Plates update: January 2016

There are actually plenty of excuses for this being my first plate post since the end of September 2015. None of them are very good, though, so I’ll spare you.

On a serious note: Despite detailed analytics plugins, I am not entirely certain of the extent of my readership. I know there are several other great PA plates sites out there, and certainly plenty of great license plate sites in general. I am not trying to take away from any of these resources and hubs; rather, I would like very much to contribute to the hobby as a whole. That ought to go without saying, but something tells me my setup here is less than ideal. Please view the “license plates” category of my blog as a “fan site” kinda thing. All the photos can be found on my actual plates pages.

Now then, onto a long-awaited update. I haven’t skipped October through December, mind you. Those photos are online and may make an appearance in a post soon enough. This update will focus on December 2015 and January 2016 (the first three weeks of January 2016, anyway).

Let’s start with passenger plates.

JZE-0010 spotted 11 December 2015 in Ardmore, PA.

JZE-0010 is the first JZ* plate I saw. They had been on the road for a little while already at that point, but I suppose dealers in my area were issued their blocks later.

JZR-1018 spotted 7 January 2016 in Ardmore, PA.

This JZR plate was the high at the time. It is on a Honda Ridgeline, and has since been replaced with a YBX truck plate. My guess is the owner had to wait for the title transfer to go through properly or something like that, since YBX was issued way back in 2000!

JZT-1527 spotted 11 January 2016 in St. Davids, PA.

Just a few days later, I saw this high. Parked behind it, actually. I saw plenty of plates in this parking lot, as you’ll see further on in this post.

Expired EVJ-0411 spotted 14 January 2016 in Newtown Square, PA.

I see so many expired plates that I wonder if police even care. My guess is no, as they probably aren’t looking at your plate unless you’re arousing suspicion. Or they figure the owner is just forgetful. Probably that.

Unstickered HMH-3180 spotted 20 January 2016 in Newtown Square, PA.

Here’s a plate from 2010 with no sticker whatsoever. That’s probably even less conspicuous, if you think about it.

JNA-7455 with temp tag spotted 16 January 2016 in Springfield, PA.

I have no idea why this 2014 Hyundai from a high-volume dealer is sporting both an April 2014 plate AND a temporary tag in the window. The plate has stickers for 2015 and 2016. Did the owner really forget for this long? Doesn’t the lack of visibility annoy them?!

Person with Disability vanity spotted 10 December 2015 in Bryn Mawr, PA.

Back in time a bit. This is the first Person with Disability vanity I’ve seen on the road. Technically, this serial reads “MWH-1-PD” since the PD is part of the serial itself. Only 5 characters are allowed on these vanities for that reason. If you want the full 7 (or 8 with a hyphen/space), get a normal vanity and a disabled person placard.

4FUN CAR vanity spotted 12 December 2015 in Ardmore, PA.

The BMW Z3 probably is a fun car to drive. A bit old and outdated now, but that means you can probably pick one up for not much money, and because it’s not all shiny and modern and ostentatious, nobody will look down on you. Well, not metaphorically, anyway.

DAMAGE 2 vanity spotted 11 December 2015 in Ardmore, PA.

I don’t know what this means, but hopefully they don’t actually damage this car. It’s a Range Rover, though, so rest assured it will consistently damage itself.

ST-DS9 vanity spotted 16 January 2016 in Springfield, PA.

Paging Captain Sisko.

YJF-2275 spotted 11 January 2016 in St. Davids, PA.

This is a 1993 Dodge Caravan in surprisingly good condition…with a truck plate. I’ve seen people use old vans for construction work before, oddly, and this one’s got its seats taken out, so I guess that follows.

Truck plates are for anything that primarily carries cargo, and without seats, that’s what this box is for. I admit I actually like these old vans quite a bit. They’re effectively full-frame trucks, albeit with a little petrol engine, so I only like them from afar. Dodge’s latest idea of an underpowered and inefficient “workhorse thing” is visible in the back left.

YAC-2289 spotted in my driveway, 7 January 2016.

This nearly-16-year-old plate looks fantastic compared to some of its brethren from that era. The DD* series of passenger plates comes to mind. Most I see are illegible. This old truck plate hardly has rust stains, and the Peterbilt it’s on (also from 2000) looks great too.

Then again, I’d feel pretty damn uncomfortable with an oil truck covered in rust and looking rough. This oil company comes very highly recommended, by the way. They’ll apologise for being heavily booked, and then arrive hours earlier than you expected.

