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Pennsylvania License Plate Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

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News and postings from 2015

Posting 12/27/2015

Don't go out and try to buy one.  Sorry, they're not in our future, but wouldn't it be nice if PA would curb their obsession with making every plate look like every other plate.  These early Wild and Beautiful prototypes were provided by fellow ALPCA member Alan Iversen.  I don't know much about these plates, but I'm sure they would be a welcome choice for many.


This week I am continuing to combine the first generation of organizational plates with plates that came later.  In other words adding those yellow on blue plates in with the www plates and later plates.  I'm also expanding the coverage of those organizational plates that had a two-tier system on the www base  The following colleges/universities were updated this week: Bucknell University, Dickinson College, Drexel University Alumni, Duquesne University, East Stroudsburg University, Edinboro University, Elizabethtown College, Gannon University, Geneva College and Gettysburg College.  As part of this process the following images were added:




Dickinson image from Tom Perri, Gannon plate from Bruce Bufalini, Geneva plate from Tom Perri.


One of the objectives of this website is to identify differences in plate runs, sometimes even subtle differences such as the shift from the keystone separator to the use of a dash separator in these two Disabled Veteran plates.  I'm going to guess that the keystone separator ran to DV-34659, and the dash started at DV-34700.  The plate on the far left is courtesy of Nick Tsilakis.


In plate news, Bruce Bufalini spotted a Dealer vanity plate THE MUG.  He was not able to get a picture.  Regular Dealer plates can have up to seven characters and include a space or a dash but not both.  All of the other Dealer types use the prefixes and/or suffixes that are associated with that particular dealer type.


This week, again thanks to Bob Connison, we have more great motorcycle dealer plates beginning with this 1937 three-digit example.  This is the last year before the the state map outline became the standard.  It actually begins on passenger vehicle plates in '37 but is not seen on other types until 1938.


The 1938 Motorcycle Dealer has one major change — the addition of the state map outline.  It's interesting that the map outline that was added to motorcycle plates in 1937, is still in use to this day on Municipal Motorcycle plates, and was until recently, or may still be in use on Collectible Motorcycle plates.  This 2-digit beauty was provided by Bob Connison.


Next in order is the 1939 Motorcycle Dealer plate, and except for the reversal of the colors, the plate is very similar to the previous year.  We don't have records of how many plates were issued each year but it appears that no more than a couple hundred plates.  Motorcycle sales from the late 1920s into the mid-40s remained relatively flat.  After WWII cycle sales went way up and likely so did the number of dealerships and MCD plates.  Thanks to Bob Connison for the image.


We don't yet have a 1940 MCD plate, but it would be similar in color and appearance to the '38 plate above except for the year.


For 1941 Motorcycle Dealer there is a notable change — the addition of the expiration date in the top border of the plate embossed EXP. 3-31-42.  Aside from that, the plate is similar to previous editions, and the serial numbers could again be single digit, 2-digit or 3-digit.



1942 Motorcycle Dealer plates showed the annual predictable reversal of colors.  The 36 plate image was provided by Bob Connison.  The 265 image is not new to this site, but is shown here for comparison.  That plate is credited Edward F. Jones.



1943 Motorcycle Dealer  There were no 1943 plates issued, except for Motorboat.  Because of the war effort to conserve steel, 1942 plates were used with a metal black on red validation tab or strip affixed to it.  On motorbikes, motorcyclse and motorcycle dealers these metal strips measuring ¾ inch by 4¾ inches and was fastened thru the top bolt holes.  These strips are rare today.  NOTE, this posting is incorrect.  It's actually for a Motorcycle plate. 1/3/2016.



Posting 12/20/2015

Tom Perri has done an outstanding job of finding and photographing newly released plates.  This is the first image of an Eastern Berks Fire Department plate.  They have some 22 plates on the road.



The next one of Tom Perri's finds is this #1 Springfield Fire Company plate.  There are about 18 of these plates currently in use.




Tom Perri also snapped this very nice image of a Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society plate.  These plates have been in use since about mid-September and have almost 160 plates in use.



In plate news, here is an prototype image of a Commonwealth Constables Association plate on the far left.  Also the PA Society of Professional Engineers is believed to have, or will soon have one plate on the road.



This week I'm continuing to play catch-up with some older images of current plates, trying to reduce the plate picture backlog.  The plate on the far left is a Concordville Fire and Protective Association image courtesy of Jordan Irazabal.  The next image is Harmonville Fire Company No. 1 plate thanks to Tom Perri.  The near left image is a Michigan State Alumni plate again thanks to Tom Perri.


I have been toying with the idea of combining the first generation of organizational plates with plates that came later.  In other words adding those yellow on blue plates in with the www base plates and visitPA base plates.  So far I have only tried this with Allegheny College, Bloomsburg University, and West Virginia University.  It's a slow process due to some unresolved table formatting issues.  This nice WVU plate is courtesy of Bob Connison.  Does anyone have a picture of a yellow on blue Allegheny College plate?


Here's an early '58 Motorcycle, likely the 20th plate produced.  Note the plate has the tab slots and a '62 validation sticker.  Plate sequencing went something like this: 1 to 9999, then A - Z999, 0A-999Z, 0A00 - 9Z99, 00A0 - 99Z9, not all series were fully utilized.  Records indicate almost 27-thousand motorcycles were registered in '58 and progressively more with a multi-year plate.  Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the image.


Not quite sure what's going on here.  These are both 1933 Motorcycle Dealer plates but their formatting is not the same.  The X11 plate on the far left was provided by Bob Connison, while the X199 plate was previously posted.  The low numbered plate has the 33 and PA legend on the right, while the other plate has the legend on the left.  By comparison, the other small '33 plates I've seen, including Motorbike and Motorcycle, have had the legend on the left.  Also, some sources state that  X+1 and X+2 characters were 6" plates; however, if there were 6" plates, they must have been limited to the X+1 character, as both plates shown here appear to be 8-inch.  This is all part of what make the hobby interesting and challenging.


Some notable changes for the 1934 Motorcycle Dealer — gone for good is the X dealer designator, having been replaced by MCD (Motorcycle Dealer) stacked vertically.  Also the 2-digit year is stacked vertically on the upper left over PA stacked vertically on the lower left.  All plates measure 4½" by 8".  I'm guessing that only about 200 plates were authorized.  This is based in a 1935 DMV source.  Also notice that the serial number font has changed.  Compare the '1' on the 1933 and '34 plates.  Again the image was provided by Bob Connison.


The 1935 Motorcycle Dealer is basically identical to the '34 plate above except for the reversal of the colors and the year now being 1935.  The image was provided by Bob Connison.



The 1936 Motorcycle Dealer has the legend flip-flopped side to side and also has the colors reversed.  One other difference — the '34 and '35 have a painted contrasting border, while the '36 plate border is the same as the background.  A huge thank you to Bob Connison for so many great images.  Please check back next week for more.



Posting 12/13/2015

This might very well be the plate of the week, and without some explanation, many motorists would not likely have a clue what this plate represents, especially since the plate lacks the typical legend offering some identification.  Of course it's a Press Photographer plate, but now bearing a lone character since these plate may now be personalized.  But wait, press plates are also issued in pairs, one of the few in PA.  Thanks to Joe Pavlo for the unique plate picture.  Later I had a conversation with an ALPCA member best known as Drewski — it's his plate.


These Erie Yacht Club plate pictures are not recent images but they are new on this website.  They were taken by Tom Perri & Jordan Irazabal.  This plate type has been in use since 2010.



Like the plates above this is not a recent image of a Good Intent Fire Co. #1 but is new to this site.  It is the current reported high for this plate type.  Thanks to Tom Perri for the picture.



These are not recent plate photos, but the EU01206 plate has recently been added to the Edinboro University plate section.  As with other organizational plates that were originally issued on the old yellow on blue base, when plates were reissued on the www base, the first run consisted of a number for number replacement.  New plates that were issued after the replacement process came from a higher number series.  That first series ran from E/U00001 to E/U00797, then the second tier series jumped ahead to E/S01200.  Edinboro University has not transitioned their plate program to the visitPA graphic base.


The NASCAR 15 Michael Waltrip plate photo on the far left is courtesy of Tom Perri, and is likely the last of 35 plate produced.  The NASCAR 21 Ricky Rudd plate pictured on the near left is from Steve Ondik, and is likely the 9th of only 15 plates produced.  Both of these plates were only issued for the 2004 and 2005 racing seasons.  NASCAR plates were last issued in 2010, and unfortunately there are still about 15 NASCAR verities that have never been photographed.  This is generally due to very few of certain plates being issued — some as low as one or two plates.


Here's a new Apportioned Bus high, and strangely it's on a luxury SUV, or what would you call a Lincoln Navigator?  Normally these are seen on full size commercial buses.  This is the only bus-related plate in PA that has not switched to the visitPA family of plates yet.  The reason is that the first batch of plates was so large that it appeared that the change would never occur.  Now it looks like the change will take place at BN-04000.

There is a current research effort that is desperately seeking one of the previous issue BL-10000 plates or photos.


For those interested in PA license plate ephemera, Jim Moini provided me a 1958 PA License plate document showing the offerings for that year.  Jim is an ALPCA member and maintains an outstanding New Jersey plate website, http://moini.net/, as well as Apportioned plates from across North America, Mexican plates, also trailer plates and corporate fleet plates.


Beginning this week, quite a few first time images of older Motorcycle Dealer plates will be added.  These have been provided by ALPCA member Bob Connison.  These images will go a long way to fill in the gaps and are very much appreciated.  The first plate is a 1928 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  While the plate does not have identifying legend, the X prefix would indicated Dealer and the size of the plate would indicate Motorcycle.  This plate measures 4½" by 8"; however, it is believed, but unconfirmed, that plates with fewer digits were 4½" by 6".  These shorter plates, which are confirmed in '23 and '24 Dealer plates, are uncertain in the later '20s and early 1930s Dealer series.


The following year, the 1929 Motorcycle Dealer plates had the colors reversed but the layout and formatting were basically the same as the previous year.  Again the 1930 Motorcycle Dealer plates did the annual color reversal but retained the same formatting.


The 1931 Motorcycle Dealer and '32 Motorcycle Dealer continue with annual flip-flopping of the colors, and the location of PA and the 2-digit year were also flip-flopped.  These Motorcycle Dealer plates shown this week are all 4½" by 8".  Check back for more plates next week.


This pair of Motorboat Dealer plates was provided courtesy of Drewski of www.PL8S.com.  The plate on the far left is a 1950 and uses the legend MBL for Motorboat License, while the other plate is a 1960 issue and the legend has been shortened to MB, which is at times confused with Motorbike; however, PA discontinued Motorbike plates after 1949.  The '60 plate also has a few traits in common with Motorcycle plates of the day.



Posting 12/6/2015

Plate News — ChildFirst Pennsylvania has or soon will have 4 plates on the street.  No pictures yet.  And Springfield Fire Company has or soon will have 18 plates on the street.  No pictures yet.


In Other Plate News — the following groups are now on the organizational plate list:

 • Commonwealth Constables Association — Since this is law enforcement related it is being placed on the Fire, EMS and Police page.
 • Rose Tree Fire Company No. 1 located in Media, Delaware County.
 • Se-Wy-Co Fire Company serving Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County.

No formatting information or prototype images available yet for these new plate types.


Here's personalized or vanity version of an Appalachian Trail Conservancy plate.  This was sent to me some time ago by Arthur Levine and somehow didn't get posted.



A new Carpenter's Union high from Jordan Irazabal.  This organization has not yet moved to the visitPA - family of plates base.  This plate type dates back to 2002 so there was no yellow on blue base.



This low number Delaware County Fallen Firefighter & EMS Memorial Committee plate is courtesy of Jordan Irazabal.  This organization has a current reported high of 10017D/C.  The plate type has been active since 2013.



These are not recent pictures, but they have recently been added to the East Stroudsburg University plate section.  As with other organizational plates that were originally issued on the old yellow on blue base, when plates were reissued on the www base, the first run consisted of a number for number replacement.  New plates that were issued after the replacement process came from a higher number series.  That first series ran from E/S00000 to E/S00428, then the second tier series jumped ahead to E/S01500.  ESU has not transitioned their plate program to the visitPA graphic base.


This week we have a few more gems from Jake Eckenrode.  These Judiciary plates were part of an early series of court related plates issued from 1928 through 1935.  After that, such plates were not issued for many years.  Modern judicial plates consist of Commonwealth Court which came out in 1999; however, Superior Court and Supreme Court likely came along in the 1980s.  The plate shown here is a 1933 Judiciary.  It is not known for certain how many were issued, but in 1935, plates from 1 to 300 were authorized.


This is the first image of a 1934 Judicial plate.  As seen in the annual progression, there are only slight formatting changes from year to year.  The colors always alternate, while the years and PENNA sometimes alternate positions.  Thanks for Jake Eckenrode for the picture.



The final year for Judiciary plates was 1935.  This yellow on blue beauty is courtesy of Jake Eckenrode.




This 4-digit '55 Trailer plate image has been added to the 5-digit plate photo already in the plate gallery.  For '55 serial formatting consisted of the following: 0001 to 9999, A000 to Z999, 0A00 to 9Z99, 00A0 to 99Z9, 000A to 999Z, 10001 to unknown high.  It is not known how many plates were issued but it's likely over 100-thousand.



Posting 11/29/2015

Spotted this #1 Gettysburg Fire Department plate on a recent trip to Gettysburg.  These plates have been around since 2013.




These Gettysburg 1863 special fund plates seem to be selling well with the PA Plates website reporting a high of 00406G/B.  These have been on the street for less than a year.



This image would certainly get the attention of any PA plate enthusiast.  Most any plate person can tell you that PA will not allow two dashes on a plate.  Some may even view this plate as a fake.  Brian Craig recently posted this image on the PA License Plate Facebook page.  He gave permission to use it here.  I think we're looking at a vanity or personalized version of a Disabled Veteran plate.  Unfortunately the image quality isn't great, but sometimes photos are taken on the run, or under less than ideal conditions.  Anyway it appears that those PA plates that are eligible for personalization have the required prefixes or suffixes flat screened, in this case DV-, with a dash.  Then if the customer wants a dash as part of the personalized  part of the serial number, the plate ends up with two.  Also notice that the screened letters are larger than those embossed.


While these are not recent pictures, they have been added to the Ducks Unlimited section.  As with other organizational plates that were originally issued on the old yellow on blue base, when plates were reissued on the www base, the first run consisted of a number for number replacement.  New plates that were issued after the replacement process came from a higher number series.  That first series ran from D/U00001 to D/U0133, then the second tier series jumped ahead to D/U01500.





School Vehicle — Pennsylvania's most consistently inconsistent plate.  Every one of these School Vehicle plates shows some slight variation from the one before it for a total of nine (9) variations in 10,000 plates.  The variations include: legend font width, plate base (www & visitPA), and intermittent use of keystone separator.  The first plate is courtesy of Bruce Bufalini.


The case of the disappearing ink.  I've seen a few of these Mass Transit plates on the road.  What's the problem here? Too much aggressive washing, or a bad day in the big house?  This pair is from the same series.  The M/T41726 image is from Steve Ondik.  Ned Flynn suggests that this is likely from close proximity to the diesel exhaust.


Jake Eckenrode has generously shared some additional historic plates, including this very nice 1929 Judiciary plate.  These limited issue plates from around 1929 to 1935 are probably some of my favorite runs.  These include Consular, Dept of Highways, Judiciary, Legislative, National Guard, and Official Use.  Am I missing any?  The plates have a bold design prominently displaying the type, date and state.


Next is this 1930 Judiciary plate.  Very similar in design to the plate above except that the colors have been reversed.  It is unknown what the range of numbers was; however, for 1935 we know that the authorized range was from 1 to 300.  We also do not know which judicial employees were eligible for such plates, nor do we know which court systems were included.  Today we know that justices and judges of the State Supreme Court, State Superior Court and Commonwealth Court are eligible for corresponding plates, but few plates are in use.  Thanks for Jake Eckenrode for the picture.


For 1931 Judiciary plates, the colors were again reversed, and the date and state were also moved to the oposite ends of the plate.  All plates during this period from 1929 to 1935 measured 6" by 12".  Another big thank you to Jake Eckenrode for providing so many great images.



The final image this week is this 1932 Judiciary plate.  There will be a few more next week to finish up this section.  Again the changes from one year to the next are almost predictable.  As for Jake Eckenrode, these and other photos from his life-long collection have been a major building block for this website and for the documentation of the history of PA license plates.  Jake is working on a new PA license plate guide.  His original publication was from 1983.  I strongly support and encourage him to complete this undertaking.



Posting 11/22/2015

Back on November 1 several new organizational plate types were added but without preliminary images.  Below are some of the new plates with prototype images.

Here is a conceptual Cumberland Valley Corvette Club based in Carlisle.  No plates are in use yet.




Next is this Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics plate.  This group is based in Pittsburgh and has no plates in use yet..




Newtown Fire Association of Newtown, Bucks County, will make this plate available to its membership.  No plates on the street yet.




And the final new plate belongs to Springfield Fire Company located in Delaware County.  They also have no plates are in use yet.




These amazing Tractor Dealer plates shown here this week are likely some of the rarest PA plates in existence today.  A huge thank you to Jake Eckenrode for sharing images of these fine plates.  This 1916 Tractor Dealer is likely the oldest one known to exist.  It was generally thought that Tractor Dealer plates were first issued in 1916, however, it has been suggested that seven Tractor Dealer plates were issued in 1915.  A new law was passed in 1915 authorizing Tractor Dealer plates and according to Eric Tanner it likely took effect on 1/1/1916.  So probably in 1915, any Tractor Dealers were issued regular Dealer plates.  The final answer to this question may lie within the 1915 registration records, however, my own research suggests that these records for 1915 are no longer in existence. 


The next plate is a 1918 Tractor Dealer plate, very similar in formatting to the above plate except for the obvious color switch to white on black.  It is not known how many of these plates were issued, but tractors in the late teens weren't that plentiful, even today, how often do you see a Farm Equipment Dealer plate on the road?  Thanks again to Jake Eckenrode for sharing the images.


Next is a 1922 Tractor Dealer plate.  This plate seems a little strange in that some of the plate legend is stacked like earlier plates, and the words TRACTOR DEALER are completely spelled out along the bottom of the plate.  It is not known if any other years followed this same format.  Again thanks again to Jake Eckenrode for sharing this plate history.


The 1925 Tractor Dealer plate has reduced the plate legend to just 1925 and PENNA flanked by keystones.  Gone is any mention of the word dealer; however, the TX prefix is the giveaway.  The color is yellow on dark blue.  For the first time on Tractor Dealer plates we see the use of the dash separator.  This plate also shows an obvious reduction in the width of the plate.  Thanks again to Jake Eckenrode.


For 1926 Tractor Dealer plates use a different font than the 1925 plate.  The formatting is much the same while the colors have been reversed.  This is also the highest number seen so far, again suggesting a small number of plates issued.  Note at this point in PA plate history the letters and numbers were the same size; however, 1926 was the last year for this.  In 1927 the size change took place; see the 1930 plate below.   Thank you Jake.


The final plate from Jake Eckenrode is this 1930 Tractor Dealer.  The TX-79 is the highest number seen in these early plates, and generally follows a similar format to the '25 and '26 plates above.

We don't have any plate images between 1930 and 1950.  This is not to suggest that they were not issued, only that few, if any, have survived.  We do know that the 1935 and '36 plates did not use the TX prefix but instead used TRACTOR DLR as part of the plate legend.  Hopefully some additional plates or pictures may come along. 



Posting 11/15/2015

To see more on current Pennsylvania License Plates visit Tom Perri's www.paplates.com.  Tom features all the latest highs with lots of new pictures.  To see history of PA passenger and truck plates and much more, visit Rick's Plate at www.ricksplates.com.


Tom Perri recently captured this first image of a Spring Mill Fire Company No. 1 plate.  They are located in Montgomery County and have about 11 plates on the road.



