Jaska Börner who got it from VINWiki user nvm32.

 

 


This is a new high Penn Alumni (University of Pennsylvania) plate now showing the map outline.  The previous high was 00469U/P according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website.  That plate did not appear to have the map outline.  This plate program dates back to late 2005.   This mage was posted to Facebook by Jaska Börner who received it from VINWiki user nvm32.  Thank you Jaska & nmv32.

 

 

 


Dan Herrmann passes along that the Sixers Charities plate program has ended.  There are other plate programs that have also been discontinued.  So, while the plates continue to be revalidated, they're no longer available.  Unfortunately PennDOT does not maintain their two web pages dealing with organizational plates.  Other known defunct plates include Eagles Youth Partnership, U.S. Armed Forces Retired, Carnegie Mellon University and Drexel University.  Plate image from Bruce Sakson.

 


The far left University of Pittsburgh (Official) plate had been previously posted.  Then this first picture of the new format.  Both photos were provided by Bruce Bufalini.  The newest plate has the map outline and the University of Pittsburgh legend is now screened instead of embossed.  Penn State, Temple and Lincoln Universities also have official plates as they are designated as state-related universities, which is different from the State System of Higher Education facilities such as Kutztown, East Stroudsburg, Bloomsburg, etc. which use state-issued Official Use tags on university-owned vehicles.

 


Here's a photo of a new high Honoring Our Veterans plate from Bruce Bufalini.  The previous high of 03111H/V still had the sticker well, while the plate shown here does not.  These are Special Fund plates with proceeds benefiting the Veterans Trust Fund.

 

 


These are 1911 Passenger plates.  These early plates started at #1 and extended beyond 44000.  There were actually 5 plate sizes used that year, with 1 and 2-digit plates measuring 6" by 8", 3-digit plates like the one shown here measuring 6" by 10", 4 digits were 6" by 12", from 10000 to 19000 were 6" by 13", finally plates above 20000 like the one above were 6" by 14".  Plates above 31022, like the one shown here, have beveled edges.  The 152 is a Worthpoint plate, the other is thanks to Mike Sells.  If anyone owns either of these plates, let me know and I'll give you credit.

 


I came across this high number 1920 Passenger plate.  Eric Tanner lists a slightly higher number of 531-893 as the series high.  This plate is the largest of four sizes used that year measuring 6 inches by 16 inches.  Other sizes include 6 by 10, 12 and 13½ inches.  Colors were white on dark blue.  Image is thanks to Worthpoint.

 


Last week we featured a 2-digit pair of 1930 Passenger plates that had been recently acquired by Tim Gierschick.  This week we have this pair of 1932 Passenger plates also from Tim.  As previously mentioned, Passenger plates started at 1 or 2, and progressed to 999-999 before going to an alpha-numeric format.  The plates shown here measure 6 inches by 10 inches.  Click the link above to see a breakdown of the entire 1932 Passenger series.  Check back for more 2-digit plates next week.

 

 


This 1928 Format 6 Passenger plate appears to be the highest known tag in the series.  1928 was also the first year that Passenger plates extended into the E-series.  All Tractor plates up through 1927 used E as the identifying prefix. Then with 1928  Passenger plates using the E, this resulted in the 1928 Tractor series switching to TE as the prefix.

 


And while we're on the subject, these are 1927 Tractor plates.  The far left photo from Clayton Moore and the other is from Worthpoint.  It appears that plates from T-1 to T-99 used a dash separator, then plates from E100 to E999 did not use the dash, this appears to have been done to allow plates such as the one show here to use the 6-inch by 10-inch base.  The E4-199 is considered the high number in this series, and is on a 6-inch by 13-inch base.

 


 5/23/2021 Posting

Here is a new serial format Antique Motorcycle plate and therefore a new high, having started at 000A0.  It was spotted by Bill Stephens.  The previous series of 01000 to 09999 was exhausted without ever moving to 10000, reason for not using that series is that it is already in use on early Classic Car plates.

