ALPCA small crestWelcome to PA PL8S / PA PLATES Weekly Magazine

Pennsylvania License Plate History & Images

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376

 Home  |  About this site  |  Contact


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.

This is a reference-only website, no plate sales.

What's new in the last 30 days?

٠ Click thumbnail images to enlarge   ٠ Click links to go to plate galleries


  Antique, Classic, etc.

  Bus, Limo, Taxi, etc.

  Dealer & MV Business

  Miscellaneous & Passenger

  Official Plates

  Political Plates

  Veterans Plates

  College, University, etc.

  Fire, EMS & Police

  Fraternal, Non-Profit, etc.


  Special Fund Plates

  Pending/Proposed Plates

  Mystery, Oddball, DCNR, etc

  Plate Codes


  Front Plates

  Old Registration Records

  Plate History, Governor

  Plate History, A to M

  Plate History, N to Z

  Plate History, Passenger

  Plate History, Special Organization

  Plate History, Truck

  Special Event Plates


  Group Displays (old & new)

  Historic docs & misc references



  Plate Highs (

  Validation Stickers (old & new)

  Vehicle Code (Registration)


  2019 Archives

  2018 Archives

  2017 Archives

  2016 Archives

  2015 Archives

  2014 Archives

  2013 Archives

  2012 Archives

  2011 Archives

  2010 Archives

  2009 Archives

  2008 Archives

  2007 Archives

  2006 Archives (from 7/22/06

Posting 3/17/2019

This plate is likely the first of its kind, Distracted Driving Awareness plate.  The serial number may seem strange but it's not unusual for plate serials numbers to start at 100 or 101.  Sometimes the under 100 plates are kept in reserve.  This plate is thanks to Brandon Sowers, and was passed on by Jordan Irazabal


Here's a new high Dealer plate recently spotted by Bruce Bufalini.  This plate now has the map outline, whereas the previous high, K51-037K, according to Tom Perri's website, did not.  Based on an inventory sheet, it appears that this changer took place at K51-500K, although the map was seen earlier on Dealer vanities.


This is a new high Official Use Commercial plate for use on a PennDOT vehicle.  The term commercial in this case refers to use on a truck, loader, grader, etc., not on an automobile.  The type used on an automobile would be formatted as T0001P/A.  The state allows agency-specific plates to be used on PennDOT vehicles and PA Turnpike vehicles.  So far it does not appear that any agencies other than those have opted for their own plates.  Thanks to Charles Switzer for the photo.


We have seen this plate before back in 2012, but when such a rare plate is spotted again, it seems like a good opportunity to show it again.  Thanks to Rob Einhorn for sharing this recent traffic shot of a U.S. Congress 1st District plate.  After the 2000 Census, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was divided into 19 Congressional Districts, decreasing from 21 due to reapportionment. After the 2010 Census, the number of districts decreased again to 18 according to Wikipedia. Then in 2018 the districts were redrawn.


The center plate is a recent photo of an Autism Society of America plate.  It has no sticker well, while the plate to its left still has that feature, and the plate to the right now has the map outline.  All of these changes happened within the span of 24 plates, but since graphic organizational plates are produced as the orders are received, it's hard to pinpoint exactly when a change takes place.  The far left photo was from Brandon Sowers, while the other two as thanks to Bruce Bufalini.


This plate is part of the first formatting group of 1954 Bus plates.  The formatting consists of the letter 'O' + 1 to 4 digits, the second formatting group is the letter 'O' + another letter starting with 'A', then 3 digits, such as OA123.  This plate is currently up for grabs on eBay.  Thank you to Drewski for the use of the photo.


Here is a continuation of Boat Registration stickers from last week.  Again my belief is that stickers with a 31 March 1984 expiration, would indicate that it was valid for the previous year, 1983, and up to the expiration date shown on the sticker.  The other being a 1984 sticker with a 3-85 expiration.  These stickers were provided by Bob Connison.