Here are the first generation and the current Drexel University Alumni plate.  The current plate display has been refined to show the two-tiered plate numbering.  These are not new pictures.  As with other organizational plates that were originally issued on the old yellow on blue base, when plates were reissued on the www base the first run was a number for number replacement.  New plates that were issued after the replacement process came from a higher number series.  That first series ran from D/U40001 to D/U40837, then the second tier series jumped ahead to D/U41500.  Drexel has never moved to the graphic visitPA base, in fact there is evidence that the plate program is no longer active.  The oldest plate is courtesy of Jordan Irazabal.


Like the Drexel series above, Moravian College also had its plate roots back in the first generation yellow on blue plates.  And when the new plates were released on the www base, the earlier plates were replaced on a number for number basis up to M/O00797.  Then when later plates were issued the series jumped ahead to M/O01500 skipping over the number in between.  The M/O01700 plate is the latest high on the visitPA base.


Steve Ondik shares this current La Salle University  plate image.  La Salle began their plate program back in 1988 and has gone thru a couple design changes since then.



Jake Eckenrode has been kind enough to share this photo of an early Transporter plate.  Besides the low number, the main distinguishing feature of this plate is the word TRANSPORTER which is screened.  On later plates it was embossed.  This plate is part of the Misc. M.V. Business series which also includes Repair/Towing, Salvage Yard and Repossessor.  After the initial run where all of these plates used the screened legend, the next series included an embossed 'Pennsylvania' legends with the "You've got a friend" font and sticker well lower left.  So far it is unknown if the Transporter plate also followed in the same pattern.  Click the link above to see more.


As promised here is another group of old Tractor Dealer plates beginning with this 1950 version.  Thanks again to Jake Eckenrode for sharing the images.  Again the TX prefix and the legend Tractor are the identifying features.  It is unknown how many were issued or if the series went beyond TX999.


'58 plates were initially intended to be renewed with metal tabs, and therefore tab slots were punched into the early plates.  It was later decided to use adhesive stickers instead of the tabs eliminating the need for the tab slots.  So in general early plates had the slots and later ones did not.  Here we have Tractor Dealer plate 600 with a tab slot and plate 616 without.  Then the slot is again present in the 949 plate.  My guess is that the 616 just got skipped in the process.  These plates could be renewed thru 1961.  The two on the far left are thanks to Jake Eckenrode and are new to this website.  The TX0-949 was from Jerry McCoy and has been on this website for a couple years. 


For 1962 Tractor Dealer plates followed the same formatting as the '58 above, and were also multi-year plates renewable thru 1963.  Again thanks to Jake Eckenrode for the image.



For 1964 Tractor Dealer continued on with the same formatting and colors as the previous release, but for '64 they were single year plates.  Thanks to Jake Eckenrode for the image.



At first glance there are a number of changes for the 1966 Tractor Dealer.  The colors are now blue on yellow, the word Dealer now appears in place of Tractor, the year is displayed with 4 characters and the TX has been separated from the serial number.  Thanks to Jake Eckenrode for the image.  Check back next week for older Tractor Dealer plates.



Posting 11/8/2015

Here's a U.S. Marine Veteran vanity plate.  Thank you for your service to our country.  Now did I mention my disdain for plate frames?




The Masonic Blue Lodge plate is no stranger to PA plate watchers, but unless you are a member of ALPCA, you won't see a complete plate grouping all together.  The far left plate is from the original series dating back to 1984, image from Clayton Moore.  The next plate was part of the number-for-number replacement in 2001 on the WWW base, image from Eric Conner.  Following the 2001 replacement, later plates saw the number series jump ahead to M/B10000 as seen in the M/B11269 plate.  Then there was a short run of about 200 plates on the visitPA base but with all the features still embossed.  And finally, the current version with the logo, M/B and plate legend all flat screened.  


As stated in the past, the purpose of this website is to help document and record Pennsylvania license plate history, both in words and pictures.  This website has also been fortunate enough to receive data, pictures and other research material from many generous individuals in support of the history and the hobby.  Today is one of those special days with the first round of Tractor Dealer plates from Jake Eckenrode.  Those of you who know Jake know that he is the consummate collector of PA plates and author of a book and several articles.  The plates this week are from changeover in 1971 up thru 1979.  Over the next couple weeks additional Tractor Dealer plates will be shown as far back as 1916, believed to be the first year of production.

In 1971 all types of full-size Dealer plates acquired a brand new fresh look.  The new series consisted of New Car Dealer, Used Car Dealer, Motor Vehicle Business, Tractor Dealer and Trailer Dealer.  All plate types except the Motor Vehicle Business used the same legend 'DEALER', the different types could be identified by the prefix and suffix code, i.e. A10-000A - New Car Dealer, B10-000B - Used Car Dealer, C10-000C - Motor Vehicle Business, D10-000D - Tractor Dealer, and E10-000E - Trailer Dealer.  This extremely nice Tractor Dealer plate shown here is likely the first plate produced, and as stated above was provided thanks to Jake Eckenrode.


For 1972 the same Tractor Dealer format is retained except for the date now being 1972.  Note also that throughout this series the plate serial number never rises much above 12-000, meaning slightly more than 2000 plates issued.  After all, tractor dealerships aren't like car dealers.  In fact many of the 1960s and '70s farm tractor dealerships have ceased to exist.  Thanks to Jake Eckenrode for this image.


This is the first image of a 1973 Tractor Dealer plate.  Again the formatting follows along with the arrangement started in 1971 with only the year changing.



The 1974 Tractor Dealer plate has no changes except for the year.  Thanks to Jake Eckenrode for this image.




The 1975 - 76 Tractor Dealer plate has a couple changes.  These are two-year undated plates with two sticker wells, each intended to accommodate one sticker.  Thanks to Jake Eckenrode for this image.



Just as other plates had their colors reversed for 1977, so did Tractor Dealer plates.  In addition the plates are back to a single year issue, and the plate legends have been reversed top to bottom and vice-versa.  This plate picture was also provided by Jake Eckenrode.



Finally from Jake this week is this 1978 Tractor Dealer — a single year issue and very similar to the above plate except for the date.




In the interest of completing the run, this 1979 Tractor Dealer plate was the final year of the D-series tractor dealer.  These were multi-year plates and could be renewed up until the Dealer-Farm Equipment came out in late 1991. This is not a new image, and it's one of my own.




Posting 11/1/2015

This State House of Representative plate is somewhat unusual in that it's on the visitPA base with the HR in the suffix position. First one I've seen.  Most visitPA plates spotted so far have the HR in the prefix position.  PA has 203 house legislative districts, so plates can range from HR1 to HR203 and 203HR to 1HR.  Click the link above for more images of PA political plates.  This plate picture was sent by Colin M.


The two plates to the immediate left are some of the last DARE plates issued.  DARE is an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, the proceeds of the sale of these supported the DARE Fund.  These plates were introduced in September of 1996, on the black base (above left), and were very successful.  Then in late 2005 the plates were switched to the visitPA family of plates.  Looking at the registration numbers, there were some 33,500 DARE plates registered at the end of 2005, then following the change in the plate design, the number of plates on the street actually declined faster than sales could keep up, so that by the end of 2014 there were fewer than 20-thousand DARE plates on the street.  The center left plate was provided by Steve Ondik, and right plate is thanks to Jordan Irazabal


Organizational Plate News  — A few weeks ago PennDOT revamped their website. The old list of organizational plates is gone. The new list, with some prototype images, is very incomplete. The better list is the one that allows you to check for special organization vanity availability, but even that list is incomplete.  Here’s what I have found.
The following are new plates:
 • Cumberland Valley Corvette Club (00000C/V, no prototype, no active plates)
 • Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics (00000A/P, no prototype, no active plates)
 • Kuhl Hose Co. Inc. (00000K/H, previously listed on this website, no prototype, no active plates)
 • Newtown Fire Association (20000N/F, no prototype, no active plates)
 • Springfield Fire Company (30000S/F, no prototype, no active plates)
 • World Meeting of Families - 2015 Philadelphia (10000W/M, previously listed on this website, no active plates)
The following plate types were on the previous list but are now missing from the new list:
 • Sons of the American Legion
 • St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
There is a general disconnect between PennDOT's two lists.


In other organizational plate news, the Quality Deer Management Association has, or soon will have, some 33 plates on the road.




These are not new plate pictures.  The plate on the far left was a replacement plate for one of the yellow on blue plates when they were reissued on the www base. That series ran from A/L00001 to A/L02002.  Following that, any plates that were issued after the replacement started at A/L02500, as shown on the near left plate picture.  This practice of leaving a gap in numbers has been seen on almost all organizational plates that existed prior to the changeover to the www base.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for doing much of the research on the number patterns.  Gradually I am attempting to group organizational plates accordingly.


Here's the first example of a personalized or vanity St. Joseph's University plate.  The S/J is required, then up to five alpha or numeric characters are allowed, but no special characters.  Jordan Irazabal get the credit for this image.



In the Amateur Radio history section, a 1957 Amateur Radio plate picture was needed.  These plates first came out in 1956, and while there was no legend on the plates at the time indicating the plate type, the FCC call sign is the give away.  In the early years of these plates, most Amateur Radio plates used a 'W' or a 'K' prefix followed by a '3' to designate that PA is in region 3.  Numbers other than 3 are sometimes seen indicating a call sign from outside region 3.  Click the link above for more images and information on PA Amateur Radio plates.  This plate picture was provided by Clayton Moore.



Posting 10/25/2015

If you have an interest in Pennsylvania License plates, there are several other websites that offer a different perspective.

 • Check out Tom Perri's PA Plates site, just updated with all the latest highs;

 • Also take a look at Jaska Börner's License Plates website.  He also covers Maryland to Rhode Island;

 • Last, but certainly not least, Rick Kretschmer, (Rick's Plates) offers an excellent historical layout.

While not a PA collector, Jordan Irazabal is the low-number Delaware 3000 plate guru, and a major contributor to the PA effort.


Here's the first picture of one of the new motorcycle sized Honoring Our Veterans special fund plate.  The picture was provided by Marlin Horan.  The plate series began at H/V0101.  As I opined in the past, the tiny graphic does a disservice to the veterans it is intended to honor.  As of 10/23 there are about 16 of these plates in use.


This low number Veteran plate is one of those where I use the term 'reserve issue'.  When Veteran plates were first issued, the over-the-counter plates began at 00100U/S.  Then lower number plates were spotted on vehicles and also seen in the hands of a state representative getting his picture taken.  Of course efforts to get an explanation of the low-number plate from the politician were futile.  So far the plate gallery shows plates 1, 2, 5, 14 and 15.  On the high side the series is now over 02200U/S.  The number 5 plate shown hear is courtesy of Tom Perri


The high and the low of it.  Tom Perri again makes these two images of West Chester University plates possible.  West Chester began their plate program in 2005 and have so far issues some 400 plates, with the reported low and high shown here.



Here's another gem from Tom Perri.  Very nice image of a Conshohocken Fire Company No. 2 plate, and very close to the reported high which is 10021C/F.



And from Steve Ondik comes this U.S. Marine Corps Veteran sporting a new high number.  These plates came out in late 2009 or early 2010 and started at 10001M/C.



The two pictures on the far left are West Chester University Campus Use license plates.  WCU is the only known PA college campus to use an official Campus Use license plate.  This other picture of a Moravian College Campus Use vehicle with some kind of what appears to be a made-up piece of card stock based on the Moravian College plate.  Its official status is unknown.  Anyone aware of any others?


Here's a numeric progression of Expeditionary Forces Veteran plate photos.  I only had a single image of the strange 'intermediate' version of this plate type shown on the three plates starting on the left, then over the last few days I spotted the above plates in the 22-hunderd and 23-hundred series.  The current format is the 24-hundred series version, now on the visitPA family of plates base which came out at the end of 2014 depicting the actual medal.  Credit for the E/F2171 plate goes to Brendan Sherry, and the E/F2405 plate to Ryan Battin.


First generation Farm Truck History high  number has been revised.  Farm Truck plates first came out in 1977 on the blue-on-yellow base.  Thanks to a recent plate acquisition by Clayton Moore, we have a better idea of when the the plates switched over to the yellow-on-blue base.  The change took place somewhere between FM-45328, which is still on the blue-on-yellow, and FM-48650 which is on the yellow-on-blue base.  Anyone have something in between?



Posting 10/18/2015

Had to look twice at this one.  It's the first image of a Sons of American Legion plate and it's also a vanity.  The vanity version allows up to 5 characters, one dash or space but not both.  This plate type has been on the street since about March of this year.



Jaska Börner provides this image of a Silver Star (Medal) plate.  This is the third-highest military award for valor awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces.  Any uniformed service member may receive the medal, which is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.  Needless to say, these plates are few and far between.  A friend of mine from high school was awarded a silver star by giving his life to save his platoon leader.


The image on the far left is the first picture of a Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society plate.  These plates have been in use for only about a month.  Tom Perri snapped the image but was without his usual camera at the time and had to use his phone.  The near left image is a prototype showing some more detail.  Judging by the plate serial number, the plates are selling well, so I'm sure it won't be long before another image comes along.


Arthur Levine captured this image of the number 6 Pinnacle Health System plate.  These plates hit the street about August of last year.  The reported high is #11, but there may actually be about 19 plates in use.



Here's a low number Reading Buccaneers, Inc.  These plates were approved in 2008 but may not have been on the street until 2009.  The current reported high is 00107R/B; however, there may have been as many as 129 plates issued since inception.  If you're wondering, the Reading Buccaneers, Inc. is a drum and bugle corps.


The Emergency Medical Services is one of the few plate programs that is not run by a particular group, rather an applicant just need to be a member of a EMS agency or fire company/department. This is similar to the generic Fire Fighter plate which is also not run by a specific organization.  The plate pictured hare is one of those that was issued after all of the replacement plates were reissued on a number-for-number basis in 2001.  After the replacement plates ended at about E/M03335, the next tier started at E/M05300 and ran to E/M05999, then moved to the visitPA base.  The image is courtesy of Tom Perri.  Also thanks to Jordan Irazabal for his research on plate sequence anomalies.


Here is a pair of West Point Alumni plates — one of the very few organizational plates using a 4-digit serial number format.  The plate on the far left is one of the organizational plate types that was replaced plate-for-plate on the www base.  Plates issued after the replacement process jumped ahead to W/O1000. The plates shown here are the reported highs on the lower and upper tiers.  The near left image is courtesy of Tom Perri.


This high number Temporary Intransit cardboard plate.  I always found the use of the word 'Intransit' interesting, since it's not really a word, maybe in-transit.  Anyway this plate was spotted by Jordan Irazabal.



This nice 1935 Tractor plate has been added to the image gallery.  I am uncertain where this image came from, possibly from eBay a couple years ago.  In any case, if it belongs to you let me know and I'll credit you for the plate.




Posting 10/11/2015

Here's the latest Special Fund plate.  This one, as you may recall, is the motorcycle version of the Honoring Our Veterans plate.  This plate resulted from the passage of Act 17 back on July 8.  It's also the first motorcycle plate with some type of graphic feature, except for the Person w/ Disability plate.  Personally I feel that the postage stamp size of the graphic symbol takes away from the esthetic appeal of the plate.  It could be that the H/V plus 4 numeric characters did not leave enough space for a larger graphic.  The graphic is a scaled down version of the eagle and flag used on the full size plate.  The plates cost $35 with $15 of the sale proceeds going to the Veterans Trust Fund.


In other plate news

It appears that the Eastern Berks Fire Department now has some 22 plates on the road.  No photos yet.  Eastern Berks is made up of Bally, Barto and Bechtelsville stations which have joined together to form one fire department.  


Also the Lung Cancer Alliance has 3 plates in use.  No photos yet, and this one won't be an easy find with so few plates in use.




This Cedar Crest College plate image was provided by Steve Ondik.  The reported high on this plate type is 10026C/C; however, this high dates back to March of 2013.



This low number Telephone Pioneers of America is is part of the plate group issued as replacement plates for those who had the previous yellow on blue version.  This is not a recent picture but one from my archives to show more variety.  These replacement plates ran to about 000792T/P.  After reaching that point there was a gap in numbers with newly issued plates starting at 01600T/P.


Not that we need another of the newest Perm-Trailer plates but it was a clean shot just begging to be snapped.  It's also the latest reported high.




This Bus plate picture was provided by Clayton Moore.  You may recall that during the 2000 replacement process that plates from BA10000 to BA47999 were replaced on a plate-for-plate basis.  This represents the potential range of plates but actual low and high are unknown.  The lowest I've seen was BA28785 and the highest was in the BA45000 series.  None of those replacements had the dash separator.  Following the replacement process, new plates began at BA-48000 and began using the dash separator.  Hopefully time will provide more details. 


This very unusual 1932 shorty plate is believed to be a Dealer plate.  Unfortunately at that time there was no legend used on plates to identify the type; however, the 'X' at the time is believed to have been used exclusively on Dealer plates.  The 'X' could also be used in various positions.  Once upon a time, there was a very dedicated Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee by the name of Frank.  Frank saw the benefit in preserving much of the early Pennsylvania plate history; however, another employee did not see it this way and took it upon herself to dispose of it all.  Much thanks to Clayton Moore for the picture.


These two older cycle plate pictures are also from Clayton Moore.  The 5-digit 1927 Motorcycle plate is in contrast to the 3-digit plate shown in the image gallery, and the 5-digit 1928 Motorcycle plate is in contrast to the 4-digit plate shown in the image gallery.  There are still a number of years from the '20s, '30s, '40s and even '50s with no plate pictures, if anyone can help. 


This very nice 1936 Tractor plate was provided by Tim Gierschick.  This plate series for 1936 began at plate 1 and went well into 4 digits as can be seen in the plate gallery.  The tractor section has a decent display of plates from 1914 up thru the final year of issue about 1983.  Still missing are plate images from 1927, '29, '32 and '33.



Posting 10/4/2015

Plate News — When Act 17 was signed into law back on July 8, it provided for an "Honoring Our Veterans" motorcycle plate.  That plate is expected to become available on October 6, 2015.  It seems likely that it will be considered a Special Fund plate.  I'm expecting the plate to be the first motorcycle plate with some type of graphic feature (except for Person w/ Disability), possibly similar to the full size Honoring Our Veterans plates.  Stay tuned.


In other plate news, here's a prototype image of the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia plate.  Unfortunately very little is known about this plate.  My efforts to obtain more information on this plate from the DMV were futile.  Contacting the World Meeting of Families organization was not attempted; however, nothing could be found on their website.


Here's the second example we have of a Moravian College in a vanity or personalized configuration.




While on the subject of Moravian College plates, these older www base plates have been added to show three and four-digit plates in addition to the one and two-digit plates posted previously.  The plate on the far left was actually taken back in 2002, the other plate is the current reported high and was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  As always check Tom Perri's PA Plates website to see all the latest highs.


This low number St. Thomas More Alumni Association is from Jaska Börner.  St. Thomas More was a Philadelphia Catholic boys high school that was closed back in 1975 but still maintains an active alumni association.  The reported high is G/B01056 on the www base.  The organization has not moved to the graphic visitPA base.


This nighttime traffic shot of the latest high Taxi plate is also from Jaska Börner.  The first Taxi plates were issued in 1977.  Prior to 1977 taxi vehicles used bus plates.  When Taxi plates were reissued on the www base in March of 2000, the starting point was TX-35000, then in late 2007 the plates moved to the visitPA base at TX-46000.


Here's another traffic shot of the latest high Person with Disability plate, also from Jaska Börner.  This plate type dates back to 1965 when they were known as Handicapped Person plates and used a rectangle box with the letters HP inside.  Around 1977 the HP and wheelchair symbol were used together for the first time.  Then on the last version of the '84 base, probably issued in the late 1990s, the HP was replace with PD.  To see the history of HP/PD plates click here.


One older www-base Salvage Yard plate was added to show an additional example of this run.




Also 4 four visitPA Salvage Yard plates have been added.  The WL-23464 plate on the far left helped to narrow down where the transition took place away from the dash separator (on the visitPA base) to the keystone separator.  The WL-26218 is the current high and was taken by Jordan Irazabal


This mint condition 1967 Tractor Dealer plate picture is being used with permission of Jeff Lesher.  The plate is a beautiful example of the Tractor Dealer plates that were used from the late '50s through 1970.  While the formatting is very similar during that period, 1967 is the first year to have the state name embossed into the upper margin of the state map outline.  Prior to '57 PA was part of the plate legend.  These plates were first issued in 1916 but I have no pictures and very little information until the early 1950s.



