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Pennsylvania License Plate Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

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The photos on this website, whether provided by me or other contributors, are intended for use solely on this website, and may not be otherwise used without permission.

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Posting 7/20/2014

As of July 17, the following changes took place to the laws regulating vehicle registration or license plates? 

 • Personal or vanity registration plates are now allowed on cars, trucks up to 14,000 lb., motorcycles (including vertical), trailers and motor homes.

 • Special organization plates may now be used on cars, trucks up 14,000 lb., trailers and motor home, but not motorcycles.

 • Any registration plate covered under Chapter 13 of the Vehicle Code can now be personalized for $100 + the regular registration fee; however, Person with Disability plates and Disabled or Severely Disabled Veteran Plates are now $50 to personalize.  This opens the door to a large number of types including all 11 dealer types, 28 veteran types, 19 misc. plates, 4 special fund plates, and most but not all of the special organization plates.  The organizations not eligible are those that have not transitioned to the newer graphic style.  There is also a weight limitation of 14,000 lb. for personalized plates regardless of the vehicle type.

 • Appalachian Trail Conservancy special organization plates are now available for a fee of $25.


A little more on special organization plates.  Since the current fee to register most of these plates is $11, the cost to personalize the plates will add $100 to make the total $111.  The 2-letter, and in some cases 3-letter (NRA Foundation) prefixes and suffixes will continue to be used.  To personalize the plate up to 5 letters and / or numbers can be used, in addition a dash or a space can be used but not both.  Go to PennDOT's vanity check page to see if the combination you want is available. 


This low-number Combat Wounded Veteran / Purple Heart plate was provided by Nick Tsilakis.  The low number plates are not nearly as common today as the plates in the 7, 8 or 9 thousand range.



Nick Tsilakis snapped this nice image of a U.S. Air Force Reserve plate.




From my basement stash, this Kutztown University sample plate on the far left was a test plate made up in preparation for the changeover to the www base.  It used the same font in the legend as the yellow on blue base, whereas the sample on the near left is an accurate reflection of production plates on the www base.  Around 2005 Kutztown switched to the color graphic format.


The Lock Haven University sample plate on the far left was a test plate made up in preparation for the changeover to the www base.  It used the same font in the legend as the yellow on blue base, whereas the sample on the near left is an accurate image of production plates on the www base.  Lock Haven also switched to the color graphic base first seen in early 2010.


The same situation as above for this pair of Moravian College samples.  The plate on the far left was a test.  It was decided to use the SMALL CAPS arrangement on the near left.  Moravian just recently switched to the graphic layout on the visitPA base


The same situation exists with these St. Vincent Alumni samples.  The test plate is on the far left and the one on the near left reflects the current issue.  This organization has not yet switched to the visitPA base.


Back in April it was announced that this plate type was being redesigned in favor of the now standard 'family of plates' layouts.  Evidently this has not happened yet as Ryan Battin provided this recently issued Collectible Vehicle plate.


Here's the first image of a '47 Trailer plate.  The alpha character (letter V) in the third position shows that this was the 4th of 5 formatting variations to be seen that year.  This plate measures approximately 6" by 11", while the '53 plate below measures 6" x 10".


Here a '53 Trailer plate showing the letter in the first position indicating that this was the 2nd of 6 formatting variations to be used that year.  The formatting of the '47 and '53 plates is very similar but there is a difference in the font used for the legend.



Update on last week's posting.  This is not a diplomatic plate.  From 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.



Posting 7/13/2014

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: The Governor did sign Senate Bill 1187 on July 2.  The bill will become Act 109.  This was not reported until after my July 6th posting.  It will authorize the following new plates:  • Combat Infantry Badge registration plate  • "In God We Trust" registration plate  • Pennsylvania Monuments registration plate with the wording "Gettysburg 1863"  • Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage registration plate. The law will also changes the period of registration for Vintage (YOM) plates from 1906 to 1976, was 1975. The fee for organizational plates will increase to $25.00, the current fee has dropped to $11.00.

See the Legislation Page for information on other bills.


Here are pictures of the latest high U.S. Army Veteran and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran plates from Ryan Battin.  These plates came on line at the very end of 2009 with over 2200 of each type being issued so far.


Another high from Ryan Battin is this perfect image of a Girl Scouts of the USA plate.




This Vietnam Veterans of America plate is also a new high.  This is an organizational plate rather than a veterans' plate.  This plate type dates back to 1992



This School Vehicle plate is also a new high.  These are used on vehicles used to transport students, where the number of students and the drives does not exceed ten.



Bruce Bufalini snapped this low number University of Pittsburgh plate picture recently.  Check out Bruce's website ( for a variety of pages with plate images, windshield stickers, etc.




This very nice 1931 2-digit Legislative plate image was provided by Michael Wiener.  It is not known how many of these plates were issued; however, for 1935 four hundred plates were authorized.



After 1935, Legislative plates were gone from the scene until 1957.  With the appearance of the '57 version, the plates were divided into two categories.  The plate pictured here with the HR prefix for House of Representatives, while State Senator plates began to use PA as their identifier.  The source of this image is unknown.