Recently I was contacted by Eric Tanner concerning the small porcelain 1908 and 1909 Pittsburgh plates.  Eric, as many of you know, is the current editor of Plates Magazine, and a past Archivist for ALPCA.  He has done some great research on early Pittsburgh vehicle registrations.  Unlike the City of Philadelphia pre-state plates which were used as drivers' licenses, the City of Pittsburgh plates were to be used in addition to state-issued plates as a form of taxation on vehicles.  As a result of his research, Eric has expanded that section on his website, License Plate Information,, and I would encourage anyone interested to read it.  He has also discovered that the vehicle registration records for 1909 were published in the Pittsburgh Press.  I have started to post some of the 1909 Pittsburgh Press newspaper clippings of registration records, and will post more next week.  The photos shown here were provided courtesy of Eric Taylor, and are from his website,  The 1908 white on blue plate above was for a 1-seat/2-person automobile, while the white on slate or gray was for a 2-seat/4-person auto.  1909 followed the same format with the white on green 1-seat/2-person automobile, and the white on brown was for a 2-seat/4-person auto.  Next week I should the remainder of the registration records posted.


Posting 3/10/2019

This is the final group of newly available plate types.  These are both Historic Military Vehicle plates with the option of a Motorcycle edition for that type of vehicle.  Full size plates can be used on both trucks and trailer. 



Here's the first photo of a serial numbered Gettysburg College plate on the graphic base.  An earlier photo was taken of a vanity plate; however, both plates still had '17 validation stickers.  The most striking feature of this plate is the 4-digit serial number instead of 5.  One might think that this is a vanity, but Gettysburg plates have always been 4-digit.  We don't know when the switch to the graphic style took place, but it was listed back on 5/31/15.  The previous high was G/C3168.  This plate was spotted by Jordan Irazabal.


The far left full image and the cropped image are of a new high NRA Foundation plate spotted on the fly by Bruce Bufalini.  This is also the second plate spotted with wide character spacing between the serial number and the NRA.  Compare the 0828N/R/A photo which shows the original narrow spacing.  Can't say if the new high retains the sticker well or not.  That plate was previously provided thanks to Brandon Sowers.  


Here's the latest high number Combat Infantryman Badge.  The photo was recently taken by Jordan Irazabal.  These plates are part of a group of 5 combat-related plates which date back to 2014.  This plate series started at 20000C/O.  Plate 20179C/O was previously spotted with the map outline.  They are also available as a vanity.


Here's another high — this one being a U.S. Army Veteran.  These date back to 2009, with quite a few of these now sporting the small map.  Personalized plates are permitted as well.  This plate photo was also taken by Jordan Irazabal.


Here is a WFMZ TV screen shot which shows an electric-powered campus vehicle belonging to Lafayette College.  The vehicle dubbed a 'bubble car' is shown here with a Special Mobile Equipment tag — strange.  To my knowledge, PA does not offer any specialized tags to electric vehicles, slow moving vehicles, autonomous vehicles, etc. and the laws seem vague as they apply to certain vehicle types and uses.  The use shown here may even be exempt from registration as prescribed under Act 57 of 2018.


This is a plate from the 1975 Governor's Inauguration.  It is also one that bears the name of Venango County.  For that year, in addition to the plates with serial numbers, there were also plates that looked similar to 1965 Governor plates, but with Inauguration 1975 as the top legend and a county names below.  So far the counties of Allegheny, Philadelphia, Cameron, Clearfield and Philadelphia have been documented.  The Philadelphia plate is on a different base.  Thanks to Eric Conner for the use of the plate photo.


Starting 3/17, I'm planning to add some history and images of early Pittsburgh plates.  These plates are very scarce, at least for now the focus will be on 1908 and 1909 plates.  Thanks to Eric Tanner and Eric Taylor for their help.


Here we have another group of Boat Registration stickers.  As before, I'm not very familiar with theses stickers, but believe that stickers with a 31 March 1981 expiration, would indicate that it was valid for the previous year, 1980, and up to the expiration date shown on the sticker.  So here we also have 1981 with 3-82 expiration, and a 1982 with 3-83 expiration.  These stickers were provided by Bob Connison.


Here is a pair of Trailer plates from 1934 and 1936.  1934 was the first year of a new serial numbering system.  Up through 1933 plates used T or TT to designate it as a Trailer.  Then beginning in 1934 plates used 1 to 9999, then A1 to at least A118, they also now had the legend TRAILER on the plate.  Thanks to eBay user simbacurt for the use of these photos.