Posting 9/27/2015

Check back next week to see more on the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia plate, including a prototype image.


Here are a few examples of the latest run of Permanent Trailer plates.  This current group with the A in the next to the last position have been out since some time in April and were first seen in May.  It appears that all four numeric characters progress as a group even though the A falls in between.  So the next plate in the series with PT-424A9 would be PT-425A0.  The A is the last character to advance and the PT prefix does not advance.  The far left plate was spotted by Bill Stephens, and the near left was provided by Jordan Irazabal.


Clayton Moore sends along this image of the latest high Blue Moon Cruisers Rod & Custom Association.  These plates have been on the street since about August of 2013.



Here is a pair of Shippensburg University Alumni plates.  The plate on the far left is an older photo on the www base with logo and all of the alpha-numeric characters embossed, except for the word PENNSYLVANIA at the top.  Then in 2013 the plates received a facelift with the logo now in color, and the S/U and plate legend all flat screened.  It appears that the newer plate series began as S/U01700.


I don't focus a lot on Passenger Vanity plates, but certainly single letter and single number plates would tend to catch anyone's attention.  So it is with this Q plate.  Q is probably the least used letter in the PA plate alphabet.  PA also has a slash zero character (Ø), which is supposed to be used on amateur radio plates where the number zero (0) is used, so as not to be mistaken for the letter O; however, I have never seen this character in use, except on an older Amateur Radio sample plate.


Here's the latest high number Antique Vehicle plate courtesy of Jeff Lawson.  Click the link to see more images, history and evolution of this plate type.



This is an example of the second tier Bucknell University plate issued on the www base.  There were two tiers of these plates issued. The first series were the number for number replacement plates issued on the www base.  This second series, still on the www base consists of plates issued since the re-plating, and shows a jump in plate numbers leaving a block of numbers skipped.  The first tier went from B/U20001 to B/U20388, the second series B/U21500 to B/U21657.  Then in late 2011 Bucknell was approved for the newer graphic visitPA base which appears to begin at B/U21700, and has a current reported high of B/U21718.


On the far left is a very rare 1938 Commercial Motorcycle plate which is part of a short 12-year run.  The plate base is similar to standard motorcycle and motorbike plates except for the legend.  It is believed that the plate serial numbers started with 1 and were likely limited to 3 digits.  The expiration date was added to the top border in 1941.  Thanks to eBay user bigdave763 for permission to use the picture.  The other plate is a '38 Motorbike (MB) sample from Dave Lincoln shown for comparison.


Here's a 1945 Motorcycle plate with an alpha character followed by three numbers.  This was the second series in the '45 issue as the first issue was all numeric starting at 1 and progressing to 9999 before going to the alpha-numeric layout.  Actually the second series likely began with single letters such as A to Z before going to A1, etc.  An old BMV source shows nearly 14-thousand motorcycles registered; however, this may have included Motorbikes and Commercial Motorcycles.  Thanks to ebay user luv2wheels for allowing the use of the image.


This all numeric 1948 Motorcycle is also courtesy of eBay user luv2wheels.  Except for the color, the '48 plates were formatted similarly to the '45 plate above, with an all numeric series followed by alpha-numeric run.  With the war being over, motorcycle registrations skyrocketed to some 32-thousand in 1948.



Posting 9/20/2015

Here's the latest reported high Bus plate and Limousine plate courtesy of Jordan Irazabal.




Here are two Classic Vehicle vanity plates.  The plate on the far left was recently photographed by Steve Ondik, while the 94ZUK plate was provided by Ryan Battin some time ago.  For personalized Classic Vehicle plates, the prefix 'C' is supposed to be part of the serial number.  Of the 4 pictures of such plates I have, 2 have the prefix and 2 do not.  So much for consistency.


This Antique Historic Car plate picture on the far left kind of reminds one of the old sample plates on this base with their PA00 format.  The PA02 picture was provided by Steve Ondik.



The Antique Historic Car plate on the far left was snapped on the go by Bruce Bufalini.  The plate however, is believed to be a fake, as the T80Z serial number comes from the later graphic series of plates as shown on the near left plate.  Bruce also noted that the purple looked darker than it should.  Many antique car owners prefer the older style plates.


Here's the latest high Repair Towing plate.  The picture was provided by Steve Ondik.  This plate type started at RT-20000 on the www base, with the R/T00000 to R/T19999 series reserved for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy organizational plates.



Here's another high, also from Steve Ondik.  The frame makes the legend — Blue Moon Cruisers Rod & Custom Association, a little hard to read.  I never understood the rational behind purchasing an organizational plate, then obscuring some of its features with a frame.



Jeff Lawson sent this photo of the number 1 Civil Air Patrol plate.  These plates first hit the streets in 2007 with a current reported high of some 32 plates; however, there may be as many as 57 plates out there — so not a common plate.



This road shot of a Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plate was provided by Steve Ondik, and represents the latest reported high number.  Sales seem brisk, but PA has lots of hunters.



It doesn't look like anything special, but thanks to Eric Tanner and his research skills, we now know that this is a 1924 State Owned vehicle plate.  This is the first year for what would later be called Official, Official Use or Official Use Only plates.  Eric found an article in the Altoona Mirror of December 13, 1923, describing all of the new code letters for 1924 types.  This is a great piece PA plate history.  Also thanks to Jordan Irazabal for sharing Eric's find.



Posting 9/13/2015

Plate News — It looks like a couple new plates are in the works.  In looking thru the PennDOT list showing Personalized Registration Plate Availability, there are two plates not yet listed on the Special Organization list. The first is Kuhl Hose Co. Inc.  They are located in Erie County and the plate appears to be formatted as 00000K/H.  The other is World Meeting of Families - 2015 Philadelphia plate.  This appears to be related to the papal visit this September.  The plate formatting is likely 10000W/M.  If this last plate is part of the festivities surrounding the Pope's visit, it seems a little late not to have the plate already on the street.


In other plate news. 

Arizona State University has, or soon will have, 2 plates on the street.



It appears that Bucks County Community College, now has, or soon will have, about 6 plates in use.



And the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society will have about 159 plates on the road.




Even though I live on the eastern side of PA, this is the first Rutgers University plate I've seen.  According to Tom Perri's website, the reported high is 00079R/U.  Their plate program was approved in 2011 with plates first seen on the street in 2012.  Rutgers is headquartered in New Brunswick, NJ, and is considered the state university of that state.


Here's the latest high Vietnam War Veteran plate.  Toward the end of 2014, this plate received a make over to bring it into the family of plates.  This change likely occurred at V/W09500.  This move also paved the way to allow Vietnam War Veteran vanity plates.



This Allegheny College plate picture on the far left was taken in traffic by by Bruce Bufalini.  It is also the new high.  This plate type has been around since 1997 and was originally issued on the yellow on blue base as shown in the sample image.  If anyone has an actual first-issue Allegheny College plate they are interesting in selling, or a picture of one, it would be much appreciated.  I have no pictures of actual plates on the yellow on blue base.


Here's a street shot from Steve Ondik showing the latest reported Passenger high and and registration credential in rear window.





These Gettysburg 1863 plates seem to be selling well, and there appears to be a market for paying the extra fee to have them customized into a vanity version.  This plate was spotted by Arthur Levine.



Finally this week a couple more old dealer plates for the gallery.  This first plate is a '51 Miscellaneous Dealer with the 'X' in the second position.  The series started with the 'X' in the first position and as the series filled, the 'X' would advance to the next position, and so forth.



This 1953 New Car Dealer plate shows the final alpha character in the 4th position.  After the initial series reached A999Z, the next series began at A00A0.  Both series are shown in the plate gallery by clicking the link above.




Posting 9/6/2015

A friend commented, when will it end?  As long as there are interested organizations, and as long as the current process remain intact, there will be more organizational plates.  Of course there are some plates that are no longer available for one reason or another.  And so this is latest organizational plate, Quality Deer Management Association.  No plates yet.  You can find them on the web at https://www.qdma.com/directory/Pennsylvania.


The NASCAR 3 Dale Earnhardt Legacy plate on the far left was spotted recently.  Note the NASCAR logo along the bottom of the plate is black and white, while the plate on the near left, which is an older picture, has a colored logo.  I have six images of this plate type, five of them with the black and white logo.  Of all of the NASCAR plates seen so far, the Dale Earnhardt Legacy plate is the only on where this anomaly has been noted.


It appears that the starting point for the Collectible Vehicle series was CV0100 back in 1996.  The plate on the far left is the lowest I've seen, while the near left plate is the latest reported high from Ryan Battin.  So far some 1500 plates have been issued.  Unfortunately this unique style and color combination will give way to the family of plates look.


It's not a new high but it the newest Classic Vehicle plate on this website.  Tom Perri's website reports the latest high as C33981 based on an picture from Bruce Bufalini.  In addition to the Classic and Collectible plates shown here, PA also offers Antique and Street Rod plates, as well as the YOM/Vintage registration option.  There are similar motorcycle plates with the exception of Street Rod.


I just acquired some dealer plates, nothing special, but they do help to fill some of the many gaps.  This 1954 New Car Dealer has the second alpha character in the 4th position.  After the initial series peaked at A999Z, the next series began at A00A0.  The first A did not advance.  An old BMV document says some 58,000 dealer plates were issued; however, what is really needed is a breakdown by dealer type.


Next up is this 1955 Used Car Dealer.  At the time, and for many years, the B-prefix stood for used car dealer while the A-prefix stood for new car dealer.  There was also a C-prefix Dealer or Transit Dealer plate, but their scarcity makes it difficult to establish the year of origin.  Could they date back to the start of the A and B series in 1946?  One PA collector may have a C-prefix Dealer from 1954.


For 1957 the same assortment of plates was issued.  What '57 brought to the table was the use of 6-character plates for the first time.  Plates were all 6" by 12" and the map outline had been reduced to accommodate the additional character.  Narrower dies are also in use.  These were first seen on later '56 plates.  Aside from the additional numeric character, the A, B, C, and X prefixes were essentially the same and identified the type of dealer plate, as seen here with this '57 Used Car Dealer.


The final dealer plate this week is this 1971 New Car Dealer plate.  This plate is in my collection and I do believe this is likely a sample; however, it is formatted correctly.  Although this is not the only '71 dealer plate plate in the History Section, 1971 saw the end of the map outline and the beginning of 7-character plates.  All of the dealer series now uses a small keystone separator between the 3rd and 4th character.  Also the Tractor Dealer did away with the TX prefix and now uses a D12-345D format.  It is also likely that the Trailer Dealer series began with E12-345E format.



Posting 8/30/2015

PA U.S. Olympic plate?  You may recall that during the 2013-14 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 1187 was passed and signed into law as Act 109 on July 2, 2014.  One of the provisions of the law was the authorization of a Pennsylvania United State Olympic license plate.  It is now listed in the vehicle code section 1354.1 as United State Olympic plate.  This plate has never become available, why?  I have asked Senator Argall, a sponsor of the bill, and received no response. I have asked PennDOT about the plate. They thanked me for asking and told me “No information has been provided to us at this time.”  Finally thanks to Senator Scavello's staff I got an answer: the Olympic Committee would not give PennDOT permission to make the plate.  There may be more to the story.


This Adopt A Greyhound conceptual plate picture was spotted on the Nittany Greyhounds website.  (https://www.nittanygreys.org/i/license_plate.png)  It's not yet listed by PennDOT.  It's also using the GH prefix and 20000 number block assigned to Going Home Greyhounds.

This World War II Veteran plate is the latest reported high number, and was provided courtesy of Tom Perri.  As time moves on it is likely that very few of these plates will be issued in the future.  WWII vets are dying at the rate of almost 500 a day, and of the 16-million who served, fewer than 855-thousand remain.  I'm also guessing that this is the reason that this plate has not not be switched over to the family of plates design.


Bruce Sakson shares this very nice Ohio River Trail Council plate picture.  This is also the reported high in this series.




Like 'em low?  These # 1 and # 2 American Legion plates were recently spotted by Tom Perri.  On the other end of the scale the high plate on Tom's website is listed as A/L02631.  At this point in time the American Legion has not made the transition to the graphic base.


Bruce Bufalini shares this very low number University of Pittsburgh plate picture he snapped recently.  This plate number probably dates back to 1988 on the yellow on blue plates, and then was reissued in 2002 as shown here.  These Pitt plates are also available on the graphic base but every one I've seen has been U/P04000 and above.


Juniata College (Huntington, PA) has had plates on the road since 2001, and therefore did not have plates available on the earlier yellow on blue base.  This plate has also not yet switched to the newer graphic base although there is a Maryland Juniata plate available with a graphic symbol, so maybe it's in the works.  Anyway, Tom Perri's website lists the high as J/C00572.


Bruce Bufalini snapped this Corvette with a Classic Car plate.  It turns out it's one of those plates that changes the plate tracking number range.  Classic Car plates, at the time, flip-flopped the location of Pennsylvania and Classic Car several times.  I've revised the changeover point from 50500 to 50750.  It's still an estimate, but should now be closer to the actual changeover point.


This 1946 Motorcycle plate is courtesy of Aimer Senott.  The colors were yellow/dark blue although time has had its way with the original colors on this plate.  The series ran from 1 to 9999, then went to a A000 format.  Some 14-thousand plates were issued according to one source, and 20-thousand according to another source. 



Posting 8/23/2015

This nice low number Animal Friends plate picture has been added to several higher number images.  The image is courtesy of Brendan Sherry.




Here's a new reported high number for the Cetronia Ambulance Corps plate.  The image was provided courtesy of Steve Ondik.  These plates have been on the street since the end of 2007 or beginning of 2008.  Somewhere around 37 plates have actually been issued to date.



This Rotary International plate is not quite the latest high, but it's close to the reported high of R/I01298 on Tom Perri's PA Plates website.  Like the Syria plate below, this plate was also issued in two tiers.  The first ran from R/I00001 to about R/I00590.  The next series began at R/I01200.  The first tier is believed to be the plates that were the replacements for the first generation yellow on blue issue, and these would have been issued abound 11/20/2001.  Theses were issued on a number for number basis  The high number group is believed to be those that were issued since.  So far this plate has not transitioned to the newer graphic style base.


The Syria saga.  These Syria AAONMS plates do not exist on my (eastern) end of the state, so if you want a picture, you either go there or live there.  In this case I'm referring to the Pittsburgh area.  By going there it may take several trips to photograph one.  Anyway the plate on the far left is the product of Tom Perri's and Jordan Irazabal's efforts to photograph such a plate.  They took this picture some time ago.  The other picture was a street shot from Brendan Sherry.  This plate type seems to have two distinct number series.  The first group runs from S/T00002 up to around S/T00700 with lots of gaps.  Then it stops.  The next series is from S/T01301 to about S/T01345.  The first series is believed to be the plates that were the replacements for the first generation yellow on blue issue, and these would have been issued abound 7/25/2001.  Theses were issued on a number for number basis  The high number group is believed to be those that were issued since.  So far this plate has not transitioned to the newer graphic style base.


It's been a while since anything NASCAR-related was posted, but here on the far left is a NASCAR 88 Dale Jarrett plate from Steve Ondik.  These Jarrett plates were issued for the 2004, 2005 and 2006 racing seasons.  About 135 were issued.  On the near left is a different NASCAR 88 Dale Jarrett sample.  Little is known of this plate but it is believed to have been issued during the 2006 racing year.  It is unknown how many, if any, of this version were actually sold.  The sample image is courtesy of Paul Bagnarol.


If you're a Penn State fan or a low number fan — check this out.  The Penn State Alumni Association saw the opportunity to get into the plate business early on, like late 1985.  Since then they have had some 15,000 plates on the road as far back as 2005, almost twice as many as the next highest organization — the FOP with 9,000.  If these stats are not enough, there is also a Penn State University license plate, not shown above.  10 other states also offer a Penn State plate.  But wait there's more, the Pennsylvania College of Technology is an offshoot of Penn State and has its own plate.  The #1 plate above is from Nick Tsilakis, and the #2 is from Jordan Irazabal.


License plate trivia.  Did you know that the Fire Fighter plate was the first of many modern organizational plates to be issued in PA?  They were first issued in 1983 and are the only organizational plates to be issued in the blue on yellow color scheme.  The legislative bill that authorized the plates actually called for them to be red and white.  Obviously that never happened.  At first these plates could also be configured as vanities, then that option was quickly withdrawn.  (Yes, there were National Guard plates back in the '30s, but I don't consider these to be organizational plates.)


Here's an '84 base B-series Dealer plate with '88 and '89 stickers.  It is my understanding that the '84 base Dealer plates no longer assigned the letter prefixes to particular dealer type, but rather merged into a single dealer type.  So as the series progressed the remaining A, B, D, and E series were all used and the F series extended well into the F88-000F series.  It is not believed that any G-series plates were ever issued.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the use of the image.



Posting 8/16/2015

Here's the latest Motorcycle Dealer high spotted at a recent bike event.  The MCD along the bottom of the plate is not only the plate legend but also part of the actual serial number making this plate MCD705D.  This also applies to the Moped Dealer series which started at MPD4000, again with the MPD within the yellow color band.


These are not new finds, they are older images showing the progression of Motorcycle Dealer plates since 1999.  If you want to see older Motorcycle Dealer plates starting with the first year of issue in 1914, click the link.  A few gaps exist if anyone can help.


This Motorcycle plate is also a new high, and is part of the recent 0AA00 series.  This plate was actually mounted vertically making it kind of hard to read.  The vertical mount below would have been a better option.



In speaking to some bikers, quite a few are still unaware of the vertical M/C plate option on the far left.  Also while the serial number consists of 5 characters, only the 3 in the center advance, while the M and the C are static characters, meaning they do not advance.  At least they don't advance at this time.  The center alpha character, in this case the letter G is the last to advance.


The other plate was my personal conceptual suggestion for a vertical plate.  It would allow more space for larger more legible characters while retaining the PA color scheme.





These Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plates have been on the street for some two months, but this is the first one I've seen.  More than 590 of these plates are now in use.  The plates cost $56 of which $25 goes to the Game Commission to be used for conservation efforts.



You really can't call the three pictures on the far left license plates.  Steve Ondik provided the truck picture and the homemade Farm Permit pictures on the far left.  The yellow on black plate was one I snapped.  These are not required but are often put on a vehicle rather than be stopped by the police for not having a plate.  A vehicle with a farm permit, actually called a 2-year Certificate of Exemption, receives a rectangular sticker as shown above in place of a standard registration plate.  These stickers are to be displayed on the side of the truck forward of the drivers door.  A farm permit also places certain limitations of how and when the truck may be used, as well as a reduced registration fee. 


Back in 2009, with some help from Chuck Harrington, I was able to complete the section on Foreign Consul plates covering their entire run from 1958 up thru 1984 or '85.  Missing from that effort was the earlier run of Consular plates from 1929 up thru 1935.  ALPCA member Larry B. Niederschulte has allowed me to use his very nice 1935 Consular plate shown above.  The '31 plate I had in my photo collection, but I don't know where it came from.  I'd like to credit the owner if possible.  The 1935 image depicts the plate design drawing from an old BMV document.  It should be noted that while all the plates shown here have the date stacked on the left and PENNA stacked on the right, several years were reversed.  It is believed, but not confirmed, that plate numbers were authorized up to 100.  The low number was likely 10, but may have been 1.  Plate pictures from several years are still needed to complete the 1929 to 1935 history.


This 1925 Tractor plate is rough and a little hard to see.  Click the image to see a larger picture of the plate.  So far it's the only example of a 1925 Tractor plate, so it helps provide some basic information.  There is no tractor legend; however, from 1924 until 1933 there was no identifying legend, and from 1914 to 1927 the E prefix meant engine, traction engine or tractor.  It is unknown if the dash separator was used on this series at the time but it was used on other '25 plates.  This image came from Aimee Senott.



Posting 8/9/2015

The Eastern Berks Fire Department has now been approved for an organizational license plate.  So far no plates have been issued.




