News and postings from 2017
Happy New Year
Here's the latest Friends of Valley Forge Park plate from fellow ALPCA member Dale Bernecker. Dale recently received this plate making it the current high. Interesting that this plate type has been available since 2007 and has so far sold only 89 plates.
Here's a recent traffic shot of the latest high Disabled Veteran plate spotted by Bruce Bufalini. The current format has Disabled Veteran, the state name and the DV- prefix all flat screened, with only the serial number embossed. Not sure about the presence or absence of a sticker well.
This very nice 1935 Format 1 Dealer plate was made available thru the kindness of Mike at PL8 Source. It measures 6" by 12"; however, there were also plates with X and three or fewer digits that measured 10". Many of the plates shown here from Mike are up for grabs on ebay.
Here is a pair of 1936 Dealer plates from PL8 Source with this 10-inch Format 3 on the far left and a 12-inch Format 3 on the near left. Plates with X and three or fewer digits were 10". Formats 1, 2 and 3 had the X in the first, second and third positions respectively.
Here is a beautifully restored 1937 Dealer plate. The plate is possibly the highest known '37 Dealer plate with the 'X' in the third position. Both 10- and 12-inch plates were used depending on the number of characters. Jeff Francis, as felix1, has this plate for sale on ebay. He has also give me the OK to use some plate images.
Here we have a 1940 Dealer plate with the 'X' in the second position. The series started with the 'X' in the first position going from X100 to X9999, then 1X00 to 9X999 and finally from 10X0 to 68X47 or above. The 4-character plates measured 6" by 10", while the 5-character plates were 12". Thanks to PL8 Source for the use of the plate.
This 1974 Used Car Dealer fills a long standing gap. For some reason this was a tough one to find. Thanks much to Dave at PlateDog for the use of this and other images. I now have images of the A, B, C and D-series dealer plates but still need the even more elusive E-series Trailer Dealer plate.
Passenger plates for 1956 were interesting in that there were at least 15 formatting variations. Since plate serial numbers were limited to 5 characters (6 characters began in '57) many different serial combinations of numbers and letters were needed. The plates shown here represent Format 13 (D000A to P999Z) and Format 14 plates (D00A0 to P99Z9).
These two 1957 Passenger plate photos from PL8 Source help fill in Format 4 and Format 7 gaps. Format 4 ran from 10A0 to 99Z99, and Format 7 ran from 0000A to 9999Z. This still leaves gaps for Format 6 (000A0 to 999Z9) and Format 10 (00AA to 99ZZ) . I'm still working on a piece to identify what I believe were three different fonts in use that year.
No matter how you look at this 1971 to '76 Bicentennial State plate, it's upside down. Matt Ciecka passed along this plate photo. Was this the result of a bad day in the big house, or some inmate not feeling too kindly toward the state? Or maybe just a mistake?
I've been giving various sections of the website a update, and came across this 1920 Tractor plate from Tiger Joe Sallmen. Tractor plates made their debut in 1914, and for quite a few years used the 'E' prefix which stood for engine or traction engine, an early term for tractor. It appears that few then 2500 plates were issued for 1920.
The plate doesn't use the word TRUCK, but none of them did from 1924 up thru 1933. The U-prefix is the key to identifying this 1925 Truck plate. Truck plates used the weight class prefix series of R thru Z, without the X. Some passenger plates at the same time used a letter prefix, but that series was limited to using A and B. This photo was posted to Facebook by Tyrone Caldwell and passed on to me by Eric Conner.
Merry Christmas to all
This Appalachian Trail Conservancy plates is hot off the press. These plates date back to late 2014. Note this latest plate is without a sticker well and also without the small map. At this time it is unknown when this change occurred, or when the map might appear. Thanks to Steve Ondik for the nice image.
This Expeditionary Forces Veteran plates is configured as a personalized tag. It was spotted by Nick Tsilakis. The 91B30 is a military term. I tried looking it up but got conflicting descriptions. There have been a number of iterations of this plate dating back to 1995. Now we have sequential plates with stickers, personalized plates without sticker wells and without the small map. Next there will be another group with the small map, I'm sure. While the tracking of changes is part of what makes the hobby challenging, the apparent inconsistency also borders on annoying. Just my 2 cents.
Salvage Yard (history link) plates dates back to about 1984 with several variations of the yellow on blue plates as well as on the www and visitPA bases. It is still unknown if there was a yellow on blue base after Version 2 which used the standard font for the state name. If so, it would likely have been above WL-09612, or more likely starting at WL-10000 such as Version 3 of Rep / Ser Towing.
Jeff Lawson took this traffic shot of a personalized Person with Disability plate. The availability of PD plates as vanities has not gone unnoticed. They are available with from 1 to 5 alpha-numeric characters. At last count there were almost 100,000 PD plates registered. It is not know how many are vanities.
I think most of us enjoy seeing the oldies still in active use, and so does Bruce Bufalini who spotted this vanity on the road. This plate would have been issued between 1977 and 1984 making it at least 40 years old. Note the 5-17 and the 10-96 stickers in the two sticker wells. If you're wondering how this is done, the registration number, CONKLN, is still current and valid, and likely has been since it was issued. The state would have re-issued this plate on a newer base, probably www; however, the owner chooses to display the original plate rather then a current CONKLN plate.
This 1963 base Motorcycle with a '64 sticker has been added to the Motorcycle History section. It is a Format 1 plate meaning it is part of the series from 1 to 9999. There were 5 formatting variations used during that 2-year run. The photo display is still in need of a Format 3 plate with the series of 0A to 999Z. This photo is from Chuck Sakryd.
These two all-numeric 1965 base Motorcycle plates were undated but could be renewed with validation stickers thru 1970. These were Format 1 plates which were all numeric starting at 1 and going to 9999. Thanks to Chuck Sakryd for these and many other plate images.
Jeff Hinkle sent this photo of a recently acquired 1971 to '76 Motorcycle base with a 76 sticker. The plate is a Format 3 version where the serial progression started at 000A0 and went to 999Z9. The all-zero number give the plate a unique appearance.
This is a 1968 issue Official Use plate from Eric Conner. As mentioned in last week's post these plates could be found on everything from state-owned farm tractors to State Police cruisers. The '68 base had a very prominent sticker well. It is unknown if all the plates had 68 etched into the sticker well. Some plates had permanent stickers applied, as shown here.
This is the current high Official Use series for non-commercial vehicles issued in pairs. At some point in the future this plate is due for a makeover. The prototype, shown earlier this year, is on the family of plates base as you might expect. It also has the state coat of arms with the PA stacked in both the prefix and suffix positions depending on use on passenger or commercial type vehicles.
The other day I stopped by Collis Truck Parts, a salvage yard, looking for yellow on blue Salvage Yard (WL) plates. No luck with WL plates, but I did snap this photo of a needed 1954 Format 6 Passenger plate. There were 15 different passenger formats used in '54. I still need photos of 2 formats. These include Format 5, from 000A to 999Z, and Format 10 from 00AA to 99ZZ.
While doing an overhaul to the Transporter History section these two plates were added. I'm still at an impasse with early Transporter plates. The first group had the word TRANSPORTER flat screened. Later plates had TRANSPORTER and the state name embossed using a sans serif font. The question remains as to whether there was a short run of plates using the 'Friend' font as there was with Repair/Service Towing, Repossessor and Salvage Yard plates, which are all part of the same family.
The North Strabane Township Volunteer Fire Department is starting a plate program. They are located southwest of Pittsburgh in Washington County, near the borough of Cannonsburg. No prototype image is available yet, and no plates are in use yet. The plate format is likely to be 00000N/S.
This is the first photo of a Share the Road plate as a vanity. These plates had their start in 2016, and Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists) shows the latest high as B/K00330. The expressed purpose of the plate is to have the proceeds go toward maintaining PennDOT's central office position of Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator and funding highway bicycle signage. Thanks to Arthur Levine for the photo.
This Pennsylvania Coal Alliance Inc. plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini. It was seen in Indiana County where there are coal mining operations. So far this is the only under-a-hundred plate photographed. This plate program dates back to 2017.
This National Wild Turkey Federation plate was recently spotted by Jeff Lawson. I actually see more wild turkeys in my yard than I see these plates on the road. At the same time the high number of W/T01238 (from Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists)) suggests that they are not that scarce. This program dates back to 2002 with no evidence of a move to the graphic base. Still looking for a sample plate.
This is not a repeat from last week, but it might look familiar. Last week's plate was R/R9J14, while this week we have R/R9J18, making this plate the new high. The Preserve Our Heritage plate is the sole survivor of the full-size graphic Special Fund plates. Thank you Steve Ondik for sharing this photo.
The old Fire Department plates have not been issued since the mid-1980s, but the exact year is unknown. They had their start in 1968, although a photograph in an Allentown Fire Department history book shows such a plate in use on a fire that took place in 1961. I'm now of the opinion that either the date listed is incorrect or the photo was misidentified. The plate series started at FD-10000 or FD-10001 and the series ran to FD-29999 or close to that number, after which they were replaced by Emergency Vehicle plates. The low numbered plate shown here was provided by Clayton Moore some time ago. Note the use of the small keystone separator which was replace by a dash separator near the end of the plate run.
These plates are not the entire history of Mass Transit plates, but they do represent much of it. The series dates back to 1977 with blue on yellow plates, next came the yellow on blue 1984 base as shown here from Steve Ondik, next was the www base as shown above starting at M/T30000 and and finally the current visitPA base. Some www plates had the MT in line instead of stacked as shown here. I don't think the small map outline base has made its debut yet. A recently spotted ebay plate has helped to refine the transition point from Version 1 (click link above) to Version 2. Thanks for the tip go to Jordan Irazabal.
This is a 1946 Motorcycle, Format 1 plate which includes the series of 1 to 9999. This plate photo was made available by ebay user luv2wheels a while ago. I still need a photo of a Format 2 plate which is the alpha-numeric series A to Z999. The formatting of the 2-digit year, PA and MC have been similarly arranged for many years before and after.
Next in line is this 1950 Format 2 Motorcycle plate. The 3-character plate has a certain appeal over the more common 4-character version. Format 2 plates run from A to Z999; however, the full series was not needed. When I asked the owner for permission to use the photo, he suggested I recognize the original owner who was a John Tomlin, and his bike was a 1947 Indian.
The final Motorcycle plate this week is this 1955 Format 2. Like the plate above, Format 2 plates run from A to Z999; however, the full series was not needed. This photo may have come from ebay several years ago. If the plate happens to be yours, plates let me know so I can credit you.
This pair of Official Use plates is from Eric Conner. In PA, the term 'Official Use' or 'Official Use Only' applies to any state-owned vehicle from a State Police vehicle to a PennDOT snow plow truck. There are also unmarked State Police vehicles and certain executive level vehicles that use standard issue plates. Only standard issue motorcycle plates are used on state-owned cycles. The far left plate above was part of the first sequence used from 1967 to '67. I am hoping to find a photo of a similar vintage plate with the format reversed as 0000-PA. The blue on white plate series was issued from 1977 to 1984; however, some of these can still be spotted in use, usually in rough shape. This series from PA-20000 to PA-55999 was likely issued to a truck or commercial type vehicle.
This pair of Repair/Service Towing plates has been added to the history page. The RS-00348 is a low numbered photo of the earliest series and used a flat screened Rep / Ser Towing tag legend. The next plate has the Rep/Ser Towing legend embossed but uses the "You've got a friend" font for the state name. It is also the lowest photo of that second version. The far left plate was provided by Clayton Moore several years ago, and the RS-02476 plate was provided by Matt Ciecka.
Gone, but not forgotten . . . but could they come back? There are a couple of State Representatives who are working on legislation to bring the validation sticker out of retirement and add inspection and emissions features. This was mentioned in ALPCA's Plates Magazine. I also confirmed this by speaking to one of Representative Jozwiak's aides. The legislation has not yet been introduced. I will post more when it becomes available. The sticker above is courtesy of Bill Stephens.
This is not the first image of a personalized Conserve Wild Resources plate, but it is the first vanity with the map outline to be photographed. There were previous vanities with the small photo that still had the sticker well. At this point standard issue Otter plates also have the map.
The Preserve Our Heritage Special Fund plate series dates back to December of 1998. This series is the only remaining full graphic plate left, as all other graphic plates have been either discontinued or given the very disappointing family of plates treatment. As of the last count at the end of 2016 there were 27,108 of these plates in use. During its 18 years the serial progressions started with R/R0000, then R/R000A, R/R00A0, and finally R/R0A00 as seen above on the R/R9J14 plate. That plate is also the current high and was recently received by Joe Pavlo. The other two plates are older photos of low numbered plates. The R/R0005 was from Jordan Irazabal, and the R/R1057 is from Ralph Lindken. Research indicates that plates up to R/R9Z99 are sitting in inventory, which suggests that this plate style may be around for a while.
The Person with Disability plate has now made the switch to the small map outline base. With some help from my crystal ball this change took place at 72000PD. The map outline was seen previously on a Person with Disability vanity plate; however, it's not unusual for this feature to be seen first on vanity plates, meanwhile the stock of previous PD plates is being depleted. This find also makes this a new series high. Thanks to Jaska Börner for sharing this photo.
We are seeing many changes in plates these days, mostly the small map replacing the sticker well, but the Flyers Wives Charity legend, now singular, used to be Flyers Wives Charities, plural. This change was first spotted back in April, but now the plate shown here helps to narrow down the transition point. So this plate type has gone from Charities with sticker well, to Charity without sticker well, and finally to Charity with the map. Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the photo.
No small map outline yet on these recent Apportioned Truck plates from Steve Ondik. Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists) is also showing AG-65273 which clearly shows the sticker well. My reliable crystal ball indicates that the map outline will start at AG-67500. A vanity check suggests that that mark has already been reached, so it's likely they are on the roads already. Two older www base plates have also been added to the photo gallery but not shown here.
It's obvious the truck's not upside down, so what's with the upside-down plate? At least the validation sticker was applied correctly to the plate. The current reported Repair Towing high is RT-70836 according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists) which does not yet have the map outline. A source suggests that the map outline begins at RT-70900, and plate check shows that almost 50 plates above that point are now in use. Steve Ondik spotted this oddity.
Correction concerning the cardboard Temporary Intransit tags from last week: It should have read, they are only issued to non-PA residents who are purchasing a vehicle in PA. Thanks Jordan.
I came across this very low number 1938 Motorcycle plate in my archives. The first serial progression ran from 1 to 9999, then the series went alpha numeric starting with A and advancing into the B000 series. All plates ware 4½" by 8". This photo gets credited to Tim Gierschick.
Around 1984 PA began issuing Repair Service Towing plates, or, as the plate legend was written REP/SER TOWING, then that wording was later changed to REPAIR / TOWING. Anyway Jordan Irazabal spotted an eBay auction which narrows down the the transition point where the legend change described above took place. Since these plates were undated, it is difficult to say when this change took place, but I'm going to guess in the 1990s. No photo.
Next we have a number of Trailer plates including this all-numeric 1949 Trailer. For that year there was a total of 5 serial number format progressions including 0001 to 9999, A000 to Z999, 0A00 to 9Z99, 00A0 to 99Z9, 000A to 999Z. All plates contained 4 characters, and all plates measured 6 inches by 11 inches.
For a few years in the early to mid-1950s plate size was reduced to 6" x 10¼" including this 1955 Trailer. The same serial formatting progressions were used as listed for '49 plates above, plus one additional. A 5-digit all numeric format was used for the overflow.
This group of 4 1956 Trailer plates represents 4 of the 6 serial formatting variations for that year. One additional format was previously posted, leaving a gap for Format 5 for plates between 000A and 999Z. The plate size was now standardized at 6" by 12". The 27496 plate is thanks to Chuck Sakryd. The origin of the others is unknown. If any belong to you, let me know and I will give you credit.
The final entry for this week is this 1964 Trailer with a 69 validation sticker. The '64 plates were used thru 1967, so I'm not sure what's going on with the 69 sticker. All plate had 64 embossed on them even if they was issued in a later year. This series started at 100-001 and progressed above 394-000. This image was provided by Clayton Moore.
Back in February of 2016 I should have posted these additional pictures that John Clark sent of the Medal of Honor plate that was issued to Army Sergeant Gino J. Merli who received the Medal of Honor for his service during World War II. He passed away in 2002. Look up Gino Merli and read or listen to his heroic account. The group photo appears to be a ceremony where 8 Pennsylvania MOH recipients were presented with their registration plates. I'm guessing that this took place not long after the plate was authorized in 1981. These and the previously posted Medal of Honor plate pictures were taken at the Gino Merli Veterans Center in Scranton, PA.
Here's the first image of a Lung Cancer Alliance plate. These plates have been active since about October of 2015, but so far the only plate photographed is the vanity edition. At the present it looks like there are about eight sequentially numbered plates in use, which may explain why none have been photographed so far. The image was snapped by John Clark.
Here's a low number Share The Road plate from Jordan Irazabal. These are actually part of the Special Fund series. This is one of those types where plates with serial numbers below 00100 appear to have been held in reserve possibly for those involved with bringing the plate about. Regular issue plates of this type are well up into the 00400 series. They have been around since August of 2016.
It has been a while since any standard issue Motorcycle plates have been added. This plate is part of the 0AA00 serial progression. This plate would be a new high and was spotted recently by Jordan Irazabal. As a personal observation and opinion, since smaller plates never had a sticker well, it appears that the small map outline seen on full-size plates will not become a part of MC, MCD, MP, etc series.
Little by little we see plates shifting to the map outline. The timing of the transition depends on the number of sticker well plates still in inventory and the rate at which they are issued. Here is the latest School Vehicle plate showing the map. It is believed that the change likely took place at SV-25800.
Admittedly I don't put much effort into tracking these Temporary Intransit cardboard plates. CORRECTION These are issued to non-Pennsylvania residents who purchase a vehicle in PA. These have been issued for many years, in fact the ALPCA Archives shows one for 1941. Some fake cardboard plates have been made up thru the use of computers. They can often be detected by the use of the wrong font or the number seems way out of the current sequence. The plate shown here is a new high and is believed to be legitimate. Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the image.
There is nothing all that special about the far left Repair Towing plate, but it does help to establish the high point of the use of the narrow tag legend. It is believed that at RT-47000 a wider tag legend was used as shown on the RT-48696 plate. Compare the W on both plates. Anyone have a plate that would go against what I said here, or how about an RT47000 series plate?
At first this might have you scratching your head, especially when you consider that a Hearing Impaired vanity is supposed to have the HE prefix followed by up to five characters. It would not be the first time that a vanity plate was issued without the required prefix. Plate was photographed by Jordan Irazabal. Quite a find.
Here's an older Hearing Impaired plate I came across in my photo files. The picture came from Brian Craig several years ago. Click the link above to also see the #1 plate. These plates date back to 1987, but were never widely used. There may have been some 230 of these plates issued in the last 17 years. It is not known how many were issued on the yellow on blue base shown here.
Farm Truck history data was updated under what I call Version 4. Jordan Irazabal pointed me to an auction site where a Farm Truck plate helped to narrow down the change from the narrow FARM TRUCK plate legend back to the wide FARM TRUCK.
Here's a 1921 Format 2 Motorcycle plate from eBay user Thepoolcueshop. Format 2 plates were 4 and 5 digits, and ran from 1000 to above 21000, and measured 4½" by 8". Format 1 plates were 4½" by 6" and could be 1 to 3 digits. Motorbike plates at the time were formatted similarly but the first character in the serial number was the letter 'O' which at the time looked like a 0 (zero).
This is a 1934 Motorcycle plate. There were two serial progressions for that year — 1 to 9999, then an alpha numeric series beginning with A and progressing into the C000 series. The colors were dark blue over yellow. By contrast 1934 Motorbike plates began using MB stacked as the plate shown here uses MC.
Here's a 1935 Motorcycle Sample plate. The appearance of '35 plates were much like the '34 plate above except for the colors. The serial progressions were also similar to the '34 plates. This plate belonged to Jake Eckenrode, at least at the time of the photo.
Here's a 1935 Motorcycle Sample plate. The appearance of '35 plates were much like the '34 plate above except for the colors. The serial progressions were also similar to the '34 plates. This plate belonged to Jake Eckenrode, at least at the time of the photo.
Next we move ahead to this 1939 Motorcycle plate. This is a Format 1 plate in which the serial progression ran from 1 to 9999, and then switching to an alpha numeric format. The map outline was added in 1938. This photo was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
This 1950 Trailer plate is part of the third formatting group. These groups progressed as follows: 0001 to 9999, A000 to Z999, 0A00 to 9Z99, 00A0 to 99Z9, 000A to 999Z, and 10000 if it was needed. Since most, if not all plates were limited to 4 characters, many serial progressions were needed. These plates were all 6" by 11". Can anyone shed any light on the use of the 5-digit series?
Next in line is this 1953 Trailer. Trailer plates from 1952 thru '55 were reduced in size to 6" x 10¼". This is a Format 5 plate following the same series of progressions as described above.
Here's a new organizational plate in the works for the Fairview Township Fire Department. Fairview Township is located in the northern tip of York County. Note the inclusion of the map outline on this prototype plate. No plates are in use at this time.
This latest edition of a Presque Isle Partnership plate came from Steve Ondik who just received this plate. Their plate program dates back to 2006 and now has the PA map outline. The highest plate recorded without the map and with the sticker well was 01069P/I. Since these plates are produced individually I'm not going to guess at a transition point.
These Severely Disabled Veteran vanity plates have been added to the growing number of personalized DV plates. As mentioned recently, while this plate type has been modernized, it has not been pulled into the family of plates. This is because the law that authorized this plate also spelled out how it will be configured from the standpoint of color and appearance. The SEABE plate is thanke to Brendan Sherry, while the INNER photo came from Arthur Levine.
In Legislative News, there are several bills in the legislature, if passed, would authorize new plates. Passage does not appear close for any of the bills at this time.
● Senate Bill 266 that provides for vehicle registration plates for recipients of the Soldier’s Medal.
● Senate Bill 729 that provides for vehicle registration plates for veterans of an allied foreign country.
● House Bill 1294 that provides for vehicle registration plates for recipients of the Legion of Merit. It also appears to authorize Purple Heart plates for motorcycles.
This is a Class 1 ATV plate. It also part of the 4th serial progression with plates starting at 0000A, and each time the series fills up the letter moves one position to the left. The reported high is 2C363. These plates are issued by the PA DCNR or Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Here is a 1943 Format 3 Dealer. What that means is that the 'X' was in the third position and the serial progression ran from 10X0 to 99X99. 4-character plates measured 6" by 10" and 5-character plates measured 6" by 12". There was an additional format where the X was in the 4th position. The source of this plate photo is unknown.
Here is an example of a 1918 Format 2 Motorcycle plate. Format 2 is the larger of the two sizes with serial numbers from 1000 to 26621, and the dimensions being 4½" by 8". Format 1 plates ran from 1 to 999 and measured 4½" by 6". The source of this plate photo is unknown.
A note about photo quality. Over the past year, I visited a number of automotive museums in PA looking for needed plates to photos. Museums present unique challenges in obtaining good digital photos. These include marginal lighting, plates mounted within glass enclosures, and plates mounted high on walls. Add to this the pitfalls of using the flash feature plus low-end camera equipment, and the results are often very disappointing. I recently purchased a much better camera and a long 'selfie stick'. We'll see what happens.
This is a 1920 Format 2 Motorcycle plate. Like the plate above, Format 2 is the larger of the two sizes measuring 4½" by 8", and the serial sequence ran from 1000 to 23981. This image was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. A Format 1 plate image is still needed.
Here is a 1925 Format 1 Motorcycle plate. This 'shorty' is part of the sequence from 1 to 999 on 4½" by 6" plates, while Format 2 plates ran from 1000 to 16122 and were on the larger 4½" by 8" base. This photo was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
This 1932 Official plate from Jeff Hinkle. Sometime between 1924 and 1926 PA began issuing Official plates for use on state-owned vehicles. Evidence sited by Eric Tanner suggests that they were issued as early as 1924. Most plates were 3-digits, however there were also some 1-, 2- and 4-digit plates. As a point of reference, 1935 Plates were authorized from 1 to 1600.
Here's a 1936 Official Use Only plate. The '36 Official plates had some odd traits, for starters it's the only year where wide formatting was used. This plate is believed to be 6" by 15". The plate legend, 'Official Use Only' was not used before or after until 1957. It appears that a group of numbers was taken from the passenger series, possibly 31-000 to 32-000, but the passenger series did not use the dash. I got this image from John Anshant several years ago.
This 1953 Class R Truck plate is one of six different serial progressions used for the R class, with this plate being part of the first group, R000A. The other progressions included the following: R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0, R0A0A. This plate measures 6" x 10¼", and the photo was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Here's a 1954 Class R Truck plate, very similar in some ways to the '53 plate above, but it is part of the R00AA serial format. The other classes include R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R0AA0, R0A0A. Weight classes ran from R for the lightest trucks to ZZ. Truck plates after 1951 were issued as singles. This plate also measures 6" x 10¼", and the photo was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
This pair of Collectible Vehicle plates is only 19 number apart, but the appearance is like night and day. The new design is on the right. Is it really necessary to have Collectible Vehicle twice on the same plate? Is this 'Family of Plates' thing really progress? If you had a choice, which plate would you pick for your collectible vehicle? For anyone not familiar, PA is on a mission to make all plates essentially look alike. And here we see the transition from the original all embossed format to a semi-flat new design. Plates with the small map outline are likely to appear at CV1700. The original design plate photo is from Ryan Battin, the new design is from Bill Stephens.
The East Brandywine Fire Company was added to the list of organizational plates in late July. At that time they had no plates on the street, and thanks to Tom Perri we have the first photo of an issued plate. Tom runs a PA highs page (update: site no longer exists). It appears that the fire company has about 7 plates in use.
Back on October 22 it was announced that Alvernia University had plates on the street. Currently about a dozen plates have been issued. It didn't take long for Tom Perri to find and photograph this low numbered plate. Many thanks go out to Tom for his persistence and diligence in photo-documenting so many of the plates posted on this website. I can't mention Tom without including Jordan Irazabal of the Delaware 3000 — great teamwork.
Here's a vanity issue of a St. Joseph's University plate. This plate was also photographed by Tom Perri. Click the photo to enlarge it. It is plain to see the sticker well that the owner choose not to use for sticker placement. The St. Joe's plate program dates way back to 1985.
Here's the latest Combat Infantryman Badge plate thanks to Tom Perri. These plates first came out in 2014, and have now made the transition to the latest base with the map outline, and without the sticker well. It is not known at what point this change took place, only that it was between 20121C/O and the plate shown here.
Some changes have been made to the Disabled Veteran section starting with the DV-79000 series. That's is the group of plates issued in pairs for vehicles equipped to carry assistive devices on the rear such as a wheel chair or battery powered personal mobility device. Upon examining that plate picture further, it is clear that it is the latest version with the DV plates withe the DV and plate legend flat screened. I'm now calling that 2-plate DV-79000 series Format 9. In addition, the DV vanities and the plates above DV-36750, I am listing as Format 10 and 10A respectively.
This 1953 Miscellaneous Dealer plate is a little nicer than one previously posted. For 1953 there was also New Car Dealer (A-series), Used Car Dealer (B-seies) and Transit Dealer (C-series) plates. No Transit Dealer plates have surfaced so far. It is also still unconfirmed when that series began. It could be as early as 1946. This image was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
These two gems make great additions to the 1933 Truck plates group thanks to Eric Tanner. Weight classes that year started at R and went to ZZ as indicated by the first letter. All 1933 truck plates measured 6" by 15".
The next truck plate to be added this week is this R-Class 1944. With plates being limited to 5 characters, it meant that 4 different sequence formats were needed including the following: R000A, R00A0, R0A00 and R00AA, with this plate being part of the second group. All plates were 6" by 11". This image was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
These Format 2 and Format 3 1947 Trailer plates have been added to the mix. Five different serial progressions were used including 0001 to 9999, A000 to Z999, 0A00 to 9Z99, 00A0 to 99Z9 and 000A to 999Z. Format 1 and 5 plates are still needed to complete the run.
This is a 1948 Format 1 Trailer plate. Like the '47 plates described above, the '48s also used 5 serial formats. This was largely due to plates being limited to 4 characters. Click the link to also see Format 3 and 4 plates. The source of this plate and the Trailer plates above is unknown, possibly eBay several years ago. Let me know if you own any of these plates.