This is a 1938 Class U Truck plate.  Class U includes the following serial formats: U000A, U00A0, U0A00, with this plate being part of the second progression.  All 1938 Truck plates measured 6 inches by 12 inches.  Thanks to Clayton Moore for the use of this photo.



Posting 3/3/2019

Last week a number of new Special Fund plates were unveiled.  This week prototypes of several new Veterans' plates have been added.  From left to right these include a Purple Heart or Combat Wounded Veteran Motorcycle plate, Legion of Merit award plate, Soldier's Medal plate and Veterans of an Allied Foreign Country.  No plates in use as of 3/1.


Here's a new high Severely Disabled Veteran plate that was recently spotted.  One thing I like about this plate and several other Veterans' plates is that they have not joined the 'family of plates' movement.  It is my belief that this is because the legislation that authorized such plates, also spelled out the colors and design of the plate.


Here's a group effort thanks to several friends.  This group of Veteran plates were all photographed recently.  The far left plate is from Jordan Irazabal showing a plate that was likely issued not too long before the sticker wells ended.   The center plate shows the lowest known number without the sticker well and is thanks to Tom Perri.  The right-hand photograph of was taken by Bruce Bufalini.  This plate is the current new high, but still no map symbol.


This is a recent photo of a Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club plate from Jeff Lawson.  The current reported high is 00036B/K.   With the recent change in the law which now allows for organizational motorcycle plates, I would think that this club would welcome such an option..  


The far left International Association of Fire Fighters photo was snapped by Tom Perri back in August of 2017.  I photo-shopped it a bit to try to square it up.  Anyway the photo appears to show a plate without the sticker well.  The near left photo I took recently showing a plate with the map. 


This is a continuation of Boat registrations from last week beginning with 1998 with a 3-31-99 expiration.  The others are stickers from 2005-06 and 2008-09.  Thanks to Tom Firth for the sticker photos.


These are all 1977 base Motorcycle plates that were issued between that year and 1985.  Andrew Turnbull has shared his research on the progression of PA's Motorcycle plates.  He unveiled the fact that while almost all '77-base plates had narrow bolt hole spacing, there was a run of plates toward the end where the wide hole spacing came about in preparation for the '85 issue.  This is new information for this website, and has resulted in splitting Format 4 plate progression into 2 groups.  Format 4A, as seen in the center plate has the narrow holes, while 4B, right-hand plate, has the wide spacing,  The far left plate is an example of a low number Format 1 (0A000) plate.  The 1AP6S came from an unknown eBay auction.


Andrew Turnbull also focused on the 1985 Motorcycle base.  The alpha-numeric progression remained the same throughout the series; however, Andrew noted the use of a wide font and a narrow font used for the legend PENNA.  At times the heavy or light application of paint can also create some confusion as to which font was used.  The far left plate, from Andrew, has the thicker font, while the other plate has the skinny font.  Check back next week for some additional refinement of the www base Motorcycle plates from Andrew.


Here is a very distinctive 1924 Format 1 Passenger plate from eBay user V16.  This group consisted of all-numeric plates from 1 to 4 digits.  All such plates were 'shorties' measuring 6 inches by x 10 inches.  Plates with 5 digits went to 12 inches, and 6 digit plates were 15 inches.  Toward the end of the run, alpha-numeric plates made their debut.


What's up with the sizes of these 1920 Commercial (aka Truck) plates?  These plates are part of that 1920 to '23 period that has been the subject of many questions.  As previously mentioned Rob Baran's research has shed a lot of light on such plates.  Rob has also provided the center and right-hand plate.  Those plates with legend on both and top and bottom of the plate measured 7 inches in height, as compared to the plate with the legend along the bottom which measures 6 inches.


This is an extraordinarily nice and very rare 1927 V-Class Truck plate.  It would have been the first V-weight class plate produced that year. At least 13,096 V-class plates were issued that year.  The plate measures 6" by 10", which is the shortest of the three sizes used that year.  It's up for grabs on eBay by eBay user Me, also known as Drewski in the license plate community.


Posting 2/24/2019

In Legislative News, Act 91, was signed into law on 10/24/2018, becoming effective 2/21/19.  The law authorizes a number of new plates, including Honoring Our Women Veterans, Distracted Driving Awareness Registration Plate & Motorcycle plate.  The veterans' plate supports the Veterans’ Trust Fund, and the awareness plates are to further public education on the dangers posed by distracted driving.  As such, these plates are part of the Special Fund group of plates.