Now for some specialty plates.

00016 A/L spotted 11 December 2015 in Ardmore, PA.

Less than a block from where I spotted the current high. The organisation’s headquarters are in Wynnewood and they have had a plate program since 2013.

00019 C/H spotted 18 January 2016 in Ardmore, PA.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a little over 430 plates on the road.

00026 T/R spotted 7 January 2016 in Ardmore, PA. This is a high.

The plate frame is obscuring the name of the organisation (why do people do this?) but it’s the Delaware Valley Triumphs, Ltd. This is a chapter of the Vintage Triumph Registry. As you may have guessed, these people are enthusiasts, owners, and collectors of vintage and antique British sportscars and motorcycles. They are quite active, probably because Leyland cars are notoriously unreliable and need constant attention. Don’t shoot the messenger.

00029 P/W spotted 11 December 2015 in Ardmore, PA. This is a high.

This is Penn Wynne / Overbrook Hills Fire Company. They have about 30 plates on the road. Maybe only 28 if this is still the high. Remember the issue starts at 00001, not 00000.

You may have noticed by now that quite a lot of these photos are from Ardmore, PA. Specifically, they are all from the same parking lot. For whatever reason, people visiting the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society often have unique plates, vanities, or high numbers. Lucky me.

100012 R/F spotted 5 January 2016 in Bryn Mawr, PA.

Not a high, sadly. Radnor Township has had these plates on the road since 2012, but only 16 have been spotted as the high has been 10017 R/F since 2013. That’s odd considering I drive right past the firehouse and their parking lot very often, and have done for years!

02750 I/F spotted 22 January 2016 in Newtown Square, PA.

I thought this was a high at first. It’s not – that’d be 04242 I/F. Oh well.

OIF should stand for “Occupying Iraq Failed!” If 4242 people truly believe the Iraqi people are better off now than in 2003, that’s just pathetically sad.

LM-29659 spotted 11 January 2016 in St. Davids, PA. This is a high.

Usually, I have to go into Philadelphia proper to spot Limousine (or Taxi) highs. This one’s breaking the law.

Saved the best PA plate sighting for last.

DV-1009 spotted 3 January 2016 in Newtown Square, PA.
DV-1009 spotted 3 January 2016 in Newtown Square, PA.

This plate was issued in 1976 or 1977. Let’s just get that point out there right now.

Yes, it’s showing its age. Yes, it’s street-legal.

The current Disabled Veteran high is DV-36267. These plates are for veterans who are disabled, but does not confer handicapped parking privileges – there is another version that does. The owner of this plate likely served in Vietnam. The driver was likely his or her daughter, since she looked to be in maybe her mid- to late 30s – it’s definitely not her plate, is my point. Exceedingly rare to see such an old plate still on the road.

PennDOT never saw the need to include plates like these in the 2000-2002 replate, as the colour scheme was not slated to change. In fact, it’s remained exactly the same since 1976, with only minor changes to the placement of the letters (at one point they were stacked) and legends, and using the keystone separator for a brief period in 2012-2014. The current version of this plate is fully embossed, although it’s eligible for personalisation.

Interestingly, personalised DV plates have only the serial embossed. The “DV-” is present, also screened. My guess is they’re using up the current fully-embossed sequenced plates before switching to the screened-legend plates. But if the “DV-” is screened, will the serial be as well? The screened “DV-” is bigger than embossed letters, making it the size of embossed numbers. Remember, PA letters are slightly smaller than numbers. Could this be hinting at PA’s first fully-screened (“flat”) plate?

I hope not.

Non-PA plates time.

Nevada “Las Vegas Centennial” plate spotted 11 January 2016 in St. Davids, PA.

A Jeep from Arizona with a long-expired Nevada plate at a grocery store in Pennsylvania. Okay.

Colorado 372-ZPZ spotted 11 January 2016 in St. Davids, PA.

This Colorado plate is from 2013, right before the state started using the “Q” plates for everything. Just a couple parking spaces away from that Nevada Jeep, too. This is the same parking lot where I saw the YJF Dodge Caravan and the JZT PA passenger high as well – all on the same night! Glad I decided to do my shopping when I did.

Idaho plate spotted in Newtown Square, PA. December 2015.

Kootenai County, Idaho plate right here in Newtown Square, PA. Why?

Kentucky plate – IGWT? Spotted 26 November 2015 in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

Another un-Constitutional license plate type. I wish this problem was confined to the historically questionable South, but PA is doing it too. At least PA didn’t shit on our country’s flag by placing insidious and overtly religious text over the symbol of an officially secular nation!