This 1977 Trailer Dealer plate helps fill the gap for that year. Although the plate is marked dealer with no other identifying legend, the E10-000E serial format was the distinguishing feature. The series likely began in 1971, but I'm still in need of plates for '71, '72, '74 and '78. It should be noted that most of the higher number E00-000E plates in the undated '84 thru '94 period were not trailer dealer plates as the alpha-numeric prefix system were merged together so that the alpha characters no longer represented a particular group. This plate photo was provided by eBay user hpr4661.
This is a 1946 Truck plate, Class R weight limit, with serial format 1. For 1946 there were 5 R-class serial formats used including R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA and R0AA0. All plates had 5 characters with the first letter designating the weight class. All classes had at least one additional letter in the serial number which was never next to the weight class prefix. This photo came from the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Here's another R-weight class truck plate, with this one being from 1951. Beginning with 1949, there were so many R-Class trucks that 6 format variations were used. All truck plates had 5 characters and measured 6 inches by 11 inches. This photo also came from the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
The final plates this week is this 1952 R-Class Truck. Again 1952 plates were 6" by 11", however, this was the final year for that size with the next few years' plates measuring 6" by 10¼". This photo also came from the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Nick Tsilakis recently spotted this Disabled Veteran plate. Note this is the first Disabled Veteran photo with the DV and plate legend flat screened and with a sequential serial number. This format has been previously seen on DV vanities. This plate also moves the changeover point to DV-36750, this is also based on an older inventory report. This plate also flies in the face of all the recent changes to the 'family of plates' visitPA base. This is because the law that authorized this plate also spelled out how it will be configured from the standpoint of color and appearance.
Well we knew it was coming, and now it's here. The plate on the far left is what the Conserve Wild Resources - Otter plate will look like henceforth. This came about thru PennDOT's effort to give every plate the 'family of plates' look. Note the plate now has a 5-digit all numeric format after the R/C prefix, and has the small map outline whare the sticker well used to be. The R/C9X92 on the near left is what the plates looked line from February of 1999 until October of 2017. In fact, the high on that series was R/C9X99. I have previously expressed my opinion on such matters. The only remaining full canvas plate is the Preserve Our Heritage - Railroad plate, and how long can that survive? The far left plate is from Ryan Battin and the full canvas plate is from Tom Perri and Colin M.
This is the second Apportioned Bus plate on the visitPA base spotted in the past several months. Initially there was a large inventory of BN plates on the www base so it took many years and more recently an increase in the number of Apportioned Bus registrations to finally bring about this change. One anomaly on the latest edition is the use of the dash separator instead of the keystone separator, although this has been seen with a few other plates. Thanks for Jordan Irazabal for the use of his photo.
I am desperately seeking information and/or photos of any older BL Apportioned Bus plates. What little history I have is inconsistent.
Here's the latest high number Operation Iraqi Freedom plate photographed by Jordan Irazabal. This plate series dates back to 2005. Even with this plate being the latest reported high, it still has the sticker well. So far the map outline on military plates has only been seen on the active duty - AD suffix plates.
Here's another image of the latest Municipal Government plate photographed by Steve Ondik. These were first seen in early February of this year starting at M/G9000J. Since that time they have advanced into the K-suffix, with the final letter being the last to advance. The MG series started out in 1971 and were later replaced in 1977, with some of those '77 bases still on the street.
After all these years "You've [still] got a friend in Pennsylvania". This 1983 base vanity was spotted in use on 11-11-17, and with a 10-17 sticker. The owner said the current base was starting to show its age, so he put the older plate back into service. He's been questioned by police on a few occasions.
This 1950 Miscellaneous Dealer plate photo came from Kelly Brewer some years ago and was hiding in my archives. In 1946 regular dealer plates were split into multiple sub-groups, i.e., New Car Dealer (A000A), Used Car Dealer (B000A) and Miscellaneous Dealer (X0000, 0X000). At some point in time there was also a Transit Dealer (C000A) added; however, as of today, we don't have evidence to establish a starting year. Back to the plate shown here, this is a nice example of a plate with the X in the first position, the photo gallery also has a photo of a plate with the X in the second position.
This 1948 Format 2 Passenger plate image was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. Format 2 plates ran from A100 to Z9999 as both 4- and 5-character plates; however all plates were 6 inches by 11 inches. There were some 10 serial formatting progressions for 1948.
This 1950 Format 8 Passenger plate photo also came from the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. Format 8 plates ran from AA100 to ZZ999, so despite MD101 serial it likely was a standard issue plate, and not a series put aside for medical doctors. On the other side of the argument, almost from the beginning, low number plates and plates with initials were sought after, and the BMV was often willing to accommodate such requests.
Here's a 1952 Format 8 Passenger plate. This format consisted of plates from AA10 to ZZ999, so both 4- and 5-character plates were a part of this run. Plates were all 6" by 11", however, this was the last year for 11-inch plates. After '52 plate size was reduced to 10¼" until plates were standardized to 6" by 12" in 1956. This photo came from the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
This very nice 1929 Class V Truck is thanks to Eric Tanner. For 1929 truck weight classes went from R to ZZ. Plate progressions for this class went from V-1 to at least V11-326. 2, 3 & 4 character plates measure 6" x 10", 5 character plates measure 6" x 13", 6 character plates measure 6" x 15", as shown in this photo.
This partial, but very impressive run of 1932 Truck plates was made possible thru the kindness of Eric Tanner. For 1932 truck weight classes went from R to Z, minus the X, for 2-axle trucks, and from RZ to ZZ minus XZ, for 3-axle trucks. Plates from the 3-axle series are very tough to find.
This 1947 T-Class Truck plate was photographed at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. For 1947 there were the normal weight classes from R thru ZZ. This being a T-class plate it was one of three serial formats, with this plate being part of the T000A series, which would have run to T999Z. The other formats included T00A0, T0A00. Click the link above to see another T-format, and several other weight classes.
Here's a 1958 YZ Class Truck plate with a 63 validation sticker. So what's a YZ Class Truck? For 1958, truck classes were divided up not only by weight, but also by the number of axles, and also if it was a straight truck or truck tractor. Click the link above to see a table with the breakdown of all the classes; however, it does not list weight classes by gross vehicle weight (GVW). The plate shown here is for a 3-axle truck straight truck. Thanks to Clayton Moore for sharing this very nice plate photo.
A few articles have been floating around about PA vehicles with expired registration stickers and out-of-state travel. Larry Resnick also shared a news article. An unintended consequences of PennDOT not issuing renewal stickers is vehicles traveling outside of PA and being stopped by police for what appears to be an expired registration. AAA recommends removing the old stickers as follows: • Apply heat with a heat gun or hair dryer set on low. • Use a razor blade, preferably plastic, to loosen a corner. • Carefully run the razor blade beneath sticker as you peel. • Use a wet sponge to remove some of the tough adhesive and continue to peel. • Clean remaining residue with window cleaner, rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover. Image from Clayton Moore.
Bruce Bufalini spotted this Community for Pittsburgh Ultimate plate. This is a large Frisbee club based in Pittsburgh. Their plate program dates back to about 2006 and about 30 plates have have been registered since that time.
This is the first Rails-to-Trails Conservancy plate photographed in a vanity format. Rails-to-Trails plates have been around sine 1997 starting out on the yellow on blue base. The reported high, according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists), is R/T01507. Thanks to Brendan Sherry for the photo.
This University of Pittsburgh plate helps narrow the range where the map outline was added. The highest recorded plate without the map is U/P05165. As far as I know organizational plates that have transitioned to the graphic style are produced on an order-for-order basis, not stockpiled as they were at one time. So the transition point may not occur at predictable point. This photo also came from Brendan Sherry.
This far left photo was snapped by Bruce Bufalini and is the Municipal plate high before the changeover to the family of plates with map outline shown on the near left. That plate was previously provided by Bill Houser.
Here's the latest in Antique Vehicle plates, and for the first time showing the map outline. While this plate is in the S series, I believe based on a reference document that the R and the S series were produced as a group, therefore the R series likely has the map outline as well. The photo was snapped by Jordan Irazabal.
Last week we posted an image of a C-series Special Mobile (Equipment) plate. The biggest change is that the plate legend now fits between the holes. In the past it read S•PECIAL MOBIL•E. While this plate is considered the new high, it still has the sticker dimple and no map.
This 1936 Format 2 Dealer plate was photographed at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. Sorry for the marginal quality of the picture. Format 2 plates had the 'X' in the second position. Plates that were 2, 3 and 4 characters measured 6" by 10", 5 character plates were 6" by 12".
Here's a 1939 Format 1 Dealer plate. Like the plate above, this is also measures 6" by 10". Also like the plate above, the 'X' could be in the first, second or third position, and plates could be 5 or fewer characters. Five character plates were 6" by 12". The photo was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Next is this 1936 Format 2 Passenger plate. For 1926 there were nine different serial progressions and two sizes — 6" by 10" for 4-character plates, and 6" by 12" for 5 character plates. 1936 was the final year for passenger plates without the map outline border. The photo was also taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
We move ahead to this 1938 Format 8 Passenger plate. From 1937 until the Bicentennial plates in 1971, all passenger plates had the map outline, and now part way thru 2017 we see a vestige of it. Like the '36 plate above there were nine different serial progressions and two sizes, both 6" by 10" for 4-character plates, and 6" by 12" for 5 character plates. The photo was also taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Here's a 1942 Format 2 Passenger plate. By 1942 there were 10 serial progressions consisting of 4 or 5 characters. Like the passenger plates above, they were issued in two sizes, 6-inch by 10-inch and 12-inch, depending on the number of characters. The photo was also taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Here's a 1928 S-Class Truck plate. From 1924 thru 1933 there was no legend on the plate indicating that it was a Truck plate. The key to identifying the plate type was from the weight class prefix. The S-Class plate ran from S-1 into the S53-000 series. In addition we have photo displays of S-9 and S-47 plates which are all 6" by 10" plates. Apparently the dash doesn't fit on the 10" plate with S+3 digits. Click the link above to see additional examples. Thanks to John Willard and John Anshant for the opportunity to photograph this plate..
This 1937 T-Class truck plate was photographed at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. For that year the T-Class plates used three serial progressions as follows: T000A, T00A0, T0A00, with this plate being part of the last series. Most truck plates were 5 characters and measured 6" by 12"; however, within the R- and S-series there were some 6-character plates measure which measure 6" by 15".
The final entry this week is this 1941 R-Class truck plate. The R-Class is the lightest weight class. Serial formats included R000A, R00A0 and R0A00. This plate was also on display at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. All 1941 truck plate measured 6" by 12", and were issued in pairs. Note that this is the first year for the expiration date (EXP. 3-31-42) to be part of the top border.
Here's the latest edition of a Press Photographer plate showing the small map outline in place of the sticker well. I'm going to suggest that this plate is either a vanity or a re-make of an earlier issue. The photo was taken in Philadelphia. To see older issues of this plate type, click this history link.
Here's another image of what is thought to be the newest version of the Fire Fighter plate. It has all the features of an organizational plate with the logo and plate legend all being flat screened. The only thing missing would be the state map outline. This plate appears to still have the sticker well. While this is listed as an organizational plate, there is not an organized group of fire fighters or fire departments that oversee this plate. Applicants, however, need to secure the signature of their fire chief in order to get one. This plate is once again available as a vanity. Thanks to Brandon Sowers for the use of this photograph. This plate is also a new high.
This Special Mobile (Equipment) plate was recently spotted by Nick Tsilakis. This is the first plate photographed in the 'C'-prefix series. Nick points out that the tag legend, SPECIAL MOBILE, has now been narrowed to fit between the bolt holes, a definite improvement in the plate's appearance. The plate does not appear to have the small map outline. To see older issues of this plate type, click this history link.
This Gettysburg 1863 - Pennsylvania Monuments plate was spotted by Bruce Bufalini. The plate is a new series high. This plate program dates back to 2014 and is part of the group of Special Fund plates. The was no earlier version of this plate with the graphic covering the full plate as several other Special Fund plates have had.
This Gold Star Family plate image was provided by Jeff Lawson. At first glance this might look like a new high, however, the current reported high is G/S/F0688, far lower than this plate. The other more likely explanation is that this is a vanity plate.
The far left picture is a terrible photo of a U.S. Navy (Active Duty) plate. I tried chasing the vehicle in traffic and this is the best of two efforts. It's also the first image of the armed forces active duty series. Plates became available in May of this year but the plates so far have been very scarce. The other plates of this series include Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Marines.
I'm in the process of revising a number of existing plate sections including the section on current Repair Towing plates. As a result a few older, but still current, examples have been added including the three shown here. A couple have also been removed. Click the link to see the section. The center plate was provided by Steve Ondik. Click this link to see older plates.
I really don't put much effort into tracking DCNR plates, but I spotted this ATV Class 1 plate recently and snapped the photo which shows that DCNR apparently has not given up the the use of renewal stickers like PennDOT has. For anyone not familiar, DCNR or the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources issues several classes of plates for ATVs.
This is a 1934 Dealer Format 2 plate. For 1934 the Bureau of Motor vehicles had a new method of formatting Dealer plate. The legend 'Dealer' was added to the plate for the first time since 1923, and the familiar X as the designator was dropped. Format 1 was all numeric, and Format 2 allowed for A1 to Z999. This formatting kept all plates to 6" by 10" size. Pardon the poor photo — I need to make some changes in technique. The picture was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Next addition is this 1938 Dealer. It's a Format 3 plate which basically means the 'X' has progressed into the third position. This is a 6" by 12" plate, while plates with 4 characters measured 6" by 10". Click the link above to see a Format 1 example.
Here is a 1943 Dealer tab. Click the photo to enlarge it and you can read the serial with the X prefix and serial number below the 3-31-44 expiration date. The plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant.
This 1928 Tractor Dealer is courtesy of Tim Gierschick. And thanks to Tim, there are now two such plates displayed here. Tractor Dealer plates before the mid-1950s are very tough to find, in fact I'm still missing quite a few years. Tractor Dealer plates used the TX prefix from the beginning in 1916 up thru 1970 except for couple years in the mid-1930s when 'Tractor Dlr' was used as the plate legend. In 1977 the TX prefix got repurposed to designate Taxi plates.
Here's a 1985 base Motorcycle plate with a 4-89 validation sticker. I consider this a vanity plate because in 1985 Pennsylvania was not issuing any plate series starting with 1. This very nice plate photo was provided by Chuck Harrington.
Here is a 1922 Class 3 Truck plate. The first number in the sequence is thought to designate the weight class that the vehicle is licensed for. The colors were brown on cream. All truck plates from 1920 thru 1923 used the word commercial, and for 1922 the length of the plate legend forced all truck plates to measure 6" by 16"
This nice pair of 1926 Truck plates photos was provided by Eric Tanner. They represent the V and W weight classes. These both measure 6" by 15". The W class plate contains only 5 characters. It's interesting that some (most?) 5 character plates measure 6" by 13" but I'm thinking the width of the W made it easier to use the larger size.
This fine trio of 1927 Truck plates was also courtesy of Eric Tanner. Here we have three 5 character plates representing the U, W and Y weight classes. Note that like the '26 plates above, the plate with the W user a wider 15" base while the others measure 13". Also note that the '27 plates use a smaller height alpha character than the '26 plates above.
The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine has an organizational plate on the horizon. At this time no plates have been issued.
At this point in time it appears that Alvernia University has several plates on the road.
Jeff Lawson snapped this image of a Girl Scouts of the USA plate recently. Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists) lists the high serial number as 00075G/S.
This International Brotherhood of Boilermakers photo was taken by Jeff Lawson. This group has had a plate program since 2012, and a current high of at least 00076B/M.
Next up is this personalized version of a Combat Action Ribbon plate, obviously owned by a Marine. This plates type is part of a series of five plates available to recipients of combat medals, ribbons and badges. They were first issued in late 2014. The photo was snapped by Jordan Irazabal.
Brendan Sherry snapped this photo of a U.S. Coast Guard Veteran plate. It's also a new high number for this plate type. These plates have been around since 2009.
Here's a recent California University plate photo from Brendan Sherry. The full name of the facility is California University of Pennsylvania, and it's located in California, PA, which is south of Pittsburgh in Washington County. Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists) lists 00233C/U as the current high. Program dates back to 2009.
Here's a pair of Penn State Alumni Association vanity plates. The far left plate is the latter issue with the state map outline, and was provided by Brendan Sherry. The P/SNLION (Nittany Lion) plate is an earlier issue and was provided by Steve Ondik.
This Motor Home plates is a new high, and was provided by Steve Ondik. This means that some 60,000 plates have been issued since the inception of the HH series back in 2006. Looking further back, these plates were first issued in 1977 but with the awkward name House Car, which used the prefix HC. Eventually the term House Car was replaced with Motor Home. There was also a progression of prefixes. After the original HC came HD, then HF, HG and finally HH. HE was kept aside for Hearing Impaired.
Here is what is likely a 1971-72 Senatorial Staff parking plate. The photo came from Chuck Harrington. Could be that the 54 refers to a parking space. Plate was likely front mounted or placed on the dashboard. Click the link to see additional state senate plates.
Switching to plate history, this plate makes a nice addition to the 1922 Dealer series. It is a Format 1 plate with that series running from X1 and going to X999. Click the link above to see a pair of Format 2 plates. All Dealer plates that year measured 6" by 16". The photo was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Next is this 1928 Format 1 Dealer plate. Although it's full of rivets, it's a fine plate example. One problem — I don't know who owns the plate and I would like to give credit for the use of the photo. Please contact me if you own or know who owns this plate. This plate is an example of the 6" by 10" format, and along with the other two '28 Dealer plates shows all three sizes of Dealer plates used that year.
Here is a 1930 Format 3 Dealer plate. Format 3 plates consisted of serial numbers of 00X to 99X99, and both 10" and 12" bases were used. This plate measures 6" by 12". Click the link to see more on formatting and a photo of a Format 1 plate. The photo was taken at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
This pair of 1931 Dealer plates are good examples of Format 2 plates which series ran from 0X to 9X999. As shown here both 10" and 12" bases were used. Click the link for and additional photo. Like the 1928 plate above, I would like to give credit for the use of the 3X7 plate photo. Please contact me if you own or know who owns this plate.
This 1922 Passenger is a welcome addition. This plate from Eric Tanner fills a gap in the Format 2 serial progression. Format 2 included plates from 1-000 to 9-999. These brown on cream plates measured 6" x 12". There were also 6" x 13½" and 6" x 16" plates to accommodate 5 and 6 digit serial numbers. Note the use of strap slots as well as bolt holes.
Here's another gem from Eric Tanner. This is a 1923 Passenger Format 2 plate which includes the series 1-000 to 9-999. This plate is 6" x 12". A total of 5 sizes were used based on the number of characters. Later in the production run plates from around 883-000 and above used a different die set which allowed the largest plate size to be reduced from 16" to 15". I'm in need of one of the 6" by 15" plate photos.
This is a 1917 Truck plate with a 2-star weight class rating. These plates used 1 to 5 stars to depict the weight class, with a single star being the lowest. Plates were white on brown. The S prefix was used on all 1917 truck plates regardless of weight class. This 100 year old plate was photographed at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
A note of clarification: Many of the organizational plate displays have a column marked "PLATES AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC?". With most colleges, universities and fire companies, you must be an alumni or an active member to get a plate, therefore many are marked NO as not being available to the public. On the other hand, many of the fraternal and non-profit groups are quite happy to sell you a plate, but with some they do require that you pay a fee to join the organization and another fee to get a plate. So 'YES' may entail additional costs.
Nick Tsilakis recently snapped this photo of Combat Infantryman Badge with an unusual all-zeros serial number. The 2 in the first position does not advance and is used to differentiate among the other four Combat-related plates. These plates were authorized in 2014.
It's not a new high but this Expeditionary Forces Veteran plate was just sitting there waiting to be photographed. It's the latest in the list of variations on the Expeditionary Forces Veteran plate which is believed to have moved to the current format at E/F2400. These plates date back to 1995 with the current reported high of E/F2820. This is one of only a handful of plates that are issued with a 4-digit serial number.
Lots of Military / Veteran plates this week including this new high Operation Iraqi Freedom plate from Steve Ondik. These plates date back to 2005, and have almost 5000 regular plates plus an unknown number of personalized plates registered so far.
Here's a new high Persian Gulf War Veteran, and was spotted by Nick Tsilakis. Originally this plate type dates back to 1993 on the older red, white and blue military base. The plate was remodeled in 2015 and placed on the visitPA family of plates base.
This Share The Road plate belongs to the Special Fund group and was photographed by Arthur Levine. The current reported high for this plate is now B/K00330. The movement of Special Fund plates away from the full 6" by 12" graphic to a tiny 3" by 3" canvas, as the state calls it, has, in my opinion, sounded the death knell for these plates. Gone are the Owl, Tiger, Flagship Niagara, DARE and recently the Otter plate has also been downsized. I'm sure it's only a matter of time until the Railroad Heritage plate is reduced to a tiny choo-choo. I know that their goal is to make the plates easier to read, but do they also not realize that they are shooting themselves in the foot from the standpoint of loss of sales.
Eric Tanner has been very helpful in providing additional formatting variations, and so it is with this 1926 Dealer plate. The 'X' was the identifying feature used on Dealer plates from 1924 thru 1933, no other legend. For 1926 it appears that there were 4 sizes of Dealer plates depending on the length of the serial number, this plate measuring 6" by 13". There were two shorter sizes and one longer. The longer size is shown in the photo gallery. Also of interest, this plate uses a full size 'X', while the other plate in the gallery uses a smaller 'X'. After 1926 all the letters were smaller.
1928 Dealer plates were much the same as the '26 plate above; however, for 1928 only three plate sizes were used. Again the size (width) of the plate was determined by the number of digits in the serial number. The plate shown here measures 6" by 13", and is the middle of the three sizes. Thanks again to Eric Tanner.
For 1929 Dealer plates again came in three sizes. This plate measures 6" by 13", and is the middle of the three sizes. Click the link to see the largest of the three. For almost all Dealer plates throughout the '20s, the X+1, 2 or 3 digits are tough to find. Thanks again to Eric Tanner for this and so many others.
This 1931 Governor plate was on eBay this week and may still be there till late on 10/15. Anyway, the owner of this plate, the License Plate King Company, gave me the OK to use the photo. The plate would have been used by Governor Gifford Pinchot. There is another photo of a Governor's plate from the same year with the raised loaf in the center. That plate was partially restored and belonged to Jake Eckenrode. The plate shown here was likely the rear plate, white the other was used on the front.
At first glance the identity of this plate might have you scratching your head, or not, if you recognized it as a the number 1 Motorbike plate for 1931. It is motorcycle size, meaning 4½" by 8". The letter 'O' is the distinguishing feature and was used from 1920, the first year for such plates, up thru 1933. Note that the 'O' is smaller than the 1. Beginning in 1934 Motorbike plates began using MB as the identifier, not to be confused with Motorboat which also used MB in later years but did not overlap.
Here a 1933 version of the the number 1 Motorbike plate on the far left with similar formatting to the 1931 plate above. Shown with this plate is another 1933 Motorbike plate with the plate legend on the opposite end of the plate. We don't know what caused this or at what point the change took place, but this is not the first time formatting changes have been seen during the same year. It still happens today.
Here's a 1936 Motorbike, another great number 1 plate. Beginning in 1934 the MB legend came into use giving the plate a more recognizable look. As far as I know Motorbike and Motorcycle plates were always the same size and always used the same colors as passenger plates. Also, the early years from 1920 to 1930, I have only 1 Motorbike photo, from 1930 to 1940 is better, but still a few gaps.
I found these two alpha-numeric plate photos amongst my archived Motorbike plates. The far left 1948 plate is likely the first year for alpha-numeric plates and was provided by Dave Lincoln. The 1949 Motorbike plate is from alligator02 and is near the end of the '49 run with the reported high of F358. After 1949, Motorboat plates were discontinued as the registration fee was raised to the same as Motorcycles, thereby eliminating the need for a separate plate class.
This is a Format 9, 4-character, 1957 Passenger plate. The plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant. 1957 was the last year before multi-year plates were introduced. There were some 13 serial formats including the expansion to 6-digit plates as the system was running out of 5-character combinations. I'm still planning to put something together on dies sets used in 1957.
Went to the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles this week — worth the trip. I need a long selfie-stick to get better images of plates mounted high on the wall. Got this shot of a 1-star 1914 Truck plate. 1914 was the first year for Truck plates. These were white on black porcelain with an aluminum weight strip along the left border indicating the weight class by the number of stars ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest weight class.
Here's a similar 1915 Truck plate also with a 1-star weight class strip. These are white on sky blue porcelain and measure 6" by 15¼". A group of serial number from 20000 to 29999 was set aside for truck use; however, some plates from that series were not needed for trucks, and in turn were issued to automobiles without the weight band.
This 1921 Truck plate was provided by Eric Tanner. Commercial was used as the plate legend. For a few years after the use of the C-prefix in 1919 and before the introduction of the R thru Z weight classes in 1924, there was a period where according to Eric Tanner's research, an interim weight classification system was used from 1920 to 1923. The weight classes appear to be designated by the first plate digit ranging from 1 to 7, making this a Class 2 or Class A plate. It's also a great number.
This 1924 'U' class truck plate was also provided by Eric Tanner. 1924 had no legend identifying it as a truck plate, in addition, 1924 signaled the beginning of the R thru Z (minus X) weight class system. This system, with some changes, continued thru 1967 after which an entirely new serial numbering system was put into effect. The 1924 plate shown here measures 6" by 15" and is the largest of the three sizes used that year. Click the link above to see additional 1924 Truck plate classes and sizes.
Arthur Levine sent me these images of PA plates questioning the 2018 and 2019 validation stickers after the state stopped issuing such stickers at the end of 2016. My feeling and the consensus of some plate friends is that because PA offers an option of a 2-year renewal, and the owners renewed before the end of December 2016.
Steve Ondik sent this photo of this recently acquired 1983 base plate asking if I had an explanation. My thought was that this plate may have been made up as a favor or courtesy plate, and the word SAMPLE was added to keep the plate from ever being registered. Other ideas?
Here's a new organizational plate — Eureka Volunteer Fire and Ambulance. This organization is located in Stewartstown, York County, PA. At this time it does not appear that there are any plates in use.
Here's a recent image of personalized Dealer plate, now on the map base. It should be noted that a recent standard-issue Dealer plate shows that plates as high as K42-438K are still using plates with the sticker well. I would think that serial Dealer plates would be showing the map symbol before long.
I've always thought single character special organization plates make a bold statement, and so it is with this Mercedes Benz Club of America #3 vanity plate. Note that this plate appears to not have a sticker well, nor does it have a map outline. Some discussion with friends suggested that perhaps organizational vanities will not get the map. Time will tell. The photo was provided by Bill Houser.
Here the first photo of a Sons of the American Legion with a serial number. Fewer than 70 plates standard have been issued so far. A previous image of a vanity plate was posted some time ago. This plate was spotted and photographed by Bruce Bufalini.
Brendan Sherry recently spotted this American Cancer Society vanity plate on the far left. On the near left is an older image of a low number plates from Nick Tsilakis. I didn't realize I had this plate image among my 13,000 plate files.
Brendan Sherry snapped this latest high Shippensburg University Alumni plate. 'Ship', as it is often referred to, has had a plate program since 1989 on the yellow on blue base. Since then they have been moved to the www base and a few years ago to the visitPA base.
This Gettysburg 1863 vanity plate was recently spotted by Brendan Sherry. These plate have been available since late 2014, and the personalized plate option seems to be popular. These are Special Fund plates with proceeds support the cleaning, repairing and restoration of the Pennsylvania Monument.
These are recently spotted high plates at the end of the KLE series passenger series. These still have the sticker well, just prior to the KLF series with the map and without the sticker well. The far left plate is from Bruce Bufalini, and the near left is from Jay Embee.
Recently I had the opportunity to photograph some of John Willard's and John Anshant's plates at the Nazareth Plate Meet. They always have some fine plate specimens including these Dealer plates from 1910, 1911 and 1912. 1910 was the first year for Dealer plates, and while these are not the only photos of those years, they do add some very nice graphic images to the displays. Notice that in 1910 there was no X-prefix. Click the links to see more photos and see additional details.
Here are two additional Dealer plates from 1914 and 1915. Note that the X-prefix is the same size as the numbers on the '12 and '13 plates above, while the '14 and '15 plates the 'X' is the same size. It appears that in 1913, both sizes were used. Confusing — a little, but it's also one of those things that makes the hobby and the history interesting and enjoyable. The 1914 plate is thanks John Willard and John Anshant, while the 1915 plate was from Kelly Brewer. If anyone has contact info for Kelly, please let me know.