In addition, Act 91 also calls for creation of the following new plates: Historic Military Vehicle, Historic Military Motorcycle, Soldier’s Medal, Veterans of an Allied Foreign Country.  This act also provides for Special Organization Registration Plates for motorcycles.  In more Legislative News, Act 108, also effective 2/21/19, authorizes the Legion of Merit plate.  It also authorizes a Purple Heart for motorcycles plate.  Check back for more information and prototypes next week.


A lot of drivers probably wish this were an option, but it's not.  It appears that the owner had this white on black plate made up with the same serial number that had been issued on the owner's passenger vehicle plate.  The plate also features a 'Blue Lives Matter' flag.  Can't really say for certain what the legend says along the bottom of the plate, again maybe 'Blue Lives Matter'.  Judging by the JLL-6741, the original plate was probably issued late in 2013.  The plate was photographed by Nathan Krawzyk.



These next three plate types are a continuation of the announcement about the Penn State Official plates last week.  Here we have a complete facelift of the Temple University Official plates.  No word when this change will take place.



Next plate up for remodeling is the University of Pittsburgh Official plate.  It appears that except for the addition of the map outline and the flat plate legend the plates will look much the same as they have since they have been on the visitPA base.


Here's a seldom seen plate type.  The Lincoln University Official plates were first issued on the yellow on blue base, then replaced with the www base on 9/1/1999.  So far only 30-some plates have been issued, and how many remain in inventory before they are switched to the new design?  The disturbing thing is that it appears that not a single plate has survived from the original yellow on blue issue.


Here is a new high Official Use Commonwealth-owned passenger vehicle plate.  These tags are issued in pairs.  They are slated to switch to the family of plates design; however, if this change does not occur until the current inventory is exhausted, it could take a while, possibly up to 41999-PA.  Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.


This Dealer - Farm Equipment plate is one of the most unusual dealer types.  According to the 2017 Report of Registrations, there was a total of 41 farm equipment dealers in PA with a combined total of 51 plates.  This is also the highest plate spotted.  With so few plates, who knows if we will ever see these tags on the visitPA base, let alone the map base. Thanks to Bruce Bufalini for the photo.


Here is a pair of Support Our Troops license plates.  The far left plate, with a 1-13 sticker, is from Clayton Moore who had this plate up for grabs on eBay recently.  The near left plate is from Tom Perri.  This plate is the current reported high and no longer has the sticker well.  We don't know at what point this change took place, but 00203S/T still had the sticker well.  Tom helped me narrow this down.


If you guessed Boat Registration Stickers you are correct.  I'm going to suggest that the stickers on the far left were for 1987 with an expiration of 3-31-1988.  Same with the 1990 stickers expiring in 1991.  Not sure if these were issued every year since PA boat plates were discontinued after 1963.  These and a few other photos were passed on to me by Tom Firth.


This is a 1939 Format 2 Passenger plate.  That series ran from A100 to Z9999, so both 6 inch by 10 inch and and 6 inch by 12 inch bases were used, with this one being 10 inch.  Thanks to eBay user ALPCA3217, who some may know better as Jeff.



Here are two welcome additions to the 1953 Passenger series.  On the far left is a very nice Format 4 (10A0 to 99Z99), 4-character plate from eBay user ALPCA3217.  The near left plate is an example of a Format 10 plate which runs from 00AA to 99ZZ.  Thanks to eBay user hpr4661 for the photo.  All '53 plates measure 6" x 10".


Last week I featured a series of three 1923 Commercial or Truck plates, along with some explanation of these Pennsylvania plates for the period 1920 through 1923.  This week we have a pair of very nice 1922 Commercial plates.  Many thanks to Rob Baran who recently authored a great article in Plates Magazine about this series.  Rob has kindly sent me a number of plate images.  This week features a continuation of that period with this Class 3 or B plate, and low number Class 6 or E plate.  The 6 88 has a space where a dash might be expected.  Again, the weight classes of these vehicles was identified by the first number of the plate serial number.  More next week.