 


This is a personalized University of Wisconsin plate.  This organization's plate program has been around since 2009.  So far about 79 serial numbered plates have been issued.  This image is thanks to Jaska Börner.

 

 


These plates represent the lowest and highest known first generation Fire Fighter plates.  This was PA's first organizational plate, dating back to 1983.  At the time, standard issue plates were blue on yellow.  Not long after, standard issue plates went to yellow on blue, but Fire Fighter plates kept the original color scheme until the changeover to the www plates, when all plates were replaced.  The FF00003 plate photo came from George Kunsman, while the FF15073, also from George, but has also been credited to Brandon Sowers in the past.

 


This DCNR ATV Class 2 plate reveals a new serial format.  These motorcycle-size plates are issued by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or DCNR for short.   Previous serial formats started with 0000X to 9999Z, then 000X0, 00X00, 0X000 and finally X0000.  The letters progress thru X, Y then Z.  The rest of the alphabet is reserved for ATV Class 1 plates.

 


Easy to tell that these are 1910 Dealer plates.  1910 was also the first year for PA Dealer plates.  The series ran from 1 to 2807.  Plate size depended on the length of the serial number with three sizes being used — 6 inches by 8 for 1 and 2 digit plates, 10 inches for 3 digits and 12 inches for 4 digits.  All were white over dark blue porcelain.  The 117 plate is from Worthpoint, and the 2111 plate is thanks to Mike Alfonse.

 


Here is a very nice 1928 Format 4 Passenger plate.  Format 4 consisted of an alpha-numeric series of A to E28-326.  The progression started with A, A1, up to A99-999 before advancing to B, B-1, etc. eventually ending in the E-series.  This plate measures 6 inches by 10 inches, but 6 by 13 and 15-inch plates were also used.  Thanks to SteinwayB7 for the use of this photo.

 


Last week we featured a 2-digit pair of 1928 Passenger plates that had been recently acquired by Tim Gierschick.  This week we have this pair of 1930 Passenger plates also from Tim.  As previously mentioned, Passenger plates started at 1 or 2, and progressed to 999-999 before going to an alpha-numeric format.  The plates shown here measure 6 inches by 10 inches.  Click the link above to see a breakdown of the entire 1930 Passenger series.  Check back for more 2-digit plates next week.

 

 


Finally got a 1931 Passenger Sample plate image thanks to Mike Sells. This appears to be the first year for the PA00 format to be used as a sample.  Previous years were 000.  I acquired a number of photos from Mike; he had gotten them over the years from a number of sources, so if this happens to be your plate, please let me know and I'll gladly credit you.

 


Here is another welcome addition, this one being a 1932 Passenger Sample.  This replaces a previous image.  Both of these samples measure 6 inches by 10 inches.  Again this is a photo from Mike Sells, so if this happens to be your plate, please let me know and I'll give you credit.

 


These are all 1957 Passenger plates

1957 5-character dies

1957 6-character dies

1957 6-character dies

1958 6-character dies

1958 6-character dies

 

Note the 3 has a flat top

Note the 5 does not curl up at the bottom

Note the 5 does curl up at the bottom

Note the 3 has a rounded top

from Peter Clericuzio

from Jeff Hinkle

from Worthpoint

from Pl8source

from Corb Moister

via Eric Tanner

If you've studied 1956, '57 and '58 Passenger plates, you’ve likely noticed several different serial die variations.  For many years the same dies were used up through 1956, then later in ’56 the 1957 dies were introduced. These were thinner dies which I will refer to as ’57 5-character dies. Then in 1957 as plates moved to 6 characters (plates 100000 to at least 795799), a thinner set of dies was used which I will refer to as ’57 6-character dies. Then toward the end of the 1957 run (plates from 802945 to 883083) the 1958 die set came into use.  I appreciate the assistance received from Eric Tanner.