This 1918 Dealer depicts a Format 1 plate which is the smaller of the two sizes of Dealer plates issued that year. Plates with X and 1, 2 or 3 digits used a 6" by 13½" base like the plate shown here, while X plus 4 digit plates measured 6" by 16". Some 7,700 Dealer plates were issued that year. Thanks to Eric Tanner for sharing this photo.
This is a 1925 Dealer plate. It measures 6" by 12" and is one of three sixes of Dealer plate for that year. There were also 6" by 10" shorty plates for X+1, 2 or 3 digit plates and 6" by 15" for plates formatted like X12-345. At least 17,000 Dealer tags were issued that year. Again thanks to Eric Tanner for providing this photo. Watch for more additions to the Dealer plate series next week.
Here's a nice 1940 Passenger vehicle plate. This photo represents a Format 4 plate which includes serial numbers from 10A0 to 99Z99, which includes both 4- and 5-character configurations, which also means that both 6" by 10" and 6" by 12" bases were used, with this plate being 12 inches. This plate was in use as a YOM plate.
The 1916 Truck section was in need of a 2-star weight class plate. Two such plates have now been added. In general truck plates were in the 20000 to 29999 range, however, truck plates outside of this series are known. And generally, lower weight class plates were numbered in the lower portion of the range. The far left plate is a John Willard and John Anshant plate while the 23445 plate was thanks to Eric Tanner.
But wait — there's more! This 4-star truck plate was also added to the 1916 display. This plate was provided thanks to Eric Tanner. There is still a need for a 5-star plate. All of these plates were black on orange painted steel.
Here's another welcome addition. This 1918 1-star Truck plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant, and was photographed at the recent Nazareth, PA, ALPCA plate show. All '18 truck plates used a 'C' prefix, and this being a single star plate also had a low serial number. Like most early truck plates, the 5-star weight class plates are the hardest to come by, and so it is for 1918.
Here's another 1918 Truck plate also courtesy of John Willard and John Anshant. This 3-star plate has a higher serial number and measures 6" by 16", whereas the plate above measures 6" by 13½". Both of these plates were white on black painted steel.
Here's another needed image — a 1919 4-star Truck plate. Thank you to Eric Tanner for sharing this photo with us. 1919 again used the 'C' prefix on truck plates. Most plates being C+5 digits measured 6" by 16", however, 1, 2 and 3-digit plates were shorter. Click the link for more details. The colors were red on black painted steel.
This pair of Penn State Alumni Association plates has an interesting story behind it. Last week we featured the P/S29277 plate and the latest rendition (P/S29294) showing the newest version of the Nittany Lion. The plate owner, Tom Robillard, tells me that the two plates shown here were supposed to have the latest version of the Nittany Lion, but somehow there was a mix-up at PennDOT or Correctional Industries. He has been told that these two plates were the only ones made with the map outline and the 1855 shield. Very collectible items I would say. Go PSU.
Here's a Passenger Vanity plate from Bill Houser. PennDOT's form MV-904, the application for a personalized plate states that "Only one hyphen or space is permitted, but not both." Yet here is a plate with a hyphen AND a space. Bill said he ordered it with the hyphen only.
These are all recent Antique Vehicle plate photos. The two plates on the far left are standard issue, one from the 'O' series and one from the 'P' series. Both still have sticker wells. The two plates to the right are vanity plates and do not have the sticker, nor do they have the map outline. This raises the question as to what features Antique Vehicle plates will have in the future. By the way, the next series will be 'R', not 'Q'. By the way, R-series plates are currently being issued but have not been spotted yet. The 3O31 photo is from Ryan Battin and the PSLS image came from Steve Ondik. The others are my photos.
Bruce Bufalini snapped all three of these Classic Car images at a recent Excela Health Norwin Hills car show. The plate on the far left is the lowest number documented on the original Classic series, and likely issued in 1977. The starting point was 10000. The C-prefix Classic plate in the center is the highest recorded number before the switch was made to the visitPA family of plates with the redundant plate legend at C27900. The C41170 is the newest high for the series which now features the map outline in place of the sticker well.
Here's the latest high number Person with Disability Motorcycle plate. The small PD over the wheelchair symbol, both of which are flat screened, are not part of the registration number. The larger embossed P which is part of the serial number but is a static, non-advancing character. This plate type first came out in late 2007, prior to that a handicapped sticker was available. This plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.
Here are two additional 1905 Philadelphia Pre-State porcelain plates. They measured 4" by 7" making them the size of today's motorcycle plates These were in effect a driver's license tag rather than a vehicle registration plate, even though they were mounted to the rear of the vehicle. The number sequence is believed to have started at 101 and ran into the 4-digit series as shown here. Thanks to John Willard and John Anshant for the opportunity to photograph these plates.
Here's a 1907 Format 2 porcelain. This is the first 3-digit plate photo I have for that year, so it fills the gap. This plate measures 6½" x 7". Most of the plates that year were 6½" tall, only 1- and 2-digit plates were shorter, at 6" since the plate legend was beside the number not over top the serial number. Thanks again to John Willard and John Anshant.
This 1912 3-digit plate also helps fill the the Format 2 gap. For 1912 PA used that distinctive wood grain porcelain with white lettering and numbering. There were 5 different plate widths used that year ranging from 8 inches for 1- and 2-digit plates to 14 inches for plates from 20000 and above. This was also a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
This dark blue over yellow 1934 Passenger plate provides the first photo of a Format 6 plate on this site. Format 6 plates ran from 0000A to 9999Z, and all were on 6-inch by 12-inch bases. This was also a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
Here's a Format 9, 1938 Passenger plate. Format 9 plates ran from 1AA0 to 9ZZ99 which required the use of both 6" by 10" and 6" by 12" sizes. The plate shown here is a 6" by 10" shorty. Both Format 8 and 9 plate, which were toward the end of the run, began using 2 letters in the serial number. Again this was also a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
Here is a pair of 1932 Trailer plates. Plate size depended on the number of characters in the serial number. T+ 1 to 3 digits were 6" by 10", and T+4 digits were 6" by 12". The T prefix was the identifying feature at the time (1930 thru 1933) for Trailer plates since there was no other legend. Both of these Trailer plates are thanks to Eric Tanner, the photo on the near left is new. I have quite a few additional plates from Eric, so please check back over the next couple weeks.
The above plates might easily be confused with T-class Truck plates at the time, but 1932 Truck plates were all 6-characters in length, and measured 6" by 15", such as the plate pictured to the left. This plate photo was posted previously and is thanks to John Willard.
Here is a 1943 Tractor Validation Tab. These were used to revalidate 1942 bases for 1943, thereby supporting the war effort by reducing steel usage. Enlarge the image and see the TR5989 serial number etched into the tab under the 3-31-44 expiration date. This was also a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
Here's a pair of 1926 'O'-series Bus plate. That's the letter O, not the number 0. Some 1926 Passenger and Trailer plates began using smaller letters later in the year, and by 1927 all letters were smaller. Eric Tanner provided the O3-606 plate which measures 6" by 13". The 6" by 10" O-59 'shorty' was previously provided by Jake Eckenrodeand is being shown here for comparison. Beginning in 1926 there were also an 'H'-series bus plates. Confusing, yes. Click this link to read more about them.
Be sure to check back next week, 10/8, for more older Dealer and Truck plates, and a few organizational plates.
Here are two recent updates from Tom Robillard. As previously reported, the Penn State Alumni Association was in the process of giving their plates a new look with an up-close view of the Nittany Lion's head. It appears that there was a short run of the plate version on the 29277 plate with the 1855 lion. This was after the introduction of the map outline and before the change to the up-close lion. There may be another Nittany Lion version looming sometime in the future, think Pozniak. Go PSU.
Here a photo of a late Conserve Wild Resources - River Otter plate. Ironically this plate photo is on Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists) and I also got a traffic shot of the same plate from Colin M. The consensus among some collector friends is that R/C9X99 will be the end of the road for the full color graphic plate. Future plates are expected to be with the small 3" by 3" picture of the otter on the left side of the plate. I just received a confirmation of the end of the full color graphic plates. The new product will be released in October once any remaining stock is returned to PennDOT.
The River Otter plate section was also revamped by enlarging the thumbnails and also adding these 2-, 3- and 4-digit examples of the all-numeric format. These images are thinks to Tom Perri, Eric Conner and Jeff Lawson, going left to right.
Late addition, I missed posting these plate with the other plate shown here. Obviously these are not new plates but I have done a slight overhaul to the Conserve Wild Resources - Owl plate section. These plates have been added to provide more balance to the display. The far left plate is from Jeff Lawson, the origin of the other plates is unknown.
Recent issue Dealer plate photographed by Jordan Irazabal. This plate still has the sticker well and no state map outline. Based on some limited research it appears likely that the change will be seen once the plate numbers reach K46-500K.
Here's a vanity edition of an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. plate. Nice plate, not so nice frame — it totally covers the name of the organization and covers almost all of the state name. Legal? Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for the photograph.
This Fraternal Order of Police plate is a new high and also has the map outline. Plate F/P21314 was previously spotted and still had the sticker well. Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing this photograph with us. This organizational plate date back to 1987 when they were yellow on blue.
Steve Ondik spotted this vanity edition of a Fraternal Order of Police - Survivor plate. I'm sure each of these plates has a sad story behind it. There are some forty-four of the sequentially numbered plates that have been issued.
This LaSalle University plate was spotted on the move by Jeff Lawson. It happens to be a new high for this plate type. There is also a LaSalle College High School plate. I'm not sure what the connection is between the university and the high school.
What's wrong with this 1930 Passenger plate? It does have two extra holes which is not a big deal, but the colors are reversed. It should be dark blue on yellow. Can't blame PennDOT or the prison system for this one, since this plate was obviously repainted.
Here is a 1958 Passenger base with a 63 sticker. It's a Format 6 plate which is part of the reserve issue, all of which were 4 or 5 character plates, without the keystone separator which was used on all the standard issue 6- character plates. It was spotted at a car show in use as a YOM plate.
A brief note to those who frequent this site. This is a light week in terms of the number of plates being added. I have many plate photos to add but am reconfiguring sections and pages on this site and have just run out of time.
WEBSITE UPDATE - Several web pages and sections have been reformatted to allow for larger thumbnail images. So far this includes the Bus Plates page and the Official Plates page, as well as the Classic Car / Vehicle section. The Passenger and Truck History pages have always be formatted with the larger thumbnails.
Here's a recent personalized Classic Vehicle plate. Note that this plate also has the map outline, a feature recently seen on the standard issue Classic Vehicle plate as well. This plate also has the compressed PA CLASSIC VEHICLE legend on the left. The image was provided by J. C. Sarge.
The far left street shot is the highest recorded KLE Passenger plate prior to the changeover. In the center is lowest number photographed so far in the new series that began at KLF-0000. On the near left is what may be the current high plate in the same series. If you recall, this 'map' issue started at KLF-0000. Thanks to Jeff Lawson for the far left image and to C.R. Sweitzer for the near left plate.
Following the same message as the Passenger plate above, these recent Truck plates also show additional examples of the 'with map and without sticker well' formatting. The plate on the far left provided by Steve Ondik, and by Jeff Lawson on the near left.
These Trevose Fire Company plate photos were provided by Jeff Lawson on the far left and by Jordan Irazabal on the near left. Trevose is located in lower Bucks County and has had a plate program since 2011.
This first of it kind MV Business plate was provided by J.C. Sarge. In 1966 PA began issuing Motor Vehicle Business plates. This series has an illusive beginning and ending. While the first plate with MV Business was issued in 1966, the C0000A formatting was used back to 1957, and C000A at least as far back as 1952, possibly further with the Dealer legend, and described as Transit Dealer by the state. They were last issued on an undated 1979 base which continued into the 1980s before the Motor Vehicle Business was split into Repair/Service Towing, Salvage Yard, Transporter and Repossessor. Read more by clicking the link above.
This 1934 Official plate is the first images of such a plate from 1934. The image is from a display at the Boyertown Auto Museum and the photo was taken by Tim Gierschick. It is likely that plate serial numbers extended beyond 999 in which a 4 digit number was used and the keystone on the right was eliminated.
The 1933 Passenger plate on the far left was provided by Jeff Hinkle and the near left plate is courtesy of Dennis Miglicio. The 7962 plate is part of Formatting group 1 which runs from 1, (the governor at the time did not use the #1 plate) to 99999, including this 6" by 10" shorty. 5-digit plates went to a 12" width. The 0055D plate is a Format 6 entry. For 1933 2-digit and 3-digit plate photos are still needed along with 000A to 999Z9 and AA100 to ZZ999.
Next are these 1938 Passenger plates. Note the 12" length on the far left 5-character plate and the 10" width on the near left 4-character plate. The 12-06 validation sticker certainly looks out out of place. My guess is that the owner wanted to use the '38 plate on the car, and the time period was before the YOM law came along, so the plate number was requested and got registered as a vanity, resulting in a current plate being issued and never used, but the validation sticker applied to the '38 plate.
This group of 1954 Passenger plate photos provides nice examples of Formats 2, 3, 7 and 9. With so many vehicles to register and plate being limited to 5 characters, it required at least 15 serial progression formats. These plate images are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd. Still need images for Formats 5, 7 and 11.
This 1920 Truck photo was taken at the Boyertown Auto Museum by Tim Gierschick. The paint at the time did not hold up well as can be seen from several of the plates, which made repainting popular with some. The original color were white on dark blue. The other 1920 truck plates were all 7 inches high because there was plate legend on the top and bottom. This plate being 16 inch wide allowed both legends to be along the bottom, thus allowing the height to be reduced from 7 to 6 inches. I'm listing this plate as a Class 1, the lightest truckweight class, based on the first digit of the plate.
Next is this 1921 Truck plate. The picture was also taken at the Boyertown Auto Museum and again thanks to Tim Gierschick. The original colors were black on yellow. This plate was also formatted much the same as the 1920 plate above; however, this plate is being listed as a Class 3 plate again bases on the first digit of the serial number. For 1921 all truck plates are believed to measure 6" by 16" regardless of the number of characters.
Here's a new high Emergency Vehicle plate along with the map outline and no sticker well. Thanks to Nick Santiago for the image. I'm going to say that this change took place at, or around, EV-71000. Could there be plates without the sticker well and without the map outline? Time will tell. The change seen here is likely to occur in the lower tier of EV plates as well, but their rate of issue is much lower.
Tom Robillard recently received this new Penn State Alumni Association plate on the far left. It arrived with the small map outline and without the sticker well, but he was expecting to receive a plate with the newer style Nittany Lion as shown on the near left prototype.
Steve Ondik sent this traffic shot along. It may be the highest 2017 Passenger plate documented before the elimination of the sticker well and addition of the map outline in the KLF-series. This plate would be best viewed in the plate gallery with more before and after plates.
It appears that in the middle of the Perm Trailer 'D'-series (possibly PT-500D0) that the sticker well was eliminated and the map outline was added. These are street shots so the resolution is not ideal, but the plate on the far left still has the sticker well, while the center and right plates have the map outline. This change was spotted in August of 2017. Plate credits left to right: Jordan Irazabal; Steve Ondik; Jeff Lawson.
Jeff Hinkle recently acquired this Exeter Twp. Fire Department plate. Exeter's plate program started in 2013, and so far thirty-some plates have been issued. Exeter Township is in Berks County outside or Reading.
Steve Ondik captured this street image of a Vietnam War Veteran vanity plate. The plate also tells us what branch of the military he served in.
Jeff Hinkle provided these two very nice sequential 1932 Dealer plates. These two 'shorty' (6" by 10") plates are nice examples of the first of three serial format progressions with this group running from X1 to X9999. Of course once the serial progressions went to 5 characters, the plate size went to 6" by 12". Other groupings include 0X to 9X999 and 00X to 89X93. See additional examples at the link above.
Jeff Hinkle provided this 1942 Dealer plate with a 1943 Tab. '43 tabs were used to revalidate '42 plates thus saving tons of steel in order to assist with the war effort. I can read the 'X' of the serial number on the tab, the other numbers not so well. The plate is part of the first formatting group which ran from X100 to X9999. Four character plates were on 6" by 10" bases, while five character plates used a 12" base.
Spotted this 1937 Passenger plate at a recent car show. Not a good photo but it does provide an example of a Format 4 plate from that year. This format group includes the series of 10A0 to 99Z99, and used both 6" by 10" and 6" by 12" plates. Still in need of Format 6, 7, 8 and 9 plate photos for that year.
Here's a 1940 passenger plate spotted at a recent car show. It is the first example of a Format 8 plate which consists of the serial progression of AA100 to ZZ999, with all such plates being 6" by 12". My use of the term 'format' may at times be arbitrary; however, the groupings are useful in indentifying the order and sequence of serial progressions, and are always subject to correction. One of the objectives of this website is to provide a visual example of every format type.
Spotted this 1950 Passenger at a car show also. This plate photo also helps provide an example of a Format 3 plate which includes 1A00 to 9Z999. That progression means that both 4-character and 5-character plates were issued; however, all were 6" by 11" in size. I wasn't until 1956 that all full- size plates were standardized at 6" by 12".
This pair of 1955 Passenger plates, shows a Format 4 with 5 characters and a Format 12. The Format 4 series ran from 10A0 to 99Z99 and a Format 12 plate includes 000AA to 999ZZ. A total of 15 formats was used during 1955 to register well over 3 million vehicles while keeping plates to a maximum of 5 characters.
This 1965 Passenger plates is part of the reserve issue group, for which an additional fee would have been charged. This plate was spotted at a recent car show in Macungie, and was being used as a YOM / vintage registration plate.
This is an interesting pair of 1926 Trailer plates. The TT-prefix was was used to designate Trailer plates beginning in 1924. Previously T was used but in 1924 T was used as part of truck plate letter series to designate the weight class. So from 1924 to 1933 TT was used. The plates shown here use the TT prefix but bottom plate uses a letter die that is not as tall. This was the beginning for Pennsylvania to use letter dies that are smaller than the accompanying numerals — a practice that continues to this day. This change was seen on some other types of plates in 1926, but in 1927 was used throughout all full size plates. Thanks to Eric Tanner for sharing this photograph. These plates measure 6" by 15".
For 1918 and 1919 truck plates used the prefix 'C' followed by a serial number of 1 to 5 digits. The weight class was designated by the number of stars stacked on the right side of the plate, and could be 1 to 5 stars. This 1919 Truck plate, having one star, is the lightest weight class. There is some correlation between the serial number and the number of stars. In general lower numbers would indicate fewer stars and vice-versa. The size of the plate was also driven the length of the serial number, this plate being 6" x 13½". Thanks to Jaska Börner for sharing this low number truck plate.
Moving from 1919 to this 1920 Truck plate, the C-prefix is gone, as are the stars. In place is the word COMMERCIAL spelled out across the top and PENNA 1920 along the bottom. This use of a top and bottom legend increased the height of the plate to 7 inches. According to research done by Eric Tanner the connection between plate serial number and weight class may be related to the first digit in the serial number. Thanks to Tim Gierschick for sharing this truck plate. I'm listing this a s a Class 1 plate and measuring 7" x 13½".
The final plate for this week is this 1955 Truck plate. From 1924 thru 1967 with the exception of 1930, the R thru Z, etc. (without X) series were used to designate truck weight classes. The plate shown here is a V-class. There were several serial progressions used that year for that weight class including V000A, V00A0 and V0A00. In general lighter classes had more serial formats.
For those of you who know me, or are familiar with this website, know that I try to track plate progressions and changes in the design of plates. A while back PennDOT announced that as existing plate stock with sticker wells was depleted, new plates would have a small white map outline where the sticker well had been. This changeover has taken place, with map outline plates starting at KLF-0000 on Passenger plates. Now plate KLR-1647 has been spotted with no map outline and no sticker well. Is this an error plate? Is it part of a series? The following plate prefixes have been spotted, all with the map outline: KLG, KLH, KLM, KLP, KLS, KLT, KLW, KMA, KMC, KMF, KMH, KMJ, and none without. I'd like to see another KLR-series plate. Plate KLR-3601 was recently spotted and it does have the map.
This isn't exactly plate news, not yet at least. Jaska Börner reported that Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University have merged. Both currently have organizational plates. The new name will be Jefferson University. This change will likely trickle down to plates sooner or later.
This street shot oddball was sent to me with the hope that I could explain it. The sender, David Melendez, wondered if PA was offering such a black and white plate with the Philly skyline. I assured him that the state was not offering anything like it. The plate, as shown, has some kind of acrylic cover. It's difficult to know if that cover adds to or changes the appearance of the plate. A vanity check shows that the plate number is in use. ONLY GOD knows.
Look close, the MC legend on this Motorcycle vanity is now flat screened, previously they were embossed. Thanks to Kat Keegan for the first image showing this change. Other changes recently have appeared first on vanities, so I would expect to see this update to carry over to standard issue Motorcycle, Moped and Dealer plates in the future.
I'm always amused by a vanity organizational plate with 1 character. Maybe it's the contrast with the usual 5 numbers. Whatever it is it applies to this Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America. This is also believed to be the longest plate legend with some 54 characters and spaces, on the other hand WHYY is the shortest. Compressing so many characters on the above plate takes away from its readability.
Here's a Trailer Vanity plate. These have been available for a while but are seldom spotted. Most trailer owners couldn't care less about the tag on the rear, but this trailer was part of a car show. The disappointing thing, at least to me, is that these plates have no legend indicating that they are trailer plates. Pretty much the same situation for Truck and Motor Home vanities, although at least one Truck vanity has been photographed with TRUCK as the legend.
The new look of Street Rod plates is becoming a little more visible. These were first seen in late November of 2016. Soon I'm sure we can expect to see some of these appear in a personalized version.
Not a good image, but this is the first image of a personalized Expeditionary Forces plate. Almost all military registration plates are now available as vanities with the exception of Pearl Harbor Survivor, World War II Veteran and Korean War Veteran. I don't think these are likely to join the family of plates.
Jordan Irazabal came across this Severely Disabled Veteran photo on the far left and realized that it helps to narrow down the transition point where the plates switched from the fully embossed format to the partially screened layout on the near left. You may also notice that even though the plate has moved to a new format, it retains the same color scheme. This is because the colors of this plate were established by legislation, and not by someone's notion to bring it into the family of plates.
Here the #1 2015 Governor's Inaugural plate. These are ceremonial plates and have no official standing with the state. I got the photo courtesy of Jordan Irazabal who got it thru eBay user jjscrapandmore.
Every now and then one of the earliest issued Antique Historic Car plates is spotted. These date back to 1954 and the plate series actually started with the number 1 plate which is still in existence on a vehicle in the Sweigart Museum. Many of today's antique vehicle owners lament the fact that these white-on-purple plates are no longer available. This plate was spotted by Jordan Irazabal.
Here's a 1915 porcelain Passenger plate photo and also the reverse side showing the stenciling of the plate manufacturer's name, which at the time was Brilliant Manufacturing Co., 1035 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA. These images are thanks to Steve Ondik.
Here we have two plates photos that fill two 1924 Passenger format gaps. The first is a 4-digit 'shorty' from Mike at stonewall-gold-mining-company. This was an eBay plate that the seller was kind enough to let me use the image. For 1924 plates started at 1, if you consider the governor's plate, or 2 if not, and progressed thru 2 and 3 digit plates, then into the 4-digit plates as shown here. And eventually reaching 999-999, and then for the first time moving to a leading alpha character. This new run started with A-1 and ended under A-50000. This plate measures 6" x 15". Thanks to Jaska Börner for provided this photo of a 1924 alpha format plate.
I would appreciate any images of 1924 passenger plates with an A-prefix and followed by 4 or fewer numbers.
These two 1933 Passenger 'shorty' plates have been added to two formatt series. The 19S plate is part of Format 4 which includes 00A to 99Z99. Plates wit 5 characters would be longer. This plate is courtesy of PA plate collector Paul Fry. The JY3 'shorty' is part of Format 7 which includes AA to ZZ & AA1 to ZZ99. This image was provided by Jeff Hinkle.
Here's a pair of 1936 Passenger plates. Like the plates above these help to provide examples of two formatting groups that were previously empty. The first plate is a Format 6 plate covering the serial range of 000A0 to 999Z9 and is thanks to James Andreucci. The second plate is from Format 8 which covers AA10 to ZZ999. Both plates are 6" by 12".
No question I don't like plate frames, but when the needed plate is within a frame, there isn't much choice. Anyway I snapped these four plates at a recent car show. They actually fill 4 gaps in the 1957 Passenger plate run. I'm still working on what appears to be three different dies types used on '57 plates.
This week's posting will be a little shorter than usual due to some time away.
Here's a new School Bus high. It was spotted among a line of new busses in transit. It may not have been the highest plate in the group, but all were close, and it's the one I got a picture of. Note it still has sticker well and no map, which may change at SC-80300.
It may look like a new high number, but this Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Company tag is actually a personalized plate. Standard issue Bethlehem Township plates have a leading 3 in the serial number. This plate belongs to Nick Santiago, and is brand new. The serial number represents his radio call sign of 1791. Nick points out that the plate does not have the small map outline, nor does it have the sticker well.
Here's a personalized version of a Mario Lemieux Foundation plate. You probably already know my opinion on plate frames, so I'll refrain. According to Tom Perri's PA highs website (update: site no longer exists)) over 1,500 of these plates have been issued since 2006.
Here are two recent NRA Foundation plates. The 0841 plate was taken by Steve Ondik. It is the new high in the series but the plate still has the sticker well and no map outline. These plates are unique in that they use a 3-character suffix. Also note the difference in spacing between the NRA suffix the serial numbers.
I posted another photo of this same Pennsylvania Coal Alliance Inc. plate last week but that image was difficult to edit. Steve Ondik had sent me a better plate photo. I don't live far from the anthracite coal region in eastern PA but have yet to spot one of these.
Here's a 1931 Tractor plate with TE prefix. At the time TE stood for Traction Engine, early terminology for tractor. This plate has a 3-digit serial number. The series ran from TE-1 to TE-999, then TE1-000, etc. The actual high is unknown but I have seen a '29 plates with TE5-139. All plates measured 6" by 15". Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the photo. Click the link to see additional images.
Like the plate above, this 1933 Tractor is also a 3-digit plate. These plates are very similar except the plate legend was moved to the top of the plate. The serial progression described above is believed to be the same, as was the size. This was the last year for the TE prefix, beginning in 1934, plates used the word Tractor as part of the legend. Many thanks go out to Tim Gierschick for these and so many other Tractor and low-number Passenger plates.
Would you know at first glance that this is a 1932 Trailer plate? You can rule out Tractor from the above plates, but what about a T-weight class Truck? All 1932 Truck plates were 6" by 15" and were 6 characters in length, while trailer plates were either 6" by 10" or 12". Trailer serials ran from T1 to T9999, so no overlap with Trucks. Eric Tanner has been very helpful in supplying this and a number of other rare plates.
This very low number 1917 Truck plate courtesy of Eric Tanner and Jeff Hinkle. For 1917 Truck plates were issued with an S-prefix for solid rubber tires. Five weight classes were used with each class displaying its weight by the number of stars. This being a 1 star plate, it was for a light-weight truck. In perusing the records for 1917 motor vehicles, the record shows this vehicle belonging to Dyer O. Clark, 305 York Ave., Towanda. The first 13 Class 1 trucks were issued to the State Highway Department. Wonder if any exist today . . .
1930 Truck plates saw the first use of the a descriptive plate legend — COMMERCIAL. The connection between plate serial number and weight class appears to be related to the first digit in the serial number. Classes run from Class 1 or AA to Class 7 or F. The serial number can have 1 to 3 digits in the first grouping, then a dash or a space, then the second grouping which can have up to 3 digits. The first plate shown above is credited to Tiger Joe Sallmen, and the second plate, 4-181, is thanks to eBayer Lil-harle.
Here's a trio of 1924 Truck plates. In 1924 the state began to use the more traditional R thru Z (minus the X) weight classes, but gone was the legend — COMMERCIAL The R Class, the lightest of the series, went from R1 to R99-999, then as additional plates were needed the R was placed in the suffix position with 1R, etc., as shown in the first two plates. Next is an example of a U Class plate. Note that all three of these plates are different sizes. The far left plate is 6" by 15" and is courtesy of James Andreucci, the center plates is a 6" by 12" size and is thanks to Eric Tanner, and finally the U594 plate is a 6" by 12" 'shorty' and is thanks to eBayer Rabbittman.
This R-class 1953 Truck plates has been shared by Steve Ondik. In that year there were 6 serial formats used, including R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0, R0A0A, with this plate being part of the 4th grouping. The photo gallery also has a R0AA0 format plate. These were also short plates measuring 6" by 10¼".
