Pennsylvania license plate

Rick Kretschmer's License Plate Archives 

Pennsylvania license plate

Pennsylvania License Plate ???Whatzit???

Help in identifying 1914 to 1933 unlabeled plate types

 

This page helps you identify Pennsylvania plate types that don't have identifying legends.  Other than passenger car plates and motorcycle plates, such plates were pretty much only issued during the periods 1914 to 1919 and 1924 to 1933. 

Latest noteworthy updates to this page
  • November 3, 2016  –  Added photos of a 1930 truck plate with four serial characters.  Replaced photos of other people's 1917 solid tire vehicle plate and 1919 truck plate with photos of plates that I've added to my collection. 
  • November 19, 2015  –  Added photo of a 1931 mystery plate with numbering format 000xx.  Upgraded 1933 truck plate.  Updated discussion of 1924-1929 suffix "S" plates.  Other minor text revisions. 

Introduction

My "Whatzit" page is intended to be a supplement to the information found in the ALPCA Archives.  The Archives are sort of like a dictionary; you have know what you are looking for in order to find it easily.  The "Whatzit" page is better suited for those situations where you only know the definition, and you need to find a word.  It can get you pointed in the right direction so that you can go either to the ALPCA Archives or to my own Pictorial History pages, and be able to find what you need without wading through pages of irrelevant data. 

I sincerely hope that you find this information useful.  If you find an error or have additional information, or can provide a plate or a photo of a plate that I'm missing, please send me an e-mail.  There's a link to my e-mail address at the bottom of every page. 

Pennsylvania plate types without identifying legends, 1914-1919

All-numeric serial formats, no stars or blank space along left side. 

1914 passenger car
1916 passenger car

Pneumatic tire motor vehicle (usually a passenger car) 1914-1917; passenger car regardless of tire type 1918-1919. 

One to five stars along either the left or right edge of the plate. 

1915 solid-tire vehicle
1917 solid tire vehicle
1919 truck

Solid tire motor vehicle (usually a truck) 1914-1917; truck regardless of tire type 1918-1919.  1914 and 1915 plates had a metal band affixed that had the stars on it; in subsequent years, the stars were embossed directly onto the plate, but in some cases these also have a metal band with a different number of stars than on the plate itself.  1914-1916 plates all had all-numeric serials; 1917 plates all had an "S" prefix (presumably for "solid tire"), and 1918-1919 plates all had a "C" prefix (presumably for "commercial"). 
(1915: plate owner unknown) 

All-numeric serial formats, with a blank space along left side. 

1914 passenger car

Plate originally intended for a solid tire vehicle, but issued instead to a pneumatic tire vehicle (usually a passenger car).  Only issued in 1914 and 1915.  The state over-estimated the number of solid tire plates they would need, and apparently issued the leftovers without the band of stars to pneumatic tire vehicles. 

Small 4 1/2 inch-high plate with all-numeric serial. 

1914 motorcycle
1917 motorcycle

Motorcycle.  All 1914 and 1915 plates had serials with a single leading zero; subsequent years did not. 
(Francis plates) 

Pennsylvania plate types without identifying legends, 1924-1929

Plate number 000

photo unavailable

Sample plate.  Earliest year seen is 1925. 

Other all-numeric serial formats. 

1924 passenger car

Passenger car; number of digits varies. 

Serial formats with a single letter prefix A, B, C, D, E (1928-1929 only), or F

1929 passenger car

Passenger car. These were issued after plate number 999-999.  One new letter prefix was introduced each year, 1924 through 1929.  Prior to 1928, the "E" prefix was used on tractor plates. 

Serial formats with a single letter prefix E (1924-1927 only). 

photo unavailable

Farm tractor.  In 1928, the "E" prefix was needed for passenger car plates, and tractors instead used a "TE" prefix. 

Serial formats with a single letter prefix H or O

photo unavailable

Bus or taxi.  There's conflicting information whether "H" was used for buses and taxis for hire and "O" was used for omnibuses (buses not for hire), or vice-versa. 

Serial formats with a single letter prefix R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, or Z

1924 truck
1928 truck

Truck.  The letter prefix was a weight class code, with "R" indicating the lightest trucks and "Z" indicating the heaviest trucks. 

Serial formats with a single letter prefix X

1925 dealer

Dealer. 

Serial formats with a two-letter prefix TE

photo unavailable

Farm tractor; only issued in this format 1928 and later.  Identical in appearance to the 1930 plate shown below.  1927 and prior farm tractor plates used a single letter "E" prefix. 

Serial formats with a two-letter prefix TT

1929 trailer

Trailer. 
(Moore photo and plate)

Serial formats with a two-letter prefix TX

photo unavailable

Farm tractor dealer. 

Serial formats with a single letter suffix R or S

1925 truck

There's a lot of specualtion about this plate format, but I'm convinced that R-suffix plates, at least, were used for trucks in weight class R after plate number R99-999 was issued.  I've observed R suffixes on 1924 through 1926 plates.  1927 R-suffix plates have been reported by others. 

