PA Plate Trivia. Pennsylvania first began using the
state map outline on 1937 Passenger
plates. That feature continued to be used for many years but disappeared
on most plates with the issue of the '71 base. Which plates, if any, are still issued with the map outline?
Answer next week.
Plate News. For anyone who
follows the progression of license plate serial numbers here's an update:
Motorcycle plates are
currently in the T0000 series. When the end of the series is reached at
new series will begin at 0AA00.
plates which are currently in the PT000Z series, will soon go to the PT00A0
These are not new plate images on this
website, but they do require some explanation. Neither of Pennsylvania's
two United States Senators use state-issued U.S. Senate license plates,
nevertheless the plates were made up and are kept in reserve in case they do
choose to use them. The images shown here are actual fax copies of the #1
plate in standard and reverse formats. There would also be a #2 of each of
these plates. The reason for showing these now is that they have been
added to the U.S.
Senate history section. If anyone has an image of a '57, '71
to '76, or '77 to '83 U.S. Senate plate, it would be most appreciated.
Ryan Battin snapped this high number School Bus plate
recently. This series started as SC-00000 on the www base on June 11,
2000. When plates reached the SC-47000 mark in August of 2006, the base
was shifted to the visitPA base. That's a lot of school buses.
No map outline on this 1937 Bus plate?
It's not a mistake; 1937 was the last year before the state map outline became a
standard part of bus plates until 1971. Aside from the map, the formatting
is similar to later plates. Some 6,062 bus plates were issued in 1937.
As described below, there were both 10-inch and 12-inch plates depending on the
number of characters, this being a 12-inch. This image may have come from
a good example of the long and short of it. These are both 1938 Bus
plates, as can be seen one plate is shorter than the other, reason being plates
up to 4 characters used a 6 by 10 inch base, while 5 character plates used used
the longer 6 by 12 inch version. The other striking feature of this plate is the
map outline. This feature made it debut on passenger plates in 1937 and
was expanded to other plates in '38. Clayton Moore supplied the O526 plate
picture, while the O1785 image is courtesy of Jeff Francis. Approximately
5,451 bus plates were issued for 1938.
Here's another 1946 Bus plate.
Click the link to see all three images showing the variations of size and
formatting. For 1946 there were some 10,517 plates registered, making this
the first year plates began using an alpha character after the O, such as OA629.
This image is from Jerry McCoy.
This is the second 1950 Bus shown.
Note the serial is all-numeric except for the O prefix, while the other 1950
plate was OB721. Some 12,684 plates were issued that year so the plates
likely were issued well into the OC series. This image is courtesy of
Here's a newly issued personalized # 2
H/VHonoring Our Veterans plate. I'm sure this is quite
an eye catcher on the road. The contributor wished to remain anonymous.
It appears that severalCombat
Infantryman Badge plates have now been issued.
The person who sent this image wished to remain anonymous.
newer PA plate types are now on the street:
Monuments, Gettysburg 1863, first image was provided by John
Kerestes. Looks like plate sales are brisk. I would expect to see
personalized versions of these such as 1863 G/B or 153PA
image of anIn God We Trust
plate. Picture courtesy of Dale Bernecker.
On the Veterans Plate Page I have
tried unsuccessfully for several years to place the plates in some order of
rank, achievement or significance. This has not worked well and the page
has been reorganized and placed in alphabetical order with the exception of the
Medal of Honor plate which will always be first. This in no way is meant
to diminish the service and the deeds of our veterans.
Veterans Plates, Ryan Battin
has provided another image of the newly formatted Vietnam War Veteran
plate on the far left. The sample on the near left represents the plates
issued from 1999 until the changeover in 11/2014.
Starting off this week's bus plate run is
this 1940 'shorty',
no rhyme intended. Apparently during the period from 1930 to 1942 two
plate sizes were used. Plates with up to 4 characters used a 6 by 10 inch
blank, and those with 5 characters used a 6 by 12 inch version. This plate
is a low number, being plate 171 with the O prefix. Plates starting at
O1000 would have used the larger base. 5,900 plates were issued in 1940.
Thanks to Jerry McCoy for the image. Anyone have the larger size?
I don't have a 42 plate to display with this
43 war-time tab,
but click open the thumbnail image to enlarge it and you can look below the 43,
and the 3-31-44 expiration date and read the stamped O6155 serial number
indicating this was used on a Bus plate. The tabs measure 1⅞" x 2⅛".
Bus registrations for 1943 were some 8,200 while '42 registrations were 7,800.