The final plate this week is this 1939 Passenger sample. This plate image was provided by Eric Tanner. Both 6" by 10" and 6" by 12" passenger plates were issued that year. Most likely sample plates were only produced in this 6" by 10" size, or commonly referred to as a 'shorty'.
Here's the latest high Antique Vehicle plate. This plate is using the letter 'O' in the serial number. This is not a normal practice with PA plates but this series also used the letter 'I' as well. My guess is that they are trying to get as much mileage out of these 4-character combinations as possible. They have already used 1 to 9999, A000, 000A, AA00, 00AA in the white on purple base, then after switching to the visitPA base, A00A, 0AA0, and the current 0A00 series. Of course Antique Vehicle plates are also available as vanities. Also take note that the sticker well is still present. Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing this photo.
This #1 Willow Grove Volunteer Fire Company plate almost looks like it went thru a fire, with the sheeting so cracked. The Willow Grove plate program is about 10 years old. According to Tom Perri's PA Plates page, at least 40 plates have been issued.
Here's a new high Pennsylvania Coal Alliance Inc. plate from Arthur Levine. Close to 150 plates have been issued so far. This one was a real challenge to edit and straighten. Obviously my skills aren't quite up to the task.
It isn't often that I post photos to the Special Fund page, but Steve Ondik forwarded a number of nice plate photos. They also add some depth to some of the format groups. We start off with this Conserve Wild Resources - Saw Whet Owl plate. This was also the first of the Special Fund plates dating back to November of 1993 and running to February of 2000. Plates still in use can be revalidated. The River Otter plate below took its place.
These colorful Conserve Wild Resources - River Otter plates took the place of the plates above. These came out when the others were discontinued, and are still available. They are also available as vanity plates with a much scaled down graphic on the visitPA base.
Next are these all-numeric Flagship Niagara plates. These were very popular but were discontinued due to visibility issues. They were only available from November of 1995 until February of 1997, so less than a-year-and-a-half. Again plates still in use can be revalidated.
The final plates of this grouping is this Preserve Our Heritage - Railroad pair. These have been around since 1998. As of now these plates can not be personalized. There has been a move afoot to transition Special Fund plates to the visitPA base. Whenever this is done it appears to signal a decline in plate sales. All of the Special Fund plates shown here are thanks to Steve Ondik.
This all-zeros Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is an actual issued plate and appears to be in use, judging by the 9-17 sticker. This organization's plate program dates back to 1997, and is currently using a color graphic logo on the visitPA base. This image is anonymous.
First of the oldies this week is this pair of 1914 Passenger plates. These were white on black porcelain. The far left photo of this 6" by 13" plate was taken at a car show. The larger, 6" by 15" six-digit plate fills a Format 7 plate gap thanks to Tim Gierschick.
Also a special thank you to Eric Tanner for providing some updates to the data for the 1914 plate run. Click link above.
This 1919 Passenger plate has been added to the Format 3 grouping. This is a 6" by 16" plate, and is one of three sizes used that year. 1919 was the final year to have the maker's number (today's VIN number) stamped into the keystone. The maker's number is tough to read. The picture was taken at a car show.
I'm still looking for that button in Photoshop to take out shadows. This 1931 Passenger plate was another car show find. It adds another variant to the Format 7 group which covers AA to ZZ999, and both 10 and 12-inch plate lengths. This is a 12" plate. Car shows are becoming good sources for older plates being used as YOMs.
Next is a 1932 Passenger Format 7 plate. Like the plate above, the Format 7 group covers series progressions from AA to ZZ999, and both 10 and 12-inch plate lengths were used. This is a good example of the difference in the height between the alpha dies and numeric dies. This is a 12" plate, and is another car show find.
This 1953 Passenger may look like a 'shorty' but from 1953 to '55 all full-size plates measured 6" x 10¼". This is a Format 3 plate covering the progression of 1A00 to 9Z999, thus both 4 and 5 character plates make up the mix. This plate is credited to Kettering Enterprises.
Next up is this 1954 Passenger plate which is part of Format 13 which includes D000A to P999Z. As more and more vehicles were registered, additional serial combinations were needed, especially since these plates were limited to 5 characters. 1974 used 14 standard issue serial progression formats. This plate was made available by eBay seller Eblaze.
It was my intention to put together a display of 1957 Passenger plates depicting the use of the late 1956 dies, frequently referred to as '57 dies, and the use of late '57 dies. What complicates this effort is that some plates were issued using both sets of dies creating a hybrid. I hope get to this in the next few weeks.
2017 Passenger plates. In December of 2016 PennDOT announced that by the middle of 2017, once the supply of the current plate stock runs out, they would begin issuing slightly redesigned plates. They look similar in design to the current plate but the sticker well where validation stickers were placed has been removed and the outline of a small Pennsylvania map has been put it its place. From plate sightings and other research it appears that the last of the old stock would have been exhausted at KLE-9999, and the new map series began at KLF-0000. Plates without the sticker well and without the map outline are not known to exist. Plates were first seen as vanities in January of 2017, and standard plates were spotted in June of 2017. The KKE plate is from Steve Ondik, KLF from Ryan Battin, other plate photos are mine.
Vanities hit the street first. Same rules apply as previous personalized plates. The PP-348 looks like a number from the Press Photographer series but lacks the PP within the keystone symbol. That plate is anonymous.
The 1922 Commercial (truck) plate on the far left was spotted by Bruce Bufalini at a recent car show. It's a very nice plate, too bad the colors are wrong — should be brown on cream. The near left plate is from Jeff Hinkle and is in a more natural state for a plate of its age. All plates are believed to be 6" by 16" regardless of the length of the serial number. The connection between plate serial number and weight class appears to be related to the first digit in the serial number. This is based upon information gleaned from Eric Tanner's website making both of these Class 1 or AA, indicating the lowest weight class. The serial number can have 1 to 3 digits in the first grouping, then a dash or a space, then the second grouping which can have up to 3 digits.
It's a 1928 plate, but with no legend indicating what it is. The serial number formatting is what identifies it as a 1928 Truck plate. This is an S weight class plate with the serial number starting with S-1 and running into the S53-000 series. This plate is a 6" by 10" 'shorty', while 5 character plates measured 6" x 13" and 6 character plates measured 6" x 15". Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the photo of this unique plate.
Next in the lineup is this 1933 R-class truck plate. Again this plate has no legend identifying it as a truck. Between 1924 and 1933 there was no legend — 1923 used Commercial and 1934 used Truck, but for the intervening years the serial number was the identifying feature. For 1933 all truck plates measured 6" x 15" with Class R serial numbers starting at R10-000. Plate was spotted at a car/truck show.
This 1941 R-class truck plate was also spotted at a show. All truck plates were 5 characters and all measured 6" by 12". R-class plates used the following formats: R000A, R00A0, R0A00, making this plate part of the first group. In addition weight classes ran from R to Z (without X) for 2-axle trucks and then RZ to ZZ (without XZ) for 3-axle trucks.
1944 R-series Truck. All plates were 5 characters and measured 6" by 11". Class R trucks used the following serial formats: R000A, R00A0, R0A00 and R00AA, with this plate being part of the first serial run.
This 1946 R-class Truck has been added to the plate gallery. Five R-series serial progressions were used in 1946, as follows: R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0. Note the use of the 2-letter suffix on this 6" by 11" plate.
Here's a 1951 U- weight class Truck plate. The plate was photographed at a recent car and truck show thus the shadow. These were all 5-character plates and were all 6" by 11" in size. For many years from around the early 1930s, if not earlier, to 1967, there were also 3-axle trucks that used a 2-letter prefix. For example RZ00A to ZZ00A, plates from these series are very rare and finding plates in good condition is very tough.
2017 Truck plates. In December of 2016 PennDOT announced that by the middle of 2017, once the supply of the current plate stock runs out, they would begin issuing slightly redesigned plates. They look similar in design to the current plate but the sticker well where validation stickers were placed has been removed and the outline of a small Pennsylvania map has been put it its place. From plate sightings and other research it appears that the last of the old stock would have been exhausted at ZKH-9999, and the new map series began at ZKJ-0000. Plates without the sticker well and without the map outline are not known to exist. Plates first seen in mid-May of 2017. ZJF photo is mine, ZKH is from Steve Ondik, first ZKJ from W. Young, next ZKJ from Kyle Kuser, ZKK photo is mine.
Here's another high number Antique Motorcycle plate. Plate 05423 was spotted about 3 weeks ago.
It would be interesting to poll visitors to this website on their opinion of the legacy vs. the redundant Classic Car / Classic Vehicle plates. These aren't new plates but Bruce Bufalini spotted the plate on the near left, which helps narrow the changeover point. Based on some research I'm going to suggest that the changeover took place at C27900.
Tom Perri recently spotted this Hummelstown Chemical Fire Company No. 1 plate. This is the first image spotted of this recent arrival.
This is a more official version of the redesigned Penn State Alumni Association plate now with the small map outline. An earlier Penn State prototype was posted on July 16. There is no indication that this redesign is in use yet.
Tom Perri also took this street shot of the most recent edition of a University of Pittsburgh plate now showing the map outline in the upper left corner.
Here's a 1955 Miscellaneous Dealer with the 'X' identifier in the second position. Spotted as a recent YOM plate
While on the subject of Dealer plates, Steve Ondik provided the image on the far left of a 1958 Miscellaneous Dealer plate with the tab slot. Next to is is another such plate in the same 14-thousand series without the slot. Click the thumbnails for larger images. The plate without the slot is from a previous post and was provided courtesy of Mike at pl8source.
It ain't pretty but it's good example of an alpha-numeric '54 Motorcycle plate with a two-digit number. The series would follow the progression from the start of 1 to 9999, then A, A1, A2, etc. to Z999, although I can honestly say I've only ever once seen a single letter Motorcycle plate and that was likely a vanity.
This is a 1918 Tractor Dealer plate. These were white on black. Tractor Dealer plates are tough to find in almost every year. We are fortunate to have this second photo of a 1918 plate in addition to the TX13 plate previously posted. The length of the plate depends on the number of characters in the serial number. Thanks go to Eric Tanner for sharing this image.
Next is this 1922 Tractor Dealer plate also from Eric Tanner. Again we are fortunate to have a TX+2 digit plate and now a TX+3 digit plate. The colors were brown on cream. Note the legend Tractor Dealer is spelled out.
Last of this plate type is this 1928 Tractor Dealer which helps fill the gap for that year, again thanks to Eric Tanner. This is the only Image of a '28 Tractor Dealer plate I have, with many years having no photos or descriptions. By 1925, if not earlier, the word Tractor had been eliminates; however, the TX prefix continued to be the identifier. Tractors on the other hand used E for engine up thru 1927, then TE for traction engine beginning in '28.
This 1928 Judiciary plate is believed to be the first year for such plates, and with no identifying markings other than the J, the plate could easily be mistaken for a Passenger plate. Later in 1928 there were passenger plates with alpha characters, but all are believed to be in the first position. Thanks to Eric Tanner for this photo.
Here is a very nice Format 3 white on green porcelain, 1913 plate, both front and rear views of the plate. This plate is not a re-fired 1912 base since it has the correct rear markings of the 1913 plates. The re-fired plates had a different style of rear marking that was used in 1912. This plate measures 6" by 13". Other sizes included 6" by 8", 10", 12" and 14". This plate was provided by Steve Ondik.
Here's another porcelain plate image from Steve Ondik — this one being a 4-digit 1914 Passenger. There were as many as seven plate sizes depending on the length of the serial number. There was also a truck series issued to cars without the truck weight band since too many plates were produced, or not enough trucks were registered. Still in need of a 3-digit and a 6 digit plate photo.
Here's a very nice 4-digit 1915 Passenger plate measuring 6" by 12" and is one of six sizes used that year. These were issued in pairs and were manufactured by the Brilliant Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia. 1915 was also the final year for Pennsylvania to issue porcelain plates. Thanks to Steve Ondik for the image.
I've made some changes in cataloging Passenger plate from 1924 thru 1929. Alpha-numeric plates have been separated from those that are all-numeric. Certain alpha plate formatting is subject to verification.
Here's a pair of 1926 Passenger plates from Jeff Hinkle. Alpha numeric passenger plates were first introduced in 1923 because passenger plates needed a serial format beyond six numeric characters. The new format was A, A-1 to A-99, then A-100 to A-999, eventually A-1000 to A99-999. The alpha character prefix went as far as the C-series. 1926 was the first year that the alpha character was smaller than the numeric characters, a practice that continues to this day.
This 3-digit 1928 Passenger 'shorty' was provided courtesy of eBay seller Kope2112. The 'shorty' plates measured 6" by 10" and the serial number ran from 2 to 9999. Alpha-numeric Passenger plate photos are needed for 1928.
This pair of 1929 Passenger plates on the far left was provided by Steve Ondik. The 5-digit plate series shown here measures , 6" x 13". Like most plates during that era, the length of the serial number determined the length of the plate including 6" by 10" and 6" by 15" sizes.
Next is a pair of 'shorty' 1931 Passenger from Jeff Hinkle. Beginning in 1930 and continuing in 1931 and beyond, the maximum serial number was reduced from 6 to 5 characters which allowed the largest plate size to be reduced from to 15" down to 12". This was accomplished by reconfiguring the serial progressions.
With these 2005 to 2017 plates we're approaching the end of the Passenger plate series with these visitPA plates. At the very end of 2004 PA introduced this updated edition of the passenger plate which consisted of dark blue on white with solid bands of blue on the top and yellow on the bottom, series began at GBA-0000 and likely ran to KLE-9999. There were no I-series plates. Legend consisted of PENNSYLVANIA screened across top and visitPA.com screened across bottom. Plates are referred to by many as visitPA plates or solid band plates. PennDOT uses the term Family of Plates. At the end of 2016, PennDOT discontinued issuing validation stickers. Some 2017, and even 2018 stickers are in use on Passenger vehicles but were issued before 2017. Plate credits left to right above, my photo, Jordan Irazabal, Ryan Battin and Steve Ondik. I'd like to see a plate in the KLE-series.
Here are several vanities. While it may be tempting to apply for a 1- or 2- character plate, they are not easy to come by, nor are they inexpensive. On the other hand if the combination you want is available, go for it — up to 7 characters, a space or dash are permitted but not both, and the requested combination not be deemed offensive. These are just a few examples above. Plate credits left to right, Jordan Irazabal, my plate, Steve Ondik and Ryan Battin. By the way Steve Ondik's I QUO10 is meant to display characters not normally seen on PA plates like the letters I, O and Q, also note that the alpha characters are smaller than numeric characters. The EV-17954 looks like a vanity remake or an earlier Emergency Vehicle plate.
Like the Passenger plates above, Truck plates in 2005 also took on the new look of the visitPA base. The series started off at YSA-0000, and after hitting YZZ-9999 went to ZBA-0000 and progressed to ZKH-9999 in 2017. After hitting ZKH-9999, a plate design took place where the sticker well was eliminated and in its place a small PA map outline was added. Check back next week for more on the latest design. At the end of 2016, PennDOT discontinued issuing validation stickers. Some 2017, and even 2018 stickers are in use on Trucks but were issued before 2017. Credit for the ZBA-4665 goes to Grant M. and to Ryan Battin for the ZJC-4382 photo.
Here's the second of these Official Use plates spotted in the past two weeks. Both have been spotted on smaller Department of Transportation aka PenndDOT vehicles. These plates have piqued my curiosity as to which other state agencies will follow suit. I can easily picture the PSP patch where the PennDOT symbol is.
This high number Repossessor plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini. The Repossessor plate (my spellchecker does not like that word) is one of PA rarest of the Dealer types; however, PA has a few other limited issues plates including Moped Dealer, Trailer Dealer and Watercraft Trailer / Dealer. The Repossessor series started at RE-05000 on September 1, 1999, making this the 1,257 plate issued in 17 years.
Here's a car show image from Bruce Bufalini. It's been interesting to watch this latest progression of Antique Vehicle plates. This is the latest high in this series where we've already seen the use of the letter 'I' not long ago. The letter 'O' will be coming into play soon if they're not already in use, but the letter 'Q' will not be used.
Both of these 40000-series Classic Vehicle plates were recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini. The one on the far left has the sticker well, while the one on the near left has the small map outline in its place and is the new high. The lower number plate shows the normal left hand plate legend. The high number plate now has the legend reduced in size. Based upon some research it appears that the change to the map base likely occurred at C40900. What is not clear is whether any plates immediately prior to C40900 had the sticker well removed.
Another photo from Bruce Bufalini. I like Bruce's description as "near the end of the non-redundant street rods." If you recall once the plates hit the 7000 mark, they also went Street Rod redundant with that that term being used twice on the plate.
I don't get it. Organizational plates are not cheap, and personalizing one gives it a healthy price tag, Then why add a plate frame that covers up the name of the organization that the plate represents? If you can't identify this plate you're not alone. This unusual PA Society of Professional Engineers was spotted by Ryan Battin. While this plate type has been around for a couple years, no standard issue numeric plates have been spotted so far.
These are not new photos. They are older images of Person with Disability plates issued soon after they first came out on the www base. Note the PD on the far left plate is taller than the PD on the near left plate, also the wheelchair symbol is larger. Ryan Battin spotted PD5946A which had the larger letters and symbol. This helps identify the changeover point — now believed to be PD6000A.
Here's a little 1920 Passenger plate trivia. According to 1920 Motor Vehicle Registration Records, the number block from 1-000 to 1-199, was registered to, or reserved for the PA State Highway Department. It is unknown if all state-owned vehicles were registered to the PA State Highway Department. It is also unknown if there were additional blocks of numbers reserved for automobiles or trucks. There was likely no other indication or legend on the plate indicating official use or state ownership.
This 3-digit vanity plate was recently spotted by Nick Tsilakis. This plate picture fits into the current Passenger vanities and also the Passenger History section which is nearing completion. While this plate was issued between 1999 and 2004 it continues to be a valid plate.
These, and a number of other plates from the www era from 1999 till 2004, have been added to the Passenger Plate History page. These plates are still eligible for revalidation. This series started at DAA-0000 and ran into the FYC-series before switching to the visitPA base and continuing the progression with GBA-0000. The ASY-6899 plate is a remake of an earlier plate. Most of these early remakes were made with the small keystone separator, even though such plates were actually vanities. The 95 plate is courtesy of Bill Jesse.
When the state began issuing Truck plates on the www base in 1999, series began using 3 letters followed by 4 numbers starting at YAA-0000 and progressed into the YRR-series before switching to visitPA base and continuing the progression at YSA-0000. These plates are still eligible for revalidation. The YAA image is courtesy of Steve Ondik.
With the addition of these two plates, only 1939 is needed to complete the Bus run from 1924 to the present. These are two important additions to Bus plates to fill what had been empty spaces up to now. Except for the colors being reversed, these 1932 Bus and 1933 Bus plates are formatted alike. The only legend indicates the state and year, but the real identifier is the letter 'O' in the prefix position. Note the smaller size of the letter, helping to identify it as a letter and not a number. These plates measure 6" by 12"; however, it is believed that plates with O+1 to O+3 digits would have been on 6" by 10" bases. These plates were provided by Eric Tanner.
Here are a couple more oldies including this 1949 Bus plate with serial formatting much the same as the plates above, but with a 2-digit year, the legend Bus at the top and the state shortened to PA. I have no photo, but other years at least as far back as 1946 indicate that the serial numbers progressed into the OA000 series. 1949 photo from Drew Steitz. The 1964 to 67 Bus multi-year plate continues to use the 'O' prefix but with 5 numeric characters eliminating the need for an additional alpha character. This plate photo was provided by Steve Ondik.
What do we have here? John Clark spotted this previously unknown version of an Official Use plate. Back in February the state announced that Official Use plates would be getting a new look to bring them into the family of plates. It was also announced that state agencies would have the option of using their own logo in place of the coat of arms shown previously. With 14 state-supported universities, and numerous state government agencies, the various renditions should be interesting. The plate shown here has a 'T' prefix and is sporting a Dept. of Transportation (PennDOT) logo suggesting the 'T' identifies that department.
Albright College has had a plate program since about 2005, but now is giving their plates a new look on far left. It appears that some 140 plates have been issued on the original format. Note the presence of the small map outline in place of the sticker well. It is not known if any of the newer plates are in use yet.
Mount Aloysius College joins the organizational plate program with an entry of their own. No plates appear to be in use as of this posting. Mount Aloysius College is a small Catholic liberal arts facility located in Cresson, Cambria County, PA, a beautiful area but cold and snowy.
The East Brandywine Fire Company, Chester County, now has a license plate program. As of this posting no plates are in use.
The ever-changing phases, or maybe that should be faces, of the visitPA base, and the Flyers Wives Charities / Charity plate. On the far left (F/L01652) has Flyers Wives Charities as the legend, with sticker well and sticker, the center plate (F/L01753) has no sticker well and the legend has been changed to Flyers Wives Charity, now singular. Finally the F/L01779 plate has the new small map outline — all of these changes in a span of less than 130 plates. While there is an element of enjoyment in identifying and tracking these changes, it is also challenging and a little frustrating.
If all of that weren't enough, we also have vanities of the first two formats. Plate photo credits as follows: F/L01652, from Brittany; F/L01753, from Tom Perri; F/L01779, from Jordan Irazabal; F/L10000, from Jeff Lawson and F/LSANDI, from Jordan Irazabal.
Devan Ciemiewicz provided this image of 1967 Governor's Inaugural plate #88. According to Eric Conner's website, Pennsylvania Politicals, http://www.pennsylvaniapoliticals.com/, fewer than 100 of these plates produced, and they were issued to auto dealers and used on cars in [Governor] Shafer's inaugural parade.
Just a side note, I've been working on developing a Passenger Plate History Page since January of this year. It's close to being finished, but in actuality it will never quite be finished. So far about 475 plates and related images have been posted, but with many plate images still needed. Just this week several of these older 'gaps' have been filled. While my name may be on this website, it is the hundreds of friends and contributors who have made the site what it is today. Thank you.
Here a very nice porcelain 1911 plate to help fill the Format 4 space. This was made available courtesy of eBay user Americana1900. Plates were made in 5 different sizes that year, ranging from 6" by 8" for 1- and 2-digit plates up to 6" by 14". This plate measures 6" by 13".
Next is another beautiful plate, this being a 1912 Format 3 wood grain porcelain from another eBay auction by Don Bucchi, of Greensburg, PA. This plate also fills a gap in the plate progression. 1912 also used the same 5 sizes of plates, again with this plates measuring 6" by 12". Nearly 59,000 plates were issued in 1912.
Eric Tanner sent this image of this very fine 1934 Passenger plate. On first impression one might wonder how a single letter plate could be; however, there was a run of what I refer to Format 2, from A to Z, then A1 to Z999 on 6" x 10" plates. This certainly would have allowed for single letter plates; however, Eric notes that this plate is the only single letter plate know to exist from that period. Quite a find! Under Format 7 there was another series of AA to ZZ & AA1 to ZZ99 plates authorized. As far as who could get these plate, that's another matter. I'm sure 1- and 2-character plates were not just issued randomly, or just pulled off the stack and given to the next customer.
This very nice 1953 Passenger Format 6 plate is from Steven Filipowski. All standard plates, i.e. passenger, truck, dealer etc. in 1953 were short measuring 6" x 10¼". This plate is about as close to mint condition as a 64-year old plate can be. With plates size limiting the plate to 5 characters, it required 13 different serial formats to cover the number of passenger registrations.
This is not only a display of a pair of low number plates but also quite a display of validation stickers. These are courtesy of Tim Gierschick. The two photos on the left are actually the same plate. The far left photo shows stickers from 3-84 to 3-93, while the center photo shows stickers from 3-89 to 3-98. How was this done? After the plate filled up with 10 stickers, a sheet of plastic was put over the plate and additional stickers were placed on the plastic right over the sticker beneath it. Eventually that plate was replaced with a yellow-on-blue Keystone State plate, and more stickers were added with the 3-99, 3-00 and 3-01.
As the passenger series progressed forward into the 1987 thru 2000 run, the series picked up at SAA-000 after the "Friend" series stopped in the R-series. The "Friend" legend was replaced by the Keystone State legend. The plates shown here are just at different points in the progression, including the final plate produced in that series courtesy of Eric Conner. Note the use of the large keystone separator.
As the series continued, it was expanded to 7 characters around 1992, still 3 alpha characters, but now followed by 4 numbers, and separated by a small keystone. The series progressed into the CEG series before switching to the www plates as the replacement process started at DAA-0000 in 1999. The AAA-0000 is courtesy of Eric Conner. BVN-3312 and CEC-1808 are thanks to Steve Ondik.
Eric Tanner provided this picture of this pair of white on black 1918 Truck plates. PA began issuing Truck plates back in 1914. At the time they were issued in pairs, and by the vehicle weight class. On the far left there were 1 to 5 stars arranged vertically indicating the weight rating, with the pair shown here being Class 4. The 'C' prefix was used on all truck plates during 1918 and 1919, the 'C' was then followed by 1 to 5 digits. Generally lower numbered plates were assigned to lower weight class trucks. From information gleaned from Eric's website, 4-star plates were in a weight class of 10 to 15 thousand pounds.
Spotted this Antique Motorcycle plate in my recent travels. According to Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists), the serial number is some 1000 plates above the last reported high, suggesting that antique motorcycles are popular. These are permanent plates with no sticker. This current plate style was first seen on the road in June of 2013 with an expected starting point of 01000, which took the place of the white-on-purple 2- and 3-character plates with the map outline.
Here's the latest Omnibus plate courtesy of Ryan Battin. No sticker — but this plate series has not yet caught up with growing list of plates without sticker wells. Omnibus plates have always been somewhat of a mystery, but the first plates with OMNIBUS as the legend were blue-on-yellow and date back to 1974 where they started at OB-10000. That same numerical sequence continues to this day with the plate shown here.
This is the first of its kind on this website. It's also a personalized version of a Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics plate. These plates have been in use since early 2016, with 30-some plates issued. Thanks to Tom Perri for the plate photo.
This nice low number West Shore EMS plate was spotted by Nick Tsilakis. Like the Paramedic plate above, the plate frame really doesn't add to its appeal. West Shore has had plates since 2010. This plate was spotted by Nick Tsilakis.
This Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables plate. This is believed to be their one-and-only plate at this time, although the plate has only been around for a few months. Tom Perri spotted it on their website.
The long run of Pennsylvania Passenger plates has brought us up to the 1983 to 1987 period. Toward the end of the '77 to '83 run, a new alpha-numeric serial progression emerged starting at AAA-000 and ran into the GYK series. The '83 plates, now yellow on blue, and sporting a whole new legend, picked up at HAA-000, with the legend being "You've Got a Friend in" along the top and "Pennsylvania" along the bottom. The only sticker well was in the lower left corner. From the HAA-000 starting point the plates ran into the RWP-series before another change took place in 1987. It should be noted that plates on the '77 base could still be revalidated up to the full plate replacement which began in late 1999. The same can be said for the 1983 thru '87 plates, as both series were valid concurrently.
If you wanted to make more of a statement, vanity plates with up to 6 characters were available. The use of a space or a dash was also permitted, but not both. The two plates on the far left are from Ned Flynn, while the ANITA4 plate photo is thanks to Tom Perri. I can't speak with much authority on low number plates during this period but I do know that the lowest numbers were still under the control of the Governor.
Moving next to 1984 to 2000 Truck plates we have the same yellow-on-blue coloring as Passenger plates, but the legend has been flip-flopped from the previous base. The plates also have been reduced to one sticker well, now in the lower left. The plate alpha-numeric series continued on from the previous base, picking up in the 36000-CD series. This CD series ran until it was in the CJ series, when it was brought to a halt. I have a vague recollection from a news report that there was a computer issue with too many 'C's. That does not make a lot of sense, but many news stories fail the litmus test then and now. While I was interested in plates at the time, I didn't perform any due diligence in checking out this event. Hopefully someone will have a better account of what actually took place and why. To continue issuing plates a new alpha-numeric was released starting at YA-00000, the Y prefix did not change until the series hit YZ-99999, then came ZA-00000 and the Z-issue ran into the ZV series. This plate series and the previous blue-on-yellow truck plates were were both in use simultaneously and could be renewed up to the point where the www base replaced all remaining prior issues.
Finally an image of a prototype Philadelphia Centurions Motorcycle Club plate. This was forwarded to me by Bill Houser who saw it on a Phil Wenrich Facebook posting. One would think that new organizational plates would be posted on PennDOT's Approved Special Organizations page, but it seems like their page is seldom updated. So far no plates are in use. I listed this plate on the Fire, EMS and Police page since this organization is police related.