PA Society of Professional Engineers has also been approved for an organizational license plate.  So far no plates have been issued.




This Gettysburg 1863 vanity plate picture was provided by Bruce Bufalini.  This is a Special Fund plate intended to help support the monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield.  Eric Conner suggests this particular plate, with PA11, likely belongs to a re-enactor associated with the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.





Here's another vanity — this one on a Person with Disability plate.  The vehicle code now allows up to 5 characters not counting the required PD symbol.  A space or a dash is permitted, but not both, and these are not counted as part of the registration number.  This photo was provided courtesy of Bill Stephens.



This PA Choose Life plate was provided as a road shot from Steve Ondik.  These plates seem to be selling fairly well with Tom Perri's PA Plates site reporting a high of 01327C/L , while the Planned Parenthood plate is listed with a high plate of 00020P/P .



Here's a low number example of the latest Motorcycle plate format.  This format began at 0AA00 and was first seen a few weeks ago.  This is the 4th numerical sequence since the plates were issued on the www base in April of 2000.  The first series was 3 letters followed by 2 numbers, such as AAA00, then the visitPA base came along in 2005.  When that series ran out in 2009, the format went to 4 numbers and 1 letter, such as 0000A.  This series included the 60,000 plate run of "Live Free Ride Alive" plates.  Then about mid-2012 the series again changed to 1 letter and 4 numbers, such as A0000, and when that series ran it course, the series shown in the above image made its debut.  PA has some 400-thousand bikes registered.


This 2S Antique Motorcycle plate seen at a recent show does not seem to fit any of the known formats. The first series, or Format 1, ran from A0 to D99, was the only series where I've ever seen 2-character plates and I have well over 100 images.  It was suggested that possibly it was a Format 6 plate as seen in the 02S plate below, however, it just doesn't seem likely or logical that both 2S and 02S would be produced in the same series.  Also as mentioned above no 2-character plates have been seen outside of the first series.  The 2S plate also has wide hole spacing indicating that it was not an early plate.





Here's a '42 Dealer with a '43 tab, but what's interesting here is this example of a Dealer plate with the 'X' in the 4th position.  At that time all regular dealer plates used an 'X' in the serial number with early plates having it in the first position, then it became necessary to move the 'X' from the first position to the second and so forth.  I don't think it ever moved to the fifth position.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the use of the image.


Here's a nice 1927 Official plate.  The image was received from Clayton Moore but never got posted.





Posting 8/2/2015

The Spring Mill Fire Company No. 1, Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, now has, or soon will have, about 10 plates on the road.




Well, we knew this was coming, just didn't know when.  The plate on the far left is the newly redesigned Classic Motorcycle recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  Of course it's now on the visitPA family of plates base.  On this new design only the 0977 is embossed while the stacked C/L and CLASSIC MC are now flat screened.  By comparison the other plate is the traditional, all embossed, map outline base, from Ryan Battin.  In my opinion, the older base is far more befitting a classic motorcycle.


The plate on the far left is a personalized or vanity version of an Antique Vehicle plate.  Up to 4 characters are now permitted when personalized.  It was spotted at a recent car show.  Hideous frame.  The unframed plate in the center is the new high number for that series.  This 3TY5 image was provided by Ryan Battin. 

And just to see how far the series has come in the last 60 years or so, here's the first plate issued.  It's still a valid plate on the front of a vehicle at the Swigart Museum in Huntingdon, PA.  Thanks to Jake Eckenrode for the # 1 picture.




Steve Ondik captured this image of a Knights of Columbus plate.  This organization has had a plate program since 1987 and the current high is in the mid-24 hundred range.  What I don't understand is why someone would spend the extra dollars to get a nice organizational plate and then completely cover up the name of the organization with a dealer frame.


This picture, also from Steve Ondik, shows a fairly low number Bloomsburg University plate considering their current high is B/U01835 according to Tom Perri PA Highs website.



This image has a interesting story behind it.  The owner, had this registration, KFG-670, as a remake on the current visitPA base until it was damaged by vandals.  He inquired of PennDOT as to what he should do.  The response he received was, "Thank you for contacting PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services.  You would be able to keep and use the undamaged plate.  Please destroy the other plate so that no one else may use it."  Really, that's the solution, instead of surrendering the damaged plate then issuing him a new plate, have him use his "You've Got a Friend" plate?  While many would be happy to use this mid-1980s plate, that solution doesn't speak well for PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services.


This week's dealer plates include this 1956 Miscellaneous Dealer plate with the serial progression showing the 'X' in the third position, indicating that all of the combinations were used with the X in the first and second positions.  This year also signifies the standardization of full size plates at 6" x 12".  Also in 1956 two different dies sets were used.  Early '56 plates used the older wide dies, while later plates, as in the example shown here, have the narrower dies (or fonts) often referred to as '57 dies.  Click the link above to see both die types used in 1957.


For 1967 the biggest change was the switch to 6 characters on all full size dealer plates as seen in this Miscellaneous Dealer plate.  Also notice the map border has been reduced to allow the six characters.  The use of six characters meant that the final character in the New Car Dealer and Used Car Dealer plates, such as A1234A would never run out of alpha-numeric combinations necessitating the movement of the final letter to the fifth position, such as A123A4.


And for the 1958 Dealer series we see the addition of the small keystone separator, while gone from the plate is the expiration date and the keystones flanking the word DEALER.  This was also a multi-year plate, and could be renewed thru '61.  Originally the plan was to issue metal tabs to be used over the 58.  Later the metal tab plan was scrapped in favor of validation stickers.  Early plates had a tab slot, later ones did not.  For what it's worth I've seen X11-254 without the slot, X13-737 with the slot, and X14-740 shown here without.  Apparently the transition was not a hard break.  Thanks to Mike at pl8source for the image.

At this point I've pretty much used up my dealer images, but many pictures are still needed and much historical information remains to be documented.  I'd like to thank all those who helped out with the dealer series.



Posting 7/26/2015

Bruce Bufalini snapped this image on the far left of a newly redesigned Persian Gulf War Veteran plate.  This was likely done to get the plate onto the visitPA family of plates base, which then also allows the plate to be personalized.  The other image is a recent example of Persian Gulf War Veteran plate before the makeover.  That image was courtesy of Ryan Battin.  I suspect there are a few other plates that have also received a facelift but so far have not been photographed including Disabled Veteran without the wheelchair symbol, Steel Worker, Hearing Impaired, and others.


Eric Conner spotted this Commercial Implement of Husbandry plate.  It's definitely not one you see every day considering PA has some 11,715,000 registered vehicles and only 54 Commercial Implement plates.  This also makes this plate one of the most collectible.  This series started at CI1500H when PA re-plated back in 1999.  This plate appears to be on a spray rig.  There is also another class of plates called Implement of Husbandry without the term commercial.


This PA DCNR Class 1 ATV registration plate is not a great image but it may be a new high if anyone's tracking such plates.  The alpha character started in the 5th place and has now progressed to an 'S' the 3rd position.  I'm wondering if there could be plates where the alpha character has advanced into the 2nd position.  Also this plate shows a 2016 validation sticker.


Not sure if this is a 1930 YOM plate or not but I'll call it that since I don't know the year of the car.  Anyway, if there was ever a question about the size of numbers vs. letters on PA plates, this plate should help settle the debate.  Of course the relative size varied somewhat over the years and there were passenger plates in 1924 and '25 where all the characters were the same size. 



These beautiful images of 1911 Dealer plates came from Peter Cohen who took the photos at the recent ALPCA Convention.  The image on the far left is the pair of 1911 Dealer plates while the other picture is the bottom plate with the other plate cropped out of the picture.  These were actually the 6th pair of dealer plates made in PA with the 'X' prefix.  Dealer plates first came into use in 1910 but did not use the 'X' until 1911.  These plates are believed to measure 6" x 10".  Does anyone know who owns these beauties?




Here is a pair of 1952 Dealer plates.  The image on the far left is a Used Car Dealer and the other is a Miscellaneous Dealer, but only branded as a Dealer.  Obviously the plates have lived very different lives judging by their appearance but both a good examples of the plate formatting.  Note that only 'X' or  Miscellaneous Dealer uses the small keystones by the legend.  The 'X' can also appear in at least the second and third position.  These small keystones were used up thru 1957, and were first seen adjacent to the plate legend as far back as 1924.  Thanks to Jeff Francis for the use of the 'X' Dealer image.


Next in the lineup is this 1954 New Car Dealer plate.  Note the serial number on this plate ends with 'Z', after the plate serial number reached A999Z, it then started a new series at A00A0.  The first A never changed or moved.  Again my thanks goes out to Jeff Francis for the use of the image.



The last plate is this '55 Miscellaneous Dealer plate again thanks to Jeff Francis.  This plate is similar to other Miscellaneous Dealer plates of the era, and like those others, the 'X' can advance to at least the second position.




Posting 7/19/2015

This personalized U.S. Navy Veteran plate images was snapped by Brendan Sherry.  The spacing and the arrangement gives the plate a distinctive look.  Would this be a Grumman A6 Bombardier/Navigator?



Pretty sure the characters on this plate are all the letter O and not the number 0.  In PA alpha characters are shorter than numbers.  Interesting find by Nick Tsilakis.



I love number 1 plates, and no, this image is not the product of some computer wizardry, it's actually a pair of Personalized Severely Disabled Veteran plates.  The use of two plates is now permitted to be used on vehicles equipped with a wheelchair or personal assistive carrying device mounted to the rear of the vehicle that would otherwise obscure the registration plate.  One plate is mounted on the vehicle in the normal fashion while the other is mounted to the rear of the carrier device described above. The image came from Ryan Battin.  This new provision in the law also permits this same practice with Disabled Veteran and Person with Disability plates.



More doubles!  Since Penn State University Official plates are issued in pairs, it seemed logical to take pictures of both plates.  Also since these are permanent plates they don't get validation stickers, and hopefully will always retain their Penn State blue and white colors.  This is not the current high number but it's very close.  According to Tom Perri's PA Plates website the current high is A43-44P.


Spotted this Philadelphia University plate the other day.  The school only has about 67 plates in use, but strangely they are using two different versions of their logo, and both are on the visitPA base.  The most recent plates use the newer logo.  This plate has the older logo.  Click the link above to see both graphic formats.  It also appears that the organization is subsidizing the cost of the plate as they are charging $20 for the plate which is less than what PennDOT charges the organization.


Jeff Francis has generously allowed me to use photos from his Felix2 website.  We begin the older plates this week with more Dealer plate photos.  On the far left is a '47 New Car Dealer.  All Dealer plates at the time used 5 characters, the A prefix here means New Car Dealer and does not advance.  The final alpha character, in this example M, is last to advance and can also occupy the fourth position.  The other plate is a Miscellaneous Dealer plate and uses the characteristic 'X' in the serial number.  The series would begin with X0000 then after reaching X9999 would advance to 0X000, and so forth.


This 1949 Miscellaneous Dealer plate has been added to a pair of '49 New Car Dealer plates.  While this plate has the 'X' identifier in the first position, the 'X' is also known to be used in the second position, and possibly the third spot.  Thanks to Jeff Francis for the use of the image.



This 1951 New Car Dealer plate is an update to a previously posted image.  Thanks to Jeff Francis for the use of the image.




Finally we have a 1955 New Car Dealer plate.  This is the first image of a '55 dealer plate on this site.  The serial format is A000A as shown here, then A00A0 as the series progresses.  The initial A does not advance.  There was also a B-series Used Car Dealer, a C-series Transit Dealer, and an X-series Miscellaneous Dealer.  The C-series is the most difficult to come by.  Thanks to Jeff Francis for the use of the image.



Posting 7/12/2015

In Legislative News, Senate Bill 284 has been signed into law by the Governor as Act 17 on July 8.  The act will take effect in 90 days, which would be October 6, 2015.  If you recall, this bill authorizes “Honoring Our Veterans” license plates for motorcycles, making it the first Special Fund Motorcycle plate, and likely the first graphic PA motorcycle plate.


It's back!  The PA District Kiwanis International was first posted as a pending/proposed organizational plate back in late 2005, later moved to the approved list of Special Organization plates in late 2006, but before the plate went into production, the organization chose to cancel the program due to lack of plate orders in 2009, then a couple months ago the program was reactivated.  They only have a few plates on the road so far.  Michael Phillips spotted one near Easton, but was unable to get a picture.  This image is from their website.


Bruce Bufalini spotted this low number Seton Hill University plate in his recent travels.  Seton Hill is a small facility with about 2,500 students and is located in Greensburg, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh.  They have a little over 100 plates in use.  The plate program has been around since 2006.



Arthur Levine snapped this image of a personalized Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue plate.  If you put all the letters together you get TAILBGR, which I read as TAIL BIGHTER.  The organization has been in the plate business since 2013 with a little more than 200 plates in use, not counting any vanities.



Here's the latest in the progression of Passenger plates.  When the www.state.pa.us plates were first issued in 1999 the series started at DAA-0000, then in December 2004 a slightly redesigned visitPA.com base was released starting at GBA-0000.  Since then the G and H series were exhausted and now the current J series has progressed to JXF.  There was no I series as not all letters are used.  Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing.


From a low of 02 to a high of 177, Eric Conner captured these pictures of special event plates from the 2015 US Women's Open Golf Tournament taking place in Lancaster, PA this past week.  Is this piece of cardboard really the best a state like Pennsylvania can do to help support an event such as this?  With tens of thousands of visitors from all over attending, and $4-million in prizes.  I don't know much about golf, and I'm sure the spectators and players didn't come to look at license plates, but cardboard?


This beautiful, white on green, low number porcelain 1913 Dealer plate on the far left is courtesy of Jeff Francis.  The series began at X1 and ran to approximately 3391 according to DMV records for that year.  Plates were sized according to the number of characters on the plate and ranged from 6" x 8" for X+1 digit, 6" x 10" for X+2 digits, 6" x 12" for X+3 digits and 6" x 14" for X+4 digit plates.

The other plate, for comparison, is an earlier post from Clayton Moore.  Notice that the x2666 plate uses an smaller x than the X278 plate.  This change seems to have taken place between X278 and x913.


This 1917 Dealer plate shows an X+4-digit format on a painted white on brown base.  Porcelain was used up thru 1915, then all plates were made of steel for many years.  Again plates were sized according to the number of characters in the serial number.  Sizes were 6" x 13½" for X+1, 2 or 3 digits, and 6" x 16" for X+4 digit plates.  This 1917, and the 1918 and '19 shown below were photographed at the recent Trexlertown meet.  I got permission to photograph them, but unfortunately did not get the name of the owner.  Can anyone ID the owner?


This 1918 Dealer is another nice example.  The colors were white on black and the plate was made of steel.  Sizes may have been as small as 6" x 10"; however, this is not confirmed, then 6" x 13½" and 6" x 16" depending on the number of characters.  The plate shown here is believed to be 6" x 16".  The series is believed to have run from X1 to about X7771 according to old DMV records.


The final entry for the week is this 1919 Dealer.  The colors were red on black and the plates were again made of steel.  They are similar to the 1918 plate except that the legend has been moved to right-hand side.  The same comments on size would also apply.  The series is believed to have run from X1 to about X9199 according to old DMV records.  It is unknown if Tractor Dealer plates which were introduced in 1916 were included in these numbers.



Posting 7/5/2015

In Legislative News, Senate Bill 284 has been presented to the Governor for his signature on June 29, but it seems like he's not in a mood to sign bills right now, since he and the legislature are not seeing eye to eye over the budget and a few other matters.  I believe he'll eventually sign it.  Check back next week.


The latest Motorcycle plate debuts with a new alpha-numeric format.  After the most recent format reached Z9999, the series switched to a new format, 0AA00, as seen in this picture from Ryan Battin.  The numbers advance first, then the second letter, and finally the first letter, A, will advance last.


Here's the first image of a Moravian College vanity.  I drove past this thing and did a quick turnaround.  We're seeing more personalized organizational, special fund and veterans' plates.  Eventually I would expect to see these on Limos, maybe some dealers, but not on the likes of Implement of Husbandry vehicles.


Here's a nice personalized or vanity PA Breast Cancer Coalition plate recently received by a member of Steve Ondik's family.  This plate replaced the, now available, Honoring Our Veterans plate below.



As mentioned above, Steve Ondik has replaced this Honoring Our Veterans plate.  If anyone is interested in this plate, Steve will consider offers on it.  His email is sondik71@gmail.com.



These are not only the first images but also the high and the low number for this new organizational plate from Northampton Fire Department.  The far left plate was my find and the near left plate picture came from Tom Perri.



Here's the first image of a Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plate.  It was sent to Ryan Battin from a coworker.  If the picture seems a little strange it was taken at a steep angle and Photoshop helped to straighten and square it.  As mentioned last week, about 525 of these were released in the first run.


Back to the weekly Dealer additions.  Here is a 1944 Dealer plate.  The X Dealer identifier could be used in at least the first two positions, for example X1234 and 1X234.  According to a DMV tally, there were some 18-thousand dealer plates in 1944.  It is also likely that the series began at X1 and went to X999 in the 6" x 10" plates before going to 6" x 11" size for 5-character plates.  This plate is courtesy of Jeff Francis.


For 1947 Dealer plates, the series had branched out to 3 types, New Car Dl'r with the A prefix, Used car Dl'r with a B prefix (not shown) and Miscellaneous Dealer with the X in the serial number but as shown here, not necessarily in the prefix position.  It is believed that these additional variations actually started in 1946.  Of course there were also Tractor Dealer, Motorcycle Dealer and Motorboat Dealer.  These plates are also courtesy of Jeff Francis.


Posting 6/28/2015

In Legislative News, Senate Bill 284, which authorizes “Honoring Our Veterans” license plates for motorcycles, has passed both the Senate and the House.  Assuming the Governor will sign the bill into law, it will then take effect in 90 days after signing, and will be the first Special Fund plate for motorcycles.  


It appears that about 525 Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plates are now on the street or soon will be.  No image yet.  Total cost for the new plates is $56 with $31 of that going to the PA Game Commission.



Bruce Bufalini captured this passenger vanity image of a plate that in his words ". . . got past the censors."  Always good to have the camera or smart phone handy.  Just never know what you're going to see, and not just license plates.



Jordan Irazabal spotted this vanity version of a Vietnam War Veteran plate.  These plates are allowed to be personalized for a fee with up to five characters.  The stacked V/W prefix is required and helps identify the plate type.



Here's a pair of 1920 Dealer plates.  The colors are white on dark blue.  For many years beginning in 1911, and continuing until about 1965, the 'X' was the hallmark of a PA Dealer plate, but like everything else there are exceptions.  For example, in 1934, the letter A was used, and of course in later years additional dealer configurations were used.  According to BMV records there were some 12,680 Dealer sets issued, but this plate might suggest at least 13,925 were issued.  Likely all Dealer plates measured 6" x 16" due to the way the legend is spaced out.  This 95 year old pair of plates is courtesy of Jeff Francis.



This yellow on dark blue 1923 Dealer plate picture was provided by Clayton Moore.  These steel plates were issued in pairs and it is believed that all Dealer plates that year measured 6" x 16".  The wide legend helped to dictate the size of the plates.  It is believed that the series began at X1, the plate pictured here may be a high.


Beginning 1923 and lasting thru 1933, Dealer plates did not have any identifying legend, and while the use of 'X' is generally considered the Dealer plate identifier, there were some variables that can not be conclusively verified.  For example, the 1931 Dealer plate shown here is limited to 5 characters as all plates were either 10" or 12"; however, there were some 28,000 plates issued.  The solution seems to be moving the 'X' into the second or third position considering that each move would allow another 10-thousand plates; however, additional research is warranted on alpha-numeric formatting.  This plate is courtesy of Jeff Francis.


Here's a pair of 1942 Dealer plates.  As stated above more research is needed on the alpha-numeric formatting; however, we do know from the images shown here that 4-character and fewer plates were 6" x 10", while 5-character plates were 6" x 12".  In addition, it is likely that the 'X' could occupy various positions.  What is really needed is a copy of the registration plate design for each year.  Such a document is known to exist for 1935 only.  Certainly they were made for other years, but have any others survived?  Also, notice the expiration date of 3-31-43 is now embossed in the top of the map outline.  This started in 1941.  This pair of plates is thanks to Jeff Francis.