 


 5/16/2021 Posting

In a news article on ButlerRadio.com from April 16, the State Police are reminding drivers that it’s illegal to drive with an illegible license plate.  Police say if your plate can’t be seen from over 50 feet, or if it’s blistering, peeling, or there’s any discoloration, you’re subject to a citation.  If you’re plate is illegible, you can take it to any official state inspection station for verification of your plate and you would receive a form to authorize the replacement.  The form is also available on PennDOT’s website.  Thanks to Larry Renick for sharing this article.

 


This Antique Motorcycle plate was spotted at a recent bike show.  The 2-character serial number might suggest an early plate, but I'm listing this plate as being part of Format 6, which appears to have run from 0A to 99Z.  The presence of the wide hole spacing also indicates that this is not an early plate.  Antique Motorcycle plates date back to 1965, and while a newer style of plate is currently in use, the type shown here is still valid.

 


These Vertical Motorcycle plates are still relatively scarce, and there are still more standard motorcycle plates turned sideways on vertical mounts where a vertical plate should be used.  Even more scarce is a personalized vertical plate.  One to 5 characters are permitted.  This is the first I've seen with only 3.  These plates measure 4 inches by 7 inches, the same size as standard motorcycle plates, but the top and bottom legend reduces the available space for serial numbers thus reducing or squeezing the available space.  

 


Veteran Motorcycle plates have been around since 2004, and while I don't think they could be personalized until 2014, this is still the first one I've seen.  They can be formatted with V+1 to 4 characters.  In this case the frame which was partially cut off to size the plate correctly read USMC.  It should be noted that the word VETERAN was flat screened, whereas all standard Veteran M/C plates are embossed.

 


Here is another personalized plate, this one belonging to a member of the PA Society of Professional Engineers.  These organizational plates are very rare with the recorded high of 40002P/E, and the registered high of 40008P/E.  Such plates are eligible for up to 5 characters + the stacked PE.

 


These are both new highs.  The far left Passenger plate was recently received by Richard Than.  The new Trailer plate was just received by Preston Turner.

 

 


Attached are several more newspaper articles from Rob Baran revealing some history of what has happened to old Pennsylvania plates.  The photo shown here (click to enlarge) shows school children about to turn in old plates from the bikes and wagons from as far back as 1906 to 1941. While the war effort was certainly a noble and patriotic cause, it's still heartbreaking to see such plates rendered into scrap metal.  In the one article 17,118 plates were collected which brought $50.31.

 


This is a pair that many PA collectors would drool over.  If not familiar, these are 1905 City of Philadelphia pre-state plates.  These porcelain plates measure 4" by 7".  Philadelphia started issuing plates in 1903; however, these were considered drivers' licenses, not vehicle licenses.  The 2643 plate photo was courtesy of Mike Sells.  I acquired a number of photos from Mike; he had gotten them over time from a number of sources, so if this happens to be your plate, please let me know and I'll credit you.  The 3592 plate was recently acquired by Chris Paulsen.  The series high is listed at 3718 according to Eric Tanner.

 


Here is another gem.  PA started issuing plates in 1906, making this 1907 plate part of the second year.  It should be noted that the state first issued plates in 1906, and plates from 1906 thru 1909 were assigned to the driver rather than the vehicle.  Plate size depended on the number of characters with this one measuring 6½" by 10½" and were porcelain.  At the time, plates were manufactured by Ing-Rich, also know as Ingram Richardson of Beaver Falls, PA.  This plate is believed to have belonged to Jake Eckenrode but came to me via Mike Sells.

 


This 2-digit pair of 1928 Passenger plates was recently acquired by Tim Gierschick.  At that time, Passenger plates started at 1 or 2, and progressed to 999-999 before going to an alpha-numeric format.  The plates shown here measure 6 inches by 10 inches, whereas 6 by 13 and 6 by 15-inch plates were used to accommodate longer serial numbers.

Check back for more 2-digit plates over the next couple weeks.

 

 


Found this all-zeros '77 base Passenger Sample plate with 79 and 80 stickers.  Found this on Worthpoint.  I don't recall seeing one of these in the past, or were these common?

 

 


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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 

 

   
 

 
 

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