Posting 2/17/2019

If the wheels in Harrisburg turn according to plan, the following two plates should be unveiled this coming week: Combat Wounded Veteran Motorcycle (Purple Heart), and Legion of Merit. The Legion of Merit is authorized for automobiles, or trucks with a GVW of not more than 14,000 lb.  These were authorized by Act 108.  No photos or prototypes yet.  Stay tuned.


Sad day.  This, and several legacy plates (far left), are being replaced by what you see on the near left.  PennDOT takes pride (really?) in announcing that the official plates issued to Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln Universities will be joining the 'family of plates'.  Once the changeover takes place, the new plates will be issued as singles.  The A45-28P photo is thanks to from Jordan Irazabal and Tom Perri.  Watch for more on the other plates next week.


Here is a pair of Autism Society of America plates.  The plate on the far left was recently acquired by Brandon Sowers and represents a high number before the changeover to the map outline.  The near left plate with the map was a street shot taken by Bruce Bufalini.


Every now and then a blank plate of the original series of Special Fund plates comes to the forefront.  So it is with this DARE plate which had not yet been given its debossed edge and sticker well.  The term DARE is short for Drug Abuse Resistance Education  Also not yet part of the plate are the embossed features including the serial number and state name.  DARE plates are very sought after by collectors.  Thanks to Devan Ciemiewicz for this photo. 


Here's an early Disabled Veteran plate.  I believe these DV plates date back to 1976, and have never been replaced.  So had this plate been registered over the years, it could still be on the street; however, this plate belonging to Tom Firth, has never been used.  Current issue is in the DV-37000 series.


Nothing all that remarkable about this Person with Disability plate, but noticed that I had no plate photos between 00009PD and 14808PD — quite a gap.  Thanks to Brendan Sherry for the photo.



Here's a well-preserved 1940 Motorbike plate.  These are very similar to Motorcycle plates of the time in terms of color, size and shape.  The main difference is the use of MB, as shown here, vs. MC for Motorcycle.  The other difference is the number of plates issued, with Motorcycle registrations far outnumbering Motorbikes.  Thanks to Lee Madigan for the use of this photo.


Here's a nice yellow on green 3-digit 1948 Motorboat License plate.  It measure 5⅛" by 11".  The 11-inch width started in 1947 to accommodate 5 character serial numbers.  Even 1, 2 and 3-digit plates used the 11 inches width.  The photo gallery now has examples of 3, 4 and 5-digit plates.  Plates were issued in pairs.  Thanks to Rob Baran for the use of this photo.


This is a pair of 1949 Motorboat License plates.  Like the plate above all measure 5⅛" by 11".  The 11-inch width, which started in 1947 would run through1949, after which the use of narrower dies in 1950 allowed the plates to be motorcycle size.  Thanks to eBay users rbq507 and mg00000 for the use of these photos.


During the years from 1920 to 1923, the word Commercial was added to truck plates as the identifying legend.  ALPCA member, Rob Baran, recently did a very informative article for the February 2019 issue of Plates Magazine entitled Pennsylvania Commercial Plates 1920-1923.  Rob put forth a great effort to research these plates and help remove much of the shroud of mystery.  The mystery comes about through the apparent lack of a weight classification system.  For those not familiar, the weight classes are identified by the first digit in the number, which equates to Classes 1 to 8.  Rob has kindly forwarded these 1923 Class 2, 4 and 5 images.  The generally held belief was that all plates were 6" by 16" in size regardless of the length of the serial number; however Rob has noted 2 sizes.  Most plates are 6"  by 16"; however, two plates, 56-188 (shown above) and another, actually measure 6"  by 15".  The 15-inch plates have the left side of the plate trimmed, and the beveled edge removed.  He also notes that the positioning of the holes and the slots are reversed on the short plates.  Check back next week for more on this series.  A big Thank You to Rob Baran.  (Sorry for the long read.)


As truck plates transitioned from 1923 to 1924, the word Commercial disappeared and the R through Z (except X) prefixes were established to identify weight classes.  These prefixes, and in some R-class plates as suffixes, were the best identifier of truck plates, since the word TRUCK did not appear on plates until 1934.  This 1924 R-Class Truck plate was provided by Jeff Hinkle.




Page Up  |  Home


Images and photos are always welcome.  Please send to:

John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA

ALPCA #4376