Delaware Commercial tag on a security vehicle here in Newtown Square. 7 January 2016.

Perhaps it’s for tax reasons…? Ellis Preserve is a misleading name for the place to begin with. They’re turing open space and trees into “luxury apartments,” townhomes, and retail space that nobody wants. It’s disgusting and I can’t believe the Township is allowing them to go ahead with this.

For some reason, their security vehicles are registered in Delaware. Shady.

This one’s eligible for a white-on-black historical remake, though. That’s kinda neat. And at least the retail space planned isn’t gonna be another bunch of stores that already exist within five miles. You know as well as I do that it won’t last. Come on – our Staples went out of business, for crying out loud!

For those of you unaware, there are a lot of historic buildings on this existing campus that will be preserved (because legally they have to be). That does not include the Square Tavern (ca. 1742), seen at the right in the photo above, since it’s not technically on the “Preserve.” It’s not going anywhere, of course. That place is kept up very well.

If you know the area at all, think of where SAP America’s headquarters are. It’s that place. On the West Chester Pike (PA 3) side, there’s the new Bryn Mawr Main Line Health Center complex (that is, of course, neither in Bryn Mawr nor on the Main Line) and some other office building stuff, which will be expanded. No big deal. I’m fine with developing already-zoned land. I just hope they keep a lot of trees and open space. I don’t need to find any more reasons to move back to the Harrisburg area…or New England…

In other PA plates news, the K-series passenger plates are officially here. I’ve not seen them on the road, and with this snow I won’t be seeing much of anything for a couple days, but they’re out there. Around here, we’re still running through JY* and JZ* plates, but a place in Exton just got a batch of KBB plates so chances are pretty good KBA-0000 through KBA-9999 are out there somewhere…!

Quite exciting, to be honest. This only happens every four years!

Well, okay. It’s exciting to me.

Keep an eye out for future updates. I will also be posting a “master list” of various plate sites I frequent, and with any luck will also have my own plates pages cleaned up and looking better than they do at the moment. This mostly entails fixing image gallery scripts, which is actually something I need to do on the entire website to begin with. That’ll be fun.

Plates update: August/September 2015

I’d like to apologise for not maintaining my “monthly update” routine lately, but I won’t. Rather, I should apologise for not informing readers (literally all several of you, and I appreciate each and every one 😉 ) earlier that August was a very slow month for plates, at least for me. My health has not been the best lately, although it is certainly improving now…finally. I think it must be the “back-to-school” season – after all, I’ve still got two siblings (16 and 14) in school locally, and one of them had some kind of cold. Being me, it moved to my chest after about 24 hours, and overstayed its welcome dramatically. Over a year since I’ve so much as touched a tobacco product, and still suffering the consequences. Just a friendly aside. Or warning, whatever.

Anyway, onto plates. First, news! News from Pennsylvania, no less!


The 2015 “World Meeting of Families” apparently took place this past weekend, ending early yesterday evening, with the Pope leaving the country around 8 PM. As a fervent supporter of queer rights, women’s rights, and …well, human rights, I’m generally very suspicious of anything with “Family” somewhere in the name (except for medical practices –  treat all the families you want!). You may know that the word “Family” is present in the names of several hate groups in this country. I can’t tell if these people want to live in 1950 or the Bronze Age, but either way, they are dangerously out-of-touch and their political influence is disturbing, to say the least.

Pennsylvania has already (somewhat recently) joined the ranks of states violating the Constitution by providing an optional “In God We Trust” plate, and being Pennsylvania, also managed to violate basic tenants of graphic design by using an utterly hideous font that makes the unconstitutional slogan nearly illegible. The worst part, though, is that it’s billed as “a plate made available to show pride in America.”

The hell it is. If you want to show pride in your country, put our FLAG on the plate and nothing else, besides “Pennsylvania” and the serial, of course. How hard is that?!

Unless, of course, the intention is actually to show pride in VISA. In that case, fine. 😉


Oh, yeah – that “plate” on the left is actually a currently-available personalised passenger plate. Go ahead and snatch it up if you’d like. I’ve got other ideas for my $76. 😀


Anyway. The “2015 World Meeting of Families” plate will be available very soon, if not imminently, given that it appears on PennDOT’s website under “Special Organisations” (right, because the RCC is totally “non-profit…” suuuuure…no gold or jewels or despicable global legal cover-ups or anything…) and will almost certainly have the serial format 10000 W/M since 00000 W/M is reserved for West Manchester Township Fire Co. plates (of which it must be said there are very, very few).

