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Pennsylvania License Plate History & Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376


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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.

What's new in the last 30 days?

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Posting 7/17/2016


This group of newly issued Antique Vehicle plates shows a new format of numbers and letters.  The previous series, after hitting 9ZZ9, moved to the new series seen here beginning at 0A00.  If you attend car shows, you quickly get a sense of how many of these have been issued.  Many more of these are seen in comparison to Classic plates.  According to the 2015 Report of Registrations there were some 162-thousand Antique registrations, compared to 72-thousand Classics.  Street Rod plates have barely exceeded 68-hundred and Collectible Vehicle plates a little more than 16-hundered plates.  Thank to Ryan Battin for the photo.




Here's a pair of Support Your Zoo plates showing the more expensive vanity version taken by Arthur Levine, and the standard issued from Ryan Battin.  Before the changeover to the visitPA base and smaller graphic, these plates were part of the Save Wild Animals series with the tiger and cub.


This plate is not new but the image is.  The older #27 Cetronia Ambulance Corps image was not as clear.  Steve Ondik provided a better image than the one previously posted.  Cetronia's plate program has been around since 2007.  They are located on the west side of Allentown.


Jordan Irazabal spotted this new high number Bus plate. PA currently has five different bus plates types in addition to School Vehicle, Limo and Taxi.  The Bus & Omnibus series have an interesting and somewhat confusing history.



This beat up plate shows a low-number Permanent-Trailer tag on the visitPA base.  These plates switched to the visitPA base at PT-0000L, then after reaching PT-9999Z, the series switched to PT-000A0 as shown here.  This format is not new, having been first seen over a year ago.



Jordan Irazabal also snapped this image of an Expeditionary Forces Veteran plate showing the wide spacing variation between the E/F prefix and the numbers.  This is seen in plates between E/F1000 and E/F1199.



This 1977 base Amateur Radio plate photo was provided by John Fedorchak.  This is not the first appearance of this plate.  Bruce Bufalini also got a traffic shot of this vehicle and plate in 2013.  Considering its age, this plate looks to be in great condition, and it is still a valid registration number.





This week a few more motorcycle plates have been added beginning with this 1928 Motorcycle plate from Harry Campbell.



Next photo in line is this very nice 1929 Motorcycle plate also from Harry Campbell.  This 4-digit plate is shown in the plate gallery with single digit and 5-digit variations.



This very nice 1956 Motorcycle plate comes from Jeff Hinkle.  This three-character alpha-numeric plate would have been issued after the all-numeric series reached 9999.  Click the link above to the photo gallery to see 4 examples of these variations.


1963 signaled a new issue.  The 63 Motorcycle base was issued up thru 1964 with a sticker, and could also be renewed with a sticker.  As a multi-year plate five variations in number and letter formatting were used.   I will have some additional group displays from Jeff Hinkle in the future.


They just don't get any nicer than this 1953 Motorcycle Dealer plate provided by Harry Campbell.  For 1953 it does not appear likely that plates extended beyond 3 digits.  This plate picture helps to fill another gap in the motorcycle dealer plate history.  Check back for some additional plates from Harry over the next few weeks.



Posting 7/10/2016

This high number Geneva College plate was recently spotted on the move by Bruce Bufalini.  Geneva College plates made their debut in 1994 on the yellow on blue base, then to the www base and finally to current version.  The school is located in Beaver Falls which is northwest of Pittsburgh.



This picture-perfect Organ Donors Save Lives plate image was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  The plate is also the new high.




Here's the newest high Combat Infantryman Badge from Jordan Irazabal.  The plate is part of a group of 5 combat related badges, medals and ribbons that came about in 2014.  NOTE: A newer high, 20121C/O was seen by Bruce Bufalini after this page was edited.



This personalized Korean Defense Services Medal plate picture was provided by Matt Boyer.  These plates were introduced in 2010 and allowed to be personalized in 2014.  I'm going to assume the DMZ stands for the Demilitarized Zone.