The Penn State Alumni Association give the Nittany Lion a fresh new look. We knew this revision was coming for a while thanks to Tom Robillard. My guess is that the plate will have the small map outline and likely start the serial number at P/S30000. The current high is over 29000. This image was from the association's website.
It may be a little hard to read but these two Autism plates use different plate legends. The #1 plate reads Autism Awareness. This road shot photo was provided by Steve Ondik. The #42 plate reads Autism Society of America and came from eBay. Every other plate spotted on the road reads Autism Society of America; however, there were early samples and prototypes that used the Autism Awareness legend. My guess is that the initial run of plates used the Autism Awareness legend, and later plates got Autism Society of America. This plate type have been on the road since 2005 with almost 500 being issued.
Tom Robillard passed this Conserve Wild Resources - Otter plate image along. It's a nice image of a Format 4 Otter plate. The current high is in the R/C0X00 series. Note sure what the life expectancy of this plate is with PA's addiction to moving everything to the visitPA family of plates.
Jeff Hinkle recently acquired that nice Persian Gulf War Veteran plate. At one time there was a run of these plates with the logo inverted. Then, as best as I can recall, the error plates were replaced with the correct plates on a number for number basis. Click the link above to see a couple of the error plates. Anyway, this plate is formatted correctly. This plate type dates back to 1993, and in 2015 the plate was redesigned on the visitPA base with color graphics showing the South West Asia Service Medal.
Ryan Battin photographed this Official Use plate which is the new high for the series. This particular series is for passenger vehicles, including marked State Police vehicles, and light trucks, where 2 plates are issued. Larger trucks are issued singles from the PA-0000A series. There are plans to switch over to the color style plate after inventories are depleted. From a previous posting: state agencies would have the option of using their own logo in place of the coat of arms shown here. That should be interesting with 14 universities, and numerous state government agencies.
As we resume adding old car plates to the history section, we start with this group of three 1953 Passenger plates, and the '55 Passenger plate next to them. From late 1952 thru the end of 1955, which includes all of the above plates, the base was 6" by 10¼" before switching to the 6" by 12" as the standard size in 1956. The '53 plates provides images of a Formats 4, 9 and 11, and the '55 plate provides an image of a Format 14 plate. Thanks to Chuck Sakryd for the use of the '53 photos. The '55 plate was photographed at a car show.
1977 Passenger saw a whole new look. The bicentennial plates were gone and were replaced with a new undated blue paint on yellow reflective sheeting. The separator replacing the liberty bell is a medium size keystone outline and the words Keystone State embossed along the bottom. There are sticker wells in the upper left and right corners, but no sticker the first year. These plates were issued starting in 1977 and continued into 1984; however, plates could to be renewable up thru 2000. Above are examples of the five serial progressions, beginning with all-numeric. Next are three alpha-numeric formats with a single alpha character starting with a 1st position, then the 6th position, and finally the 2nd position. Following that came a new format with 3 letters followed by 3 numbers. The last format was actually the starting point for today's passenger plates, now with one additional digit. Plates in order are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd, my collection, Jim and Lori Wakefield, Chuck Sakryd and George Kunsman.
Getting a vanity plate with a word or initials could now be had without being paired up with a number. The limit at the time was 6 characters. It was getting easier to get a low number plates as there was not such a tight control on some of the under 1000 plates. After all, this was in the period following Watergate and the Nixon resignation. Not every political figure was so keen to be identified as such. The HDE plate is from my collection and likely someone's initials. The MS-626 plate shown here is believed to be Milton Shapp's plate, but I would call this a vanity and not a political plate. The number 2 plate continued to be used by or reserved for the Lt. Governor. These two photos are from Eric Conner.
Here's a strange one. DPL prefix followed by a keystone and a dash separator. According to information received from Ned Flynn, there was a family in the Stroudsburg area some years ago that had an affinity for New York City theatre. They purchased vanity tags with DPL in an effort to appear as diplomats hoping they might receive favorable parking, and other considerations. It is still unknown how the use of the keystone separator and a dash came about, possibly some kind of favor. This plate was previously featured on this site in 2014, and now has also been added to '77 to '84 passenger display. The photo was from John Anshant.
For 1978 a new series of truck plates was issued replacing the 1972 to '78 Commercial plates. These '78 Truck plates went back to using the word Truck as the legend, after the last two plate cycles used the term Commercial, and like the previous plates, the sticker wells were in the upper left and right corners; however, the plates went sticker-less in their first year. The Truck serial numbers started again fresh at CA-10000 and ran thru CZ-99999. Then the 2-letter prefix was moved to the suffix position with 10000-CA which extended into the CD series. The C in the serial did not advance, and the adjacent letter always advanced last after the numbers. A dash separator was used between the letters and numbers. As a point of clarification, this section has no connection to Farm Truck and Apportioned Truck classes that had their beginnings in 1977 and 1982 respectively, and are displayed in their own sections.
The Silver Star Medal is our nation's third highest military award, so definitely not a common sight on the road. This is also the high number plate. The Silver Star plate has been available since 2012. This plate was spotted by Bruce Bufalini.
With so many other military and veterans' plate types, including U.S. Army Veteran and U.S. Army (active duty), these U.S. Army Reserve plates seem to have fallen out of favor. These were also listed as an organizational plate, rather than a veterans' plate. In addition there is no logo, but I've always been drawn to these stacked prefix plates with only a 4-digit serial number. Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists) puts the reported high at A/R1247, so when you consider the starting point at A/R1000, this is a low number plate. PennDOT maintains an inventory of these plates, so they should still be available. Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for sharing this photo.
On the far left is the first image of a Gettysburg College plate on the visitPA graphic base. It's also a personalized or vanity version. We've been expecting to see one of the graphic plates with a serial number, but so far nothing. I'm not going to try guessing why. Again thanks to Nick Tsilakis for spotting this plate.
This Special Mobile Equipment plate was the first of a new series with an alpha character in the prefix position and on the visitPA base. These were issued after the previous series exhausted all available combinations upon hitting SME-999Z. The series shown here has been around since 2013, but Brendan Sherry just spotted this first of its kind plate.
This Mercedes Benz Club of America number 1 plates was spotted by Colin M. Some 85 of these organizational plates have been issued since 2010.
This is the only first generation Allegheny College plate I have seen — I live on the wrong side of the state. Until late afternoon on 7/9 the plate is up for grabs on eBay. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the use of the photo. These plates were first issued in 1997 with some 400 plates being registered by the time that they were replaced with the www base in July of 2001. There is no indication that the plates will be moved to the graphic colorized base.
Here is a beautiful unused 1951 New Car Dealer from Jeff Hinkle. There were two serial progressions for 1951, A000A as seen here and A00A0 as shown in the image gallery. There was also Used Car Dealer which I don't have a photo of. The existence of a C000A Transit Dealer is still unconfirmed, we do know they were in use in '52. The 'X' series Miscellaneous Dealer plate was in use in 1952.
Jeff Hinkle shared his recently acquired 1934 Passenger plate. This plate would be part of the Format 2 serial progression which runs from A to Z999 on a 6" x 10" base, and a longer progression of A1000 to Z9999 on a 6" x 12" base.
This group of 1952 Passenger plates provides examples of additional alpha-numeric formatting. All of the plates except the 9LH4 plate are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd. The 9LH4 is from Steve Ondik. All of the plates shown above measure 6" x 11"; however, the last plate, manufactured later in the year, measures 6" x 10¼".
This low-numbered 1965 base with 66, 67, 68 and 69 stickers was supplied by Tim Gierschick, and he tells me that it was assigned to a Judge from Berks or Lebanon Counties.
For the first time since 1936, these 1971 thru 1976 Passenger car plates have gone map-less. And in anticipation of our nations 200th birthday, passenger plates featured a replica of the Liberty Bell front-and-center on the plate, and used the caption 'Bicentennial State '76'. After all, PA is the home of the Liberty Bell. In 1971 ALPCA gave it the Best Plate of the Year Award. The plates above represent the six standard issue plate serial formate for the period 1971 to 1976 beginning starting with an all-numeric format, then with an alpha character in 5 different positions. Plates issued in 1971 had no sticker, instead had 71 lightly etched into the upper left sticker well. Plates above from left to right are from Chuck Sakryd, Drew Steitz, my collection, Matt Ciecka, Steve Ondik and Chuck Sakryd.
And if the standard issue did not suit your fancy, a special issue plate could be yours for an additional fee. There were all-numeric offerings from 1000 to 99999, and there were many alpha-numeric choices. As far as I know there were no vanity plates with all letters and no numbers, and all alpha-numeric combinations used the liberty bell separator between the letters and numbers. The 1928 plate is thanks to Steve Ondik. The 626-MS is from Eric Conner who connects this plate with Milton Shapp, PA Governor from 1971 to '79. For more information and details on Bicentennial plates, check Rick Kretschmer's website.
But wait, there's more. These low-numbered plates were pretty tough to get if you weren't politically connected. Starting with the # 2 Lt. Governor plate from Chuck Harrington. The 85 plate is thanks to Eric Conner and 400 was provided by Jeff Hinkle.
Last week we covered the the 1964 to 67 Truck series with its many weight and axle classes, and each one assigned its own serial progression. For 1968 to '71 Truck plates, this is all gone — at least it's no longer a part of the plate serial number. A new plate serial coding system was introduced using CA-10000 as the starting point with 'C' as a non-advancing character and the second letter always advancing last after the numbers. Not all C combinations were used such as CI, CO, CQ. In addition all plates were now 7-characters, and the word Truck has been replaced with Commercial. The plates have an embossed sticker well — no question where the sticker goes, and only vestiges of the state map remain. Early plates had 68 etched into the sticker well with no sticker used in '68. The plate shown here is from Steve Ondik.
For 1972 to '77 Truck plates continue to use the legend 'Commercial'. A new series of yellow on blue plates was issued, again using CA-10000 as the starting point; however, the map outline, after many years of reshaping, has been replaced by a narrow embossed border. Sticker wells now appear in the upper left and right corners. Early plates had 72 etched into the upper left sticker well, stickers were then issued for 1973 thru 1977. Plates shown are from Jeff Lawson and my own collection.
Brand new fresh out of the envelope is this Steel Worker plate from Steve Ondik. It appears that at the 05500 point the plate was switched over to the semi-flat color graphic edition shown here. Plate still has the sticker well. While these plates have the look of an organizational plate, they are actually a special class of plate brought about by legislation.
Over the years we've gotten used to always seeing these Person with Disability plates with 5 characters before or after the PD and wheelchair symbol. This eye-catching plate is a vanity or personalized version, and was spotted by Tom Perri. This one still has the renewal sticker, newer PD vanities now have the small map outline and no sticker well.
In 2014 I posted this Honoring Our Veterans image on the far left from an anonymous source. Recently a contributor named Dave, sent me a link to a YouTube video. If you are an automotive enthusiast, you may recognize the name Doug DeMuro. Click the snap shot to watch the YouTube video, or jump ahead to the 3 minutes and 35 seconds point to see the rear of his vehicle.
Last week (6/25) I posted a series of photos of four very nice Philadelphia Pre-State plates from Bob Connison. Ned Flynn pointed out where several corrections to my write-up were needed. I rewrote the PA Pre-State section with some help from Ned, or gleaned from his February 2012 ALPCA Plates article on The Pennsylvania Pre-State Era. Link to article. You must be an ALPCA member to access it. Ned has done outstanding research on the infancy and evolution of early plates here in PA. Thank you Ned.
I spotted this refinished 1916 Passenger plate at a recent car show. Not related to this plate, but while going thru '16 plates I realized that plates between 10000 and 19999 were on a 6" by 14" base, a plate size that I had previously not listed, and a format for which I have no photo.
One additional 1958 Passenger with a 59 sticker is being added. It is a 4-character example of what I list as a Format 8 plate which includes anything from AA00 to ZZ999. This also falls under the broad heading of reserve issue plates which were number & letter combinations available upon request without additional cost. This photo is thanks to Jeff Hinkle.
Next we move forward to 1965 Passenger plates. For 1965 plates were initially undated, then were renewed with annual stickers up thru 1970. Serial progressions were much the same as '58 plates with the addition of a 00A-000 format. The plates in order left to right are from Chuck Sakryd, Jeff Hinkle, Steve Ondik, Shawn, and Steve Ondik.
Special Issue or reserve issue plates were continued but required an additional fee. There were so many alpha-numeric combinations available that I am not going to attempt to show them all, at least for now. The plate shown here is thanks to Jeff Hinkle. Note that this plate and most of the political plates below use a base with a different map outline than the standard plate.
The plates shown here, some may argue, are not true passenger plates but rather are issued to the Lt. Governor, cabinet level positions and state officials and dignitaries. I'm not going to debate the matter, but the plates were issued for use on passenger vehicles, no matter who owns or uses them. I have no provenance for these plates; however, I have no doubt that they were produced for the purposes described herein. The plates shown left to right are courtesy of Chuck Harrington, Jeff Hinkle, my own collection and Jeff Hinkle.
This is considered a 1970 Interim plate. This is a very unusual passenger plate. It is believed to have been used when the blue on yellow '65 plate stock had run out before the new '71 base could be used, which at the time was March 15. Note the use of a '70 sticker and note this interim plate is on the non-passenger base. The plate is apparently owned by another ALPCA member who provided the image to Ned Flynn. The number series comes from the Format 1 series above, possible using some unused or dead tag numbers. The above information and image were provided by Ned Flynn.
I snapped this plate on the go and was unable to get a better shot. Anyway this 1958 Class-T Truck plate image is being added to last week's display of '58 truck plates.
The final series for this week is this group of 1964 Truck plates. This series was used thru 1967. Like some of the '58 plates from last week, a few of the images came from an older group photo from Kelly Brewer. Those particular photos do not enlarge. Here we have an S-class plate from Chuck Sakryd, U-, W- and Y-class plates from Kelly Brewer. The last two include a ZZ-class heavy 3-axle truck plate and a YT-class 3-axle truck tractor plate — these last two uncommon plates are thanks to Clayton Moore.
This Superior Court plate was provided anonymously. In addition to this plate, the plate gallery has plates S/C03 (with badge), S/C06, S/C11 and S/CPJ1 (President Judge 1 with badge). Not much is known about the history of this plate type. Click the link above to read some additional bits and pieces of history.
This very recent image of a personalized Penn Alumni plate was photographed by Jordan Irazabal. Note the lack of a sticker well and no map outline in its place. This suggests that organizational plates or at least personalized ones, will not have the map outline, while standard issue vanity plates have been issued with the map outline.
ON JULY 2, WATCH FOR CORRECTIONS ON THIS ARTICLE WITH REGARD TO DRIVER LICENSING AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION.
They don't get any older and they don't get any nicer. These 1903 to 1906 Philadelphia Pre-State plate images were provided by Bob Connison. After the state passed a law requiring vehicles to show a registration number as early as 1903, and the state did not issue plates until 1906, the registration process was handled at the county level during the intervening years. The City of Philadelphia (or County, as they are the same) began issuing 4-inch by 7-inch porcelain plates in 1903. Eric Taylor's Porcelain Plates website (http://porcelainplates.net/) has an excellent write-up and is a must-read if you have any interest in license plate beginnings here in PA. According to Eric, there were no single or 2-digit plates.
This 3-digit 1916 Passenger plate photo was provided by Bob Connison. 1916 saw the switch from porcelain to painted steel. The makers number was now stamped into the embossed keystone. An aluminum keystone was only used if the plate was transferred to another vehicle.
This 1933 R-Class Truck plate was made available by eBay user rqb507. This is the only '33 truck plate photo I have, so it does fill a gap. These plates were yellow on dark blue and measured 6" by 15". All plates used 6 characters with the first one or two alpha characters indicating the weight class and number of axles. Since there was no legend identifying the vehicle as a truck, the first one or two letters and 6-character serial format identified the vehicle as a truck.
This beautifully refinished 1934 Passenger plate helps to fill one of the serial progression gaps. This 10-inch shorty is (or was) up for grabs on eBay, and the owner, Graham Ham of West Australia, gave me the OK to use the image. I don't say this often enough, but one of the benefits of this plate hobby is the great people with whom you come in contact.
Here are a couple additional format variations to the 1944 Passenger and 1947 Passenger plates. The 4-character '44 plate is a 10-inch shorty, and the 5-character '47 plate is a scant 1 inch wider. Thanks to Steve Ondik for providing the photos.
Here are two more formatting additions to the 1949 Passenger run including these 4-character and 5-character photos. For 1949 all plates were either 4 or 5 characters, and measure 11 inches. The far left plate is from Steve Ondik and the near left plate is thanks to Chuck Sakryd.
The picture on the far left with one plate above the other shows the difference in die types used on 1956 Passenger plates. The upper portion of the photo shows the thinner dies used later in the year and the lower plate shows the standard dies used up to the changeover. Note the difference between the 4 and the 2 shown on both plates. The M4K25 is part of what I categorize as Format 15. I want to thank fellow ALPCA member and friend Ned Flynn for his help with these photos.
Here's another example of a '56 Passenger plate with '57 dies; however, it is from a different serial format than the plate shown above. Three serial formats with '57 dies were issued concurrently. The image is from an eBay user who did not request credit for the picture. The left edge of the plate is clipped off. This is how the plate was when the owner acquired the plate from another auction.
We're finally up to 1958 Passenger plates with lots of additional images since the first few standard issue plates were posted some months ago. Other than the 1942 plates with the 43 tabs to aid the war effort, 1958 was the first modern plate to venture into the use of multi-year registration plates. Initially plates were manufactured with a rectangular slot to the left of the 58 where a metal tab was planned to be affixed annually. No tabs were ever issued and the idea was scrapped in favor of the now-familiar annual validation sticker. Eventually the tab slot was eliminated. Only the far left plate above shows standard formatting of six characters with a small keystone separator in the center between the 3rd and 4th characters. The other plates shown in this group are all reserve issue which were available upon request. The 1139 plate above is from Tim Gierschick, while the other three are from Steve Ondik. The 312M and HF850 are from the America on Wheels Museum, 3712P is from Runkle's Notary and the 282DP is from Steve Ondik.
Keep in mind that during this period there were also Amateur Radio plates, Suburban plates beginning in 1960, and Press Photographer plates which all shared some common elements with Passenger plates.
I'm starting the 1958 Truck run with these two R-series that are in the same R00-0A0 serial progression. The main difference is the earlier plate on the far left has the tab slot. The near left plate was manufactured later which was after the tab slot had been eliminated. These plates are from Chuck Sakryd.
Below is a continuation of 1958 Truck plates. These photos were almost all a part of a group picture provided Kelly Brewer. Unfortunately the original picture is not a high enough resolution to allow for larger individual photos. As a result these photos do not enlarge by clicking them. That's the down side. The up side is that we now have photos of the complete RZ to ZZ series of 3-axle trucks.
The ZZ class, heaviest 3-axle truck, plate from John Willard is shown here to complete the sequence.
For 1958 there was a new class of truck plates for truck tractors, or think of it as the truck portion of an 18-wheeler minus the trailer. Obviously such trucks existed before, but now had their own plates series made up of WT, YT and ZT 3-axls truck tractors. Don't know what 2-axle truck tractors used.
The last group of '58 truck plates includes these YX and ZX 4-axle trucks. Again such trucks existed before, but were likely licensed with the heaviest 3-axle trucks. The ZX class plate is from John Willard is shown here to complete the sequence.
Here's the first standard issue Passenger plate I've seen with the small PA map outline where the sticker well used to be. This plate was photographed in Delaware by Ryan Battin. Map outline passenger vanity plates were seen as early as January 2017.
Here's a personalized Person with Disability plate on the latest base with the small map outline taking the place of the sticker well. A thank you to George Kunsman for the use of the plate photo.
I received a note from Tom Robillard stating that within a few weeks the Penn State Alumni Association plate will be undergoing a facelift. He has been in touch with the Alumni Association and was provided with this update. No pictures or prototypes yet.
This new Municipal Government plate is thought to be the current high. If you recall these switched from the more official-looking white on blue fully embossed base to this semi-embossed base with the small map outline. This change took place at M/G9000J and was first seen in early February of 2017.
This Share The Road plate is a Special Fund plate, and again one of those types that are issued in two tiers. This two-tier thing was seen with the 3-digit Otter plates, the under-100 Honoring Our Veterans plates, and now this plate. Don't expect to get an explanation of this from the state, I've tried and so have others. Stonewalling is what you will get. Enough editorializing. Steve Ondik photographed this plate.
This Kutztown University vanity plate photo was snapped by Steve Ondik.
This very nice 1916 Passenger plate has been added and fills a gap for the 4-digit 6" by 13" plate series. The owner of the plate wished to remain anonymous.
Last week's plate progression ended with 1955, this week we pick up again with the 1956 Passenger series. A couple changes came about for 1956. First, all full-size plates were standardized at 6 inches by 12 inches. This is quite a switch from 1955's 10¼-inch width. Later in the '56 production run, thinner 1957 dies were put in play. These dies were used in the later part of several serial progressions being issued concurrently. While I have many examples of the different formatting variations, unfortunately, at present, I don't have photos of any of these thinner-die plates.
The first two all-numeric plates above are from Tim Gierschick, the E999 is from Sarge at Klassy Karz, 2S343 from Chuck Sakryd, 47L37 from Aimee Senott, next row, 201M America on Wheels, 1425B Drew Steitz, SL53 Tim Gierschick, AD120 Jeff Hinkle, 7DE20 Steve Ondik, bottom row, 60MG2 Runkle's Notary, 212YJ Steve Ondik, E0F59 Aimee Senott, finally the Sample plate is from Chuck Sakryd.
Next we move ahead to 1957 Passenger plates. Again there were at least a dozen serial progression formats used, which eventually brought about the first 6-digit passenger plate since 1929. The 6-digit plates used a thinner font and can be seen in the next to the last example below. The 6-digit plates did not use any kind of separator or extra space for '57 plates.
The first two all-numeric plates above are from Tim Gierschick, E717 is from Steve Ondik, B5670 Lori Wakefield, 300M America on Wheels, CN945 AACA Museum, 912DM Runkle's Notary, 431095 America on Wheels.
These R- and S-class 1936 Truck plates photos were recently snapped at a truck show by Steve Ondik. They show additional serial formatting variations over what was previously shown. The R-plate appears to be a repaint.
Next up is this group of 1956 Truck plates. Shown are four examples of R-series weight class plates each with a different alpha-numeric serial format. There were actually eight total formats, including a run of 6-character plates using thinner '57 dies. Some 5-character plates also used the '57 dies near the end of the run. If anyone has '56 Truck (or Passenger) with '57 dies, a photo or photos would be much appreciated. Also shown above are two examples of S-series. Photo credit goes to Jeff Hinkle for R6G88, Jim Moini for R46LM, eBay user dustyjr for R2TN8, Bob Connison for R1H3B, S369E and S8S28.
For 1957 Truck plates all plates are now 6 character. The additional character reduces the number of serial progressions needed. Shown here are an R-class and an S-class plate. Both are courtesy of Bob Connison. The gallery also shows a Z-class from a previous posting.
This is a Repair Towing vanity plate, and was photographed by Bill Ceravola. The RT is a required prefix and up to 5 numbers and / or letters are permitted. A hyphen or space will count as one of the available spaces.
This 1963 Member of Congress plate is up for grabs on eBay by pinkocelot. I've been looking for a '58 to '64 Member of Congress plate for several years and the owner was kind enough to allow me to use the photo. This plate would have been issued to the representative of the 27th Congressional District. That district is now defunct as a result of redistricting. I'm guessing the plate was produced early thus the tab slot, and then held in reserve. The plate was eventually issued with a 63 PA0000 new issue validation sticker.
While detailing plate history, Ned Flynn points out that some 1913 plates were actually re-fired 1912 plates that were not issued for some reason, maybe a quality issue. Then they were reused in 1913. The evidence for this is where chipping of the outer layer of enamel around the keystone reveals the layer below is the 1912 color. Also in the 'shadow' you can see some of the original number, which is close to the current number. The 9497 plate above belongs to Ned. In addition, the boxed markings on the rear of the 9497 plate from the maker, Brilliant Manufacturing, were used on the early 1912 plates and later switched to the larger stenciled marking. Full-fledged 1913 plates used the stenciled marking on the reverse side as shown on the reverse of the 1913 plate from David at Platedog.com. There is also a 5-digit plate with similar indications of re-firing a 1912 plate.
This is a 6-digit, 16-inch, 1921 Passenger plate. It has been added to the plate gallery and is a better image than the existing one. The plate is credited to John Willard.
This shorty 1934 Passenger plate is part of the AA to ZZ and AA1 to ZZ99 serial progression, and has been added to that year's display. The plate is credited to John Willard.
This well preserved 10" shorty 1937 Passenger plate belongs to John Willard and was photographed at the recent Trexlertown plate meet. This 4-character plate is part of the A100 to Z9999 serial progression. Of course 5-character issues were on 12" plates.
Here are two additional 1953 Passenger plates filling some gaps. The 3957 plate comes from the first series of 1000 to 99999, and was provided by Tim Gierschick. The S308 comes from the A100 to Z9999 serial progression and was photographed at Runkle's Notary.
This week 1954 and '55 plates are being featured. For 1954 Passenger plates there were some 15 serial format progressions used. The plates above and below show examples of 7 serial groupings, beginning with the unusual 3-digit 666 plate. Plates with 3 or fewer characters were not a standard issue, but rather some kind of reserve group. With so many variations from the same year, it's probably easier to click the link above to view the plates by format groups. The photos in order are top row, left to right, Charlie Metz, Tim Gierschick (2 plates), Amber, Steve Ondik, Aimee Senott, America on Wheels. Bottom row, unknown, Tim Gierschick and Runkle's Notary.
For 1955 Passenger plates there are some 16 serial groupings. So many that they will be shown here in two groups, above and below. The plates shown here are from 11 formatting progressions. The 19187 and 38039 plates are part of the same group. The RN60 and LZ295 are also part of the AA10 to ZZ999 progression. Like the 1954 plates above, it's easier to click the link above to view the plates in a more organized format. The photos in order are top row, left to right, Tim Gierschick (first 2 plates), Steve Ondik, Aimee Senott, Steve Ondik, Runkle's Notary and Steve Ondik. Bottom row, Eric Conner/R Nixon, Don, America on Wheels, AACA Museum, YOM plate, and YOM plate.
Switching gears to 1954 Truck, we have a pair of R-class plates showing two serial progressions, and a pair of S-class plates also from two different serial formats. In addition a T-class and a V-class plate are shown. All plates contained 5 characters, were 6" x 10¼" in size and were issued as singles. Plates shown from left to right are courtesy of Jim Moini (both R plates), Bob Connison, Jim Moini (second S plate and T plate), and Bob Connison.
We end this week with this group of 1955 Truck plates where except for the colors and years, the plates are essentially the same as their 1954 predecessor. Shown here are 3 R-class and 2 S-class plates each with a different serial format, and a Y-class. Plates shown from left to right are courtesy of Bob Connison, Jim Moini, Chuck Sakryd, Jim Moini, Bob Connison, and the Y-class plate is unknown.
*** Currently I have a backlog of photos from contributors. Thank you. This is a good thing, keep sending; however, my available time limits how much I can get posted. Check future updates. Also, the Passenger and Truck history pages are a current priority. ***
Normally in PA plate serial progressions skip over a few letters that could easily be confused with numbers or other letters. Certainly the letter 'I' is a prime example. And while it is used in several low production plates as part of the identifier such as Implement of Husbandry with IMP-0000, I'm not aware of its use as part of the serial progression. The use of the 'I' in this Antique Historic plate is believed to be part of the progression between the 'H' and the 'K'. This plate was recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini at a recent car show.
Here is a National Police Defense Foundation personalized plate. This plate type has been around since late 2010 and has over 100 plates in use. The image is courtesy of Arthur Levine.
Nice image of a Philadelphia Fire Fighters' Union sample plate from Dave Kearney. Their plate program dates back to 2005. While the state produces a limited number of sample plates for the organization to use, their decision to discontinue selling sample plates to the public some years ago was unfortunate in my opinion.
This very nice 1937 Trailer plate photo was provided by Jeff Hinkle. In '37 Trailer plate started with a numeric series of 1 to 9999, then went to an alpha-numeric series as shown here with a letter the first position — and the letter always the last character to advance. These plates were all 6" by 12"
It's always nice to go back and fill in license plate gaps among the displays. And so it is with this beautiful 1910 porcelain 3-digit plate. 1910 plates were white on dark blue, and the 3-digit plates measured 6" by 10" which is one of 5 sizes that year. The plates were manufactured by Ing-Rich, also know as Ingram Richardson of Beaver Falls, PA. This gem was provided by Tim Gierschick.