I can only assume that newly registered buses in '43 got a left over '42 base
with a 43 tab.
Next comes this '44 Bus plate
image courtesy of Jeff Francis. This plate has the expiration date
embossed into the upper border, although this change actually came about on the
'41 plates. This feature remained thru the 1957 issue, after which the '58
plates began the use of multi-year plates. These plates also came in two
sizes depending on the number of characters. For 1944 there were some
83-hundred plates registered.
This 1951 Bus plate with its
low number of O155 is now a partner with the O13 plate which was previously
posted. All plates measured 6" x 11", and there some 12,700
plates were issued which means the high should have been somewhere around OC700.
This image is from Jerry McCoy.
The final plates this week are this low
numbered '58 Bus.
The series started at O10-000. Next is the O12-765, '64 base with a
67 sticker. Both plates represent lower number plates in both series.
These images are both courtesy of jerry McCoy.
the far left is the latest
Trailer high from Ryan Battin. It's ready to be mounted with
its 10-15 validation sticker. This plate series (on the visitPA base) started at XCA-0000
in mid-2005. The center plate was the previous series which began at XBA-0000
back in 2004, and finally the earliest of the current plates is the XT plate,
with that series starting at XK-00000 back in 2000. All three variations are
How long will this plate type continue
before a major facelift transforms it into a shadow of its former beauty in
order to give it the "family of plates" look?
At least for now it's still available. Chris DiNunzio shares this latest
Preserve Our Heritage plate. These plates were first
introduced in 1998.
It's not a high and not a low, just a decent
shot of a Lion Member plate
spotted recently. The current high is L/I01548, and
still on this www base.
Leading off this weeks addition to the Bus
plate history section is this 1948 Bus plate
from Jerry McCoy. Sometimes the weekly displays are out of sequence.
It's because I received some great new images which help fill some of the
Anyway this '48 uses an alpha character in the second position. Production
that year was some 12,700 bus plates.
Next in the lineup is this 49 Bus plate,
also from Jerry McCoy. It's a low-numbered plate with the series beginning
at O1, making this the 208th plate produced. Total bus registrations that year
were some 12,338.
The next image is this 1952 Bus plate,
again a low number as seen by the 3-digit plate number. The one change
seen on the '52 plate is the expiration date that had been 3-31 of the following
year has been changed to 5-31.
The final bus plate this week is another 64 base
— this one with a 67 sticker and a higher number than the one shown previously.
The last year with published registration numbers was 1963 with some 14,675,
however, with multi-year registrations it's pretty tough to guess the high
number. What can be said is that between the '64 reissue and this plate
with a '67 sticker, at least 17,200 plates were issued. This is also the last
issue using the O prefix, following this issue Buses changed to a BA prefix.
Check back for many additional historic Bus
plates over the next weeks.
This is a 1984 to 1999
U.S. Senator plate. The image is courtesy of Eric Getchell.
Obviously Senate plates, even pictures, are hard to come by, and so it is with
1971 to '76 and 1977 to '83 plates. If anyone can help with these needed
images it would be greatly appreciated.
personalized Virginia Tech gem. This one using all five of the
available spaces to personalize the plate. This plate is courtesy of
Sean O'Toole. Last week we featured the 1 VT plate from Brendan
Sherry. I think the steep price tag will be the limiting factor for
many potential buyers. I'm anxious to see other recently legislated
vanities as they could appear on such types as Apportioned Trucks, 11 Dealer
types, most Veteran types, many special fund and miscellaneous types.
Of course the limiting factor for some plates will be the weight which in
most cases can not be more than 14,000 pounds.
Here's a prototype image of the new optional
In God We Trust
registration plate. This along with the
Teen Driver plate has
a $20 price tag, and yes, they can both be personalized for an additional $100.
There was supposed to be a U.S. Olympic
plate that came about thru the same legislation that authorized several recent
plate types and other changes. There is no mention of the plate on the
PennDOT website. I have also written to the state senator who was the
prime sponsor of the bill and have received no response.
Bus Plate Update — I have received a
number of additional plate pictures from Jerry McCoy, including a couple of rare
early H-prefix bus plates and a bus plate with evidence that it came from a
taxi. Please check back over the next several weeks.
This week's bus plates begin with this 1954 issue with
an OC prefix. The letter O was the standard prefix on bus plates at the
time, while the C indicates that the initial series of
plates from O1 to O9999 were exhausted, then went thru the OA000 and OB000 series and finally
went into the OC series with a total of over 12-thousand plates being issued.