Here's the latest high Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran plate.  Theses have been around since 2005.  This plate, like several other veterans' plates, has been issued in a two-tiered system.  The lower tier are the under-100 group.  These are also available as personalized plates for an additional fee.  Thanks to Jordan Irazabal for the image.


This trio of plates was provided by Bruce Bufalini and were photographed at recent car shows.  Click on them to see larger images.  They all happen to be new highs.  On the far left is a Street Rod plate, center left is a Classic Vehicle, and on the near left is an Antique Vehicle plate.  So far the Street Rod is the only plate not available as a vanity plate.




This Moped plate image was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  It is the high number spotted on the www series before the it transitioned to the visitPA base at the start of the BN series.




Jeff Hinkle has recently sent a number of current plates photos and some group shots from his collection.  Shown here on the far left and center left are the top and bottom sections of a display wall showing mostly motorcycle plates.  The smaller group of motorcycle plates shows duplicates, possibly resulting from the plates not being properly cut.  I'm hoping to get more group shots from Jeff.  These images have also been placed into the Group Displays page that was started last week.



This near perfect 1970 Used Car Dealer plate is the final installment from Bob Connison.  This plate finishes the run of 1970 dealer plates.  I want to thank Bob for so many older dealer plates.  At this point in time, there are dealer images for every year except 1921 and 1930.  A number of other years have incomplete runs, especially C-series Transit Dealer plates.


This 4-digit 1927 Motorcycle plate has been added to the existing '27 group consisting of a 3-digit and 5-digit plates.  As these were all-numeric, the series ran from 1 to some 14000.  Thanks to Harry Campbell for the plate image. 



Next from Harry Campbell is this 1951 Motorcycle Dealer plate.  This series also started at plate the #1 and continued in the 3-digit series as seen here.




Posting 7/3/2016

To my friends and contributors, I have received so many plate images over the last week or two that I'm not able to post them all.  Too many pictures is a good thing, unfortunately I run out of time before running out of material to post.

New plate on the horizon Communities in Schools Pennsylvania is getting into the organizational plate business.  They describe themselves as "a nationwide network of passionate professionals working in public schools to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life."  There is no indication that the plates are available yet.


Here's the first image of an Arizona State University plate from Jeff Lawson.




Drexel University Alumni plates are no longer available.  Drexel discontinued their participation in the program.  Plates reached a high of D/U41699.  Their number block began at D/U40000, and the program dated back to 1992.  Thanks to Matt Boyer for the tip.  In other plate news, the Fire Fighter plate is now available to be personalized.


LEGISLATIVE NEWS - Senate Bill 1155 has seen final passage by the House on 7/1/16.  The bill is xpected to be presented to the Governor for his signature.  The bill establishes a special vehicle license plate for members of the United States Armed Forces.


This is the first image of a Combat Medical Badge.  I wasn't sure what it was when I first spotted it.  About 20 of these plates have been issued so far.  According to Wikipedia, it's "an award of the United States Army which was first created in January 1945. Any member of the Army Medical Department, at the rank of Colonel or below, who is assigned or attached to a ground Combat Arms unit of brigade or smaller size which provides medical support during any period in which the unit was engaged in active ground combat is eligible.


The U.S. Congress plate is one of Pennsylvania's rarest plates.  Since these plates were re-issued on the www base only 4 such plates have been photographed.  In fact the plate shown here is formatted differently than the others where there is a separation between the number and U/SC.  It is unknown how many have been issued since many members of congress choose not to use them.  PA currently has 18 districts; however, there were 21 districts prior to the 2010 census.  In a related matter, there are no PA U.S. Senator plates in use at the present time.  The person providing this picture wished to remain anonymous.


Yes, the license plate is striking but so is the car.  This BMW I8 has a $140-thousand plus price tag.  For that you get an electric motor and an internal combustion engine that work together to push this thing from 0 to 60 in just over 4 seconds and can get 76 MPG.  Anyway thanks to Bruce Bufalini for sharing these images including this personalized version of a Mario Lemieux Foundation plate.


This very nice #1 vanity Pennsylvania Monuments - Gettysburg 1863 plate was recently spotted by Kyle Kuser.  Great find.




Here's a new high Motor Home plate spotted by Jordan Irazabal.