Tim Gierschick also supplied these 1946 all-numeric passenger plate photos. The series started at 1000 and ran to 99999, all on 6" by 11" base plates. Following the all-numeric plates some 9 other alpha-numeric serial progressions were needed to provide enough combinations of 5-character plates to meet the post-war demand.
1947 Passenger plates are similar in their formatting and series progressions to the '46 plates above. Again thanks to Tim Gierschick for sharing these all-numeric 4-digit and 5-digit plates.
Again passenger plates for 1949, 1950 and 1951, the numeric series 4-digit plates started at 1000 and progressed to 99999. I'm not aware of 1, 2 or 3 digit plates during this period. These plate photos are all from Tim Gierschick with my appreciation.
From 1944 thru much of 1952, passenger plates have been 6" by 11", but during the latter portion of the year there was a switch to 6" by 10¼" plates. This narrowing brought about a change in map outline in order to accommodate 5 characters. This change is most noticeable on the right-hand border where the Delaware River takes a slightly straighter course. It is seen above on the far right 562VH plate. The 1952 Passenger plates shown in order from left to right are from the State Museum, Steve Ondik, America on Wheels, America on Wheels, Runkle's Notary, and Drew Steitz.
Following the change in 1952, all 1953 Passenger and other plates were now 6" by 10¼". This size remained in use until 1956 when all plates were standardized at 6" by 12". The group shown hear depicts 6 of the 13 serial progressions beginning with the all-numeric format. The plates shown in order from left to right are from Steve Ondik, my collection, Steve Ondik, Jeff Hinkle, Lori Wakefield and Drew Steitz.
Switching over to 1952 Truck plates, the same as previous 2-axle and 3-axle weight class designations continue starting from R to Z for 2-axle, and from RZ to ZZ for 3 axle trucks. The group shown here are all from the 2-axle group. Far fewer 3-axle trucks were on the road at the time and therefore the plates are far more scarce. The plates shown above from left to right are thanks to Jeff Hinkle, Jim Moini, Bob Connison, and Jim Moini.
For 1953 Truck plates we see a couple changes — first the plates have shrunk from 6" by 11" to 6" by 10¼". Secondly the expiration date has been changed from 3-31 of the following year to 5-31 of the following year, or in this case 1954. The first and last image are thanks to Bob Connison and the center image is from Jim Moini.
The introduction of new organizational plates has slowed way down over the past couple years especially when compared to 2005 thru 2007 period following the introduction of color graphic plates. Earlier in 2017 the Hummelstown Chemical Fire Company No. 1 was added to the organizational plate list which I missed at the time. No prototype picture at this point; however, it appears that their format is 10000H/C and there may be 8 plates in use at present.
More recently the Philadelphia Centurions Motorcycle Club has been added to the organizational plate list. Since this is a police-related organization, it is being listed with Fire, Police and EMS page. No prototype for this plate either. The likely plate format will be 30000P/C.
This pair of images sets the start of the map outline for Truck plates at ZKJ-0000, with the previous run ending at ZKH-9999. The ZKH-9999 is also an endpoint on a inventory sheet. The would be no ZKI run. Thanks to Steve Ondik and Kyle Kuser for the pictures.
It's that time of the year for car shows and the like. Here are two recent shots of Antique Vehicles plates. The 4K00 looks like a new high. The letter K is the last character to advance. Of course the Y-V8 is a vanity or personalized version of the Antique Vehicle plate. These have become popular with up to four characters allowed. The 4K00 photo is from Bruce Bufalini, and the Y-V8 is from Arthur Levine.
Here's a personalized version of a Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plate. As I recall when this plate was in the planning process, the PA Game Commission said there would be no personalized plates, and yet here they are. Obviously there was a policy change. For anyone interested in such a plate click this link to the information sheet and application. Thanks to Steve Ondik for this image of a friend's plate. The NCPA stands for North Central PA Outdoors. Click this link (http://www.ncpaoutdoors.com/) to check out their website.
Here's a photo of the #1 PA Choose Life plate from William Young. I find it interesting that the highest reported Choose Life plate is 1363, while the Planned Parenthood of PA plate has a reported high of 22.
On the far left is a 1958 Motorcycle Dealer plate from Bob Connison with the tab slots. On higher plates such as the 838 plate shown in the plate gallery, there were no tab slots. This change is common on many '58 bases that were planned for metal tabs but instead received stickers. The '71 Motorcycle Dealer plate is from Steve Ondik. From 1934 until 1966, MCD was used as the designator, then switched to DLR as shown on this '71 plate. This continued until the 1999 plate changeover when the use of MCD came back into use.
This very nice 104-year-old 1913 4-digit porcelain plate was made possible thanks to ALPCA member Dave Livingston at PlateDog.com or http://stores.platedog.com/. The reverse also authenticates the plate as having been manufactured by the Brilliant Manufacturing Co. of Philadelphia who made plates for PA between 1912 and 1916. The plate fills the gap for a 4-digit, 6" by 12" plate.
We start off this week's progression of older plates at the mid-century point with this display of 1950 Passenger plates. Shown here are eight examples of the eleven formatting progressions used that year. The plates shown are 61R68, courtesy of Don; 472F, America on Wheels; 5305N, Steve Ondik; JY102, State Museum; 7ER9, Aimee Senott; 5DV64 & 72FV8 (below), Steve Ondik; and 542AP (below), Runkles Notary.
Next in order are 1951 Passenger plates. The plates shown here represent six of the 13 serial progressions, including both 4- and 5-character examples. Plates starting with 95394 are from Steve Ondik; 96H63, Don; 139P & PR64, Sarge / Klassy Karz; JD796, Steve Ondik; and 5AD18 is from my collection. The 1950 and '51 plates are all 6" by 11" and still issued in pairs.
This trio of 1950 Truck plates represent the R and S weight class. The same 2-axle and 3-axle weight classes continued thru 1950. The 5-character limit on the 11-inch plates necessitated as many as 6 alpha-numeric progressions in the R-Class, fewer in other classes. Thanks to Bob Connison for the first plate and Jim Moini for the remaining two.
For the 1951 Truck series we have a group of plate photos representing the R-, S-, T- and V- series of 2-axle weight classes. Since serial numbers were limited to 5 characters, certain classes, especially the lower weights, required as many as six serial progression formats to accommodate the numbers of registrations. The R-class plates shown here depict two such formats. The R plates are from Jim Moini and Bob Connison respectively, the S class is from Chuck Sakryd, the T and V-class are both thanks to Jim Moini.
Spotted this from outside a secure parking area. The fence kept me out but not the camera lens. Anyway after a long wait, we finally see an Apportioned Bus plate on the visitPA base. The plate still has the sticker well but no sticker. Missing is the expected keystone separator and in its place we have a dash. I'm going to suggest that the starting point was BN-04200.
What is still a mystery is first issue BL Apportioned Bus plates. They don't seem to exist within the hobby, or any other place for that matter.
More on the Active Duty series of military plates. Tom Perri has done some additional research showing that there are now active plates for all 5 service branches; however, the number issued varies from as few as 2 for U.S Navy to 10 for Army plates. (My previous count of 18 Army was incorrect.) Except for U.S. Army, which starts at 00001A/D, most begin at 00011A/D, and there are also outliers.
The far left image was snapped by Bruce Bufalini of what appears to be a personalized Person with Disability plate. A standard issue Person with Disability plate would have an all-numeric serial such as 12345 before the P/D symbol. On the second plate, the plate frame gives it away — University of Tennessee. The 70 suggest 1970 as the year of graduation on this personalized Person with Disability plate.
Here's a new high Korean War Veteran plate spotted by Jeff Lawson. This plate type has never been updated and is one of only a few military types that can't be personalized. The others include Pearl Harbor Survivor and World War II Veteran, and since the legislation authorizing these plates spelled out the design and colors, the plates don't lend themselves to the visitPA base. I view the Korean Defense Service Medal plate as the intended replacement for this plate. The other two plate types are very seldom issued any more.
Nick Tsilakis recently snapped these two low-number Combat Wounded Veteran / Purple Heart plates. These plates range from P/H00001 to over P/H10100. The plate type dates back to 1986, this latest edition of the plate was first seen in November of 2004.
I've gotten a lot of help from a couple of Berks County plate collectors. The all-numeric 1936 car plate on the far left comes from Tim Gierschick with my thanks and appreciation. The shorty 4-character plate is from Jeff Hinkle also with my thanks and appreciation. These plates help fill a couple formatting gaps. It appears that as of 1936 the 1-, 2- and 3-digit plates were no longer in the standard mix.
These three all-numeric Passenger plates from 1938, 1940 and 1941 help to provide good examples to the all-digital plate progression. It appears that beginning in 1936 and extending to, but not including 1944, all of the numeric plates were 5 digits in length as shown above starting at 10000 to 99999. Thanks to Tim Gierschick for these images.
Beginning with 1944 Passenger, the two plates sizes were 6" by 10" for 4-character plates, and 6" by 11" for 5-character plates. These two Tim Gierschick plates are nice examples of both sizes, as well as the initial all-numeric series.
For 1945 Passenger, and non-passenger plates, were all 6" by 11" for both 4- and 5-character configurations. Tim Gierschick helped fill the all-numeric gap with this image.
Here's one I missed last week. This 1947 Passenger 4-digit 11-inch plate photo was taken at the America on Wheels Museum. Sorry the photo is poor. It was part of a sequential group display of about 35 plates once belonging to the Magee family from the Bloomsburg area. I'm confident that while this plate and the others fall into the 000A format, the plate numbering was provided as a favor or courtesy.
1948 Passenger plates had 10 different plate progression formats, seven of which are shown here. All plates were either 4 or 5 characters and all were 6" by 11". As with 1947, the '48 plates were issued in pairs. Plate credits from left to right go to Sarge from Klassy Karz for the first and third plates, the second plate is from Steve Ondik. Next is from my own collection, then Runkle's Notary, Bob Griffen, and America on Wheels.
Next is this group of 1949 Passenger plates. Again the plates are all 6" by 11" and were issued in pairs. Throughout this period there were marked increases in the number registrations every year. 1949 had 11 formatting progressions.
Here's a 1947 S-Class Truck plate that should have been part of last week's update. In '47 there were four S-Class formatting variations. With the addition of this plate, three of the four variations are displayed. Thanks to Jim Moini for the use of this photo.
These 1948 Truck R- and S-Weight Class plate images have been added to '48 plates that were previously posted. All plates are 11", and issued in pairs. Letter prefix weight classes continue from R to Z for 2-axle trucks and from RZ to ZZ for 3-axle trucks. X class was not used. The first R-class shown here is courtesy of Jim Moini, and the second is thanks to Bob Connison, and S-class is courtesy of eBay user dustyjr.
The final group this week is made up of these 1949 Truck plates. Shown here are three 2-axle plates from the S-, U- and V-weight classes. They were still issued in pairs. Note the U-class plate has two letters at the end while most plates have only one. This was done to provide enough serial combinations in the U-class as well as the R- and S-classes. The S- and V-class plates shown above are courtesy of Bob Connison. I just purchased the U-class plate.
Here are two recent issue Truck plates — the ZKA plate on the far left is typical of recent issues. It's a little hard to distinguish, but it still has the sticker well, while the near left ZKJ plate now has the small map outline in place of the sticker well. Late word from Steve Ondik on 5/13 is that ZKF-5617 has no map outline. The ZKA image is from Steve Ondik, and the ZKJ is from Kyle Kuser.
Here's a very recent issue Support Your Zoo - Special Fund plate. No changes, but a new high serial number. These plates got their facelift in April of 2013 when they changed from the full graphic tiger and cub to 'Tiny the Tiger' on this version. Four years of plates sales suggests about 700 plates per year. The plate image is from Steve Ondik.
It appears that the U.S. Army (Active Duty) plate type is now in use on about 18 vehicles. By law these became available in February. So far none of the other military active duty plates have been issued. Those include Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.
Arthur Levine recently spotted this personalized version of an International Association of Fire Fighters plate.
Here is St. Charles Borromeo Seminary plate number 9 of 12 issued — so not an easy plate to spot. This plate was photographed by Jaska Börner
This 3-digit Vietnam Vets or Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. plate was recently spotted by Jeff Lawson. This is an organizational plate rather than a military or veterans' plate. This organization's plate program dates back to 1988.
These are 1945 Passenger vehicle plates. They represent 5 of the 9 serial number formatting variations. These plates were all 5-characters in length and measured 6" by 11", there were also 4-character plates that also measured 6" by 11", as the 10" plates were eliminated after 1944. The plates in the order shown are from Aimee Senott, Bob Griffen, America on Wheels Museum, Runkle's Notary and Chuck Sakryd.
Moving to 1946 Passenger plates the colors are reversed but the serial formatting is much the same but with one additional grouping. The far left plate is from the America on Wheels Museum, next is from Don (no last name given), and the final plate is unknown.
Again for 1947 Passenger plates the serial number formatting is essentially the same. The plates shown here are from Don (unknown last name) on the far left, Aimee Senott on the center left, and the America on Wheels Museum on the right-hand plate. The 4-character plates now measure 11-inchs also.
For 1946 Truck plates continued with R to Z classes (except for X) for 2-axle trucks and RZ to ZZ (again no X series) for 3-axle trucks. The serial number progression as shown here, R000A, R00A0, R0A00, R00AA, R0AA0, was used to the extent needed for each class, where the R represents the weight class and the A portion of the serial number that progresses after the numbers. The R-class plate shown hers is from Chuck Sakryd; the U-class plate is thanks to Bob Connison.
We conclude this week with a group of 1947 Truck plates including an R-class, two S-class plates and one T-class. Note the placement of the letters in the third, fourth and fifth positions to allow for sufficient serial formats. The R- and T-plates were provided by Chuck Sakryd, and the two S-plates were from Bob Connison.
Here's a very recent Passenger plate. Just spotted KKP-3063 on another site. These still have the sticker well, but no sticker, and no sign of the anticipated small map outline. Apparently the map outline plates are already on the street on Truck plates. ZKJ-5841 with map outline was spotted on another site. This plate shown here was spotted by Steve Ondik.
Here's a Springfield Fire Company plate photographed by Jeff Lawson. They are located in Delaware County, and have some 23 plates on the street. Their plates first came out around December of 2015,
Jeff Hinkle passed along this very nice 1914 Passenger plate; however, this plate was made as part of the Truck series. It was not needed as too many truck plates were produced and some were assigned to passenger vehicles. If it had remained a truck plate, it would have a truck weight band attached in the vertical space to the left of the legend.
Here's another gem from Tim Gierschick. This 3-digit 10-inch 1934 Passenger plate has been added to the plate gallery to show additional formatting variations. The all-numeric series ran from 1 to 9999 on the 10" shorty base and from 10000 to 99999 on the 12" base.
Here's an addition to the 1938 Passenger plate display. The plate is from the 0000A to 9999Z series, one of nine serial formatting groups used that year. Both the 6" by 10" and 6" by 12" bases were used. The plate is courtesy of Chuck Sakryd.
This is a 1942 Passenger plate with a '43 tab. This plate is part of the initial run from 10000 to 99999, which was part of 10 formatting variations. The photo was provided by Tim Gierschick. Almost all of the '42 Passenger plates were 6" by 12", but there was a small run of plates in the 000A to 999Z series that were on the 6" by 10" base
Many of these 1943 Tabs have been preserved over the years. These were issued as part of the war effort to help conserve steel. Click the tab thumbnail to see the detail of the embossed year 43 over embossed 3-31-44 over a lightly stamped serial number. It appears that there is a relationship between that serial number and the plate number. The serial number can have identifying prefixes and suffixes on other plate types. Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the tab, and the plate with tab from America on Wheels Museum.
Here's a trio of 1944 Passenger plates. Each plate represents a different serial number grouping. The A7408 picture is from Runkle's Notary, the 471S4 is from Don, no last name given. The source of the final plate is unknown. They represent 3 of the 9 formatting groups. The plate shown here are all 6" by 12"; however, there were also 4-digit plates measuring 6" by 10"
Ned Flynn points out that during the 1942 plate run, the expiration date embossed in the top border was issued both with, and without, a period after the EXP. This inconsistency can be seen in both 1942 Truck and 1942 Passenger plates. The plate on the far left, from Jim Moini, lacks the period, while the plate on the near left, from Kelly Brewer, shows the period.
These 1943 Truck tabs are very similar to other '43 Tabs. The lightly stamped area below the 43 shows a serial number of up to 6 characters made up of an alpha character and up to 5 digits, with the alpha character corresponds to the weight class prefix. The far left tab is from Kelly Brewer, the next tab and the S-Class plate are thanks to Jim Moini.
The final truck plates this week are these three 1944 Truck plates representing the R, S and T-weight classes. Each of these plates has a letter in the 5th position of the serial number. Some plates, especially in the lower weight classes could have the final letter in the third or forth position. Click the link to see all the formatting variations. The R and T -class plates are from Bob Connison. The S-class is thanks to Jim Moini.
The final plate for the week is this 1937 Tractor plate from Jim Moini. Previously I had listed the 1937 tractor plate serial numbers with a starting point of 1; however, this plate indicates that the starting point would have been 0001, with all plates being 4-digit.
Here's the latest high Vertical Motorcycle plate. The formatting of these plates is not very obvious with the series starting point of M0A0C, and the M and the C are non-advancing characters, at least so far. The alpha character in the center, in this case a 'V', is the final character to advance. These plates have been around a little over 3 years, and if my calculations are correct, some 19-hundred plates have been issued, as not all letters are used. These vertical plate are also available as vanities with up to 5 characters permitted. Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing the photo.
These older passenger plates have been added to the plate gallery. They are all formatting variations not previously shown on this site. We begin with this 13½" 1923 Passenger plate on the far left. Next is a 1926 4-digit 12" plate. Next is a 4-digit 1927 10" shortie, and finally this 1930 Passenger shortie. I want to recognize Chuck Sakryd for his support of the hobby by allowing me to use these images. These plates are available on his website.
These 1940 Passenger plates may look random but they each represent a different serial formatting group. Click the link to see the list of serial progressions. The plates in the order displayed are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd, Runkle's Notary, America on Wheels, Bob Griffin, State Museum and Bruce Bufalini.
For 1941 note the addition of the expiration date in the top map border with EXP. 3-31-42. This grouping of 1941 Passenger plates shows examples of seven of the ten serial progression formats. The plates shown here are all 6" by 12"; however, there were 6" by 10" plates in several of the progressions. Plates shown left to right are from America on Wheels, Runkle's Notary, Aimee Senott, Chuck Sakryd (2 plates), my collection. Bottom row plate unknown source.
1942 Passenger plates, except for reversing colors, were very similar to the '41 plates. Shown here are plates from 4 of the 10 serial progressions. The far left plate is from Chuck Sakryd, next is from Joe Bosche, then the State Museum, and the final plate is from Aimee Senott.
These 1939 Truck plates represent the S weight class and the T weight class. Click the link for additional details. These old truck plates are not nearly as common as Passenger plates. The S class plate photo was supplied by Bob Connison, while the T class came from Jim Moini.
1940 Trucks retained the same weight classes as the previous year, in these photos, an S-class and a T-class plate. These are the only photos I have of a '40 truck plate (and '39 above), so any additional images would be welcome. I do want to thank Jim Moini and Bob Connison for supplying me with many older truck plate photos, including these.
Again 1941 Truck plates and weight classes were similar to previous years, but now the plates have the expiration date embossed into the top border reading EXP. 3-31-42. Click the link to also see a Z class plate. The S and V class plates shown here are courtesy of Bob Connison.
Moving ahead to 1942 Trucks we have two R-class, a T-class and a U-class plate. The series, as in previous years, ran from R to Z for 2-axle trucks, and RZ to ZZ for 3-axle trucks. Note the U-class plate also has a 1943 validation tab attached. The first R-class is from Bob Connison, the next R-class from Jim Moini, the T-class plate image was provided by Bob Connison. The U-class photo came from Kelly Brewer.
Here's the latest Municipal Government plate, now in the K-series. This new format was first seen in February of this year. It appears that the change took place at M/G9000J. Wonder when we'll see this change trickle down to the Municipal Motorcycle plate? Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing this plate photo.
Here's a couple of fairly recent Truck plates. The one of the far left is a near-high and was provided by Steve Ondik. The photo on the near left would be the latest reported high and was taken by Bruce Bufalini. I'm wondering if the plates without the sticker well will have the small map symbol on Truck plates when they hit the street?
Here is a 1962 Motorboat sample plate — first one I've seen. Motorboat plates were issued from 1931 to 1963, with the MB designator used in later years sometimes being mistaken for Motorbike. Thanks to Rick Kretchmer for the plate image. Rick, a fellow member of ALPCA, has an excellent website covering Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia plates (http://www.ricksplates.com/) . Rick also conducts an ALPCA Regional Plate meet in Mount Airy, MD.
I have not done much with Bus plates for a while, but there's never a bad time to add more plate images. Anyway, Jim Moini passed along this low number 1955 Bus plate. The first character is the letter 'O'. The series started at O1, went to O9999, then OA000, etc.
If you look close at this 1915 plate, there is a gap between the left border and the plate legend. This gap was intended for an aluminum weight class band to be riveted to the top and the bottom of the plate; however, in this case the plate was assigned to a passenger vehicle, so no weight band was applied. The series ran from 20000 to 29999 was reserved for the truck series with space for the weight class band to the left of the legend. Too many plates were produced, so some plates from this series were issued to cars and did not have the weight strip attached. Thanks to Tim Gierschick for the plate photo.
This trio of 3-, 4- and 5-digit plates adds some variety to the 1st progression of 1931 Passenger plates. The two plates on the left are 6" by 10" shorties, while the 5-digit plate measures 6" by 12', all are thanks to Tim Gierschick.
Here are more '31 Passenger plate from a later series. The far left plate is from the 000A to 999Z9 series and the near left plate from 0000A to 9999Z series. This far left plate photo is thanks to Chuck Sakryd and the near left photo was provided by Jim Moini.
Next is this group of 1932 Passenger plates, starting with this 3-digit shortie measuring 6" by 10", followed by a 5-digit. These are both from the initial series of 1 to 99999. The final plate is from a later series of 00A to 99Z99. By 1932 these were over 1.4 million car registrations necessitating eight different serial formatting progressions. Thanks once again to Tim Gierschick for the 472 plate, and to Chuck Sakryd for the other two images.
Next in the lineup is this group of 1938 Passenger plates. With each succeeding year, there was a marked increase in the number of registrations. The challenge was to come up with enough serial combinations while being limited to 4 and 5 characters. The plate photo on the far left was taken at a car show. My guess is the owner registered the number as a vanity and then applied the sticker. The second plate is from Joe Bosche, the third plate is from Chuck Sakryd, next is from Runkle's Notary, and the final plate is unknown.
1939 Passenger plates were very similar to the '38 plates above except for the color reversal. Serial formatting appears to be the same with some nine different serial formats. Far left plate is courtesy of Chuck Sakryd, next plate is from Bill Ceravola, the center plate is from Runkle's Notary, the fourth photo is from America on Wheels Museum, and the final plate is from a car show.
These two 1937 Truck plates have been added to the matrix, including the R-series 6-character overflow plate which measures 6" by 15". The 6-character plates were issued after all of the authorized 5-character plates were issued in the R and S weight class. Most plates were 6" by 12" as seen in the S-series plate. These images are courtesy of Jim Moini.
For 1938 Trucks, the map base has been adopted, and the same weight classes of R to ZZ remain in effect; however, missing from the lineup are the 15-inch overflow plates being replaced by a new serial format — R00AA which fits the 12-inch base. The R, S and T class plates shown here are thanks to Bob Connison.
Tom Perri spotted this high serial number Flyers Wives Charity plate on the far left. Tom also points out that the plate legend changed from Flyers Wives Charities to the singular Flyers Wives Charity — compare both plates. In addition, the sticker well is no longer present and the small PA map outline, that was previously announced, will likely not be a part of organizational plates.
Here's a Conserve Wild Resources a/k/a an Otter plate in a vanity format. Vanities have been available for several years now but it appears that most drivers prefer the full-size plate photo on the standard issue over the much scaled down version shown here. Nick Tsilakis spotted this plate.
This very low number Gold Star Family plate was spotted recently by Jordan Irazabal. From the Gold Star Legacy website, "The term 'Gold Star' describes a family member who has lost a loved one in military service. The Gold Star signifies the family's pride in the loved one's sacrifice rather than the mourning of their personal loss." Sadly over 700 of these plates have been issued.
This personalized Vietnam War Veteran plate photo has been passed along by Steve Ondik. The first generation of these plates dates back to 1999, then they were redesigned in 2014 on the graphic base.
These three Passenger plates from 1927, 1928 and 1929 have been added to the plate galleries to show some additional variety. I had received these photos from Jim Moini a couple years ago. Jim has an amazing website, http://moini.net/, covering New Jersey plates, Apportioned plates from just about everywhere, license plates of Mexico, Truck & Trailer plates, and a great section on Corporate Fleet plates.
Thanks to Jim Moini for this 1931 Passenger plate from this 0000A to 9999Z serial grouping of plates. Some 7 different serial formatting groups were used to allow over 1.5 million passenger registrations while holding the plates to a maximum of 5 characters, and limiting the size 6" by 12".
Here's a nice group of original 1935 Passenger plates from the first serial progression going from 1 to 99999. Plates from 1 to 4 characters were 10-inches in width and 5-character plates were 12 inches. These plate photos were provided by Tim Gierschick.
This grouping of 1935 Passenger plates shows several serial formatting variations and both the 12-inch and 10-inch sizes. There are eight serial formatting variations. Click link above to see additional information on both serial formatting and sizes. Plate photos in order are courtesy of America on Wheels Museum, Jim Moini, John Willard & John Anshant, and the JH1 from Jeff Hinkle.
For 1936 Passenger plates there were some changes in serial formatting; however, the same two sizes of 10- and 12-inches continue unchanged. Plate credits, U481, Chuck Sakryd; 6B529, Joe Bosche; 2J236, Jim Moini; 94Y19, Runles Notary; 9581J, America on Wheels Museum.
1937 Passenger plates are marked with the addition of an embossed state map outline. Most other plate had the map added in 1938. 10- and 12-inch sizes continued to be used. The use of the small keystones was dropped until it reappeared briefly on a late run of plates — note the two plates on the right have the keystones which were used between the MC and PK series. Plate credits: 30250, Runkles Notary; 2G418 from a car show; 545A, unknown; 7MZ28, Christopher Zavatski; and 2PB08, Dave Lincoln.
A number of older Truck plates has been added to the mix including a 1915 3-Star, a 1918 3-Star with a C+4 digit serial, and a pair of 1919 2-Star plates with a C+4 digit serial numbers. Thanks to Jim Moini for sharing so many photos.
This is the first image on this website of a 1931 Truck plate. A quick look at the plate and it's easy to see why this plate would not easily be recognized as a truck plate. The S prefix, which is part of the R thru Z classes, might suggest truck but the lack of any legend might leave one wondering. Click the link above to see more on this tough plate year. This image is courtesy of Jim Moini.
This U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc. plate photo has been added to the Fraternal, Non-Profit and Misc. Organizational Plates page. While the plate is military-related, it is not considered a veterans plate. These plates have been around since 2005 with a reported high of 00144S/V according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists). Thanks to Jeff Lawson for the photo.
Here is a nice 1921 Passenger 4-digit plate. Mike at PL8 SOURCE was kind enough to let me use some of his sale plates. This plate helps to fill a gap between a 2-digit and 6-digit plates. There were 4 plate sizes used that year, this one measures 6" by 12". There were two larger sizes and one smaller.
The photo gallery now shows two examples of 6-digit 1924 Passenger plates. The earlier one, 398-516, has strap slots and bolt holes, the plate shown here has bolt holes only, but no slots. 5-digit plates were also known to have been made both with and without slots. Thanks to Mike at PL8 SOURCE for the use of the image.
Here is a partial run of 1932 Passenger plates. After 1924 alpha-numeric plates were needed due to the increase in registrations. This, combined with the elimination of plates wider than 12 inches for passenger use, limited plates to 5 characters, and made for quite a letter and number combinations. Pictured above are 6 of the 8 different plate formats. Credit for the images: 1779, Sweigart Museum via Eric Conner; R5653, Bob Connison; 8P, Jeff Hinkle; 63A78, Joe Bosche; 2051H, John Willard; PM88, Runkle's Notary; VZ779, America on Wheels.