This is the same '42 Dealer plate shown above but this time with its companion 1943 validation tab.  This image is courtesy of Jeff Francis.






Posting 6/21/2015

Legislative News  I'm going to go way out on a limb and say that Senate Bill 284 will pass.  The Bill, which is now under consideration in the House, will authorize “Honoring Our Veterans” license plates for motorcycles.  They would likely be similar to the full-size Honoring Our Veterans plates currently in use.  If passed, this will be the first Special Fund plate for motorcycles, and will likely be the first PA motorcycle plate to display a graphic symbol.  Watch for final action on the bill by the end of June.


This first generation Antique Motorcycle plate was provided by Sarge at Klassy Karz.  It appears that the initial run went from A0 or A1 to D99 with PENNA on top and MOTORCYCLE along the bottom.  The legends were flip-flopped in the next series.



I believe this very nice 1971 base Official Use plate on the far left is likely a sample, but I'm not sure of this.  Can anyone verify?  The plate picture was provided by Sarge at Klassy Karz.  The image on the near left is from a 1971 BMV license plate brochure.



I'm thinking this is likely a novelty plate, and likely produced by the BMV.  I've seen similar plates in the past without any legend to identify the type, but never with 8 characters.  Does anyone know more about this plate?  The plate picture was provided by Sarge at Klassy Karz.



Hard to believe this is still in use but this old Passenger vanity has a 5-15 validation sticker.  The owner of this vanity likely has a current version of the same plate.  This image was provided by Adam Garrettson.



I don't have a single picture of a 1930 Trailer plate, but thanks to Clayton Moore, I now have three.  Note that this is a trio of sequential plates.  There was no identifying legend in 1930 only the T in this case.









I'm working on filling in some of the many gaps in the Dealer History section and with some help from Jeff Francis this 1916 Dealer and a number of others have been added to the mix.  For 1916 some 6600 pairs of Dealer plates were issued.  This series would have started at X1.



This 1949 Dealer plate shows the second alpha character ('D'), in the 4th position instead of the 5th spot which is more common.  When all of the A000A alpha-numeric series was used, the next progression was A00A0, with the second letter now in the 4th spot.  The initial A does not advance.  Image courtesy of Jeff Francis.


Next is this 1958 base New Car Dealer with a 59 sticker.  The 58 base was renewable thru '61.  Besides the legend, the first letter also identifies the plate type.   All dealer plates beginning in 1957 were 6 characters, and the final character advances last, while the initial A does not advance.  Early plates had the tab slot while later plates did not.  Anyone have a '58 Dealer without?  This image is also courtesy of Jeff Francis.


Next in the lineup is this '62 Miscellaneous Dealer.  It this case the 'X' is the only alpha character on the plate and it does not advance.  The '62 base was renewable thru 1963.  Thanks again to Jeff Francis for the image.



The final plate for this week is this 1967 New Car Dealer.  Again the initial 'A' does not advance, but the final letter does.  Again thanks to Jeff Francis for the photo.




Posting 6/14/2015

This is the first image of a vanity National Ski Patrol plate on this website.  The system allows up to 5 characters plus the S over P which are required.  The image was provided by Steve Ondik.



Also from Steve Ondik is this Repair Towing plate which appears to be the current high for this plate type.




This Legislator (Retired) plate image was provided by Colin M.  He indicates that there is another such plate in his area on the visitPA base.  All Retired Legislator plates seen so far have been on the older www base as seen here.



Here is Delta Waterfowl plate picture from Brendan Sherry.  These are not very common as there are only about 36 such plates in use.




This grouping represents the progression of Municipal Government plates likely issued around 1984 to '86.  The center-left shows is a newly identified plate variation.  When the serial number sequence ran out at MG-99999 (far left), and then changed over to 00000-MG (center-left), for a period of time the MUNICIPAL legend used a wide font as in the previous series, then later the legend switched to MUNICIPAL on a narrow font on the 26775-MG plate.  The changeover to the narrow font occurred before 24852-MG.  By the way, this new discovery comes from Clayton Moore.  Need help narrow down this run of plates?


Here's a 4-16 PA0000 validation sticker from From Ryan Battin.




It is not my goal to provide extensive coverage of YOM plates, but since they are a part of the plate collecting hobby, I will provide some coverage.  Based on the plate I'm guessing that this is a '69 VW.





These Tractor Dealer plates have been cross-listed from the Tractor Dealer section into the Dealer section.  The '64 is from Jerry McCoy, the '68 is from Mike at PL8SOURCE and the '70 is from Kelly Brewer.



This 1975 Tractor Dealer is also courtesy of Mike at PL8SOURCE.  The '75 Dealer series was issued as a 2-year plate and could be renewed for 1976.



They don't get much lower than this.  Well actually the O1 plate does exist.  That's the letter O for anyone not familiar.  The letter O was used on Bus or Omnibus plates since their inception in 1924 up to the present.  The 1950 Bus series went from O1 to O9999, then progressed into the OA000 series.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for sharing this find.


This 1930 Bus plate has also added to the Bus History section.  According to BMV records there were some 8460 buses registered that year.





Posting 6/7/2015

This very nice low number Press Photographer plate was recently spotted by Jordan Irazabal.  This relatively rare type has never used an identifying plate legend, even as far back as 1956 when the plates were first introduced; however, the PP has always been part of the serial number.  They are also one of the few PA plate types issued in pairs, but only the rear plate gets a sticker.


Here's an Operation Enduring Freedom in a personalized or vanity format.  The image is courtesy of Bruce Bufalini.  The law now permits the personalization of these plates with up to 5 characters.  The stacked E/F are required.



Here's another personalized plate, this one being a Severely Disabled Veteran from Tom Perri.  As with the above plate, the stacked letters D/V are required and up to 5 additional characters are permitted.  You may wonder why this plate type is not using the same 'family of plates' coloring as most others, this is because the legislation that authorized this plate also specified the formatting that the plate must follow.


Spotted this fairly low number Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. in southern Delaware.  This organization has almost 280 plates in use.




Here's a Robert Morris University plate.  Robert Morris is located near Pittsburgh, and I have never seen a plate here in eastern PA, but did spot this one even farther away and out of state.



Two Governors' plates added.  At the recent ALPCA plate meet at Trexlertown, PA, John Willard had his Governors' plate display.  From that display I captured these two images of 1953 and 1957 plates.  Take a look at the page, it includes the first Governor's plate from 1912 up thru the last plates issued on the '77 base and likely used into the early 1980s.  Unfortunately several years are missing and may still be out there in someone's collection.  Also check out Eric Conner's site, "Pennsylvania Politicals" - http://www.pennsylvaniapoliticals.com/home.html


Back to the weekly Dealer plate updates.  Toward the end of the run of the '79 base dealer plates, it appears that the A-series New Car Dealer and B-series Used Car Dealer plates were running out of numbers, and since the '79 base Dealer plates were not being replaced by the new '84 series, it was decided that for the future, all dealer types would be merged into a single dealer type as far as plate serial numbers.  Therefore it appears that the new '84 Dealer plates used the few remaining A & B-series plates and then moved into the D-series, and likely started where the '79 base D-series Tractor Dealer left off.  It also appears that the first D-series plates had PENNSYLVANIA on top whereas later plates at some point after D27-270 had DEALER on top.  The A-series image is from Clayton Moore and the two D-series images are courtesy of ShopLicensePlates.com.


1984 Dealer continued.  As the now-generic Dealer plates progressed from the D-series into the E-series, the E-series would have started above where the E-series Trailer plates left off on the '77 base.  Then as the E-series filled up, the progression eventually expanded into the F-series which had not been used on the '77 base.  The F-series ran at least as high as the F88-000F series.  It is not believed that any G-series plates were ever issued.  When the full scale plate replacement was done in 1999 - 2000 the new series started at H00-000H.  These images are courtesy of ShopLicensePlates.com.


Also for 1984, the C-series M.V. Business plates were no longer issued; however, those in use on the '79 base were allowed to continue and to be renewed.  The M.V. Business category was then split into four groups, the largest of which was Repair/Service Towing. The other three included Salvage Yard, Transporter and Repossessor.  Each of these new types had their own distinctive prefix. RS & RT for Repair/Service Towing which used the legend REP / SER TOWING and later changed to REPAIR TOWING.  Salvage Yard used a WL prefix, while Transporter and Repossessor used DT and RE respectively.  So for a number of years M.V. Business, Rep/Ser Towing, Salvage Yard, Transporter and Repossessor all co-existed.


As a side note, about 1991 or '92, dealerships that had been listed as Tractor Dealers, even though their plates no longer indicated such, were given a new plate type called Dealer-Farm Equipment.  About the same time another new dealer type was introduced called Dealer-Multi Purpose.  Then in 1995 another new type with Trailer Dealer legend was issued.  If all of this is not confusing enough, around the same time a Watercraft/Trailer Dealer plate was issued.



Posting 5/31/2015

This is the first image I've seen of an Antique Vehicle in a vanity format, although we have shown a few personalized Classic Vehicle plates and one Antique Motorcycle plate.  This picture was provided by Steve Ondik.



Here's the first image of an Ohio River Trail Council plate.  The picture was provided by Bruce Sakson.  I failed to track this plate type; however, Tom Perri (www.paplates.com/) lists them as having 18 active tags back in December of 2014.



The Arizona State University (Alumni Association I presume) is the latest organization to get an organizational plate in PA.  No plates on the street yet.



Gettysburg College's old plate gets a new look on the far left.  An unusual feature of the old style plate was that the serial number was limited to 4 digits.  Normally organizational plates have 5 digits, with a handful of exceptions.  Wonder if the new design will stay with the old format or go with 5?


Here's the latest ATV Class 2 plate with a 2-year validation sticker.  It was provided by Vern Kreckel.  Class 2 ATVs are larger and heavier than their smaller counterparts.  It appears that all Class 2 plates use the letters X, Y or Z.  The first plates issued had the letter in position 5 , then later in the 4th position and now in the 3rd position.  These plates are issued by DCNR (Department of Community and Natural Resources) and not by PennDOT.  DCNR also handles snowmobile registration.


I'm not completely certain if the Auto Manufacturer came out in '78 or '79, but since it is undated and has sticker wells, so I'm going to list it with the other '79 dealer types.  (Note that this is not a new plate on this website.)  According to the December 1988 issue of the ALPCA Newsletter, Governor Shapp asked for 125 Auto Manufacturer plates to be made as a courtesy to the new VW plant in Mt. Pleasant.  These plates were used up to the late '80s or possibly 1990.  The exact beginning and end numbers are uncertain but they are between A38-800A and A38-999A.  This number series came right out of the New Car Dealer series as there was no such Auto Manufacturer plate type up to that point.  Obviously upon closure of the plant, these plates have become highly collectible and sought after.  I've been fortunate enough to acquire the one shown here.


Here are examples of the 1979 New Car Dealer base on the far left from Clayton Moore and Used Car Dealer on the near left from ShopLicensePlates.com.  The '79 base was issued up thru 1983, and could be revalidated up to around 2001 or so when the www base plate replacement took place.  Beginning in 1984, both the '79 base and '84 yellow on blue base were in use concurrently.


This C-series Motor Vehicle Business is being cross listed to help complete the series.  This is a '79 base with 1981 and 1982 renewal stickers.




This 1979 base D-series Tractor Dealer and E-series Trailer Dealer are also being cross listed from the Tractor Dealer and Trailer Dealer sections.  The Trailer Dealer picture is thanks to Clayton Moore




Posting 5/24/2015

For those who regularly visit this site, I need to reduce the size of the weekly updates dues to other demands on my time.  No, my wife is not pregnant.


This Support Your Zoo vanity plate was provided by Ryan Battin.  As mentioned a few weeks ago, these have also been showing up on more organizational plates types as well as Veteran, and Classic tags.  Personalizing the plate adds $100 to the cost of most plate types.



These Permanent Trailer plates show a change in the alpha-numeric formatting.  The plate on the far left is approaching the end of the Z series.  The PT-0000A formatting has been in place and progressing since these plates were reissued in April of 2001.  Now that the series has been exhausted, the near left plate shows a new alpha-numeric format with PT-000A0.  The older plate image came from Tom Perri and the newer picture was recently spotted by Bill Stephens.


It appears that Northampton Fire Department has, or soon will have, 10 organizational plates on the road.




What's up with the Lock Haven University plate numbering system?  This school has an enrollment of some 5,500 and yet has current plates with numbering in the tens, hundreds, thousands and 10-thousands.  The numbering is all over the place like someone was asleep at plate press, or maybe there is a more logical reason for this.  The L/H01000 was recently spotted by Ryan Battin.  The L/H10010 was from Tom Perri.


This week I had the pleasure of visiting and spending a few very enjoyable hours with fellow ALPCA member Arthur Levine and seeing his great collection.  Arthur has some great displays and he is an accomplished collector of many things besides plates.  We also managed a trade in which i got this Antique Historic Car plate.


Added this recently acquired 1954 Miscellaneous Dealer plate to my collection and also to the Dealer History Section. For '54 plates were all 6" x 10¼" in size and were also issued in New Car Dealer (A000A or A00A0) format, Used Car Dealer (B000A).  It is unknown when the C-series Transit Dealer plates were first issued.  


For 1977 Dealer plates once again have new dated base and for the first time since 1970 the colors switched back to dark blue on yellow.  The plate legend has also been reversed.  The far left plate is an A-series New Car Dealer from Clayton Moore, while the other plate is a B-series Used Car Dealer from ShopLicensePlates.com.


Also for 1977 is this C-series M.V. Business plate which is part of my collection and is being cross listed from the Motor Vehicle Business section.  Also, I recently acquired this D-series Tractor Dealer plate.  What I don't have is a plate or picture of an an E-series Trailer Dealer plate for '77.


The 1978 Dealer series is almost a carbon copy of the 77 plates with the exception of the year.  The New Car Dealer on the far left is from Chuck Sakryd, while the B-series Used car Dealer plate was provided by ShopLicensePlates.com.



These 1978 C- and D-series plates represent the M.V. Business and Tractor Dealer plates which again, are almost identical to the 1977 plates above.




Posting 5/17/2015

In Legislative News, the PA Senate has passed Senate Bill 284 authorizing “Honoring Our Veterans” Motorcycle License Plates.  The bill now moves to the State House.  If passed, there will be a Special Fund motorcycle plate similar to the "Honoring Our Veterans" plate currently available for passenger vehicles and trucks up to 14,000 lb.  A portion of the proceeds goes to the Veterans' Trust Fund.

Now, I'm wondering, if this bill passes, could it open the door to other graphic motorcycle plates in PA?


Here's another vertical Motorcycle plate from Ryan Battin.  At least for now the M and C are non-advancing characters making the 8K4 the portion of the serial number that advances.  The next plate in the series would be M8K5C, then M8K6C, etc.  Eventually after reaching M9K9C, the series will advance to M0L0C.  These plates have been around for about 14 months and are eligible to be personalized with up to 5 characters.





Here's a pair of personalized or vanity Classic Vehicle plates  These pictures were provided by Bruce Bufalini and were taken at a weekly car show.



Here are the first images of Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Company plates.  They have about 6 plates on the road.  The images were provided by Nick Santiago.



This pair of U.S. Navy Veteran plates was provided by Ryan Battin.  The plate on the far left was from June of 2013 while the near left plate is a new high for the series.  This plate type has been around since late 2009 and started at 10000N/A indicating that some 2000 plates have been issued since inception.


Lots of dealer plates this week beginning with this 1967 Used Car Dealer from Clayton Moore on the far left.  The companion to this is the '67 Motor Vehicle Business plate which I am cross listing from the section on MV Business plates.  I think putting all of the dealer types together for each year shows a more complete picture, so eventually I'll add Tractor Dealer, although very littlie is known about many years.  For now I have no plans to cross list Motorcycle or Moped Dealer plates.  Still need a '67 New Car Dealer picture.


For 1968 we have almost the same scenario as above with a Used Car Dealer plate from Clayton Moore on the far left, and the corresponding Motor Vehicle Business plate cross posted from my own collection.  Again still needed is a '68 New Car Dealer image.


This 1969 M.V. Business and Tractor Dealer plates are being cross listed with the 1969 Dealer series.  Unfortunately at this point I don't have an images of 1969 New or Used Car Dealer plates.  Additional Tractor Dealer plates will be added later.



We move ahead to 1973 Dealer series with a New Car Dealer plate on the far left and a Used Car Dealer on the near left.  Thanks to ShopLicensePlates.com for these plate images.



Clayton Moore provided this pair of A-series New Car Dealer plates from 1975 and '76.  For 1975 dealer plates were undated, instead using stickers for that year and for '76.  ShopLicensePlates.com provided the B-series Used Car Dealer plate.



The C series M.V. Business and E-series Trailer Dealer for '75 and '76 are being cross listed to help fill out the series.  Missing from the group is a D-series Tractor Dealer which would be a nice addition.

PLEASE NOTE: Parts of the of the dealer history section are a bit chaotic, as I have been undecided about what to include.  Hope to get it straight eventually.



Posting 5/10/2015

Here's the latest Moped high number plate courtesy of Ryan Battin.  This current series started at BA000 back in April of 2000 on the www base, then switched to the visitPA base when the series hit BN000 around August or September of 2007.  With all of the additional plate types that are now eligible to be personalized (vanity plate), it seems odd that Moped plates do not qualify; however, Moped Dealer plates do qualify.  For more on Moped plate history, click this link.


Like the Moped plate above, Special Mobile Equipment plates are out there but you certainly don't see them every day.  This plate type, now in the B series transitioned to the visitPA base around August of 2013 after reaching SME-999Z on the www base.   These are seen on cranes, backhoes, well drillers, street sweepers and some other construction equipment, but not on farm equipment.


Here's a new high Apportioned Bus plate from Eric Conner.  The plate has taken a big leap forward from the previous high of BN-02585, and yet it still has not made the switch to the visitPA base as has every other bus, limo, mass transit, and taxi type.  The reason for this is that they made a huge initial run of these plates that will probably last a couple more years.

While on the subject of Apportioned Bus plates, I am desperately seeking information, pictures, plates of the original, BL series Apportioned Bus blue on yellow base.  It appears very possible that none of the original series plates exist in the hobby today.  


This Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation plate is the latest high, and was provided by Arthur Levine.  In case you were wondering, Pennsylvania does have an elk herd.  Most are in Elk County and some of the surrounding areas.



As I start this week's assortment of older Dealer plates, it has become increasingly clear that this section will never be complete in terms of photos, and it is very doubtful that there will ever be a full description of every Dealer format for every year.  This is a group effort with help from a number of individuals without which there would be no Dealer History section.  I don't wish to sound pessimistic, in fact I am very enthusiastic.


The first plate to be featured this week is this 1948 New Car Dl'r plate from Clayton Moore.  This plate series would have begun at A000A, with the final alpha character advancing last, and the first character does not advance.  The plate before this one would have been A999C.  There were also Used Car Dl'r plates formatted as B000A.  The existence of a C-series Transit Dealer plate in 1948 is unconfirmed.  A 1948 X-series was posted last week.


Next in the lineup is this 1953 New Car Dl'r plate.  Except for the colors being reversed, the '53 plate is very similar to the '48 plate above.  It seems that at the time there were plenty of new car dealers, but comparatively few used car dealers, thus the relative scarcity of Used Car Dealer plates.  It is believed that the '48 plates measured 6" by 11", while the '53 plates were slightly shorter at 6" by 10¼".  This plate may have been on eBay some years ago.


As we move ahead to 1956, full-sized plates were standardized at 6" by 12".  Again the plates were 5-characters with the first letter indicating the dealer type, except for the X-dealer series where the X is not limited to the first position.  Note in this 1956 New Car Dl'r plate the second alpha character is in position 4.  This is because the first series after reaching A999Z, then progressed to A00A0.


