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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.

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Posting 9/25/2016

On Saturday September 24, I attended an ALPCA license plate meet near Nazareth, PA, set up by Dale Bernecker.  I had an opportunity to take well over 100  images from John Willard's license plate collection.  It will take me a while to process all the images but look for Commercial Motorcycle, Motorcycle Dealer, Motorbike, Dealer, including a '54 Transit Dealer, Motorboat Dealer, Tractor Dealer, Suburban, early samples, early vanities, Trailer, Bus, Z series Truck, Foreign Consul.


Commonwealth Constables Association now has, or soon will have, 9 plates in use.  These plates were approved at the end of 2015.  Since these plates are law enforcement related, they have been grouped with Fire, Police and EMS organizations.  They are headquartered in Steelton, PA, which is just south of Harrisburg.


The plate on the far left is not a high, it's not even a good picture, but this Fire Fighter plate is within a few number of the current high of FF38686 as recorded by Tom Perri.  These are supposedly available as vanities which I'd like to see, since generally organizational vanities on the visitPA base use a flat screened logo and name.  PennDOT now calls these as Volunteer Fire Fighter plates, and shows the near left prototype image which appears to be a screened.


Here's the latest high Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce plate.  The image was provided by Dale Bernecker.  These have been around for 10 years.



Brendan Sherry snapped these two West Virginia University plates.  The far left plate is a low number, on the www base with WVU Alumni Association as the legend, while the newer plate is on the visitPA base and closer to the current high of W/V01653 according to Tom Perri.


This is a new high NASCAR 14 Tony Stewart plate.  The picture was taken by Bruce Bufalini.  I'm not a NASACAR fan per se, but have always been a NASCAR plate enthusiast.  To this day there are still about 15 variations of NASCAR plates with no photos.  Most of these are where only 1 or 2 plates were issued but about 20 NASCAR 5 Terry Labonte plates were issued and never been photographed.  An then there are 8 or 9 plates that were never issued.


Bruce also snapped this Honoring Our Veterans 'THANKS TO YOU' vanity plate.  This is a Special Fund plate with the series being available since late 2012.







Added this Apportioned Bus sample plate image to the bus gallery.  In the early years of this plate, the number of plates issued was only into the hundreds, but in later years the number seems to have increased considerably with the current reported high of BN-03831, while the actual issued high is around BN-03980.  After BN-03999 is reached, the series is expected to jump ahead to BN-04200.  Why the jump in numbers?  Will they then be on the visitPA base?


This 100 year old 1916 Motorcycle plate and registration document were up for grabs on eBay by bigdon45 who gave me the OK to use the pictures.  The two-digit plate is rare enough, and quite a bit more so with the owner's card.  The plate measures 4½" high by 6" in length.  The colors are black on orange.  Click the link above to also view a 3-digit, 4-digit and 5-digit plate for 1916.  There were some 21-thousand plates issued that year. 


I thought this Suburban plate would be my last to display.  It shows the characteristic Q in the fifth position.  Then John Willard provided me with the opportunity to photograph Suburban plates from the runs that were still needed.  With the three plates below, the gallery now has a plate from each of the eight Suburban combinations.  The last plate shown below with the Q4C-280 is the highest number known at the end of the Suburban series.  This particular run would have started at Q0A-000, with A being the final character to advance, and in this case advancing to C.

I will show some additional Suburban Press Photographer plates sometime in the future.





Posting 9/18/2016

Here's the first image of a Ducks Unlimited plate now on the visitPA base.  The image was provided by Dale Bernecker.  This latest edition hit the streets in early 2016 with the sequence starting at D/U01900.



This first image of a Kuhl Hose Company plate image is brought to you courtesy of Tom Perri and Jordan Irazabal.  A very special thank you to these gentlemen for their efforts in photographing this plate.  It's home would be Erie County.  About 20 of these plates have been issued so far, and they have been on the road since around March of this year.


Tom Perri also photographed this vanity edition of a Gold Star Family plate.  A plate to be displayed with great pride and at the same time tremendous sadness.  Up to four characters are allowed.  This is the first vanity I've seen, and is among the nearly 660 standard issue Gold Star Family plates issued so far.  These plates have been available since late 2006.


While on the subject of vanity veterans' plates, Chuck Harrington, snapped this plate picture of a Combat Wounded Veteran / Purple Heart plate.  This plate allows up to 5 characters for vanities.



Here's another Combat Wounded Veteran / Purple Heart plate. This is the current high, and the first plate photographed above P/H10000.  The image is courtesy of Tom Perri and Jordan Irazabal.  Click this link to see older Purple Heart plates, the first generation of which dates back to 1986 when the plates were originally yellow on blue.


Lock Haven plates are sending mixed signals.  I'm not going to try to explain this but there are currently three different numbering sequences on current Lock Haven University color graphic plates.  Lock Haven is not a large facility would not have plates in the thousands.  The center plate is from Ryan Battin, while the near left picture came from Tom Perri.