It is currently possible to order such plates, including personalised versions, through PennDOT, although they do not currently cite an ETA. Why they waited til the whole hyped-up event was over to even list the option (without any fanfare) is beyond me, albeit typically Pennsylvanian. My road was just re-paved to repair damage from the awful winter of 2014 this past week. They tore up some of our driveway + garden in the process. If that doesn’t scream “Pennsylvania” to you, well, yinz gotta a bit t’learn. I dunno.

As John McDevitt rightly points out, special organisation plates in PA are open to literally any non-profit organisation with a presence in the Commonwealth who can get the required number of signatures on their petition to PennDOT. Oh, and I imagine that organisation probably can’t be some bullshit like “Reptilian Hybrids for 9/11 Truth.” Pretty sure PennDOT has to approve the organisation’s mission statement, which means passing a sanity test. Sorry, Alex Jones. Go home.

In any case, such legislation (regarding who can/cannot have their logo on a real and valid PA plate) quite nicely sets up Pennsylvania to be the state/Commonwealth with the largest amount of (currently) available plate types, if we’re not already.

I understand that there are over 500 valid plate types as it is, although I believe that includes a number of discontinued types, such as all the NASCAR ones. Another instance of “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” perhaps?

Enough rambling. You’ve waited how long for a “plates update,” and all I’m doing is calling out PA’s ridiculous violations of our Constitution and basic tenants of aesthetics? It’s like I’m a political commentator or activist or something, right? What are the chances?!

Let’s start with some highs.

Philadelphia Union Foundation high, spotted 25 September 2015 in Ardmore, PA.

First of all, my attention was not drawn at first to the plate, but rather the car. I still feel a pang of wistfulness every time I see a Spark, especially in this colour.

For those who aren’t aware, my first car was a 2013 Chevrolet Spark, which our non-American friends may know better as a Daewoo Matiz, and it was this colour. 🙂 I loved it. It was unique and special and oddly fun.

I put nearly 18,5K miles on it before it suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure at speed, essentially shat itself through the transaxle, and of course caused a 3-vehicle accident on a blind curve. On a road I knew like the back of my hand. On a route I drove weekly, if not more often, for six years. Gearbox shot. Front strut shot. Lighting assembly shot. Unibody damaged far more than most intelligent engineers would expect from a sub-40mph impact. You know, the usual. For GM, anyway.

Estimate exceeded KBB value. GM basically told me to fuck off. USAA was considerably more polite, yet about as helpful. “Oh, GM won’t listen [to us, and certainly not you]. It’s easier to just take the settlement payout and take the hit to your premiums than try and pursue damages from GM.” Are you kidding me? This was back in April and nearly half a year later the case is still not resolved. 

I miss my Spark, yeah, but I love my new ride too. More, actually. Much more. I just wish GM would accept that out of the three of their vehicles we’ve owned in the past fifteen years, mine is the first to succumb to their shoddy engineering and “nope, definitely not a death-trap, don’t worry” marketing strategy.

Of course, it was a unibody city car with two-digit horsepower built in South Korea, and it speaks volumes that the other two were USA-built trucks – one with over a quarter million miles on the clock.

When it comes to technology products, I’ll always look to South Korea first, no doubt about it. Then I’ll see what Apple copies and makes themselves, only in white.

Alright, seriously though, what the Spark lacked in power it more than made up for in gadgetry. I had USB and Bluetooth (that worked!!) and even a Pandora app at my disposal, which I used to great effect on many long drives to and from New England until early this year. My replacement car has an iPod dock, which is fantastic, but no touchscreen, no Bluetooth, no Pandora, no hands-free voice-command whatever. (to be fair, it’s a 2009 model)

My new car does, however, boast over 50 MPG on the highway. So…nyaaah!

From their website: “The Philadelphia Union Foundation provides opportunities for children through the power of relationships to offer transformational change in the areas of education, community, health and recreation.”

More on PUF...

That blurb seems to have been written by a PR intern with a strong background in SEO and social buzzwords, yet a severely limited knowledge of the English language. The proper adjective is, of course, “transformative,” and frankly I fail to see how any change could come about without transformation. 😛

Plus, remove the prepositional phrase “through the power of relationships” and the resulting sentence is, in fact, not a sentence at all. To whom are the children in question offering this change? What the hell are “areas of community?” You mean, like, places where people live? Those are “areas of community,” I suppose…although we tend to just call them “communities.” Goodness. I learnt of such rhetorical devices in fifth grade. Yes, including redundancy…namely, how to avoid it.