These 1933 Passenger plates represent several of the formats used that year. Again 1 to 4 character plates measure 6" x 10", and 5 character plates are 6" x 12". Note that the N6246 plate has the legend reversed. Click the link above to see more of serial formatting. Plates shown, H1057 belongs to John Willard, 3V156 is from Joe Bosche, the 6V360 was photographed at America on Wheels, and finally the YR plate is from Sarge at Klassy K.arz.
This 1933 plate was an experimental or test plate, made of aluminum with a reflective year tab riveted to the plate. The color is burnt orange or copper, while the embossed features are not painted. The reverse is also painted orange. The tab appears to contain the year, 33, and a serial number A25369. Plate measures 6" x 10". The concept of a replaceable feature to revalidate the plate, in this case a reflective tab, was about 25 years ahead of it's time. To me the average driver would encounter issues dealing with replacing a tab riveted to the plate, if that was the idea. This plate was provided by John Lemons.
Next is this group of 1934 Passenger plates represents several different serial number formats in both the 10-inch and 12-inch widths. In 1934 there were some 1,700,000 passenger registrations. This serial numbering system would have presented a challenge with a maximum of 5 spaces available. Click the link above for a listing of the various alpha-numeric progressions. Plates shown in order are courtesy of America on Wheels, Runkles Notary, unknown, and Joe Bosche.
This is a 1926 R-Class truck plate with the R weight class designator in the suffix position. This was the result of R class plates running out of numbers where the R was in the prefix position. Once plates reached R99-999 additional R class plates used the suffix position. This plate is courtesy of Mike at PL8 SOURCE.
Here is an R-Class 1935 Truck plate — the R-Class being the lightest weight and most common plate. Like the 1932 to 1934 plates the same truck classes were in use from R to Z for 2-axle and ZR to ZZ for 3-axle, skipping the X series. Almost all truck plates were 6" by 12"; however, it appears that the R-series ran out of 5-character combinations toward the end of the run and went to 6-character, R00-00A serial format measuring 6" by 15". The plate shown here is courtesy of Bob Connison.
This grouping of 1936 Truck plates shows two R weight class plates, one with the second alpha character in the 4th position and the other in the 3rd position. The other is a T weight class plate with the second alpha character in the 4th position. Click the link above for more detail on plate serial formatting. The 1st and 3rd plates shown hear are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd; the 2nd plate is from Bob Connison.
The final run this week consists of these 1937 Truck plates. Four classes are shown here beginning with R, the lightest weight, then S, T and U as the weight classes progressed higher. All truck plates had a second alpha character in addition to the weight class. 1937 was also the beginning of the familiar map outline, but it was only used on Passenger and Official plates that first year. The R- and S-class photos are from Bob Connison, the T-class is from Chuck Sakryd, and the U-class is unknown.
Spotted this newly issued Passenger Vanity with map outline, and without the sticker well. This revised base should be showing up in the not too distant future on passenger and other plate types.
It appears that the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables now has, or is about to have 1 active plate. With only a single plate, confirmation of this information is difficult.
This may not look like anything special, but this is the only first-generation Commercial Implement of Husbandry plate to be photo-documented. And that is not from a lack of trying. A little history might be helpful. Yellow-on-blue Commercial Implement plates were first released in 1997, then in September of 1999 they were reissued on the www base. It is not known how many were issued but this plate suggests a few hundred. Also, they were only issued for about two years before being replaced. It is my understanding that originally the non-commercial Implement of Husbandry plates, which go back to about 1984, were issued to both non-commercial and commercial vehicles, then in 1997 commercial vehicles were split off and issued tags as shown here. This plate was on a recent ebay auction and the owner, Tighe N., gave me the OK to use the photo.
This 1914 porcelain plate was produced a part of a number block of plates from 20000 to 39000 destined to be used for truck plates; however, the demand for truck plates did not meet expectations, so some of that block were registered to passenger vehicles. 1914 truck plates would have had a vertical aluminum weight band or strip on the left side of the plate between the border and the legend. The small mounting holes are visible especially on the full size image. This plate was also on eBay recently the owner, old2new4u gave me the OK to use it.
This 6-character alpha-numeric plate has been added to the 1926 Passenger display. The plate series ran from 1 to 999-999, then moved to a leading letter format starting with A, A1, A2 etc. This plate measures 6" by 15" and the photo was taken at Runkles Notary in Hanover, PA.
Here is a B-series alpha-numeric format 1927 Passenger plate. The initial run was all-numeric, then after reaching 999-999, an alpha-numeric plate run followed the same format as the '26 plate shown above. This photo was taken at the State Museum in Harrisburg.
This is a pair of 1929 'shorty' passenger plates. The 76 plate would have been 76th plate issued in the passenger series that extended to 999-999. After reaching that point, the series began with A, A1, up to A99-999 and eventually to the F series and this F-28 plate. Plate size depended on the number of characters with up to four using 6" by 10", 5 character were 6" by 13" and 6 character were 6" by 15". The 76 plate is from Tim Gierschick and the F-28 is thanks to Ned Flynn.
These plates have been added to the 1930 Passenger display. While these plates may appear to in random order, they actually follow a newly established order that the serial numbering system followed for 1930. Apparently there was a goal to eliminate the use of 15" plates limiting sizes to 6" by 10" and 6" by 12", but in order to do this plate serials had to be limited to 5 characters. Click the link above to see the progression of alpha-numeric combinations. Plate credit: C1, Jeff Hinkle; N6708, Joe Bosche; 1B1, unknown; 8F630, AACA Museum; 27Z24, America on Wheels; FL1, Nick Smith.
This group of 1931 Passenger plates has been added to the plate photo gallery. In an effort to limit the size (width) of passenger plates to a maximum of 12" required limiting the plates to 5 characters. As a result a number of permutations and combinations of numbers and letters were used. Note the 4-character plates shown above are 6" by 10". Click the link to see the list of formats. Plates shown above: 9006, unknown source; J506, America on Wheels; S9441, Joe Bosche; 715U, Runkle's Notary, FL1, Nick Smith; LB65, Fred Carlton.
On the far left is an photo of an Allentown Fair truck back in the day with a 1929 U-class tag, U11-962, click photo to enlarge. Also shown is this pair of R-Class 1929 Truck plate photos. There was no plate legend at the time to identify these as truck plates, just the letter prefix. R-Class is the lightest weight class and the most common plate. As can be seen these plates are different lengths depending on the number of characters in the serial number. These are 6" by 13" and 6" by 15" respectively. There was also a 6" by 10" for 2, 3 and 4 character plates.
Truck plates during the early 1930s are tough finds. Before 1934 they are missing any kind of identifying legend. In addition some passenger plates at the time can be confused with, and easily misidentified as truck plates. If anyone has truck plates for this period that they would be willing to share photos of, it would be appreciated. Take a look at the formatting of the 1931 thru 1933 truck plates for more information. THANKS!
In legislative news, House Bill 215, which would create a special registration plate honoring women veterans, and also a plate for recipients of the Legion of Merit, has received final passage by the House on 3/21/17. The Bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
We lead off this week with two great shots of fire company plates. This image is of a #3 Friendship Fire Company of Bressler plate. This is also the first plate to be photographed, and it's all thanks to Tom Perri. Tom runs the PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists), which tracks high numbers of every current type of plate issued in PA. This fire company currently has about 9 plates on the road. Plates were first issued around mid-December 2016.
This next plate, also from Tom Perri, and also a perfect shot, is this Rescue Hose Company No. 1. These plates have been around since about July of 2016. They currently have about 40 plates in use. Thanks Tom for sharing these outstanding photos.
It appears that the number of new organizations seeking their own license plate is slowing down. At the same time the number of organizational members applying for vanity plates has increased. The St. Charles Borromeo Seminary only has about a dozen standard-issue organizational plates out there — many of these remaining inside the confines of a secure facility. For the purpose of categorizing this plate type, it has been listed with other educational or college plates. This image was provided by Colin M.
The Disabled Veteran and Severely Disabled Veteran series have become popular as vanities. The DV- is required. This plate might represent Operation Enduring Freedom 2010. In my opinion this series is also popular due to the fact that they are not part of the family of plates. As I recall this is due to the legislation which sponsored these plates which also spelled out what the plate would look like. This image was provided by Steve Ondik.
This low number 1919 Passenger plate is a bit of a mystery. The plate was up for auction on eBay recently and the owner, Kettering Enterprises, gave me the OK to use the image. It was part of an estate sale so no further information was available. The plate is the expected 6 inches high but only 8 inches wide. The normal small version was 6" by 10". The plate does not appear to have been altered based on several other photos.
This three-digit shorty on the far left and this 6-character alpha-numeric 1925 Passenger plates make a nice addition to that year's display. The alpha-numeric plate also seems to use a narrower font than others of the same year. These plates are thanks to Tim Gierschick. Click the link to see more.
The far left 1926 #25 plate has a unique history. Not only is it a nice low number, but it was part of the Good Roads campaign which was a North American initiative to improve road travel nationwide at the time. Roads at the time were largely dirt on a good day, and mud the rest of the time. The number 25 plate was issued in almost every state, possession and Canadian Provinces as a symbol of this effort. Thanks Tim Gierschick for sharing this photograph.
These next two 1926 plates show a 5-digit format and a 6-digit format. These plates measure 6" by 13" and 6" by 15" respectively. The 5-digit picture is from Tim Gierschick and a 6-digit format was taken at a show in Bellefonte.
Next we move forward to 1927 Passenger plates. The plates shown here show the three lengths as the number of characters increase. The shortest length was used for 1, 2, 3 and 4 digit numbers as well as shorter alpha-numeric plates. The first two plates above are courtesy of Tim Gierschick.
Here are several nice additions to the 1928 Passenger group, beginning with Tim Gierschick's 76 shorty, then a pair of 4-digit shorties, all three of which measure 6" by 10". The final two plate are from Tim. The 6476 plate is thanks to Chuck Sakryd. Anyone have an alpha prefix plate they would be willing to share? Beginning in 1924, and each succeeding year, saw an increase in the number of letter prefix plates with 1928 advancing into the 'E' series.
Moving on to truck plates. Again 1926 Truck plates have no legend indicating what they are. In this case the R prefix is the indicator. The series ran from R to Z and excluded X which was used for Dealer tags. The R thru Z letters designated truck weight classes. With R being the lightest class, it also had the most trucks causing the numeric progression to exceed R99-999. Then the R designator was plated in the suffix position. Plate length also varied according to the length of the serial number. This photo is thanks to Bob Connison.
For 1927 Truck plates we have a similar mixture of truck weight classes and plate sizes. Shown here on the far left is a low number, 6" by 10" R-class 'shorty' from Tim Gierschick. Next in line is a 6-character, 6" by 15", also R-class, full size plate from Bob Connison. There was also a mid-size plate measuring 6" by 13" for 5-character plates. Again for 1927 there were also R-class overflow plates with the 'R' in the suffix position. Also notice that beginning in 1927, the letter size was smaller than the numbers.
Here is a 1928 Truck R-class plate. Again the classes went from R to Z skipping X, and also used three plate widths depending on the number of characters. Like the previous few years, 1928 also had R-class overflow plates where the R was in the final position. This plate was provided by Bob Connison.
This Antique Vehicle vanity was recently snapped by Brendan Sherry. Vanities seem particularly attractive to antique vehicle owners.
Here's a new high Official Use plate also photographed by Jordan. This is the first one photographed with the B-suffix. Soon we should be seeing the new version of this plate in the 'family of plates' edition.
This is the latest high University of Pittsburgh plate. The current graphic format dates back to mid-2016, while several previous evolutions date back to 1988. This plate image is courtesy of Brendan Sherry.
This nice 4-digit 1908 porcelain tag has been added to the plate gallery thanks to Drew Steitz. With the addition of this plate, there is now an example of all four plate sizes used that year.
This brown on cream 1922 'shorty' passenger plate was provided by Tim Gierschick, and makes a nice addition. Beginning in 1920 there was a shift in plate formatting which continued thru most of the 20s, with only minor changes to the plate design except for the color.
This 1923 Passenger 'shorty' has been added to last weeks posting of a 5-digit and a 6-digit plate. Yes, it's a tough year for paint. This plate is thanks to Tim Gierschick. Click the link above to see additional details.
Here is an almost complete display of the
1924 Passenger plate
series. A couple features are worth pointing out — of the two 5-digit
plates, one has strap slots and bolt holes while the other has bolt holes only.
I use the term strap slots to describe the wide openings, as many vehicles at
the time mounted plates with leather straps. The first three plates are
courtesy of Tim Gierschick. The 6-digit plate photo is from the America on
Wheels Museum. It is my understanding that 1-000-000 plate was
commemorative plate to mark the one-millionth registration which first occurred
This is a close-up of the upper right corner of the #3 plate above. Note that the bolt hole area is pre-punched or scribed to allow a strap slot.
1925 Passenger plates had much in common with their 1924 counterpart. Four different plate widths were used, three of which are shown here. The plates progressed from single digits up to 999-999, then moved to the alpha-numeric format beginning with A-1 and extending beyond B57-000. The 7-067 is courtesy of Drew Steitz, the 32-957 plate is thenks to Jeff Hinkle. Anyone have a 1, 2 or 3 digit, or an A or B prefix plate they would be willing to share?
Again for 1923 Truck plates are all believed to be 6" by 16". This is due to the very long legend of PENNA COMMERCIAL 1923. The plates shown here are from Bob Connison on the far left and Clayton Moore on the near left.
This is a 1924 Truck plate, and for the first time truck weight classes were designated with letter prefixes. These is no legend designating truck plates, only the alpha-numeric series described here. The series started at R for the lightest weight and ran to Z for the heaviest, of course excluding X which was reserved for the Dealer series. The series for example would start at R1 and went to R9999, once reached there was an overflow series with the R in the suffix position.
The final round for this week covers 1925 Truck plates. In 1924 truck plates began to use the familiar R to Z prefixes to designate truck weight classes, and as seen here the practice continued into 1925. The R series for the lightest weight class would have started at R1 and advanced to R99-999. Once the series was full, the R was placed in the final position as seen on the 25-41R above. This was only needed for R-class trucks. The R5679 plate was photographed at the America on Wheels Museum, while the other two plate photos are thanks to Bob Connison.
Here's the first image of a Commonwealth Constables Association plate. These were considered active plates late last September; however, this plate was just received by a friend of Bill Ceravola who provided the photo. Note this plate has no sticker well.
Spotted this personalized International Association of Fire Fighters plate. The plate appears to reference IAFF Local 302 but the plate actually says 3O2, with the letter 'O'.
No special reason for posting these Porsche Club of America plates, mainly to add some photo-variety. This club got their plate program off the ground in 2002, so there are no earlier yellow on blue plates. So far there has been no switch to the visitPA / graphic base. The P/C00580 photo was taken by Jordan Irazabal.
These three Motorbike plates have been added to the mix starting with this 3-digit 1944 plate, followed by a 1948 and 1949. Dave Lincoln was kind enough to send me these. They are also on eBay. Motorbike plates have kind of a limited history running from 1920 to 1949. It seems that plates from the 20s and thru most of the 30s are very rare.
Here's another gem from Dave Lincoln — a 3-digit 1954 Motorcycle plate. It's also available on eBay.
Here's a very nice 3-digit 1908 porcelain plate from Tim Geirschick. These 3-character plates measure 6½" x 7, and is one of four sizes issued that year.
Next in ascending order is this pair of 1914 porcelains. They measure 6" by 12" for the 4692 plate and 6" by 13" for the other. This 4692 plate was photographed Runkle's Notary in Hanover, PA, and the other at the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown, PA. There were as many as seven sizes and configurations of plates for 1914. Several sizes are still needed. Click the link above to see more detail.
This nice 4-digit 1919 Passenger plate has been added to the display which now shows plates from that year starting from 2 digits and going to 6 digits. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the photo. The 1919 number 1 plate can also be seen in the Governor's Plate page.
These are the first 1920 Passenger on this site and we begin with a run of all four sizes of plates. The sizes ranged from 6" by 10" for 1 to 3 digits, and up to 6" by 16" for 6-digit plates. These plates in the order shown are thanks to Jeff Hinkle, Tim Gierschick, the State Museum and Drew Steitz.
For 1921 Passenger we have this '17 shorty' (6" by 10") from Tim Gierschick. And like the 1920 plates above there were four sizes including this 6" by 16" for 6-digit plates shown here. That photo was taken at the America On Wheels Museum. Over 630,00 passenger plates were issued in 1921.
Here is a nice 5-digit 1922 Passenger plate from Runkle's Notary and a 6-digit from Jeff Hinkle. Paint was not good in the early '20s so many plates have been refinished. I have also reconfigured the formatting groups and have reduced the groups from 6 to 4. These formats (Format 1, 2, 3 etc.) are somewhat arbitrary groupings of plates usually based on plate size, legend variations and/or serial number ranges. They are not official in any manner. Note the different placement of the dash separators on these two plates. Some are high-centered. This is seen on some 1922 and '23 plates.
1923 Passenger plates ranged from plate #2 to over 985-000. These were produced in five different widths depending on the number of digits; however, the final round of plates may have used a slightly different die allowing the plates to be 1 inch narrower. The source of the 298 plate shown here is unknown. If this is your plate, please let me know. That plate measures 6" by 10". The other two plates are formatted the same and are 6" by 16". The 379-615 plate is from America on Wheels, while the 622-977 picture was taken at Runkle's Notary.
This 1918 3-star truck plate was provided by Bob Connison. The colors were white on black, the 3 stars designated the weight class in a system of 1 to 5, with 5 being the heaviest. As pointed out last week, the S prefix used on 1917 trucks has been replaced with a C. The plate shown here is 6" by 16", however, shorter plates were produced for shorter numbers. Click link above for more details.
1919 Truck plates saw the continuation of the C prefix. These two plates have been added to the image gallery. The far left is a 2-star weight class, while the higher number plate is a 3-star weight class, both are from Jeff Hinkle. These plates measure 6" by 16"; however, there were shorter plates for shorter serial numbers. In general lower weight classes had lower numbers, but this was not always the case.
During the teens and early 20s the Bureau of Motor Vehicles appeared to be struggling with how to best format plates. Previously we had truck plates with weight class stars, the maker's number on the keystone, then came a C or S prefix, now the stars, letter prefixes and large keystones are gone, and along comes plates with COMMERCIAL and also had a top and bottom legend with no discernable weight class. This 1920 Truck plate is from Bob Connison. This plate measures 7" by 13½". The use of both a top and bottom legend forced the plates to go from 6" to 7". There were also 7" by 12" plates with shorter serial numbers, and 6" by 16" for 6-digit plates which allowed for all of the legend to be placed along the bottom and making the 6" height possible.
The early '20s was a tough time for paint — it just didn't hold up. As a result some plates were refinished, while many prefer the original look. Anyway, this 1921 COMMERCIAL (truck) was provided by Bob Connison. All truck plates for that year had the full legend spelled out across the bottom of the plate resulting in all plates, even those with short numbers, being 6" by 16".
For 1922, Truck plates were brown on cream. Their formatting was much the same as the previous year with the full legend spelled out across the bottom of the plate, thus retaining the 6" by 16" dimensions from the previous year. Unfortunately there just aren't a lot of plates surviving from the early '20s to provide numerous examples. Thanks to Bob Connison for this plate and his help with early truck plates.
We knew the revamped Street Rod plate was coming, but this "Family of Plates" initiative, where every PA plate looks like every other plate, is surely disappointing, not only to me as a PA plate enthusiast, but to many others as well. The new series began at 7000S/R. This plate still has the sticker well. Thanks to Bill Ceravola for the photo.
Ryan Battin spotted this Gwynedd-Mercy College plate on the far left sporting a newly revised graphic. The near left plate is shown for comparison. It is not known if all plates are being replaced or if it up to the individual.
This new high Bus plate was recently spotted by Bill Stephens. New plate, still showing the sticker well and no tiny map.
It's sad that at least 688 family members display this license plate as a reminder of such a sacrifice. This new high Gold Star Family was spotted by Steve Ondik.
This 1953 Motorboat License is an example of the only year for which steel plates and fiberboard plates were issued. It was assumed that the fiberboard plates started at 10000. Now we know that it was somewhere below that point. Thanks to Bob Connison for the update.
This 1927 Dealer plate was photographed at America On Wheels, an over-the-road transportation museum in Allentown, PA. It was part of a plate display listed as being from Kyle Gross. The 'X' identifies the it as a Dealer plate. This plate measures 6" by 13" and was added to a couple other 27 Dealer plates measuring 6" by 15" due to a longer serial number.
These are 1904 Pre-State plates that were issued by the City of Philadelphia. They are white on black porcelain and measure 4 inches by 7 inches. The far left plate is from the Swiegart Museum in Huntingdon, PA, and was photographed by Eric Conner, and the near left photo was taken at the State Museum in Harrisburg.
I don't know if this will preview correctly on different screens, resolutions and operating systems, but I could not resist showcasing all of these early number 49 plates of Tim Gierschick's. Some of these were from last week and some are new this week, see more below.
The far left 1915 Passenger plate was on display at the State Museum in Harrisburg. Sorry, it's not a good photo. The near left plate belonged to John Anshant & John Willard and was seen at a recent event in Bellefonte, PA. These plate photos have been added to the mix of plate sizes. 1915 is a very complex and confusing year with raised and sunken characters, plates with and without a period after PENNA, six or seven sizes, even some truck plates used on cars.
Next in the lineup is this grouping of 1916 Passenger plates. For 1916 the number of plate sizes was reduced to three. The 49 plate from Tim Gierschick shows the shorty length at 6" by 11" for 1 to 3-digit plates. The other plate photos are both 6" by 16" plates even though one is 5-digit and the other is 6-digit. plates. The 5-digit plate was provided thanks to Jeff Hinkle, while the 6-digit was on display at America on Wheels.
Here is very nice run of 1917 Passenger plates showing four different lengths. The 49 and the 140 plate are the same size at 6" by 11". The 49 is Tim Gierschick's, the 140 is Jeff Hinkle's, as is the next larger 1421 plate at 6" by 13½". The 19642 was photographed at the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown, PA, and measures 14". Finally the longest plate of the series belongs to Jeff Hinkle and is 16" across.
For 1918 Passenger plates we're back to 3 sizes and serial number starting at 1 for the Governor and going over 367 thousand. With each year there is a marked increase in registrations. The 93 plate photo is from Tim Gierschick. The 440 plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant. The 60656 came from the State Museum and the final plate from America on Wheels.
Here's the last of the 49-ers. This grouping shows all three plate widths for 1919 Passenger plates and the legend has been moved to the right. The first three plates are the same size at 6" x 10", the 93063 plate is 6" x 13½", and 394114 measures 6" x 16". The 49 is from Tim Gierschick, the 140 & 503 belonged to John Willard and John Anshant, the 93063 was photographed at the State Museum, and biggest plate was photographed at the America on Wheels Museum.
A 1965 - '70 Passenger vanity with all letters? I don't think so. I remember there was a section in the Bulletin Almanac dealing with vehicle registrations way back before all letter vanities were permitted that said radio and TV stations were eligible to have their call sign on a license plate — not the same as amateur radio. Anyway WHLM is a radio station in Bloomsburg, PA. One of the early principals of the station was Harry L. Magee, a well known businessman in that part of the state, got his initials as the FCC call sign.
Last week I posted a single star weight class 1916 Truck, this week thanks to Bob Connison, this 3-star plate is being added. It's still in the 20000 to 29999 range. Please click the link above or see last weeks' description for more details.
Here's a nice pair of 1917 Truck plates from Jeff Hinkle on the far left and Bob Connison on the near left. Note the layout is very similar to the 1916 Truck plate above. One notable change from 1916 is the S prefix. This did not denote the weight class since all 1917 Truck plates had an S. These plates were white on brown, the S757 has a single star for the weight class while the other plate has three stars. The single star plate has PENNA over the keystone over 1917, the 3-star has PA in place of PENNA and 17 in place of 1917. I can't say where this change took place, PENNA and 1917 were used on lower number plates, while PA & 17 were used on higher plates.
1918 Truck plates again are similar to the '17 plates, but with a few changes. Plates are now white on black. Gone is PENNA replaced by PA over the keystone, and the four digit year is now just 18. These changes were seen in the later 1917 plates. Another difference the S prefix has been replaced with a C. Generally higher numbered plates had more stars, but not always. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for the plate photo.
PA has given its Official Use plates a facelift, or in their words bringing them into the "Family of Plates". The plate on the left would be for passenger vehicles, where plates are issued in pairs, the other plate is for commercial vehicles or trucks where a single plate is issued. The formatting appears just the opposite of current plates. State agencies will have the option of using their own logo in place of the coat of arms shown here. That should be interesting with 14 universities, and numerous state government agencies.
Ryan Battin snapped this photo of the latest Antique Vehicle plate. This plate still has the sticker well and has not moved to the redesigned base with the small map outline.
Matt Z. passes along this Honoring Our Veterans plate photo. This is part of the Special Fund plate group which means that a portion of the fee goes to benefit the Veterans' Trust Fund. This plate is also the new high for this plate type. This plate is also available in a motorcycle version.
From W. Young comes this Harley Owner Group plate. This organization has had plates since 2004, then some, but not all, plate holders switched to the newer graphic style which was first available in 2006. Today the reported high according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists) is H/D01864.
Here is the first image on this site of a 'reverse order' House of Representatives / Legislator plate on the 1971 to '76 base with this one wearing 75 and 76 stickers. The photo was provided by Matt Boyer, who suggests that if the number correlates to the district, this tag would have belonged to Benjamin H. Wilson who held the seat in Bucks County from 1969 until he died in office in 1988.
Last week we had several very nice 1940s to 1950 Motorcycle Dealer plates from Dave Lincoln. This week's catch is a little newer, with these 1964 and '66 Motorcycle Dealer very low number gems, also thanks to Dave. These were recently auctioned on eBay.
My attempt to put together pages showing the history of Passenger and Truck plates has blossomed into a monumental effort, but thanks to a number of friends and supporters steady progress is being made. Thanks to all who have had a hand in this, couldn't do it alone. And hey, it's also been fun.
Tim Gierschick has shared a number of porcelains. Look at this amazing trio of number 49 plates from 1912, 1913 and 1914, here and below. I have a copy of the page from the 1912 registration book from the State Highway Department which I shared with Tim. It gives the name and address of the person to whom the plate was originally issued. It's likely that the 1913 and '14 plates went to the same person as the Maker's Number is the same on all three plates. The center plate above is also from Tim, while the highest number plate belonged to John Willard and John Anshant. Note the progression of sizes.
The 1913 plate, except for the color is very similar to the 1912 above and 1914 below. Again this fine plate is from Tim Gierschick.
These 1914 Passenger plates show two formats. The two larger plates are the same size at 6" by 14", but there are actually three sizes in between the 49 (6" by 8") and the other two, and there is one size larger. Click the link above for a better description of sizes and serial numbers. The 49 comes from Tim Gierschick, while the center plate was from eBayer ouily2013, and the right hand plate was courtesy of John Willard and John Anshant.
Here's a group 1958 to 64 Passenger plates. Each plate shows a different alpha-numeric format. This is the first year for multi-year plates aside from the 1942-43 thing. The original plan was to issue metal tabs for placement over the 58, thus early plates were issued with tab slots. Instead validation stickers were issued. The first two plates are courtesy of Drew Steitz, while the 3rd and 4th plates are my own.
This is a 1915 Truck plate. Truck plates at the time were similar to car plates with the addition of a weight class strip riveted to the left side of the plate, thus making the plate wider at 6" by 15¼". The weight strip could have 1 to 5 stars depicting the weight class. This is not a great image — hard to read the weight class. I got it many years ago from Kelly Brewer and have been unsuccessful in contacting him. Anyone know how to reach him?
For 1916 porcelain was gone, being replaced by embossed steel as on this Truck plate. The formatting was much the same but now the weight class was embossed into the plate and the maker's number was stamped into the keystone. An aluminum keystone maker's number was only issued if the plate was transferred to another truck, and a weight class strip could be issued for a weight class change. Truck plates were generally in the 20000 series; however, some truck plates were issued outside that series. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for this image. I just received a number of great images from Jeff which will find their way onto this site over the next several weeks.
Here's a 1922 Truck plate from Kelly Brewer. From 1920 thru 1923 truck plates were branded Commercial and for 1921 thru '23 they had PENNA then COMMERCIAL and the 4-digit year along the bottom. All this verbiage necessitated making the plates 16 inches long even for relatively short serial numbers as seen here. Gone are the weight class stars and the connection between plate serial number and weight class may be related to the first digit in the serial number. The serial number can have 1 to 3 digits in the first grouping, then a dash or a space, then the second grouping which can have up to 3 digits.