Here's a '65 House of Representatives plate.  Note the plate is undated and a sticker may have been expected.  The HR prefix is now followed by a dash separator then a 1-, 2- or 3-digit number.  This image was provided by Eric Conner.


Here's another piece of history from Clayton Moore.  This is the third example of a '48 Motorbike plate in the image gallery showing different serial number formatting.



This is a bit of a mystery plate.  John Anshant provided the picture.  I'm not aware of a Diplomatic series in PA but that could explain the DPL.  Also, the use of the keystone separator and a dash is very strange.




Posting 7/6/2014

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: As of today, the Governor has not signed Senate Bill 1187The bill was presented for his signature on June 30.


In other plate news, according to the provisions of Act 23, the new Appalachian Trail Conservancy registration plate should be available on July 17.  The plate is to show an image of a hiker and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy logo and distinctive coloring.  No image yet.  Even though this plate came about as a result of legislative action it will be considered an organizational plate.


Here's the latest Passenger high from Grant MacKenzie.




This is the first image of a redesigned Shippensburg University Alumni plate, now on the visitPA base with color logo and screened legend, etc  This perfect image was provided by Tom Perri.



Here's a NASCAR 17 Matt Kenseth plate from Brendan Sherry.  About 57 of these plates were issued with this plate being 2 from the end.  One of the main goals of this website has been to capture as many current or recent issues plate types as possible.  Unfortunately there are still about 17 NASCAR varieties that have never been photo-documented.  All of these have had only limited numbers issued, in some cases only 1, 2 or 3 being issued, which makes spotting such plates very unlikely.  It may be a little late in the game, but I'd like to appeal to all PA plate watchers to help photograph some of these rare specimens before it is too late. 


Here's a nice image of a Lehigh Township Volunteer Fire Company No 1 sample plate.




A few years ago I posted the picture of the '75 Commercial Dealer plate believing is was some kind of mock up or test plate that never went into production.  Then this week Clayton Moore shared the image on the far left.  It may be a picture of a picture so the image quality is not great, but it does show another example of this plate type.  Note the plate on the far left has the year, 74, embossed, while the other plate has two sticker wells and a 75 sticker.  This is consistent with other dealer tags of that era.  Can someone shed some light on these plates?


The Commercial Motorcycle plate is one of PA's rarest and most collectible plates.  The plates date back at least as far as 1938; however the ALPCA Archives suggests they may go back to 1931.  This is one of those mysteries that make this hobby interesting.  The '46 image on the far left was from Clayton Moore and source of the '48 image is unknown.  Images anyone?


This '48 Motorbike plate shows the use of the alpha-numeric serial number which was used after all of the 4-digit all numeric combinations were used.  Image source unknown.



Here's the oldest known PA Trailer plate to exist.  I saw this 1914 Trailer plate at John Nowak's several years ago.  1914 is believed to be the first year for Trailer plates.  They were white on black porcelain as were other plates of that year.



Here's an all-numeric image of a '37 Trailer plate from Jordan Irazabal.   Previously posted was a picture of an alpha-numeric plate.




The final plate of the week is this all-numeric '51 Trailer with a leading zero.  The earliest plates in the series for 1951 started at 0001.  Eventually after using all the 4-character all-numeric and alpha-numeric combinations, a 5-digit version was released.




Posting 6/29/2014

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:  Senate Bill 1187, has now been passed by both houses, and as of 6/28 has been sent to Rules and Executive Nominations.  I am fully expecting to see this legislation signed into law by the Governor in the next few days.  It would authorize the following new plates and other changes.

 • Combat Action Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Ribbon, Combat Action Medal, Combat Medical Badge registration plate.  It is unknown if this is to be one plate or five.

 • "In God We Trust" registration plate

 • Pennsylvania Monuments registration plate with the wording "Gettysburg 1863"

 • Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage registration plate

 • United States Olympic plate

The bill would also changes the period of registration for vintage (YOM) plates from 1906 to 1976.  It had been 1906 to 1975.

The fee for organizational plates will increase to $25.00.

The law would also raise the weight limit for may plates from 10,000 to 14,000 lb.


This picture of a pair of newly minted sequential Municipal plates was provided by Ryan Battin.  They represent the newest highs.  Municipal plates are used by city, county and local governments and are permanent.






Here's another pair of newly minted Antique Vehicle and Classic Vehicle plates, also making them new highs.  Again the credit for these images goes to Ryan Battin.



Here's the latest high Classic Motorcycle plate.  As of the end of 2013 there were only 471 of these plates registered.  By comparison there were over 10,000 Antique Motorcycle plates registered, and over 400 thousand Motorcycles.  Surprisingly this plate type has not yet been redesigned to give it that 'family of plates' look where every plate looks like every other plate.  This plate and the Municipal Motorcycle appear to be the only remaining plate types to still use the state map outline.  Again thanks to Ryan Battin for the image.