I recently added a page called Motorcycle Plate Displays showing groups of plates, and there was an older page called Sample Plate Displays.  The common theme of these pages is that the plates were shown as groups, usually mounted on a wall, display board, or laid out together.  These pages are being combined into one page called Group Displays.  Also a new group of '77 base passenger plates which are almost all sequential starting at 001-CNG and running to 065-CNG.  Click the link to see the series of images provide by Sarge at Klassy Karz.  To my knowledge PA never issued '77-base plates with a series of 3 numbers followed by 3 letters.  In addition Sarge suggests that these could have been possibly intended for a fleet of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles.  One of the plates has a 5-85 sticker.  Does anyone have any knowledge of these plate?  Watch for additional groups to be added as time permits.



This is not a new high but it is an excellent image of an ATV Class 2 plate.  These plates are motorcycle size and are issued by DCNR (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) not by PennDOT. The image was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  Click the link for more image displays and information.


Thanks again to Bob Connison for helping to fill a couple more gaps with these 1969 New Car Dealer (A-series) and Used Car Dealer (B-series) plates.



This nice 4-digit 1926 Motorcycle plate was provided by Harry Campbell.  Click the link to see a 5-digit plate.  The series began at #1 and ran to some 14-thousand plates.  Plate size depended on the number of digits and were either 4" by 6" for 2 and 3-digit plates, and 4" by 8" for 4 and 5-digit plates.  Single digit plates were likely 6".


Harry Campbell is also helping fill some of the dealer plate gaps with this very nice 1950 Motorcycle Dealer.  I don't know how many dealer plates were issued but I don't think 4-digit plates were needed until multi-year plates were issued starting in 1958 to '61 run.




Posting 6/26/2016

Jeff Lawson spotted this 63 split window Corvette coupe with matching vanity Classic Vehicle plate at a recent Corvette meet.




Also from Jeff Lawson is this 50th anniversary Corvette also with a matching U.S. Army Veteran plate.




Here's a vanity version of a Northampton Fire Department special organization.  The 42 is the station number and the 91 indicates the position or rank of the fire officer.  The 90 series is fire police.



Here's the latest Salvage Yard high spotted at a recent antique truck show.  I never understood the connection between the prefix WL and the term salvage yard.



Bruce Bufalini recently spotted this new graphic style Prisoner of War plate on the street.  This new design dates back almost 3 years but so few of these plates are issued today that they are seldom seen.  Just guessing that most are probably re-issues rather than new issues.  Anyway, the most recent issue (high) spotted on the original base was POW-V67 according to Tom Perri's website.



Jeff Lawson shared this low number International Brotherhood of Boilermakers picture.  These plates have been on the street since 2012 with about 80 plates having been issued.



Eric Conner recently acquired this 1963 Governor's Inauguration plate.  '63 was the fist year for Inaugural plates and they were reportedly issued to vehicle dealers who had cars in the inaugural parade.  Eric, who specializes in 'PA Politicals', indicates that there were fewer than 100 such plates issued.  Such plates are considered special event plates and normally have a limited period of validity.


Jim McDevitt sent me this novelty vanity plate he spotted recently in Philadelphia.  A few weeks back I posted a couple others, click the link above to see the others.



Jeff Lawson sent this image of a first generation Implement of Husbandry plate.  These plates date back to 1984 after Tractor plates were discontinued.  Tractor plates were replaced by Implement of Husbandry plates for farm use, and Special Mobile Equipment plates for industrial and construction vehicles.  Of course today Implement of Husbandry plates can also be used on farm machinery other than tractors including vehicles that are not self-propelled; however, they are almost never seen.  The good news is that several of these plates are known to exist within the hobby.  The bad news is that the first generation of Commercial Implement of Husbandry plates seems to have disappeared without a trace, not even a photo.


This 1966 Used Car Dealer plate was provided by Bob Connison and fills a gap in the lineup.  One significant change for 1966 is the end of both the 'X' series Miscellaneous Dealer category and the 'C' (Transit) Dealer plate, the the replacement series, now called Motor Vehicle Business, uses the same format as the previous 'C' series.