The next plate in this series is this 1958 Used Car Dl'r.  The years from 1956 thru '58 were transition years.  First the standardization of the plate size in '56, then the change from 5 to 6 characters in 1957, and finally the addition the keystone separator and the start of multi-year plates in '58.  This '58 base with '59 sticker Used Car Dl'r plate image came from Clayton Moore.  Also note the tab slot on this plate, missing on later issues of the '58 base.


The next Dealer plate release was the '62 base which was renewable thru 1963 and included this '62 New Car Dl'r plate with a '63 sticker.  The remainder of the series included Used Car Dl'r (B prefix), C-series (Transit) Dealer, and X-series (Miscellaneous) Dealer plates.  This image was provided courtesy of Clayton Moore.


I just added this 1965 Transit Dealer plate to my collection.  The photo completes the '65 run of 'A', 'B', 'C' and "X" Dealer plates.  At this point the TX Tractor Dealer and Motorcycle Dealer series are not included, but are listed elsewhere.




Posting 5/3/2015

Bruce Bufalini captured this first image of a University of Pittsburgh plate in a personalized or vanity format.  In recent months these have been showing up on more organizational plates types as well as Veteran, and Classic tags.  Nice, but a little pricey, as it tacks on an additional $100 to the cost of the plate for most types.


The St. Charles Borromeo Seminary plate appears to an active type with some half-dozen plates in use or will be soon.




Which is the correct Lehigh University sample plate?  Note the plate on the left has the L/U identifier on the right side while the other sample has it on the left.  Also the legend font is different on the two plates.  The correct version is the one the far left, and as confirmed by the plate below.  Back before the transition to the www plates, there were a number of test plates made as samples, and some of these have found their way into collections.  The yellow on blue version is shown for comparison.  That image was provided by George Kunsman.





Back in late 2006 Lehigh University moved forward into the graphic plate arena with this upgrade.  The plate on the near left, while not a particularly good image, is the current high.  The plate on the far left would indicate that some lower numbered plates on the www base were reissued on the visitPA base.


As we continue to add to the Dealer plate history section, we begin this week with a 1948 Dealer plate as identified by DEALER on the plate legend and the characteristic 'X' in the serial number.  The X could at least be in the first or second position, and all plates are believed to be five characters.  There were also A-prefix NEW CAR DL'R and B-prefix USED CAR DL'R plates at the time.  The A and B Dealer plates are believed to have come into use in 1946.  The picture was provided by Clayton Moore.


The next plate this week is this 1949 New Car Dealer plate, also from Clayton.  This plate has the distinguishing 'A' as the first character of a New Car Dealer plate to identify it as such.  The 'A' did not advance but the final letter did advance but was the last character to do so.  There were also 'B' series Used Car Dealer plates.  I guess there weren't many used car dealers at the time since the plates are pretty rare.  Of course the 'X' series dealer plate was also part of the mix.


This 1950 New Car Dealer plate has a lot in common with the '49 plate above.  The final 'L' on both plates is just a coincidence.  This plate was courtesy of Chuck Sakryd.  Again there would also have been a 'B' series Used Car Dealer plate and an 'X' series Dealer plate.



Here's a '51 NEW CAR DL'R.  This plate is similar to the plates above and likewise would have had a 'B' series Used Car Dealer companion.  At some point in time as the number of dealer plates increased, the second alpha character after reaching A999Z, likely advanced to A00A0.  It is unknown when this took place.  Also at some unknown point in time besides the A and B-prefix plates, there was a C-series dealer plate such as C001A.  This was at a later date referred to as a Transit Dealer while the X-series dealer plates were called Miscellaneous Dealers.  Anyone have more insight or knowledge on this?


We're going to jump ahead to this 1970 New Car Dealer plate from Vern Kreckel.  In 1957 all dealer plates went to 6 characters, and in 1966 the legend NEW CAR DL'R and USED CAR DL'R was shortened to just DEALER, however, the A and B prefixes still meant new and used.  This was from Hauck Chrysler Plymouth in Ridgway PA, which is in beautiful Elk County, PA. This dealer also sold Ford in the late 70s until it closed for business in 1980.  For some this may have no meaning but for others this tells the storey behind the plate. 


Here's a '74 New Car Dealer plate also telling a storey of its place or origin.  On the reverse there is a dealer sticker from Rich Chevrolet Cadillac in Ridgway Pa, which is also in Elk County, PA. This dealer went out of business around 1984.



Last, but certainly not least, is this very nice, low number, 1942 Motorbike plate from Tim Gierschick.  No it's not a Motorboat plate.  They used MBL at the time, were slightly larger and used different colors.  We should all look so good at 73.




Posting 4/26/2015

Here's the first image of a Classic Vehicle plate in a personalized or vanity format.  The picture came from Ryan Battin.  According to form MV-11, for Classic registration plates, up to FIVE letters and/or numbers in combination are permitted.  The form goes on to say that a pre-printed, stacked letter configuration will appear on the personalized registration plate.  So either the plate was made incorrectly or the form was.  I'm sure that refers to the C prefix, in fact if you enter the combination shown here into the vanity check, the system shows that the plate would be C 94ZUK.


Here's the latest Going Home Greyhounds high plate from Brandon Sowers.  The plate helps to support the Going Home Greyhounds cause.




This Presque Isle Partnership plate represents another new high.  This specialty plate helps support the Presque Isle Lighthouse.  Presque Isle is a beautiful state park out in Lake Erie.  Where else can you go to see a lighthouse in Pennsylvania?



The NASCAR 3 Dale Earnhardt Legacy plate image on the far left was recently provided by Brandon Sowers, and with its black and white NASCAR graphic along the bottom of the plate, it is typical of the 5 or 6 images I have.  By contrast, the serial number on the near left is less than 30 plates apart, yet it has a colored NASCAR graphic.  Of the many NASCAR plates produced, the Dale Earnhardt Legacy plate is believed to be the only one to use the black and white graphic.


This is the first image of a 1987 base Amateur Radio plate.  While these may not have been all that hard to come by, there were four different plate variations of the yellow on blue base beginning in 1984.  First there was the "You've Got a Friend" base, then about 1987 the Keystone base as shown here, then in 1988 the "AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR" legend and finally in 1990 the the legend was shortened to "AMATEUR RADIO".  Click the link above to see them all.  This plate image was provided courtesy of eBay seller thisnthatnc14.


Here we have a 1934 Dealer plate.  For the first time since 1923 the word Dealer is back, but, the expected X is gone.  The plates were short at 6 by 10 inches and therefore limited to 4 characters.  With a 4-digit limit, it was necessary to use alpha-numeric combinations such as A123 to accommodate the needed number of dealer plates.  It is also known that Dealer plates with fewer than 4 characters were issued, such as A12.  The plate image was provided by Clayton Moore.


We jump ahead to this 1936 Dealer plate, also courtesy of Clayton Moore.  Immediately it is apparent that the plate is longer, now 6 by 12 inches, has 5 characters, and the X has returned.  At this point not much more is known about '36 Dealer plates; however, if they followed the same formatting as 1935 plates, there would have been 6 by 10 inch Dealer plates and the serial sequence would have been X1 to 99X9 on the shorter plates, and X1000 to 29X99 on the longer plates.  Hopefully in time some of these questions will be answered.


As I add more Dealer plates from the '70s and '80s I will cross-list some of the MV Business and Tractor Dealer plates that were previously posted in their own categories.  In this case these '71 MV Business and Tractor Dealer plates were added to the '71 New Car Dealer and Used car Dealer plates that were posted last week.

NOTE: The first year for Trailer Dealer or Utility Trailer Dealer plates, E00-000E format, is uncertain.  It could have been as early as 1971.  They are confirmed to exist by 1973.


Next up this week is this pair of '72 New Car Dealer and Used car Dealer plates, again with the 'A' series representing New Car Dealer and the 'B' series representing Used Car Dealer.  During this period Dealer plates were issued annually until 1975 when an undated plate was issued with a sticker.  That plate was then renewable in '76.  Following the 2-year plate, the series went back to an annual issue of dated plates in 1977.  The 'A' series plate is from Clayton Moore and the 'B' series plate came from Chuck Sakryd.


This 'C' series MV Business and 'D' series Tractor Dealer plates from 1972 are being cross-listed with the other '72 Dealer plates shown above.  The early history of Trailer Dealer or Utility Trailer Dealer plates (E00-000E) is not well documented. Any information would be welcome.



Posting 4/19/2015

Despite the fact that these Conserve Wild Resources plates were discontinued 15 years ago, a large number are still on the road, including this low number plate from Nick Tsilakis.  According to a BMV report, there were 66,443 such plates still in use at the end of 2014.  This is actually the most of any Special Fund plate.  Next is the Tiger plate with 63,000, then the Otter with almost 32,000, the Railroad Heritage with 27,800 plates, DARE with 19,600, Flagship Niagara with almost 10,000, and the newest plate, Honoring Our Veterans with 1,800.

It's very obvious that these beautiful graphic plates sold very well and supported their causes.  Unfortunately the gradual migration to the mundane 'family of plates' has sounded the death knell for most of these plates.


Arthur Levine provided this image of a West Manchester Township Fire Co. plate.  The plate is also the current new high.  West Manchester Township is located in York County.



Chuck Harrington provided this image of a low number Official Use plate.  I had mistakenly listed this series as starting at 00000-PA, while Chuck states correctly that the series started at 10000-PA, making this the 5th plate off the line.  This plate would have been issued as part of a pair since it is used on a passenger vehicle, whereas a commercial vehicle would receive a single plate, and a different number series.  I have done some revamping of the current Official Use section as well as the history section on Official Plates.  It has been a challenge to keep track of the single and dual plate series since the starting point of such practice seems obscure.


In plate news, it appears that Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Company will soon have about 6 plates on the road.



ALPCA small crestA good portion of each weekly update includes a segment aimed at depicting and documenting plate history.  So much good work has been done by a number of enthusiasts, yet so much of PA's license plate history remains to be written.  If this piques your interest consider getting involved, becoming a member of the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association, or ALPCA.  ALPCA has an extensive and ever-expanding plate archive section as well as many opportunities to meet others with similar interests at local and national events.  ALPCA has a great magazine also.


The first historical plate this week is this 1927 Dealer plate comes from Clayton Moore.  Note the absence of a Dealer legend, being left with the characteristic 'X' prefix to make the identification.  This is also the first year for the X to be smaller than the serial number.  Also by this point all plates adhered to the yellow and blue color scheme.  This plate is believed to be 6" x 15".


Clayton also provided this 1932 Dealer plate.  Note the shorter length, but the plate retains the characteristic 'X', and no plate legend.  The shorter size restricted the number of characters, and would have required the use of the "X" in other positions as the number of Dealer plates easily exceeded 20,000.


Here is a 1966 New Car Dealer plate.  By contrast the 1965 plate legend spelled out NEW CAR DEALER and USED CAR DEALER, whereas the words new and used were dropped in '66 just using the word DEALER for both types.  The distinguishing feature was the serial formatting with New Car Dealer using A00-00A, and Used Car Dealer being B00-00A, with the A and B prefix letter being static non-advancing characters.  The plate image is courtesy of Clayton Moore.


This is not a new plate on this website, but since we're doing the dealer plate series, it seemed logical to discuss the evolution of the Motor Vehicle Business plate.  Beginning in 1966 this new dealer series category called Motor Vehicle Business was created.  The plate formatting is similar to what previously had been called Transit Dealer which used the same format of C00-00A.  Also gone for 1966 was the Miscellaneous Dealer with its characteristic X00-00A format.  It is believed that Transit Dealer and Miscellaneous Dealer were by, and consolidated into the Motor Vehicle Business series.


For 1971 Dealer plates there were some significant changes to the design and layout.  Gone was the map outline, replaced by an embossed border, and the serial number has been expanded to 7 characters.  All New Car Dealer plates used an A prefix and suffix with 5 numeric characters in between, starting at A10-000A.  There is now a small keystone separator between the third and fourth character.  Used Car Dealer plates were very similar except for the use of a B in the prefix and suffix position.  The A and B characters were non-advancing.  These pictures are courtesy of ShopLicensePlates.com.  


A few weeks ago I posted a couple older Motorbike and Motorcycle Dealer plates from Alcova Jones.  The plate had actually belonged to his father, Edward F. Jones, when he rode in the 1940s.  Here we have another plate from Mr. Jones, this being a 1945 Motorcycle plate.  DMV records indicate that Motorcycle registrations for 1945 were around 13,800; however, this likely included Motorbike registrations as well.



Posting 4/12/2015

As time goes on we are starting to see more and more specialty and veterans' plates in a vanity format.  So it is for this Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America recently spotted by Jaska Börner.  I'm anxious to see some of the many eligible miscellaneous types in a vanity format, however, some, like Implement of Husbandry and Moped Dealer will most likely never be made into a vanity.


Speaking of vanities, this PA Breast Cancer Coalition 'FIGHT' plate was photographed by Nick Tsilakis.  Too bad the owner of the plate covered up so much of it with a frame.  Up to 5 alpha-numeric characters are permitted.  Wonder if the system would permit just the B/C prefix and no characters.


Here's a nice new In God We Trust plate from Clayton Moore.  It's also the current high number.  These plates were first seen in December of 2014.



Another image from Jaska Börner is this Operation Enduring Freedom plate.  It's also a new high. 




As mentioned last week, the Lung Cancer Alliance will soon be offering a specialty plate.  Don't know if this plate will be limited to those associated with the organization, or if it will be available to the public as a fund raiser.  So far there are no plates on the street.



The other new plate is this Spring Mill Fire Company No. 1.  Again, no plates on the street yet.  It is likely that the sale of these plates will be limited to those associated with the fire company.



Fellow ALPCA member Arthur Levine sent me a number of PA plate pictures recently.  Here's a low number AFSCME Council 13 plate.  According to Tom Perri's PA Plates website, at least 79 plates have been issued.



Continuing with the Dealer run, is this 1917 Dealer plate from Clayton Moore.  By 1916, porcelain had been replaced by painted steel.  For 1917 there two sizes of plates.  The X+3 digits pictured here and X+1 digit and X+2 digits, were 6" x 13½".  For X+4 digits those plates were somewhat longer 6" x 16".  According to DMV records there were 7891 plates issued, according to the ALPCA Archives the number is a few hundred less.


This 1922 Dealer plate image again was provided by Clayton Moore.  This is a wide plate measuring 6" by 16".  Because of the way the legend is spread out across the bottom of the plate, all plates are believed to be the same size regardless of the number of characters.  The color is brown on cream, and the formatting ran from X1 to X999, then a dash separator was added from X1-000 to the high which was above X10-000.


This nice undated 1965 Used Car Dealer plate picture was provided by Clayton Moore.  The plate legend and the B00-00A formatting identify it as a Used Car Dealer.  The other Dealer types from this series for that year were New Car (A00-00A), Transit (C00-00A) and Miscellaneous (X00-000).  Of course there were also Motorcycle and Tractor Dealers which for purposes of organizing them, are considered to be a different series.


This is a 1979 base Tractor Dealer plate as identified by the D prefix and suffix.  '79 was the last base where the D00-000D could be identified as Tractor Dealer; however, these plate could be revalidated into the early '90s when Dealer-Farm Equipment plates made their debut.  Later yellow on blue D-series  Dealer plates can not be identified as to which dealer type they were since the A, B, D and E dealer type designators was done away with in the mid-80s and they were more or less merged together as generic Dealer plates.



Posting 4/5/2015

Here's a very nice Combat Action Badge vanity plate — I suppose it stands for GUNNER.  This was a great find for Tom Perri.  So far I don't have a picture of a standard issue Combat Action Badge with the 5 digits, only this personalized version.



Nick Tsilakis spotted this Barbershopper plate recently.  Nice number.  In the image gallery, there is also a picture of plate B/Q01000.  This organization so far has not switched over to the family of plates base which would allow color graphics and personalization.



The two photos on the far left show the first image of a Philadelphia University plate on the redesigned format.  The plate on the near left shows the original formatting. The two images on the far left are from Jaska Borner, while the near left image is from Tom Perri.



Terrible picture — but new high.  This School Vehicle plate is part of the 9th formatting variations, just since the the www base was introduced.




This week PennDOT's list of organizational plates was updated to include four new organizations.  These include Bucks County Community College and Northampton Fire Department which was first shown here on 3/22. 



In addition to the new organizations above, Lung Cancer Alliance and Spring Mill Fire Company No. 1 (Montgomery County) have been added to the list.  I plan to have prototype images of the last two with the next posting.  None of the organizations have plates in use yet.


Last week we added additional Dealer plates beginning with 1910, the first year of issue, and included 1911 and 1912.  This week we start with this 1913 Dealer plate from Clayton Moore.  Again the progression was the same as earlier plates with the series beginning at X1 and advancing to somewhere around X3391 according to DMV records.


Next in order is this 1914 Dealer plate also from Clayton Moore.  Throughout this early porcelain series the biggest change form year to year was the color.  The other formatting is pretty consistent.  According to DMV records some 3367 dealer plates were issued for that year.  Note that the elongated slots at the top of these early plates was for the use of straps as an alternate way to mount the plates.


This trio of 1915 Dealer plates is a group effort.  The X29 and X5093 plates were provided by Tim Gierschick, while the X365 picture was provided by Clayton Moore.  Note that as the number of digits on the plates increases, so does the length of the plates.  They started at 6" x 8" for X+1 digit, 6" x 10" for X+2 digits, and 6" x 12" for X+3 digits and 6" x 14" for X+4 digit plates.  DMV records indicate that there were some 4834 Dealer plates issued that year.


Mike Coleman of TLH Plates / ShopLicensePlates.com has been kind enough to allow me to use images from his on-line license plate shop.  He has a nice selection of plates the US and other countries.  Right now he has quite a few Pennsylvania Dealer plates available.  First up is this undated 1965 Miscellaneous Dealer plate.  More to come.


I have added a new page of Links where I list websites that have helped me with pictures or information.  I will also list other helpful plate related website — basically anything that benefits the hobby.  Feel free to send me a link to your favorite plate-related website.



Posting 3/29/2015

Lots of material this week beginning with the first image of a Combat Action Ribbon plate.  This is one of five Combat Action plates that came about as a result of Act 109 of 2014.  This nice image was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  Click on Jordan's name and see the The Delaware 3000 website.


This high number Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of PA image was also provided by Jordan Irazabal.  In spite of this plate's long title, the Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America is the longest.



This group plate picture shows a mix of six of the latest issues, therefore making them the current highs for each type.  Click the image to enlarge it.  Shown on the image on the left column, top to bottom, are Passenger, Truck, Trailer, then the right column, Motor Home, Permanent Trailer and Special Mobile Equipment.  Thanks to Ryan Batting for sharing.  Note the Perm-Trailer plate is well into the Z series; the next series will be PT-000A0.  Also note that the Special Mobile Equipment plate is now in the B series.


Here's the latest high Motorcycle plate also provided by Ryan Battin.  To see tracking of all of Pennsylvania's plate highs check out Tom Perri's web site.  For those interested in plate progression, after this current series hits Z9999, the next series will be 0AA00.



Let's back up 105 years to this to 1910 Dealer plate from Clayton Moore.  This was the first year for PA to issue Dealer plates.  These white on dark blue porcelain plates were issued in pairs and were manufactured by Ingram-Richardson of Beaver Falls, which was abbreviated on the reverse of most plates as Ing-Rich.  The plate series began a number 1 and ran to 2908.  Please pardon the appearance of this Dealer History section until more plates are posted.


Also from Clayton Moore is this 1911 Dealer plate, also porcelain.  Note that 1911 was the first year to use the X identifier, which for many years was only seen in the first position.  These plates started at X1 and ran to X4034 according to an old DMV document.  Also, until about 1919, the size of the plates varied based on the number of characters in the serial number. 


Another very early plate is this 1912 Dealer, still on porcelain. and again from Clayton.  The use of porcelain continued until 1916.  Again the series began with X1 and continued to X7298 according to DMV records.  As with the above dealer plates the size of the plates varied based on the number of characters in the serial number.  Lots more Dealer plates coming over the next few weeks.


This is the first image of a 1923 Tractor plate.  This is a large plate believed to be 6" x 16".  The series started at E1 and ran to E999, then a dash separator was added following the first two characters starting with E1-000, and going to at least as high as the plate seen here.  This plate is courtesy of Mike at PL8SOURCE with some help from Jordan Irazabal.