This plate image was provided with permission of the
ALPCA archivist, but I'm also in the
process of buying this plate.
Here's a pair of 1946 Bus plates
with different serial formatting.
The O87 plate on the far left is a low number being the 87th plate produced that
year, while the OA629 was much closer to the end of production. BMV
records for that year show 10,517 plates issued, which doesn't quite match up
with the OA629, but likely additional plates were produced and some may have
been issues out of sequence. The source of the far left plate is not known,
the other image is with permission of Jeff
The final bus plate this week is from
Clayton Moore and is a
1945 issue. According to BMV records for that year, some 8900
plates were issued making it very unlikely that any plates were issued with an
alpha character following the O. Of course with the end of World War II
part way thru 1945, which signaled a shift in the economy away from the war effort,
focusing more on domestic needs as can be seen with the higher number of bus
plates above for 1946.
These are U.S. Senate plates, and like other
political plates between 1965 and '70 there were at least two versions, with the
second version coming around 1966. It is unknown which of these was first.
Annual stickers were used to revalidate. Serial number used could be US1
and US2, 1US and 2US, or USS1, USS2, 1USS and 2USS. The US-1 image is the
from the ALPCA Archives (with permission) and the source of the second image is
Who would have thought a year ago that
such an organizational vanity plate would be possible in PA? And yes,
it's real. Here is a comparison
between the older Virginia Tech 00001VT and this hot off the plate press 1VT
plate. Brendan Sherry, the Virginia Tech plate program administrator,
shares these images. This is the first one of these organizational
vanities shown on this website. The change to allow this came about as
the result of
Act 23 being signed
into law on 3/19/14 and taking effect 7/17/14. Now most (but not all) organizational
and many other plate types can be personalized for a fee. In most
cases it's an additional $100 on top of the standard fee and for some plate
types it's a mere $50.
A little PA Plate trivia.Did you know that PA now has over 500 plate types? That
number does require some explanation. The largest single group
are organizational plates of which there are about 332 listed; however, of
that number there are about 18 with no active plates on the street, but they
are authorized. There are also over 50 NASCAR varieties. These
are no longer issued, however, they are still considered current. It should be
noted that a handful of NASCAR plates were never issued due to lack of demand.
The remainder of the 500 are made up of miscellaneous, special fund,
official, bus and mass transportation related plates, car enthusiast plates,
political and dealer plates. This number does not include the many
type variations seen with certain plates, nor does it include plates no
longer on the street
such as Foreign Consul, Auto Manufacturer, Fire Department, and a few others.
As mentioned last week there are two new
special organizational plates being released. The first of these is ChildFirst Pennsylvania.
Here is a link to their website,
but as of today, there is no mention of plates, and no plates are in use yet.
I'm guessing that the organization will make plates available to the public
as a fundraising effort.
The other plates is this St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
plate. Like the plate above there is no listing of the plate
on their website. And again
no plates are on the street. I've also moved this plate listing to the
college and university page.
Your choice of colors?
Not really. The white on blue Emergency
Vehicle plate is likely an error plate that
was painted with the municipal plate color scheme. Possibly there was
a short run of these. For some reason this plate is still in use; it
should have been replaced back in 2007. The white on red plate is an
example of correct formatting. Thanks to Nick Tsilakis for this unusual
Back to the weekly pursuit of historic
Bus plates, we begin with this 1953 plate.
Beginning with the '53 plate, the expiration date for bus plates, which is
embossed in the top border, was changed from 3-31 of the following year to
5-31. As with previous weekly postings, this plate uses the letter O
prefix followed by 4 digits. When the 4-digit number sequence ran out,
the plates used OA000 to OA999, then OB000 etc. The high number is
unknown, although records show that some 12,000 plates were issued which may
have extended the progression into the OC000 series.
This '51 Bus plate is an excellent
example of the low-numbered format. It appears that the series started
at O1, that's the letter O and the number 1, making this the 13th plate that
year. The scarcity of the low numbered plates makes it difficult to
say for certain how many years followed this progression. I can say
for certain that the 1935 plates were authorized to run from O1 to O999,
then O1000 to O6000. This image is courtesy of Clayton Moore.
plate shows the use of the alpha character in the second position. While
this may look like OB stands for Omnibus, the progression after O9999, went to OA000,
and eventually OB as seen here. Bureau of Motor Vehicles records for
1950 shows almost 12,700 bus registrations, which would likely extend the
sequence into the OC000 range. The source of this plate picture is