The next image is a 1968 New Car Dealer plate, again filling a gap in the photo lineup, and again much thanks to Bob Connison.




Harry Campbell has provided some additional cycle plate images beginning with this 1915 Motorcycle.  The first character on the 1914 and 1915 plates was the letter 'O', which at the time looked like a zero, '0' and was followed 1 to 5 numeric characters to at least 17000.  Click the link to also see 3 and 4-digit plates from 1915.


Harry Campbell has also made available a number of Motorcycle Dealer plates.  I will add them over the next few weeks, and they will help fill a number of gaps in the M/C Dealer displays.  For 1949 Motorcycle Dealers the series is believed to run from 1 to an unknown 3-digit high similar to the plate shown here.  MCD was used as the designator from 1934 to 1966 inclusive, usually in the suffix position.



Posting 6/19/2016

The image on the far left shows a University of Pittsburgh prototype.  Pitt is in the process of giving their plate a new look.  Thanks to Ryan Battin for sharing this.

On the near left is a current University of Pittsburgh vanity plate that was recently shared by Bruce Bufalini.


Still alive and well.  These two NASCAR plates were recently spotted.  The N18 Bobby Labonte plate was previously spotted in May of 2005.  These were only issued in 2004 and '05, with about 86 plates being registered.  The N48 Jimmie Johnson plate had a longer life form 2004 thru 2009.  About 221 of these plates were issued.  The NASCAR program ran from late 2004 up thru May of 2010.  Each year there were additions, deletions and changes making it a challenge to track.  There are NASCAR variations that have never been photographed but still may be in use, and a number of plates that were never issued.


Steve Ondik recently snapped this image of a DeSales University plate.  The first plate was spotted in January of 2012 with some 42 plates having been issued.  DeSales is located in Center Valley, just south of Allentown, PA.



Here's the latest high Emergency Vehicle plate from the 'no-fee' registration series, which is the progression that started at EV-50000.  All EV plates were (supposedly) reissued in 2007 on the visitPA base.



Is it a Taxi or is it a Limousine?  Take your pick.  Seen recently on Airport Rd. near Allentown.





On the far left we have a new image from Bob Connison. This '56 'X' Dealer plate has the X in the second position.  1956 brought about changes, for starters all plates were now 6" by 12" as compared to 6" by 10" for 1955.  In addition there were two sets of fonts and two bases.  Wide fonts were used initially and wide map borders as seen here on the far left.  Later in the production cycle narrower fonts were used in conjunction with a narrow border base as seen on the second plate.  The 43X02 is not a new image but shown here for comparison.


The following year, 1957 Dealer plates saw more changes.  The base has been refined again to allow a little more space for the additional character — now 6 characters for the first time since 1929.  The same coding was used with A, B, C and X prefixes.  Thanks again to Bob Connison the the image.


This very nice 1957 Motorcycle plate was provided by Harry Campbell.  For 1957 the series ran from 1 to 9999, and then began an alpha-numeric run beginning with A000 or A001.  This all-numeric plate was needed to compliment the F941 plate that had been previously posted.  My goal, as always, is to photo-document as many variations in formatting, sequencing for each year and plate type with certain exceptions.   


Here's one I didn't know if I'd ever see, but Harry Campbell had one.  The 1965 base was used until the '71 base was issued — a long stretch.  It was also at a time when motorcycles were gaining in popularity.  In an effort to not run out of combinations as many as seven different all-numeric and alpha-numeric systems were used, which included this scarse 3-character plate using the series 0A0 to 9Z9, also A00 was used and possibly 00A.  Thanks to Eric Tanner for some of the data references.


1951 Tractor plate belonging to Tim Gierschick.  This picture was taken at the recent ALPCA meet in Trexlertown.  That year PA registered almost 20,000 tractors and trailers.  Lets' assume that there were 4 to 5 times more trailers than tractors, based on later statistics.  This would make the number of Tractor plates issued in the range of 4 to 5-thousand.  Of that number how many would have been used on farm tractors and how many on other non-farm tractors?






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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376