This Permanent Trailer from Bruce Bufalini is the new high.  Plates with the alpha character in the next to the last position were first seen in May of 2015.  This was after plates with the letter in the final position exhausted all the available combinations.  The first Permanent Trailer plates date back to 1997 on the yellow on blue base.  Click this link to see the older plates.



Here's the latest School Bus high from Brendan Sherry.  Click this link to see the complete run of School Bus plates from 1956 until the present.




At least the bolt holes are still there.  This very early www base Passenger plate was likely issued in April of 2000.  The plate is not beat up, but it has been subjected to a lot of weathering and other hardships.  The law that would have required the replacement of plates every 10 years was repealed in 2008.  I'm sure this plate would qualify as illegible and would be eligible for a free replacement.  Steve Ondik spotted this.


Here's another sad specimen.  This Conserve Wild Resources - Owl plate was also provided by Steve Ondik.  On this plate the graphic portion has held up much better than the numbers.  I'm guessing that this would qualify for a replacement, but not sure if a standard plate would be provided or if a Conserve Wild Resources - Otter plate would be offered.  Anyone know?


This week's Suburban plate features a plate with the Q in the 4th position.  I have one more Suburban plate for next week — 681-4Q9.  Does anyone have any Suburban plates from the following groups they would be willing to share, 0Q00 to 9Q999, 000Q to 999-Q99, 000-00Q to 999-99Q, and Q0A-000 to Q3B-054?



Posting 9/11/2016

Before posting photos this week I want to say thank you to the network of friends and fellow license plate enthusiasts who regularly share photos from their daily travels, special events and dedicated plate photo missions.  Without your help and generosity, this website would not be what it is today.  I have also been inundated with computer networking issues on one of my jobs resulting in a short display of plates this week.


This Combat Action Medal was recently photographed by Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  This is the first image of such a plate on this website.  Great find as there may only be 1 or 2 of these plates in use in addition to the plate shown below. 



This Combat Action Medal vanity plate likely refers to a C-130 Hercules, a military aircraft that has seen a lot of uses over a lot of years — mid-1950s till today.  Thanks to Tom Perri for sharing the image.



Next is this somewhat more common Distinguished Flying Cross plate also thanks to Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  Presently there are some 50 of these plates issued.



This very nice low number Gettysburg 1863, Pennsylvania Monuments plate was snapped by Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  These are considered Special Fund Plates, have been available since 2014, now with some 550 having been issued.  These plates seem to be popular as vanities as well.


This 82nd Airborne Division Association plate photo was provided by Jordan Irazabal.  This plate is classified as an organizational plate rather than a veterans' plate.  These have been around since 2007 and have a reported high of 00238A/R according to Tom Perri's website.


It's not quite a new high, but it's a nice 3-digit image of a PA State Society Daughters of the American Revolution plate from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  That very long title makes the plate difficult to read on the road.  The current high on this type is 00183D/R according to Tom Perri's webpage.  By comparison that title is second in length only to the Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America.


Spotted this U.S. Army Veteran vanity plate recently.  The M60A-series was the US main battle tank from 1960 until 1997.  Nice plate, like to know the story behind it. 



This nice Veteran plate was provided by Brendan Sherry.  These plates have been around since 2005 and are one of the plates issued in two tiers representing a reserve group and a general issue group.  The current reported high is 02400U/S according to Tom Perri.



Here's the weekly addition to the slate of Suburban plates.  This is one of the 5 character plates that does not have the keystone separator as seen on 6 character plates.  It appears to be part of the 00Q0 to 99Q-999 run.  I acquired a couple more of these plates for display over the next couple weeks.



Posting 9/4/2016

I posted this Philadelphia Union Foundation plate picture on 8/28.  I misidentified the source of the picture.

If you sent me this image please let me know so I can credit you.  Thanks.



The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance Inc. has or soon will have some 57 plates on the road.  No image yet.




They're here!  Kyle Kuser snapped this first image of this newly released Share the Road plate, which is part of the Special Fund series. On the surface it would appear that plate sales are off to a good start.  Not so quick.  Plate sales started at B/K00106, and currently run to B/K00180.  It's not unusual for certain plate types to be issued in two tiers.  In other words the public gets plates from the second tier, while another group of lower number plates are held in reserve for a select group of favored individuals.  Efforts to get an explanation of this practice in the past have been met with blatant stonewalling.


This under-100 Lehigh University Alumni plate image was provided by Steve Ondik.  Lehigh switched over to the visitPA graphic base about 10 years ago.  The plate shown here would be one originally issued on the yellow on blue base, then later reissued on the www base.  Click the link to see more images and details.  The current high is 02255L/U.


This West Catholic High School is from Jaska Börner, and comes from the series of plates issued since the  re-plating in 2001, and shows a jump in plate numbers leaving a block of numbers skipped.  This group started at W/C01000 and the plate pictured here is close to the current high of W/C01058.