It's not the highest, but it's one of the rarest PA plates.  As of the end of 2013 only 51 Commercial Implement of Husbandry plates were registered.  Both this website and the ALPCA Archives could use an image of this plate type on the previous yellow-on-blue base.  It is quite likely that none of the older plates made it into anyone's collection or even photographed.  This is a sad note for the hobby and for the history of this plate type.


This Telephone Pioneers of America represents one of those plate types with a gap in the number sequence.  After plate 00408T/P the number series jumped ahead to 01600T/P.  There are different theories as to the reason for this but none confirmed as of yet.  Click this link to see a list of other plate types with number sequence anomalies.  Plate image courtesy of Jordan Irazabal.


This blue base Dealer-Farm Equipment plate image was provided by fellow ALPCA member John Anshant.  This is the only known surviving example of this first generation plate type.  These rare photos of extinct plates provides important photo-documentation and history.



Here's an image of a 1932 Motorcycle plate.  While it's not a great image, it does show the formatting.  There were some 11 thousand plates issued that year, so the 4-digit all numeric formatting would have run out and the A000 formatting would have been used as it was in 1931 as well.



This next image is a 1940 Motorcycle.  Note the use of the state map outline which first came into use in 1938 on Motorcycle plates.  Different sources have conflicting numbers of plates issued that year ranging from 9100 to over 11,000 plates.  The actual number would dictate whether the alpha-numeric series was needed or not.


Finally this week is this 1952 Motorcycle.  The formatting is very similar to the 1940 plate above; however, this plate has the 3-31-53 expiration date embossed along the top map border.  The image gallery already has images of 3- and 4-digit all numeric plates.




Posting 6/22/2014

I have yet to see one of these new Vertical Motorcycle plates on the road but they are obviously out there.  This series started in early March 2014 at M0A0C with the M and C considered be non-advancing characters.  The numeric character in the fourth position advances first, then the numeric character in the second position, and finally the alpha character in the center.  It would appear that about 450 plates have been issued so far.  These images were provided courtesy of Ryan Battin.



I can't explain why this plate is still in use when all Emergency Vehicle plates were supposed to be replaced back in 2007.  Nevertheless it's still in use and the picture was captured by Ryan Battin.  The plate number appears to be valid.  To see more on the history of Emergency Vehicle plates click this link.



There is nothing all that special about this U.S. Air Force Reserve plate other than the fact that it is a nicer image than the one I posted previously.  Also these plates are rarely seen these days.  They are considered organizational plates rather than veterans' plates.  With the ever increasing number of veterans' plates, including U.S. Air Force Veteran with a nice colored graphic, it is understandable that the use of this plate type is on the decline.  In fact in 2005 there were only 102 of these plates in use.  This image is from Tom Perri.


Much of what was stated above concerning the U.S. Air Force Reserve plate holds true for this U.S. Navy Reserve plate.  This is a nicer image than what I had previously, unfortunately the owner of this plate added the colored decal.  By comparison in 2005 there were only 87 U.S. Navy Reserve plates in use, and likely fewer today.  There is also a U. S. Navy Veteran plate available.  Thanks to Tom Perri for this image.


There is not much information on Motor Bike plates out there, but I can provide some history.  These plates were in use from 1920 to 1949, and in many respects they were the first cousin of Motorcycle plates.  It appears that at least in the the latter years, they used a numbering system very similar to Motorcycles, the obvious difference being that there were far fewer Motor Bikes on the road.  Plates would have started at 1 and went to 9999, if needed, then into the A000 series if needed.  In addition, where Motorcycle plates used an M/C legend, Motor Bikes used M/B. This 1947 3-digit Motor Bike plate picture was provided by Clayton Moore.


Continuing on from the '47 plate above is this pair of '48 Motorbike and '49 Motorbike plates.  Again these plates began with number 1 and went to 9999, then switched to an alpha character in the first position such as A123.  After 1949 Motorbike plates were discontinued since the registration fee for Motorbike was increased to the same amount as for Motorcycles.  Motorboat plates are sometimes confused with Motorbike plates, however, Motorboat plates used MBL as the designator until the 1955 when MB came into use.  Motorboat plates were a different size  until 1950 and never used the same colors until long after Motorbike plates were discontinued.  The source of these images is unknown.

There is another more elusive motorcycle type called the Commercial Motorcycle.  Does anyone has any images they would be willing to share?


This very nice image of a 1938 Official plate was provided by Clayton Moore.  The serial number appears to be part of a reserve block of numbers from the passenger series.  Plates measure 6" by 12". 

Does anyone know if 1939 plates continued with the same formatting, or if the term Official was dropped?


This 1950 Trailer is an example of a serial number with the alpha character in the 4th position.  The alpha character is always the last to advance.  Click the link to see additional formatting information.



These two '54 Trailer plates are examples of two of the six formatting variations.  They show the A000 and 00000 formats.  The 5 numeric characters came about after all the 4 characters combinations were exhausted   The other variations were 0000, 0A00, 00A0 and 000A.  A plate with the 0A00 format is shown in the plate gallery.  Additional images showing the other formats are always welcome.


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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376