I swear, I’m part of a dying breed here – yeah, I generally utilise a relatively informal writing style, and I admittedly curse like a 1940s sailor at times, but if some individual or organisation were to request my editorial services, they would not regret it.

I’m the kind of person who finds typos in printed books. Just saying.

Person with Disability high, spotted 28 September 2015 in Berwyn, PA.

Depending on your source of choice, this may or may not be a high. My guess is that it’s actually not, since it’s got a 9/15 sticker on, meaning the plate could have been issued just about a whole year ago. I tend to go by PA Plates, where the most recently photographed high is lower than this one. Then again, I’ve seen lots of these from 52xxx onwards in the span of just a few months. You decide.

Dealer high spotted 23 September 2015 in Newtown Square, PA

I’ve actually spotted a few Dealer highs, but seldom have the chance to photograph them since I am usually driving. Traffic was hardly moving in this photo, however. The current (photographed) high belongs to my hometown’s Cadillac dealer. Well, at least, it does now. 😉

If you check for PA plates, you’ll find I also submitted another high a few months ago. Most of the Dealer plates I see are actually in the Hxx-xxxH series, meaning they are very old!

Taxi high spotted 12 August 2015 in Upper Darby, PA

Seeing as I spotted this back in the beginning of August, it’s quite likely to have been surpassed by now. If somebody can photograph a higher number, cool. I don’t get into the city all that often lately, but when I do I tend to see Taxi and Limousine plates a lot. I actually saw LM-29502 a little while ago – end of July, perhaps? – but since I couldn’t get a photo, I can’t prove it.

More on LM and TX plates...

For the record, LM plates are super common in and around Philadelphia proper as they are typically found on cars operated by Über (or Über “Black,” which means you get picked up in an all-black luxury gas-guzzler with black windows and black leather and black blackness, but likely a white driver to balance things out, so you look important or something, whatever, I don’t know, I drive my own car because I’m neither lazy nor rich) or other such services, and are issued to those services because PA does not have a Livery plate and never has.

In fact, I’ve routinely modified the Wiki article on PA plates to remove the obviously fake image of “PA Livery” plates and ended up finally getting the “ALPCA member” responsible barred from editing the page (I think). If this person is truly an ALPCA member, well, you should know better. All the archives and historical information at your disposal, and you still wanna make things up on Wikipedia? Are you 12?!

Truck high spotted 23 August 2015 in Plymouth Meeting, PA

Spotted this at the PA Turnpike’s largest interchange back at the end of August. Quite possible the current issue is higher still.

PASSENGER HIGH spotted 27 September 2015 in Wayne, PA.

I drove my parents to the airport on 25 September. On the way, I saw a JYA (ooh, finally saw a JY* plate!) and then saw this and thought “ooh, that’s a high!” I didn’t have a chance to submit it, however…which is fine, as it turns out. I saw this JYL plate at the petrol station I patronised to fill up the Murano before going back to the airport to pick them up on Sunday (27 September).

This is clearly a used car (as the Caliber has not been sold new since 2012), although in great condition I must admit, and at first I thought I must have read the plate wrong! I believe it belongs to the owner of the establishment, who was clearly a bemused by this long-haired guy with multiple piercings wearing a Vader shirt, black cargoes, and Supras pulling up in what is ostensibly a “soccer-mom car.”

That’d be me, by the way. Hi, I’m Jaska, and I am the embodiment of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Unless you don’t actually wanna read the book. In that case, get off my silly blog. I talk about license plates and RuneScape and feminism. 😀

ANYWAY, this is definitely the current passenger high, and likely will be for a while. Perhaps the vehicle’s new owner has connections at a tag agency? Believe me, when I bought my current car back in July, I tried the whole “can’t you pull a tag from the waaaay back…?” thing, complete with $20 bill wrapped around my DL, and got only a cold-ish stare and “PennDOT doesn’t like us doing that.” Bleh. Don’t worry, though. I won’t be stuck with a JWW plate for long…I hope…

Anyone’s guess as to why we seem to have jumped (judging by posts on various sites, excluding Facebook since I don’t have a profile anymore) from JYA or JYB all the way to JYL already. I just saw JXZ what feels like only a few weeks ago (although it was nearly a month 😛 ) and that was also certainly a high.