I couldn't get a straight-on shot of this plate so I did my best with PhotoShop.  It is a new high number Street Rod plate.  So far it does not appear that there are plans to revamp this plate as has been done with Antique Vehicle and Classic Vehicle plates.  This also means no vanities available.  These plates have their origin back in 1982 with a starting point of 0001S/R.



Here is a nice pair of Quality Deer Management Association plate photos taken by Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  The plate on the far left is unique in that it is on a trailer.  Organizational plates are now permitted on trucks under 14-thousand GVW, trailers and motor homes, but so far not on motorcycles.



Here's a new high Pennsylvania Hunting Heritage plate from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  These plates have been in use for a little over a year with a little over 800 plates being issued.  The vanity option is not available on this plate type.



Here's another Appalachian Trail Conservancy plate.  These plates have been active since late 2014 and by now some 250 plates have been issued.  Thanks to Steve Ondik for the image.



Here's a fairly low number Vietnam Vets plate.  It's the only under 1500 image I have on the www base.  The plate was photographed by Steve Ondik.  This organization has had plates since 1988, with the current high above V/V04500.



This is a subject I should have posted long ago.  There was a change in Motorcycle plate fonts (dies) a few years back.  Ryan Battin sent me several pictures (one shown here) showing the change and Steve Ondik recently sent me other pictures showing this change.  Click to enlarge the image and compare the characters, especially the 2, 4 and F.  The MC dies may also have changed.  It appears to me that the change took place after the Live Free Ride Alive run changed back to the standard visitPA base.  This change was likely at plate 7500T.  I have not seen this newer font used on Moped or Motorcycle Dealer plates, but it appears to be used on later M/C vanities.



This is the second and last of my Suburban plates from my collection, however, I'm in the process of getting a few more.  There are certainly many permutations and combinations of this extinct species of plates.




Posting 8/28/2016

Here's the latest high Apportioned Truck plate, well into the AG-series, which was first seen in May or June of 2012.  So, in a little over four years, almost 50-thousand plates have been issued.  If you are unfamiliar with PA plates there are also Apportioned Bus plates which are issued in much lower numbers, use a BN prefix and are still on the www base.  These plates are renewed annually always with a 5-YY (May - 2-digit year) sticker.  It is unknown if these stickers will also be eliminated in the future.  This image is thanks to Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.


Here's the latest Farm Truck high.  These plates were first issued on the '77 blue on the yellow base.  They have always used the FM prefix, but since the plates were reissued on the www base, an alpha suffix has been added.  This series switched from the www base to the visitPA base with the 'D' suffix.  Click the Farm Truck history link to see the progression of plates since they were first introduced.


Here's a Concordville Fire and Protective Association plate.  Concordville is located in Delaware County.  The current reported high is 00037C/F according to Tom Perri's PA Plates website.  This plate program has been around since 2007.



Here's a new high Flourtown Fire Company plate.  These have been on the road since 2008.  They are located in Springfield Township, Montgomery County.



This Clarion University plate was spotted by Tom Perri and Jordan Irazabal.  While this plate is within the 'normal series' there is also a small run of plates from C/U43045 to C/U43103 which were likely done as a result of transposing the 03 in the series shown here and making it 30.  Click the Clarion link above to see plates from both series.  This plate program dates back to 2005.


Here's a new high Mercyhurst College plate photo from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  Mercyhurst is located in Erie, and now refers to itself as Mercyhurst University.  There was an indication a while back that Mercyhurst would be moving to the color graphic base, but so far there is no evidence to support that.  Thanks to Tom and Jordan for their efforts in getting this picture.


This image of a Philadelphia Union Foundation plate.  The source of this plate is unknown — if you sent me this image please let me know so I can credit you.  These plates have been on the street since 2013.  Currently the reported high is 10150U/F.  The Philadelphia Union is professional soccer team, while the Philadelphia Union Foundation, according to their website, "provides opportunities for children through the power of relationships to offer transformational change in the areas of education, community, health and recreation."


Here's a new high WHYY plate.  WHYY is a National Public Radio and TV station serving southeast PA, southern NJ and Delaware.  Their plate program's been around since 2009.  The image was provided by Colin M.



With cars shows as ubiquitous as they are in summer, new highs are fairly common.  The Antique Historic plate series switched to a 0A00 format recently after the previous series ran out of combinations upon reaching 9ZZ9.  This is the new series high.



This Temple University Official plate is not a recent photograph, but it's being added to show a 2-digit (38) plate along with 1 and 3-digit plates already posted.  Temple plates, like Penn State Official plates, use the school colors, unlike the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University which use standard PA plate colors.  It appears to me that many Temple-owned vehicles use standard issue plates in place of official tag, thus the current reported high is only T0218U.


Continuing with Suburban plates, here is an Amateur Radio Suburban plate.  I always considered the Amateur Radio Suburban and Press Photographer Suburban kind of a hybrid plate, or maybe a plate that belongs in two categories.  It would be interesting to know haw many of each of these were actually issued.  I'm not aware of any other Suburban hybrid types.




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Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376