S-suffix plates are even more of a curiosity.  The obvious, but perhaps incorrect answer is that they were used for trucks in weight class S after plate number S99-999.  However, another plate historian has reported he's uncovered evidence that these were used to designate state-owned vehicles in 1924.  Only 1924 S-suffix plates are known to exist.  State-owned vehicles had the word "Official" stamped on them from 1926 forward.  It's unknown how state-owned vehicle plates might have been designated in 1925. 

Serial formats with other single letter prefixes or suffixes and low numbers. 

photo unavailable

Letters J and L have been observed on 1928 plates.  Possibly the letters J and L stand for Judiciary and Legislative, respectively.  Plates with these actual words stamped on them are known from 1929 through 1935. 

Small, 8 inch by 4 1/2 inch plate with all-numeric serial which does not involve a leading zero. 

1924 motorcycle

Regular motorcycle. 
(Francis plate) 

Small, 8 inch by 4 1/2 inch plate with serial formats where the the first character is either a zero or the letter "O". 

photo unavailable

Unknown type.  Possibly a motorbike or a commercial motorcycle. 

Small, 8 inch by 4 1/2 inch plate with serial formats using a single letter prefix X

photo unavailable

Motorcycle dealer. 

Pennsylvania plate types without identifying legends, 1930-1933

All-numeric serial formats. 

1933 passenger car

Passenger car. 

Serial formats with a single letter prefix O

1930 bus

Bus or taxi.  The "H" designation used on some bus plates was eliminated after 1929.  The letter "H" was just one of many letters used for passenger car plates starting in 1930.  "O" plates continued to be used for buses and taxis. 

Serial formats with a single letter prefix T followed by a number with four or fewer digits. 

1931 trailer

Trailer. 

Serial formats with a single letter X in any position. 

1930 dealer?

The easy answer would be that this is a dealer plate.  However, that would contradict the information below regarding some plates with two-letter suffixes being dealer plates, at least for 1930 and possibly also 1931.  There's a much higher likelihood that "X" plates were used for dealers in 1932 and 1933.  So what are the 1930 and 1931 "X" plates if they're not dealer plates?  I'd guess passenger car plates, but I just don't know. 
(Morrison photo and plate)

Serial formats with a single letter (other than those above) in any position, with zero to four numeric digits in other positions. 

1932 passenger car
1933 passenger car

Passenger car. 

Serial formats with a single letter prefix R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, or Z, followed by a five-digit number. 

1933 truck

Truck.  The letter prefix was a weight class code, with "R" indicating the lightest trucks and "Z" indicating the heaviest trucks.  Issued in 1932 and 1933. 

Plate number PA00

photo unavailable

Sample plate. 

Serial formats with a two-letter prefix TE

1930 tractor

Farm tractor. 

Serial formats with a two-letter prefix TX

photo unavailable

Farm tractor dealer. 

Serial formats with two adjacent letters (other than those above) in either positions 1 and 2 or positions 2 and 3, with zero to three numeric digits in other positions.  In other words, formats xx, xx0, xx00, xx000, 0xx0, and 0xx00

photo unavailable

Passenger car. 

Serial formats with a two-letter suffix, formats 00xx and 000xx

1930 truck
1930 truck
1931 unknown type

Truck and possibly also dealer.  Issued in 1930 and 1931.  1930 plates in this format with first letter "A" through "V" were truck plates.  By one account, 1930 plates in this format with first letter "X" or "Y" were dealer plates; however, I've never seen one of these.  1931 plates in this format have been observed with first letters "A" and "B"; the usage of such plates is unknown.  My guesses are that they're either R-class truck plates issued after other R-class numbering formats were exhausted, or else they're dealer plates. 

Serial formats with two non-adjacent letters (first letter is R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, or Z). 

1931 truck

Truck.  The first letter was a weight class code, with "R" indicating the lightest trucks and "Z" indicating the heaviest trucks.  The first letter was not necessarily in position 1.  Issued in 1931. 

Small, 4 1/2 inch-high plate with all-numeric serial which does not involve a leading zero. 

1933 motorcycle

Regular motorcycle. 
(Francis plate) 

Small, 4 1/2 inch-high plate with serial formats where the the first character is either a zero or the letter "O". 

photo unavailable

Unknown type.  Possibly a motorbike or a commercial motorcycle. 

Small, 4 1/2 inch-high plate with serial formats using a single letter prefix X

photo unavailable

Motorcycle dealer. 

Small, 4 1/2 inch-high plate with serial formats using a single letter prefix other than those listed above. 

photo unavailable

Those with prefix letter "C" might be commercial motorcycle plates or regular motorcycle plates.  Other letters are probably regular motorcycle plates. 

Unusual plate types with legends, 1926-1935

Page credits

Thanks to those who have directly contributed to the information on this page:  Clayton Moore and Brad Morrison. 

Moore and Morrison photos are presumed to be copyrighted by Clayton Moore and Brad Morrison, respectively, and are used with permission.  Francis plates are from the collection of Jeff Francis. 


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