This 1928 Truck S-47 could leave you scratching your head. By 1924 the use of the term Commercial was gone with no plate legend replacing it until 1934. At the same time PA began showing truck weight classes of R thru Z in the prefix position. It is believed that as some of the lighter weight prefix series ran out of numbers, then some plates were issued with the class letter in the suffix position. This S-class, shown here, started at S-1, with this being the 47th in that series. Also the numbers of characters allows this plate to be 6" by 10". There were also 6" by 13" for 5 character and 6" by 15" for 6 character plates. Thanks to Jeff Hinkle for this image which was part of a very nice plate pair.
We move ahead to 1945 Trucks with this group of plates. This group shows four of the weight classes as designated by the first letter. All plates were 5 characters. Classes run from R to Z, and then TZ to ZZ for larger classes — no X class as they were reserved for dealer plates. These photos are thanks to Bob Connison.
The final plate for the week is this 1948 Truck. Again all plates were 5 characters in length with the first letter or first two letters designating the weight class. All plates measured 6" by 11". Plates were not standardized until 1956 when 6" by 12" was required for full size plates.
Alvernia University, Reading, PA, is the latest organization to start a license plate program. No plates are in use at this time.
This Honoring Our Veterans personalized plate was provided by W. Young. This plate is part of the Special Fund plate group. With the vehicle code now permitting vanity plates, these are becoming more common. There are currently over 2000 regular issue Honoring Our veterans plates in use. The plates are also available in a Motorcycle version.
Arthur Levine spotted this U.S. Army Veteran personalized plate. These, like the plate above, are popular with those who want more than a serial number on a plate.
Whenever a plate goes thru a transition, such as these Expeditionary Forces Veteran plates, marking the transition point is always a goal. Based on these plate photos from Tom Perri, it appears that the change likely occurred at E/F2000 This change was not recent, and actually dates back to march of 2014.
Concerning Disabled Veteran plates, for a while now we've been seeing DV- vanity plates where the DV- was flat screened. Recently Nick Tsilakis spotted DV-37007 with the DV- now flat screened. Disabled Veteran plates in the previous DV-36000 series were still completely embossed. This is not to be confused with Severely Disabled Veteran that uses the wheelchair symbol and stacked D/V.
These Motorcycle Dealer plates are courtesy of Dave Lincoln. These and a couple others are also currently on eBay till around 8PM eastern time today 2/19. Anyway, the 1940 MCD plate is in addition to a 2-digit plate previously posted. The 1946 MCD is the first such plate of that year on this site — a welcome addition. And the 1950 MCD is also in addition to a 2-digit plate previously posted. Check back next week for more MCD plates.
These 1910 porcelain plate photos were taken at the Antique Automobile Club of America or AACA Museum in Hershey, PA. For 1910 there were some 33,000 plates issued. The far left plate is in the 10000 to 19999 series and therefore measures 6" by 13", while the near left plate is in the 20000 and above group and measures 6" by 14". The difference being the space required for the 1 is less than that required for plates beginning with a 2 or 3. The end result was 5 different plate widths that year.
For 1911 there were some 43-thousand plates issued. Like the plates above, there were 5 different plate sizes depending on the number of digits and if there was a leading 1 on 5-digit plates. Click the link for a more detailed description. The 6666 plate is from the Sweigart Museum and was provided by Eric Conner. The 37650 plate was from Tim Gierschick. This plate also has beveled edges. This feature seemed to be common on higher numbered plates and some replacement plates.
Here's a group of all sizes of 1929 Passenger plates. Three sizes were used depending on the number of characters, and ranged from 6" by 10" to 6" by 15". The plates shown here are in the order in which they were issued. Click the link above for more information. The first plate is from, AACA; next is Joe Bosche; the C-1 is Jeff Hinkle, and the last is a photo I snapped.
Next up a number of truck plates starting with this 1914 Truck 3 star. 1914 was the first year for truck plates, and while they looked similar to passenger plates, except for the aluminum band to the left end of the plate. Plate size is 6" by 15¼". This particular band or strip has 3 stars which is the weight designation of this truck. The strip could have 1 to 5 stars. These plates in the 20000 range were also issued to solid rubber tire passenger vehicles. Apparently too many plates were produced and some were issued to cars without the weight strip but with the gap on the left side of the plate.
Next is this Z-series 1957 Truck plate. 1957 saw the start of 6 character plates after many years of plates being only 5 characters. To accomplish this the east and west map borders were pulled back to allow more space. In addition a new font was used with thinner characters. The formatting consisted of one and two-letter prefixes indicating the weight class and number of axles. My listing of weight classes has not been confirmed. This was also the final year for single-year plates. This is a John Willard plate.
In 1958, truck and other plates began a multiyear run to 1963. All plates, regardless of when issued, had 58 embossed in the upper right corner. Early plates also came thru with a rectangular tab slot to the left of the 58. Tabs were never issued, instead annual renewal stickers were issued to be placed in the upper left corner. Later plates had no tab slot. Also note the use of a small keystone separator between the 3rd and 4th characters. Above we have an R-class with the slot and one without. Note the R-series plate progression is R00-00A, then R00-0A0, and finally R00-A00 as the final letter moves left. Note also the heavier weight class ZZ and ZX plates. I believe the ZZ is a 3-axle truck and ZX is a 4-axle truck. The first 3 plates are courtesy of Chuck Sakryd, while the remaining two are from John Willard.
Here are three 1964 R-Class truck multi-year plates showing all three alpha-numeric progressions. A Class R is the lightest weight 2-axle truck. Remember the R is a non-advancing character while the final alpha character starts in the 6th position, and as the series fills it moves to the 5th position and finally to the 4th position. The first and the third plates are from Chuck Sakryd, the center plate is from Jeff Lawson.
Just to add a few more 1964 truck classes, here are Classes S, T, and V, each licensing a heavier weight vehicle. These are all Chuck Sakryd plates.
For 1968 to '71 Truck plates took on a new appearance, a new name, COMMERCIAL and PENNSYLVANIA fully spelled out. We also have the addition of an outlined box for the renewal sticker. For now lets limit the discussion to the far left plate only. Early plates had 68 etched into the sticker well. A completely new plate coding system is also evident with CA-10000 as the starting point, and unlike the past, the plate display had nothing to do with vehicle weight. The 'C' at the start of the serial number was a non-advancing character. The second character, always a letter, advances after the 5-digit number reaches 99999. The cneter plate with BC-54870 is an error plate with the CB reversed. That plate is from Clayton Moore. The CA0 000 is a test plate. Originally it had a decal of the outline of a large keystone in the center.
Municipal Government plates, such as the one on the far left, have received a major facelift as seen on the two plates in the center. The older plates are still valid and can continue to be used. The new plate pictures were provided by Bill Houser. The small plate on the right side a a prototype of the revised Municipal Government Motorcycle plate.
Not an easy plate to spot, but Tom Perri snapped this # 13 Cumberland Valley Corvette Club. This is also the first picture taken of this this plate type. The club has about 23 plates on the road, and they have been in use since around March of 2016.
The Silver Star plate on the far left was photographed by Tom Perri, I snapped the Bronze Star image. For those not familiar: The Silver Star Medal, is the U.S. military's third-highest decoration for valor in combat, and is awarded primarily for gallantry in action against an enemy of the U.S. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone. There are some 542 Bronze Star plates in use and only about 42 Silver Star plates. Note, there is also a Bronze Star for Valor medal and license plate.
This Disabled Veteran vanity plate was spotted recently in traffic. Not sure why the DV is on the plate twice, but my guess is that the owner wanted DV718 as the entire serial number, but since the DV is a 'required' part of the vanity, it's there twice. Also note that the two DVs are different sizes. The first DV is screened, while the second DV is embossed.
This Dealer vanity plate was spotted by Nick Tsilakis. Click the link to see a couple others. It appears that all of the dealer types allow personalized plates, but so far the only other type to be spotted as a vanity was a Repair Towing plate.
The word AMENDMENT appeared below this plate leaving no doubt about the owner showing his or her support for the 2nd Amendment. I've always liked the triple stacked suffix on these NRA Foundation plates. For those who follow the numbers, the current reported high is 0798N/R/A according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists).
Brendan Sherri spotted this Fraternal Order of Police plate belonging to this Bon Jovi Junkie. The plate frame does a good job of blocking most of the state and the organization names. Legal frame?
Every once in a while one or two of these all-zeros plates turns up which are not samples. This appears to be more common with organizations that have had plates since the yellow on blue plate days, but this is not always the case. This National Greyhound Adoption Program picture was provided by Jeff Lawson. The Community LifeTeam EMS plate photo is from Tom Perri and I'm guessing was the first plate issued, rather than a vanity plate. Hideous frame covers up the name of the organization and the state.
This 1968 Republican Governors Conference plate was issued to Governor Shafer who was PA's Governor from 1967 to 1971. The image came from Chuck Harrington who commented something to the effect, it's not a PA plate but it was issued to a PA Governor. It was added to the PA Governors' Plate Page.
These are both '71 Member of Congress plates on the Bicentennial base. Later in the '71 to 76 run there was a change similar to the design shown below but with less space between the numbers and letters. The far left plate is from Eric Conner and the near left plate is from Barefoot Jaime. Both plate have 71 etched in the upper left sticker well.
These are also Member of Congress plates issued during the 1984 to '99 period. The formatting allowed for a congressman to register two vehicles. Both of these plate photos are from Eric Conner. Today's congressional plate are seldom seen for a number of reasons, and no senatorial plates have been issued, although they have been produced.
Check out these Motorbike plates from 1941, '42-'43, '44 and '45, and no they're not motorboat plates. The layout of the plates is essentially the same except for the colors. The 42 with the 43 tab is original and the first I've seen on a Motorbike plate. Unlike Motorcycles these were all issued in relatively small numbers. The highest number issued among the plates shown here was about 2265 in the 1942-43 series. Thanks to Jake Eckenrode for allowing me to take these photos, and best wishes to Harry Campbell who may now own some of these.
This is a 1906 Pre-State plate issued by the City of Philadelphia. This was at the same time that the state began issuing plates. The matter turned into a legal battle. If you want to read the details see Eric Taylor's website on the history of porcelain plates. By the following year the Philly plates were history. This is a John Willard and John Anshant plate.
These plates are all nice enough to be shown separately but here they are grouped together. The far left plate is a black on yellow 1908 from Tim Gierschick, as are all three plates. The black on white 1909 plate is as nice as any I've seen. Tim does say the characters on the plate were professionally restored. Both of these plate measure 6" by 7". The white on dark blue 1910 plate, now wearing the badge with maker's number, is slightly larger at 6" by 8".
We finish out this week with these 1955 Truck and 1956 Truck, both Z-series. Aside from the color difference, the '56 plate has a wider base as the plate went from 10¼ inches to a width of 12 inches, making the 6 x 12 plate the standard from that year forward. Both plate are thanks to John Willard.
These new plates, announced on 2/1, are in response to Act 108, signed into law on 10/4/16, which called for the creation of special license plates for current members of the U.S. Armed Forces including members of the reserves, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Pennsylvania National Guard. Images from PennDOT announcement. Plates are $20, personalized for an extra $100, form MV-150AD.
Jeff Lawson sent this PA State Society Daughters of the American Revolution plate picture. The title is so long it makes reading it difficult from a distance, but it's not the longest. That distinction goes to the Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America.
This is an encore appearance of this beautiful 1929 Tractor plate belonging to John Willard. When I originally posted this plate on 10/16/16, I suggested that the plate had been refinished. This plate is original as you see it, just as it came out of the wrapper, never refinished.
These fine US Congress plate images were provided by Barefoot Jaime. The plate on the far left is a 1965 base with a 66 sticker U/SC18 and was used by Congressman Robert J. Corbett (R), Pittsburgh. The 1971 base with a 75 sticker was used by Congressman Joseph Gaydos (D), 20th District, McKeesport, PA.
Here is a 1905 Pre-State porcelain plate issued by the City of Philadelphia. Such plates were issued in Philadelphia from 1903 up to and including 1906, when the state began issuing plates. Yes, there was an overlap. These were smaller in size than most plates measuring 4 inches by 7 inches, but since manufactured license plates were new at the time there was no standard size to go by. Eric Taylor has an excellent website on the evolution and eventual demise of porcelain plates, http://porcelainplates.net/ . This plate was photographed at by Eric Conner at the Sweigart Museum in Huntington, PA.
This very nice 1907 porcelain plate was recently being auctioned on eBay. The owner, Don Bucchi, kindly gave me the go-ahead to use the image. These five-digit plates measured 6½" x 10½", and was the largest of the four sizes used that year. From 1906 thru 1911 the plates were manufactured by Ing-Rich, also known as Ingram Richardson of Beaver Falls, PA.
The following year, 1908, again thanks to Don Bucchi we have this near perfect black on yellow porcelain plate. Like the plate above, also being 5 digits, it too measures 6½" x 10½". The wide slots seen at the top of most of these early plates was for leather straps used to fasten the plate to the vehicle. At that time vehicles didn't come with predrilled plate mounting holes.
Beginning in 1910 the aluminum maker's number tag, as described last week, was riveted to the left side of the porcelain plate. Colors were white on dark blue. This particular plate measures 6" by 12". There were also two smaller sizes and two larger, all depending on the number of digits. Another thanks to Don Bucchi.
Here are three examples of 1915 Passenger plates. There are a number of variations with 1915 and I have rewritten the description on the Passenger Plates Page. The first and the third plates shown here are courtesy of Tim Gierschick. The center plate is mine, and while not a great plate, it does does show PENNA. with a period. It also has sunken numbers.
These are the first 1945 Motorcycle Dealer plates to be shown on this site. Tim Gierschick spotted these at a recent event. Nice numbers.
This very nice pair of 1953 and 1954 Z-Class Truck plate are again thanks to John Willard. These were both 'shorties' measuring 6" by 10¼". It wasn't until 1956 that plate dimensions were standardized at 6" by 12". Weight classes ran from R to Z on 2-axle trucks, with Z being the heaviest. Of course X was reserved for Dealer plates. Then for larger 3-axle trucks the series went from RZ to ZZ. I remember as a kid seeing ZZ plates on big tandem-axle cement mixers. Apparently this 'license plate thing' was in my blood even back then as a kid.
New Military plates just around the corner. Act 108, signed into law on 10/4/16, calls for the creation of special license plates for current members of the U.S. Armed Forces including members of the reserves, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Pennsylvania National Guard. These plate are due 2/1/17.
Tom Perri shared this picture perfect Knights of Columbus plate. After those who got earlier plates re-issued, the series jumped ahead to K/C02000 for those getting plates for the first time. This plate is a part of the latest series. Click the link above to see the plate gallery which may make it easier to understand. The K/C plates have a 30-year history.
Here's the latest high Antique Vehicle plate from Jeff Lawson. In this series the single letter in the second position is the last character to advance. This plate was just received and notice the presence of the sticker well and no map outline yet. There appears to be a large inventory of these plates, so it will be a while before any change is expected.
This Penn State University plate was photographed by Jeff Lawson. As you may know there is also a Penn State Alumni plate as well as a Penn State official plate. There's also the Pennsylvania College of Technology which has affiliation with Penn State.
This Bronze Star vanity plate was also provided by Jeff Lawson. Personalized Veteran plates seem to be increasingly popular. The plates are displayed proudly and the personalization tells an additional story.
Both 1907 # 6 white on red porcelain plates are actually photos of the same plate from the Sweigart Museum in Huntington, PA, as is the # 1820 plate. The photo on the far left is from Eric Conner, while the other #6 photo on the near left is thanks to Tim Gierschick. The #72 plate belongs to Tim Gierschick. The 1820 photo is also from the Sweigart Museum. These 3 plates on the left measure 6" high by 7" across. The 4-digit plate is 6½" high by 8¼" across. This being the second year for state-issued plates, there were almost 20-thousand plates issued. Anyone have a 3 or 5-digit plate?
Here's a nice trio of 4 and 5 digit 1909 black on white porcelain plates. Notice that the two 4-digit plates are different widths, this is unexpected. And the 4 and 5-digit plates are the same width, this is also unexpected. When I post images I do try to maintain the correct aspect ratio. The source of the plate on the far left is unknown, the middle plate was photographed on a vehicle, and the final plate belongs to Clayton Moore.
Next in the lineup is this group of 1913 white on green plates. Note the aluminum keystone on the far left. This feature came out in 1910, and is usually referred to as the makers number, which in today's parlance would be called the VIN or Vehicle Information Number. The aluminum tag reads, NOT TRANSFERABLE, over the number itself, over MAKERS NUMBER. Note the two 5-digit plates are different lengths. Clink the link above to see a further description. These plates are all thanks to Tim Gierschick.
Update 1:00 PM 1/29: Ned Flynn points out that the 18596 is one of the "rare “overfires” where the ’13 was created over a 1912 base. Note the red where the green has chipped off." Ned also suggests that the back of the plate likely has the boxed Brilliant seal of the early ‘12s.
The 1915 plate posted earlier on 1/29 has been removed pending further refinement of facts. The plate shown earlier was a truck plate with the left portion of the photo showing the weight strip being cut off.
Last week I posted a single # 51 1935 Passenger plate from from an unknown source. Tim Gierschick took ownership of the plate and sent me a nice shot of this great pair. With one-and-a-half-million passenger registrations that year, and with plates limited to a maximum of five characters, the result was at least thirteen different registration formats were used. These were split between 6" by 10" plates and 6" by 12" depending on the number of characters in the plate. The plates shown here were 6" by 10" shorties.
These 1950 Truck and 1952 Truck plates share a lot of characteristics. In fact almost everything except the year, expiration and serial are the same. The serial denotes the same weight class truck as designated by the 'Z' prefix indicating the heaviest class of 2-axle trucks. Thanks to John Willard for allowing me to photograph so many of his plates.
They're here! The updated plates with the small map outline were not expected out till mid-2017, but they have made their debut on vanity plates. The far left is on a Trailer vanity of Codey Bowman. I would have expected the legend TRAILER, but this is the first Trailer vanity I've seen. An earlier Truck vanity had TRUCK spelled out. The other plate is an anonymous submission of a remake of an older Press Photographer plate which I've placed with Passenger vanities. According to a PennDOT bulletin, the updated design will be noticed first on personalized and special organization registration plates. Starting in the summer of 2017, the updated design will be seen on the standard-issue plates as the old-style plate inventory is depleted.
Here's another of the University of Pittsburgh's latest plate revisions. This one was spotted by Brendan Sherry. It appears likely that Pitt switched to this new graphic format at or around U/P05000. This plate is also the new high. If you want to keep up with the latest highs, check Tom Perri's PA Plates website (update: site no longer exists).
Here a new high Omnibus spotted recently. This series started at OB-50000 on the www base, then switched to the visitPA base at OB-69000. There were some minor variations along the way with the font used for the OMNIBUS legend.
These Operation Iraqi Freedom plate photos are from Ian Emmett, who served as a U.S. Marine in Iraq from 2002 to 2006, hence the Devil Dog vanity.
Last week I posted a photo of the 1903 # 46 and 47 leather pre-state license plates. This week thanks to Tim Gierschick we have the provenance for the # 47 to go with the picture. Below left is the Berks County registration document, followed by a photo of the proud owner of the first car in Fleetwood. The final document is the treasure's receipt for the fee for the license to operate the vehicle.
The vehicle is a 1903 Oldsmobile (spelled Olds Mobile on the document) belonging to Allen Seaman.
Spotlight on 1906. Next are these 5 very nice 111-year old 1906 state issued plates. These are all white on dark blue porcelain. Most plates from this era are not nearly so nice. Many thanks to Tim Gierschick for sharing these photos for the benefit of the hobby, and for helping preserve and share plate history.
The next plate for this week is this 1928 Passenger. The colors were dark blue on yellow. This 6-digit plate measures 6" by 15". The plate series went from a single digit to 6 digits, then started again with an alpha-numeric series starting with A, A1 and extending into the E series + 5 numbers. Plates with shorter serial numbers also used shorter plates. Up to 4 characters were 6" by 10", 5 character were 6" by 13" and 6 character were 6" by 15" as shown here. Dash separators were used on 5 and 6 character plates placed before the final 3 characters.
This 1934 Passenger plate is similar to the 1931 plate posted last week with the letters ER, and the '35 UF plate below. John Willard, owner of the plates, believes these are all early vanity plates. We do know that two-character plates were believed issued (AA to ZZ999) as part of the 1934 and other plate runs.
Here is a grouping of 1935 Passenger plates. It shows several different formats. On the far left are 2 and 4-digit examples on the 6" by 10" base, then a two-letter format variations also on the short base, and finally a 5-character 6" by 12" base. Source, 51, unknown; 3075, Chuck Sakryd; 90R5, Joe Bosche; UF, John Willard, and PS509, Jeff Hinkle.
These 1943 registration tabs were issued in place of new plates, and were to be bolted over top of the 1942 plates. This was done to save steel as part of the war effort. The plates measured 1⅞ by 2⅛, were made of steel, painted red, had 43 painted black and embossed with the 4 and the 3 to the left and right of the bolt hole. Below the 43 was the expiration date of 3-31-44 , below that etched into the tab was a serial number of up to 6 digits or an alpha character and up to 5 digits. Thanks to John Walters for the photo.
The final plate this week is this Z-series 1948 Truck form John Willard. The Z-series was likely the heaviest class of 2-axle trucks, then there were 3 axle trucks with a 2-letter prefix. All plates were 5 characters.
Bruce Bufalini recently snapped this new high Conserve Wild Resources - Otter plate — a Special Fund plate. This style of plate has bee around almost 17 years. This and the Preserve Our Heritage - Railroad plate appear to still be selling well since they are the only remaining picture plates. In my opinion moving these plates to the family of plates format with a tiny image will be their death knell.
These 1979 base Moped Dealer plates are certainly a rare find. The first image was left larger to make it easier to see the details. The four shown here are from the same dealership. I don't know their history but note the final picture is in the 2200 series suggesting that over a thousand plates were issued. Also the low number plates don't seem not to have a stack of stickers, while the 2215 plate has an 11-89 sticker. Were they not issued in order? At the present time there appears to be about 14 Moped Dealer plates in use. More questions than answers. These plate images were provided by Jordan Irazabal.
This is a 1977 base State House of Representatives plate with 1-86 being the most recent sticker. The legend used on these plates is a bit confusing. There was an early group in 1928 and early '29 that had no legend but likely included the House and Senate, then later in '29 used Legislative until 1935 after which no plates were issued until 1957, and again no legend was used until Legislator was added in 1966, and later changed to Representative in 1984. Thanks to Lee Madigan for the image.
Lee also provided this rare 1977 base number 3 U.S. Congress plate on the far left with 78 and 82 stickers. Not certain if the 3 was used to designate the congressional district at the time, but likely it was. The owner of this plate also had been issued this 3-USC 1977 base vanity plate, although the vanity plate does not appear to have ever been used.
This would appear to the first 1971 New Car Dealer plate, and '71 was the first year for the 7-character plates and marked the end of the map outline which had been in use since 1938 on Dealer plates. Thanks to Lee Madigan for the image.
Pennsylvania passed legislation as early as 1903 requiring automobiles to display a rear registration number. Pennsylvania did not issue plates until 1906, so earlier plates are referred to as pre-state plates. The registration process was handled at the county level, while the vehicle owner was responsible for placing the assigned number on the rear of the vehicle. Many used leather tags and fastened numbers as shown here. These 1903 Pre-State tags are from Berks County and were provided by Tim Gierschick. Information on the 46 tag is unknown, but the 47 has provenance and is from Fleetwood, PA.
This 1931 Passenger plate is similar to the 1930 plate posted last week with the letters CR. John Willard, owner of the plate, believes this is also an early vanity plate. We do know that two-character plates were believed issued (AA to ZZ999) as part of the 1931 plate run.
Fellow ALPCA member Robert Rosengarten gave me the nod to use this 1919 Tractor Dealer plate from an eBay auction. The TX prefix has always indicated Tractor Dealer starting with the earliest plates in 1916 up thru 1970 with the exception of a few years in the mid-1930s, and not to be confused with later Taxi plates. This plate measures 6" x 16". It is not known if shorter lengths were used for TX+1 or 2 digit serial numbers.
These 1919 Truck plates are courtesy of Kelly Brewer (far left plate) and Phil Tedeschi (near left plate). Phil's plate is up for auction on eBay. All 1919 truck plates used a 'C' prefix. The manufacturer's number or VIN is inscribed into the keystone. These are 3-star plates which designates the weight rating of the truck. Plates ranged from 1 star for the lightest to 4 stars for the heaviest. There was also a numerical association between the serial number and number of stars — low plate number had fewer stars. These plates measures 6" x 16", while shorter lengths were used with shorter serial numbers.
This is a 1941 Z-Class Truck plate. For '41 all plates were 5 characters with the first 1 or 2 alpha characters designating the weight class and number of axles. It is not my intention to publish the entire matrix of plates serial numbers, number of axles, unladen weight and gross vehicle weight. The classes run from R to Z skipping X, then RZ to ZZ again skipping X. This is a John Willard plate.
Here's the first photo of a Pennsylvania Coal Alliance Inc. plate that was approved in 2016. The plate image was provided by Brent Blake. The organization is headquartered in Harrisburg. About 140 of these plates have been issued to far.
Bruce Bufalini spotted this University of Pittsburgh high number. Not only is this a new high, it's also the first 'Pitt' script plate spotted from the serial number series. A vanity plate was spotted a few weeks ago. It appears that the transition to the new style plate likely took place at or around U/P05000.
Last week we had a personalized Fraternal Order of Police-Survivor and this week a plate with a serial number, which is also the new high. Both variations are quite rare. Bruce Bufalini also provided this photo.
Bill Stephens just got under the wire getting this 2-22 Validation Sticker. Yes, PA quit issuing stickers as of the end of 2016, and this sticker is part of a 5-year renewal which is allowed on light-weight trailers. The Trailer plate is also the new high.
Last week I called the Lincoln University Official plate rare, but not as rare as this week's Commonwealth Court plate C/C 1. The addition of the gold coat of arms certainly adds to the mystique of the plate. So far every one of these plates spotted has had the coat of arms and used the C/C prefix followed by a single digit number, or C/C J followed by 2 numbers. So far no plates have been seen with the C/C in the suffix position. Thanks to Tom Perri for the image.
It's always a bonus to be able to display a plate format that has not been shown on this website before. Lee Madigan sent me a number of images of political plates beginning with this 1984 State Representative base with '92 and '93 stickers. The use of the PA and the HR makes this plate unique, although a State Senator plate with comparable features has also been documented. There are also samples with the HR inside a keystone and no PA, so there could very well have been two formats used, in addition to the reverse formatting. At this point additional photos and data are needed. Check back next week for more political plates from Lee Madigan.
This trio of 1922 Passenger plates raises questions. Yes, they were issued in pairs, but how do you account for the third plate with the same number? It appears that two of the plates had a similar environment, but the third plate did not. John Willard provided this mystery.
This interesting 1928 Passenger plate is believed to be a test plate. The colors should be dark blue on yellow. This plate is also made of aluminum, believe me, I handled it. The other formatting seems to be as expected. The plate measures 6"x 15", and belongs to John Willard.
Here is a 1930 Passenger plate. Note the unusual 2-letter configuration. John Willard, owner of the plate, believes it to be an early vanity plate. We also know that two-character plates were issued (AA to ZZ999) as part of the 1930 plate run. Information obtained from the 1930 Bulletin Almanac.
Bruce Sakson sent me this image of an early Passenger plate on the visitPA base. This plate was likely issued very late 2004 or early 2005 with a 1-06 sticker.
These are all 1930 Truck plates. The three plates on the left are for Class R trucks based on the 2-letter suffix. Class R series are the lightest weight trucks and with the lightest carrying capacity. The series progresses from Class R to Class Z, or possibly ZZ. Click the link above for a listing of the weight classes, number progressions and letter suffixes.
This plate is a Class S plate again based on the 2-letter suffix. All of the 5 character plates are thanks to John Willard. The 32DG plate was spotted in use as a Year of Manufacture or YOM plate.
Happy New Year!
Couple changes for 2017, thumbnail images of standard size plates on this home page will be slightly larger, while motorcycle size will be slightly smaller to better match actual plate sizes and aspect ratios. As mentioned a while back, new pages on older Passenger Plates and older Truck Plates are up and running but with very limited content for now.
Here's a very rare Fraternal Order of Police-Survivor plate which happens to be configured as a vanity, thus personalizing the term 'Survivor' in a more sad and telling manor. Thanks to Tom Perri for sharing this image.