These are not new additions to Trailer plates. Clayton Moore was able to provide higher quality images of several of his plates that were previously posted.  Shown here are 1934, 1938, 1949 and 1950 Trailer plates.


These Trailer plate images were actually posted last week to replace other images on the history page but not posted on the home page.  The XK-00283 is a nice example of low number Trailer plate since the series began at XK-0000 on the www base.  That images was from Clayton Moore.



Posting 3/22/2015

Here's the first image of a vanity version of a Veteran plate.  This plate type allows up to 5 characters + the required stacked U over S.  The plate was spotted by Nick Tsilakis.  Most of the Veteran plate types, with the exception of Korean War Veteran, Pearl Harbor Survivor, World War II Veteran and Medal of Honor, are now available to be personalized.  Most of the plates have a $100 price tag while a few disabled veteran types are $50.


Here's the very latest Antique Vehicle plate, shared with us by Ryan Battin.  These plates seem to be progressing steadily from the FM series back in August of 2013 to the current RN series a little more than a year-and-a-half later.  Great plate for a nurse.



This Northampton Fire Department (Northampton, PA) plate has been added to the list of pending / proposed plates.  The plate is not yet on the PennDOT list of organizational plates, and certainly not yet on the road.



Alcova Jones had this 1945 Motorbike (MB) plate on the far left, and this 1942 Motorcycle Dealer (MCD) plate on the near left, up for auction on eBay.  I inquired about using the pictures.  He said OK and would like to give the credit to his dad, Edward F. Jones, who passed away in 2009, since the tags were originally used by him when he rode in the 1930s and 40s. He lived in Jenkintown, a suburb of Philadelphia.  Nice when a plate has a story behind it.


Clayton Moore has provided quite a few new images starting with this 1916 Tractor E+3 digit.  If you recall Tractor plates from their inception in 1914 up thru 1927 used the E prefix which stood for Engine or short for Traction Engine.  My image gallery also shows plate E1792 (E+4 digits) for that year.  In spite of the longer serial number both plates appear to be the same size at approximately 6" x 14" which differs from the the sizes shown in the ALPCA Archives.


Next we have a 1917 Tractor E+3 digit Tractor plate also from Clayton.  Again the image gallery also shows plate E2234 (E+ 4 digits) for that year.  I do believe the plate pictured here measures about 6" x 14" while the E2234 (E+ 4 digits) measures 6" x 16" although it's difficult to discern that difference looking at the pictures.


And another E+3 digit 1918 Tractor plate from Clayton Moore.  Again this one is a companion to the E+4 digit plate previously posted.  In this case the plate shown here measures 13⅝" x 6" while the E+4 digit plate measures 16" x 6".  Unfortunately it's hard to maintain the relative size and aspect ratio when displaying plate images.


The final tractor plate for the week is a E+3 digit 1920 Tractor.  If you click to enlarge the thumbnail it's easier to see the plate.  This plate series went from E 1 to E 999, then for the first time a dash was added to the serial number as shown elsewhere on the E1-254 plate.  All of the 1920 plates are believed to be 16" x 6".  Again thanks to Clayton Moore for sharing his plates.


This is the first image on this website of a 1939 Trailer plate.  The progressing of the series would have been 0001 to 9999, then A000 to Z999, and finally 0A00 to 9Z99, if needed; however neither the '38 or '40 plates extended into the 0A00 series.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the image.



Here's a 1978 Tractor Dealer.  This is the last dated year for this plate type.  The '79 plate was undated and used stickers until the introduction of the Dealer-Farm Equipment plate in 1991 or '92.  Some time in the mid-'80 the alpha-numeric formatting derailed when the A series, new car dealer, and the B series, used car dealer plates ran out of numbers.  As a result the D and E series were needed for new and used car plates, and eventually the F-series came about.


Check back next week for more dealer plates and trailer plates, and whatever else comes along in the meantime.



Posting 3/15/2015

Recently spotted this low number International Association of Fire Fighters plate.  If you click the link you can also see the number zero and number 1 plates.  This plate type is eligible to be personalized.  With some 6000 of these plates in use, a few vanities are likely to be issued.



Long ago I decided that I would probably never do a dealer plate history section.  The complexity of the effort does make the process a little daunting.  As a result I never collected many dealer plates and the same goes for pictures.  Now Clayton Moore has provided several dealer plates and well . . . I can't say no.  It may never be a complete history, but here goes.  Just for the record I currently have dealer history sections on Auto Manufacturer, Dealer-Farm Equipment, Dealer-Multi-Purpose, Moped Dealer, Motorboat Dealer, Motorcycle Dealer, Motor Vehicle Business, Repair/Service Towing, Repossessor, Salvage Yard, Snowmobile Dealer, Trailer Dealer, Transporter, and Watercraft Trailer Dealer.  What am I missing?

The first plate in this new section is a 1964 Transit Dealer.  You may ask what is a Transit Dealer?  I ask the same question.  The formatting is very similar to Motor Vehicle Business plates that were introduced in 1966, but the question remains, was the Transit Dealer the predecessor to the Motor Vehicle Business?  To add more confusion to the mix, there was also a Miscellaneous Dealer plate (X prefix) at the time.  In any case, it appears that in 1966 the Transit Dealer and Miscellaneous Dealer were merged into, or replaced by, the Motor Vehicle Business plate.  Maybe in time these questions can be answered, or maybe someone can explain it.


Here are the companion '64 Dealer plates to the Transit Dealer above.  On the far left is a New Car Dealer plate, the first A in the serial number indicates new car dealer, and this character does not advance.  This plate is from my collection.  The next plate is a Used Car Dealer plate, where the B indicates used car dealer, and again does not advance.  The near left plate is a Miscellaneous Dealer with the characteristic X prefix.  The source of these last two plate images is unknown.  If they're yours please let me know.


Here is a very nice, very low number 1965 New Car Dealer plate image from Clayton Moore.  This would have been the 9th or 10th plate produced.  Dealer plates had the year embossed in '64 and '66, but skipped that feature in '65.  Maybe there were plans to revalidate them with stickers like was done with most other plate types that year.


Also from Clayton Moore is this pair of Trailer Dealer plates.  The E10-000E format during these years identifies these plates as Trailer Dealers.  Sometime in the mid-80 the A-series New Car Dealer and B-series Used Car Dealer were running out of numbers so the D series (Tractor), E series (Trailer) and eventually the F series plates were assigned as needed and were no longer designated as a particular dealer type.  The plate on the far left is an undated plate that was issued for 1975 and then revalidated for 1976.  The plate on the near left is an undated 1979 base, although it may have been issued some time later in the run since it does not have the sticker wells that were seen on earlier '79 bases.  These plates were issued stickers and could be revalidated until Trailer Dealer plates with that legend were introduced in 1995.


Clayton Moore provided this very nice, high number, Farm Truck plate picture.  This may be considered an '84 base, however, over the years from the time they were first issued on this base until the plates were replaced in early 2000, there were several width variations of the FARM TRUCK legend.  First they were wide, then narrow, then wide again.  This would have been part of the last group.


This 4-digit 1923 Motorcycle plate has been added to the Motorcycle History section.  It is a companion to the 5-digit plate that was previously posted.  Cycle plates that year were all-numeric starting at 1 and running well up in the high 19-thousands.  This image is from Clayton Moore.



This beautiful 1954 Trailer plate come from Clayton Moore also.  The history section shows three other '54 Trailer plates, but this is the first 4-digit all-numeric version.  The others are a 5-digit all-numeric, and two different alpha-numeric formats.



I would like to express my gratitude to Clayton Moore for most of the plate images this week and for his continued contributions of material to this website over the years.  Because of people like Clayton and a number of other plate enthusiasts, collectors, photographers, historians and friends, this website has become an ever-growing resource aimed at documenting PA license plate history as well as supporting the hobby of plate collecting.



Posting 3/8/2015

Tom Perri captured the first image of a Community LifeTeam EMS plate.  Great find!  This is a relatively new organizational plate with tags first hitting the street in February of this year.  The organization is based in Harrisburg.



Speaking of new organizational plates, the Sons of the American Legion now has plates on the street.  No pictures yet.




Ryan Battin keeps us up to date with this latest high Vertical Motorcycle plate.  Apparently people still buy or customize motorcycles in the winter, but nobody's riding, at least not where I live.  You may recall that the the M and the C are static non-advancing characters, although these plates are eligible to be personalized allowing up to fiver characters.  The K in this plate is the last to advance.  This plate type is about one year old.




Here's the latest high Moped plate and the first one I've seen in the CB series.  The www base Moped plates started at BA000 back in 2000, then went to the visitPA base at BN000 in 2007.  Thanks to Ryan Battin for the image.



Prince Hall Masonic Lodge has given their plate a remake on the far left.  The symbol is now flat screened, where it had been embossed, and the tag legend has been updated and of course it's now on the visitPA base.  It is not known if existing plates will be replaced, or if old and new will both be in use.  This organization has had a plate program since 1988.


So what happened to the PA United State Olympic plate?  You may recall that Under Act 109 which was signed into law on July 2, 2014, Section 1354.1 of the Vehicle Code authorizes a PA United States Olympic license plate. There is no mention of this license plate on the PennDOT website except within the vehicle code.  So I posed the question to PennDOT and received the following response, "No information has been provided to us at this time. When that plate is made available, its availability will be promulgated."  I also posed a similar question to State Senator Argall, the sponsor of the bill. and received no response.  Two examples of our state government at its finest, and we still don't have an answer.


This nice image of a first generation Muhlenberg Alumni plate has been added to the Special Organizational Plate History Page.  The page lists all the organizational plates that were in use prior to the 1999-2000 plate reissue.  This plate type dates back to 1996.  The image came from a Tom Roberts website where he had it for sale.  Efforts to contact him have not been successful.


This is the first image of a 1956 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  These plates up thru 1967 began with plate # 1.  It is unknown how many were issued but it is likely less than 1000.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln for the image.



Beginning with the 1958 Motorcycle Dealer, the expiration date and the PA, as seen in the above plate, are missing.  The PA has been replaced be PENNA in the top border where the expiation date used to be.  This was the first multi-year plate and it is likely that the earliest issued plates had slots for tabs that were never used.  Instead stickers were issued for 1959 thru '61.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln for the image.


Here's an extremely nice undated 1965 Motorcycle Dealer plate from Dave Lincoln.  Not sure what the thinking was that there was no sticker and no embossed year, since the following year new plates with the year embossed were again issued.  The number series would have started at plate # 1.  It is not known if plates exceeded 1000.


So far this website has not done much to catalog and display older Passenger plates.  This is a rare, low number 1906 Passenger.  1906 was the first year for Passenger plates to be issued by the state, and the series started at # 1.  The oldest surviving 1906 plate is a pair of # 6 plates.  This image was sent to me by eBay seller black19821.



Posting 3/1/2015

On the far left Ryan Battin provided this first image of a an Antique Motorcycle plate in a personalized or vanity format.  On the near left is an example of a typical 5-digit  Antique Motorcycle plate.  Legislation in 2014 made it possible for many plate types to be issued as vanity plates.


On the far left is an image of a personalized / vanity version of a Gettysburg 1863 - Pennsylvania Monuments plate.  The image came from the Civil War Dance Foundation's website — http://www.civilwardance.org/    For more information on ordering this or another Special Fund plate, go to http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/license_plates/special_fund.shtml

The yellow on blue plate was part of an earlier private effort to raise funds for the preservation and restoration of the approximately 140 Gettysburg battlefield monuments.  These were used as front plates, what we might call a booster plate.


Spotted this new Municipal high plate.  Hate plate frames — at least you can read the entire plate.




Millersville University of Pennsylvania (Lancaster County) has given their plate a complete remake on the far left.  The symbol has been replaced, the name has been fully spelled out and of course it's now on the visitPA base.  It is not known if existing plates will be replaced, or if old and new will both be in use.  Millersville has had a plate program since 1994.



Ryan Batting spotted this change to the PA State Nurses Association plate on the far left.  On the near left is the version that has been in use since 2005.  As with the the plate above, it is not known if existing plates will be replaced, or if old and new will both be in use.  The older style plate image was provided by Tom Perri.


Having one Motorbike plate picture to post is an accomplishment, but this week we have two such images.  The first on the far left is a 1939 MB plate thanks to Lee Madigan.  The plate on the near left is a 1944 Motorbike from Dave Lincoln.  1938 plate would have been the first year for the map outline.  The 1944 plate also has the expiration date of 3-31-45 in the upper border.  The use of the expiration date began in 1941.


This is an inversion error plate.  May have been a bad day in the big house when this '77 base Motorcycle plate was made.  Somehow it got through, and the owner used it, judging by the wear around the bolt holes.  This unusual find was courtesy of Dave Lincoln.  I have been posting these plates in the Oddball section but I will also show them with other plates of their period.


I have thrown in another pair of pictures from Bill Pratt of an inversion error plate that was posted some time ago in the Oddball section.  This plate is a '71 base Motorcycle with a '75 sticker.  These oddballs are not everyone's cup of tea, but they definitely have a place in the hobby for some collectors.  These error plates still manage to slip thru the system.


The 4-digit '67 Motorcycle Dealer plate on the far left is from Dave Lincoln and is a new addition.  The 3-digit on the near left was from Jerry McCoy.  It was posted some time ago but is shown here again to compare the two.  Up thru 1967 the Motorcycle Dealer plate series started at plate # 1.  Beginning in 1968 M/C Dealer plates started at 1000. 


For 1969 Motorcycle Dealer plate were similarly formatted except for the obvious year change, and the series starting point mentioned above.  Dave Lincoln has been kind enough to let me use many of his very nice M/C Dealer plates and others.  Dave is downsizing his Pennsylvania collection and is selling many plates on eBay under the user name Tagbarn.  Watch for more in the future.



Posting 2/22/2015

As mentioned last week, Ducks Unlimited gave their plate a new graphic look with the duck image now flat screened, and the plate is now on the 'family of plates' / visitPA base.  This action also makes the plate eligible to be personalized.



Also mentioned last week was the addition of an organizational plate for the Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster, PA.  No plates are on the street yet.



Another new issues comes from the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society or PAWS.  No plates are on the street yet either; however, the organization is advertising the plate.



The PA Game Commission is now marketing the Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage specialty plate.  The fee for the plate is $56; however, the plate will not be available in a personalized version.  The link to their website is: http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/ then click on the Hunting License Plate.  The link will take you to the application form and instructions.  I don't think they are selling any samples.


Jordan Irazabal hit the eBay jackpot with this one.  What looked like a Dealer-Farm Equipment sample at first glance was actually the number 0 plate, or first plate of its type to be produced.  It's definitely the real thing as it came from a farm machinery dealership auction.  These plates were first issued in 1991 or '92.


Here's a very unusual 1967 Motorcycle Sample plate from Dave Lincoln.  What makes it unusual is the fact that it's a '63 base — see embossed year under the sticker. In addition the colors are reversed for a '63 base, but correct for a '67.  The sticker has 'PA0000' on it.  I don't think any '63 bases were actually isssed during the '65 to '70 run, so this anomaly only appears on samples like the one here.


This is the first and only image of a '72 Motorcycle Dealer plate on this website.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln for sharing so many images from his collection.  Motorcycle Dealer plates are much harder to find than regular motorcycle plates.  In addition where regular motorcycle plates would make multi-year runs, dealer tags were often reissued yearly.  In any case, my pictorial run of MC Dealer still has many gaps in it.


This is the first image of a 1931 Official (Use) plate to be posted on this site.  Thanks to Eric Tanner for making the image available.  These were issued to state-owned vehicles such as state police cars.  There are some gaps in the history of this plate type, such as were there plates issued in 1924 and '25?  Pictures are needs of a '34, '37 and '39 Official plates.  All the subsequent plates up thru 1956 have no official legend.


I obtained the 5-digit 1952 Trailer plate on the far left this week.  In comparison on the near left is a previously shown 4-digit low number.  What I don't have for this year are any of the alpha-numeric combinations of A000 to Z999, 0A00 to 9Z99, 00A0 to 99Z9, 000A to 999Z that are believed to have been issued before going to the 5-digit version.


I have updated the Omnibus plate history section.  The changeover points between when the 1974 base left off and the 1984 base began, have been refined, based on a plate spotted on eBay.  We now know that the '74 base ran at least as high as OB-24604 and the '84 base started at OB-29000 or below.  There also could have been a gap between numbers that were actually issued.  In other words '74 bases may have been produced as high as OB-28999, but only issued as high as 27000, meanwhile in anticipation of the '84 run the new plate series started at OB-29000.



Posting 2/15/2015

Thanks to the many generous contributors, I have been able to complete or nearly complete several runs of older plates over the past few months.  At the moment I am pretty much out of older plate images.  If anyone has a collection of plates or pictures of a particular type not displayed on this site, let's talk.


PA Plate News

 • The Carnegie Mellon University organizational plate is now listed by PennDOT as not available.  The plate had about a 10-year run with about 396 plates being issued.

  Ducks Unlimited has given their plate a facelift to the newer graphic style base.  Prototype image coming.

  Lancaster Bible College and Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society are new organizational plates.  Prototype images coming soon.  No plates in use yet.


Community Life Team EMS (Harrisburg, PA) now has several plates on the street.




Here's a pair right off the plate press.  These newer Severely Disabled Veteran and Antique Motorcycle plates have had many showings on this website thanks to Ryan Battin.  Nice number on the Antique MC.  Both plates represent new highs.



I have actually received pictures of this plate from 3 people.  This very low number Save Wild Animals - Tiger plate, from Ryan Battin, happens to be the best image.  After a run from 1996 to 2013, this plate was discontinued and was replaced by the less popular Support Your Zoo plate.



This larger image and cropped image of a Limousine plate were provided by James (Jaska) Börner.  The picture appears to have been taken near Philadelphia City Hall.  The plate is also the new high.




This 1917 Motorcycle plate is one of some 24,000 that were issued that year.  The series is believed to have started a plate # 1 and advanced in an all-numeric progression.  The colors were white on brown.  The plates were 4½ inches high, and were either 6 or 8 inches wide depending on the number of digits.  The plate gallery shows 3, 4 and 5 digit plates.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln for the nice image.


This 1970 motorcycle sample shows a change in format that took place when the undated '65 series ran out of 4-character combinations and went to a revised 5-character format.  This change likely took place about 1967 and the use of 5 characters eliminated the space for the stacked MC.  The MC was replaced by the legend MOTORCYCLE along the bottom of the plate.  The 5 character format was 0A000 to 9Z999.  Another thank you to Dave Lincoln for the nice image.


Another pair of beauties from Dave Lincoln are these first issue Municipal Motorcycle plates.  These came out in 1974 or '75 after the full-size municipal plates were first issued in 1971.  They were only in use a couple years when they were replaced by the '77 base.  The MG000 plate is a sample.  Logic might suggest that if there were Municipal MC plates, were there also Commonwealth Official Use motorcycle plates.  The answer is no.  State Police motorcycles use standard issue motorcycle plates.


I have been following Antique Motorcycle plates for a number of years and have probably seen close to a thousand plates, and have close to 150 pictures, but have never seen an all-numeric plate, except for the one pictured here and the new style plate the visitPA base.  If 1, 2, or 3-digit Antique Motorcycle plates were produced, most likely it would have been at the beginning of production, however, the 18 plate on the left has wide hole spacing, indicating it was probably issued after 1985 when regular motorcycle plates switched to the wide hole spacing.  Therefore I believe the 18 plate was not issued as part of a normal plate progression but rather was made up as a favor, souvenir or test.  There were 2-character alpha-numeric plates issues, such a A5 and C8, I have one in my collection, but it is unknown if single letter plates were ever issued.


This is quite a lineup of Antique Motorcycle Sample plate images.  I can't say with certainty in which order they was produced, but the center plate with the letters SAMP centered, is the only plate with the wide bolt hole spacing, making it the last one of the older style issued.  The plate on the far left is the first sample I've seen with the Q 00 formatting.  This plate is courtesy of Dave Lincoln.



Posting 2/8/2015

The plate on the far left is a front 2015 Inaugural plate and the # 17 plate is for the rear.  These plates were produced for members of the Governor's inauguration committee as souvenir plates and placed on the dashboard for vehicle identification during Inauguration event on January 20.  Although rear plates were produced, they were not used due to the overall negativity that the public has toward legislative officials and concerns about terrorism. Governor Tom Wolf was offered #1 and Lt. Governor Mike Stack was offered #2.


These Honoring Our Veterans plates became available in November of 2012, and they have just surpassed the 2,000 mark; however, the starting point was 00100H/V, so technically 1,900 plates have been issued.  These are one of the Special Fund plate series, and have a price tag of $35, however the vanity version costs an additional $100.  Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing the image.


Bruce Bufalini shares this traffic shot of a high number Thiel College plate.  It's only the second image of such a plate.  Thiel College is located in Greenville, Mercer County, PA, about 90 minutes from Pittsburgh and Cleveland.




The value of this Disabled Veteran plate picture from Nick Tsilakis is in what it contains.  It helps to narrow down the changeover point between Format 7 and 8.  Format 7 used a keystone separator, as shown here, while format 8 went back to the expected dash separator.  The changeover is between DV-34641 and DV-34708.  These changeovers do not always occur at logical points.


Here's a gem — this 1916 Motorcycle plate from the collection of Dave Lincoln.  This low number plate is on the narrow six-inch base, while four and five-digit plates were eight inches wide.  Click the link to see three, four and five-digit examples.  This and several of Dave's plates shown here are being auctioned on eBay but ending later in the day on 2/8.


Some may say that Sample plates aren't the real thing, but for many collectors it's a sought-after category.  They fill a special niche in that they help preserve plate formatting and generally survive the ravages of time and wear with few scars.  So it goes with this 1938 Motorbike plate from Dave Lincoln.  Confused with Motorboat plates?  Motorboat plates at the time used MBL as the designator and they were larger.  I'm not aware of a Motorbike Dealer plate until the Moped Dealer plates came along in the late '70s.


Here's another unusual sample.  Also from 1938 is this Motorcycle Dealer sample.  By 1938 the use of an X to designate a dealer plate had been replaced by the MCD.  Actual plates would have had 1 to 3 numeric characters, and likely didn't exceed a few hundred plates.  This image is also from Dave Lincoln.


Here is a pair of undated 1965 Motorcycle Dealer and '65 Motorcycle license plates courtesy of Dave Lincoln. This was the first year for a series that ran through 1970, with date stickers for all but the first year.  These particular plates with the nice low number were actually displayed as samples in one of the State locations. Dave obtained these, directly from a collector-friendly Motor Vehicle Department employee who rescued them from the recycle bin.


Here's a nice 1965 Motorcycle Sample with a '66 sticker. There were several alpha-numeric variations on this base.  Most used 1 letter and 3 numbers but as these combinations ran out there was a 5-character version without the stacked MC and with the word MOTORCYCLE along the bottom border.  I do believe there were samples plates made with 5 zeros, but no plates were issued with five numeric characters.  This image is also from Dave Lincoln.


The last image this week is also thanks to Dave Lincoln, and is also the first image (on this website) of a '78 Motorcycle Dealer.  This was the final year for an embossed date, after which the undated '79 base was re-stickered and used until the plate changeover around 2000.




Posting 2/1/2015

Very nice Farm Truck plate image from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  The is only the second of these spotted on the visitPA base.  The changeover took place at the start of the D suffix, and was first seen in October of 2014.



It seems challenging to get a good clean image of a Bronze Star for Valor plate.  This is a good picture unfortunately the frame is kind of a detractor.  These are also much less plentiful than the Bronze Star which has some 370 plates in use, while the Bronze Star for Valor has slightly more than100 plates issued.  This image also came from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.


I'm certain very few of us have one of these hanging on our plate wall.  Dave Lincoln has been kind enough to share two of these extremely rare PA Commercial Motorcycle plate pictures.  These were only issued from 1938 until 1949, except 1943 when metal tabs were issued.  In 1950 a change in the registration fee structure eliminated the need for this plate type.  All of the plates were formatted similarly with COMM over MC over PA and the 2-digit year all to the left of the serial number.  Serial number started at 1 and I have never seen one higher than 675.


Over the past couple weeks we've pretty well covered the H-series bus plates, but we still have a couple O series images to show.  This nice, low-number, 1926 Bus plate image is from Jake Eckenrode.  1926 was also the last year that letter characters were the same size as the numeric characters, thus the large O.  This is also a short plate likely measuring 6" by 10".  Larger sizes were used on plates with additional characters; however, the actual size or sizes need to be confirmed.


The final O-series bus plate image for this week is this 1928 Bus is also from Jake Eckenrode's collection.  Note that the letter O is now a smaller character than the numbers.  This change took place in 1927 making it easier to differentiate.  This also appears to be 6" by 10" in size, while 1928 the 5-character bus plate shown in the plate gallery measures 6" by 13".

There are still about 8 years without bus plate images, and other years with missing format and size variations.


Would you believe these are both 1929 Legislative plates?  The L-16 plate on the far left follows the same format as the 1928 Legislative plates; however, based on information from Jake Eckenrode, it appears that there was a change in the design of the Legislative plates part way thru the year giving the plates a bolder more distinctive look.  It's likely all of the early issue plates were replaced with the plates bearing the LEGISLATIVE legend.  Interesting piece of plate history.  Thanks to Jake for sharing some of his vast plate knowledge, thanks to Dave Lincoln for the use of the early legislative image, and thanks to the ALPCA Archives for allowing me to use the other image.


This is the first image of a 1919 Motorcycle plate on this website.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln for the nice image.  As can be seen, PA had not yet adopted the standardized colors of dark blue and yellow.  Some 25 thousand plates were issued that year, and plates came in two lengths depending on the number of characters.  1 to 3 number plates were 6 inches across, while 4 and 5 character plates were 8".  All were 4½" high.


This 1929 Motorcycle plate shows that the formatting was somewhat similar to the '19 plate above.  The 2-digit year is now stacked over PA where the '19 plate was just the opposite.  It's kind of hard to distinguish on this plate but the colors had become standardized to yellow and dark blue.  The other interesting thing about this plate is the high number.  BMV records show some 13,600 plates were issued making this close to the end.  On the other end of the spectrum the image gallery page shows a picture of the # 3 plate — quite a contrast between the 6-inch single-digit plate and the 8-inch 5-digit plate.  Another thank you to Dave Lincoln for the nice image.  


It appears that 1931 Motorcycle plates began to use alpha-numeric formatting for the first time.  Plates were limited to 4 characters.  Once 9999 was reached, an alpha prefix was used with up to 3 number, or 2 numbers in the plate shown here.  Some 12,432 plates were issued.  Thanks to Dave Lincoln again for the fine image.



Posting 1/25/2015

Brendan Sherry points out the fact that PA still has millions of cars on the road with the state's website, WWW.STATE.PA.US across the bottom of the plates.  The website is DEAD.  Click the link and see for yourself.


Here's a photo of the number 1 Thomas Jefferson University plate.  The first plate of a series always carries with it some special significance.




Here's a very nice, low number Christian Homeschool Association of PA.  The image is courtesy of Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.




This pair of first generation organizational plates was provided by Brandon Sowers.  The Penn State plate program goes back to 1985: however, judging by the number the plate pictured here came along some years later.  The St. Vincent plate program dates back to 1992.  By comparison, in 2005, Penn State had 15,000 plates on the road, the most organizational plates of any group.  St. Vincent had 558 plates in use, while a number of organizations had well under 100 plates in use.


Here is a very nice pair of 1928 H-series Bus/Omnibus plates.  See last week's posting for a full explanation of the use of the H and O plates.  Note the low number H-93 plate uses a dash separator while the higher number plate does not.  The significance of the dash is not know but I suspect it was part of the formatting plan for that year.  Both plates appear to be on a 6" x 10" base.  It is likely that plates with 4 numeric characters were on a 6" x 13" base.  Many thanks to Jake Eckenrode for the fine images and the help with this plate type.



Here's another great pair of H-series Bus/Omnibus plates.  This pair is from 1929, the last year for the H-series plates.  This pair shows two sizes depending on the number of characters.  The shorter plates measures 6" x 10" while the longer one is 6" x 13".  Again Jake Eckenrode provided the great pictures.

Jerry McCoy's 1926 plate and Jake's contribution of images and history have provided great documentation of this very elusive piece of Pennsylvania's plate history.  The collaboration and sharing of many individuals are part of what makes this hobby enjoyable, and helps to establish this website as a recognized resource.


Dave Lincoln made this 1928 Legislative plate image available.  This appears to be the first year for Legislative plates and the formatting consisted of the prefix L followed by 1 to 3 numeric characters.  Plates with only 1 or 2 numeric characters also used a dash between the L and the number.  Click the link to see L-27.


Pictured here is a fine pair of 1932 Legislative plates is also from Dave Lincoln.  It is unknown how many of these plates were made or issued but for 1930 it was 500, and for 1935 up to 400 plates were authorized, and for what it's worth, I have never seen a plate with a number higher than 307.





Another addition this week is this 1929 Official plate courtesy of Jeff Francis.  Typically these plates were 1 to 3 digits in length, but some 4-digit plates were produced.  This caused the right-hand keystone to be dropped.



No, you're not seeing double, but you are looking at a very unusual pair of 1914 Tractor plates.  1914 was the first year for tractor plates and the only year to be issued in pairs. This is likely the 24th pair issued.  The E prefix stood for Engine and was used well into the 1920s.  These are the lowest number Tractor plates I have seen.  The images are courtesy of Matthew Lerch & Martha Kohl.  Trailer plates were also introduced in 1914 and unfortunately the number of tractors and trailers registered were combined for a total of about 1,332.  I have seen 1914 tractor plates as high as E1031 which would suggest that not nearly as many trailer plates were issued.



Posting 1/18/2015

When these Support Your Zoo plates first came out in their revised family of plates format it appeared that they started at 00101P/Z, making this the 18th plate issued. But a quick vanity number check of numbers below 00100P/Z shows that there is a two-tiered system with a bunch of the lower numbers in use, but don't bother asking the issuing agency why.  This plate image was provided by Brandon Sowers.


Brandon Sowers also sent a group of pictures of first generation of organizational plates.  Pictured here are an American Legion and a Blue Lodge plate.  These organizations were among the earliest in PA to have a plate program, dating back to 1984.  Watch for several more yellow on blue plates coming in the next week or so.


The Special Mobile Equipment plate on the far left was recently provided by Clayton Moore, the plate on the near left from Lee Madigan was posted last week as a newly identified format.  The 4403-SME plate helps to narrow down the point where the Pennsylvania font changeover took place.


This is a '58 base with a '64 sticker State House of Representatives plate.  The HR is the designator and can be used in both the prefix and suffix position.  Click the link to see both formats.  For now I'm going to assume that the 116 represents the state house district number as it does today.  The photo is courtesy of Lee Madigan.


This is believed to be a PA State Senator plate, also on the '58 base with a '60 sticker.  In this case the PA  is the designator when accompanied by a 1 or 2-digit serial number.  As in the HR plate above the PA can be used as a prefix or suffix.  I'm a little uncertain about the 57, as the number, at least today represents the senatorial district, and today there are 50 districts.   The photo is also thanks to Lee Madigan.

Ned Flynn suggests that those senatorial plates with numbers above 50 are for retires senators.  I did not realize this practice dated back to the late 50s/early 60s.  This practice has been seen in more recent plates until the introduction of actual Retired Senator plates in 2009.


Here is a 1926 H-prefix Bus (Omnibus) plate.  This image is from Jerry McCoy.  A lot has been learned this week about early bus plates.  And yes, from 1926 to 1929 PA issued both H-prefix and O-prefix bus plates.  Understanding and explaining the difference is the hard part, but thanks to plate experts like Jake Eckenrode and Eric Tanner, I'm going to attempt an explanation.  Omnibus plates with an O-prefix were first issued in 1924.  Then in 1926 a new category of Motor Bus plates was created.  From 1926 to 1929 omnibuses that carried passengers for hire and not required to have a certificate of convenience were designated by an "H" prefix.  This also included buses that were not registered for hire before 1/1/1914.  From 1926 to 1929 those vehicles required to have a certificate of convenience were designated by an "O" prefix.  In 1929 a new law was passed requiring all buses to have this certificate and thereby ending the need for the "H" prefix plate.  Subsequently all common carrier and for hire buses used the "O" prefix until 1968 when the "BA" prefix came into use.  School Buses were given their own designation in 1956.  Later several other bus categories emerged.

Much of the above information is from Jake Eckenrode with input from Eric Tanner.  Both of these gentleman have spent countless hours researching license plate history.  Thank you Jake and Eric.


Here is a 1927 Bus (Omnibus) plate with the H prefix..  This image is from the collection of Jake Eckenrode.  Note that this is a short version, as 2, 3 and 4-character plates measured 6" x 10", while 5-character plates were 6" x 13".  It is not known if plates above H999 used a dash separator such as H1-123, however, they would have used the 13" base.  Watch for additional H-prefix bus plates over the new few weeks. 


This 1924 Bus or Omnibus plate represents the first year of issue.  Before 1924 buses were registered as commercial vehicles.  Note the letter "O" prefix which is the same size as the numeric characters.  It was reduced in size in 1927 presumably to make it easier to distinguish letters from numbers.  This very nice specimen is courtesy of Eric Tanner.


I needed a 1956 Bus plate and eBay seller nickey2 was kind enough to give me the go-ahead to use this image.  Registration figures for that year indicate that some 12,500 plates were in use, so the series likely went well into the OC series.




Posting 1/11/2015

Jordan Irazabal spotted this vanity version of a Support Your Zoo plate recently.  This is the first personalized plate of this type seen so far.  Recent legislative action paved the way for the personalized option; however, the cost is a bit steep at $100 in addition to the cost of the plate.



Also among those plate types eligible to be personalized is this U.S. Army Veteran plate.  This plate was spotted by Nick Tsilakis and carries the same hefty $100 price tag.



Here's a nice low number Ringing Hill Fire Company plate picture courtesy of Brandon Sowers.




Arthur Levine passes along this Bronze Star for Valor plate.  Nice plate, unfortunately it's wearing a layer of Pennsylvania's favorite cold weather road condiment — salt.  These plates are not easy to come by as this is only the second image, so it makes a nice addition.  It's also a new high.



This variation of the Special Mobile Equipment plate on the far left, to my knowledge, has not been previously documented.  What makes this plate this plate different is the use of the "You've got a friend" font for "Pennsylvania" where the SME is in the suffix location.  Later plates with the SME suffix used the block style PENNSYLVANIA legend.  Click the link above to see all of the known variations of this plate type.  Thanks to Lee Madigan for the image of the far left plate.


Lee Madigan also provided this image of a first generation Millersville University plate, in fact, aside from a sample plate, this is the first image of this plate type on the yellow on blue base.  Nice number too.  Watch for a few more plates from Lee over the next few weeks.



Here is good example of a 1925 Bus plate on the far left, or could this be an early Taxi plate?  Click the thumbnail to see a better image.  Take notice to the letter O now being the same size as the the numbers.  Before 1927 the letter O and the number 0 were the same size which makes earlier plates appear to be all numeric.  As can bee seen on the '27 plate shown below, the letter O is smaller.  Another interesting find on the reverse of this plate is marked "Daniels Taxi Franklin PA".  Open the near left thumbnail image.  It is generally accepted that before modern taxi plates were issued, that taxi cabs used bus plates.  An internet search shows a Daniels Taxi & Transfer Co. Inc. in Franklin, PA, in operation in 1920s and '30s but it does not seem to exist today.  The writing on the plate suggests that the plate belonged to the Daniels Taxi Co., and may very well have been used on a taxi.  But isn't it also possible that the Daniels Taxi & Transfer Co. owned buses or limos that this plate could have been used on?  A search of early Bureau of Motor Vehicle records could resolve the matter.  These plate images were provided by Jerry McCoy.


Next we have this 'short' version of a 1927 Bus plate. Plates from O1 to O999 used a 6" by 10" base, while 5-character Bus plates used a 6" by 13" base.  This is the first year where the letter prefix O was smaller than the numbers.  The practice of letters being smaller than numbers continues to this day, at least on full size plates.  According to BMV records some 8,400 bus plates were registered in 1927, but that figure combines Bus and Omnibus.  I gather that this figure includes both H Bus plates and O Bus plates.  Yes, it is confusing, and no, I can't explain it further.  Unfortunately none of the O or H bus plates before 1934 used a legend that would identify them as a type of bus plate.


We end this week's plates with this 'long' version of a 1928 Bus. This plate measures a 6" by 13".  This plate, like the '25 Bus above, uses a dash after the first two characters, a feature not seen on the short plates.  Next week we will have some H prefix bus plates to further the mystery.




Posting 1/4/2015

Bill Stephens snapped this first image of a Severely Disabled Veteran plate in a vanity format.  Recent legislation authorized the personalization of many plate types.  In this case the D/V are required characters, then 1 to 5 characters can be requested.  One strange thing about the Disabled Veteran and Severely Disabled Veteran plates is that PennDOT lists them as Specialty Plates rather than Veteran Plates.  This Specialty Plate group also includes, Antique, Classic, Emergency Vehicle, Farm Truck and about a dozen others.  On this (my) website both Disabled Veteran types are grouped with Veteran Plates.


Very new, very nice number Passenger Vanity plate from Ryan Battin.  When these low numbers become open, one must act quickly.  If you can find a low number that is available, such plates are available to pretty much any passenger vehicle, motorcycle, trailer, motor home, or trucks with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 lbs for an additional fee of $76.00.  The recent increase in the cost of vanity plates will likely reduce the demand somewhat.


Here's another image of an In God We Trust plate, courtesy of Ryan Battin.  This plate is also considered the current high.




Here's a very nice image of the current high PA Association of Realtors plate.  This picture is courtesy of  Brendan Sherry.  Note that this plate is still on the www base and therefore not eligible to be personalized.  This plate type made it debut in 1995 on the yellow on blue base.



As we work our way back thru some of the earliest bus plates, there are fewer, and in some cases no examples from which to gather or verify data.  If anyone has a 1926, '28, '30, '32, '33, '34, '39, '41, '42, '47 or '56 bus plate they would be willing to share a photo of, it would be helpful to the hobby and to the preservation of PA plate history.

And to those individuals who have so generously given of their time and photographic talents to support this effort, I can't thank you enough.


Fortunately we have two good example of 1929 Bus plates. Both use the 'O' prefix which was the identifier of the bus series at the time, but the word BUS is not used in the early years between 1924 and 1933.  It first came into use in 1934.  Note the use of the dash separator on plates where the serial number exceeded O999.  The other notable difference is the size.  Plates from O1 to O999 were 6" by 10", and O1000 and above were 6" by 13".  There were some 8,682 bus plates issued in 1929; however, this figure likely included the 'H' bus plates.  I will have more on the H-series bus plates at a later date.  The plate image on the far left was from Clayton Moore and the one on the near left was from Jerry McCoy.


The next plate is this 1931 Bus.  Note that in 1931 the plate legend has been moved to the bottom, but still the word BUS does not appear, only the 'O' prefix.  The word BUS first appears on 1934 plates.  1931 bus plates were issued in two sizes, again depending on the number of characters.  There were 6" by 10" inch for 2 to 4-character plates and 6' by 12" for 5-character plates, such as the plate shown here.  For 1931 there were 8,020 bus plates issued; however, this figure likely included the 'H' bus plates.


I have not said much about Bus plates being issued in pairs but to the best of my knowledge they were always issued in pairs with the exception of 1943 when a single metal tab was issued, and 1944 thru '46 when a single plate was issued.  Beginning in 1952 all bus plates were singles.  The image on the far left show a group of plates with a pair of '35 Bus plates.  On the near left is a nice shot of a single '35 Bus plate.  Also of interest is the fact that these plates were issued in 6" by 10" inch for 2 to 4-character plates and 6' by 12" for 5-character plates.  For 1935 6000 plates were authorized, and 5621 buses were registered.





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