I didn’t get a (decent) photo of the JXZ or JXY plates I saw, although I did see this JXW parked on my friend’s block back on 30 August.

Here is a photo of the JXY plate I saw about three minutes earlier. I did warn you about the quality. Also, yes, that person did just recently buy a bright orange Pontiac G6 I mean, GM Cavalier. Frankly I feel at least marginally more sorry for the person who just bought a mid-2000s Chrysler minivan.

Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for ya! I know a place around here that’ll sell you a used-but-well-maintained Honda for under $3K. We all know those don’t break down. Ever.

Well, unless you bolt a fart can to the back and pretend that either it’s a racecar or you have a “crew,” or both. Then you’re just vying for a Darwin award as the first to incinerate a VTech I4 and take the whole city block with it. Ouch. Let’s not.

Oh, anyway, that does it for highs. Sorry. Again – not the best month (or two) for high-spotting, at least for me. But, I do have some other photos to share.

Vanity plate “44” spotted 20 September 2015 in Wayne, PA

Here’s another local 2-digit numeric vanity! You may recall I saw another (92) earlier this year, and incidentally spotted it pretty much across the street from this one.

Never underestimate Radnor Township.

Side note: Depending on how you look up registrations (provided you even do that to begin with) this “44” plate may not even appear to be valid. It is clearly a real plate, at least physically, and there is a (hardly visible) 2015 sticker in the top left. Sorry, it was dark!!

AMOR, vanity spotted 19 September 2015 in Broomall, PA.

Oddly, I saw this Latin vanity plate at the Greek festival here in Broomall. How about that.

Yes, I studied the Classics – specifically, Latin. I can read some Greek, but trust me, this is not a Greek word. The rough equivalent is agapó.

CARES USAID plate…? With stickers?? Spotted 19 September 2015 in Broomall, PA

Admittedly, I had no idea what this was, and of course information online is scarce. I believe it is one of the plates issued by CARES (Council for Amusement and Recreational Equipment Safety) to rides to show they are licensed and inspected, but that organisation is based in Florida and the page says nothing about stickers OR out-of-state use.

In case you can’t tell, it says “US Amusement ID” up top – not “US Amusement 10.” Don’t bother Googling “USAID plates,” though. You’ll only find stuff about charity, and nothing at all about plates of any sort. Oh well.

Anyway, on this plate, there are seven debossed sticker wells, with a couple old GA stickers (04 and 06, as well as a very faded 08) and then a PA validation sticker from 2013. Looks like there’s another PA sticker underneath that. All the stickers are real. Also, this plate is on a cargo van, not an amusement ride. On the back was a normal PA H-series passenger plate (although it really ought to have been a Truck plate).

Just a strange, inexplicable occurrence, or what?  Your guess is as good as mine. An Econoline is hardly an amusement ride. Hell, it’s hardly any kind of ride.

Low-number Thomas More Alumni plate spotted 14 August 2015 in Broomall, PA.

It’s always cool to see a low-numbered plate, and this may well be the lowest photographed in recent years. I saw this one at PetsMart. St. Thomas More Academy is a Catholic high school in Magnolia, DE, and has had a plate program here in PA since 1997. That means this #13 plate is most likely a re-issue of a plate previously issued on the yellow-on-blue Keystone State base. If that thought had occurred to me at the time, I’d have waited around to ask the (likely older) owner if they had the old plate and would be willing to sell it to me. 😉

Fun fact: Although STM is located in Magnolia, DE and officially operated by the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware does not offer an organisational plate for the school. PA, meanwhile, has issued at least 1056 of them over the last eighteen years. They re-issued numbers from 1997-1998 on the “www base” starting in 1999, as many organisations did (at the time, there were waaaay fewer such plates as there are now!) and STM is, at the time of posting, one of those organisations who have yet to switch over to graphic plates on the “VISA base,” meaning alumni are stuck with the G/B 00000 format and can’t order vanities. Attempting to do so on PennDOT’s site tells you “This registration plate is not yet available for personalization.” Okay then.

Vanity plate “163” spotted 18 September 2015 in Newtown Square, PA

Full disclosure: I know people who have low-number vanity plates on their Volvo(s), and this is not one of them. Still, though, how much patience must it take to sift through all the available three-digit plates? 😮

To be fair, the woman driving looked like she may have been born in January of 1963, which would make sense for this plate. No, I’m not being mean – my mother was born in 1964, although the plate with her month/year of birth is not available. 😛

Not quiiiite a high. Spotted 28 September 2015 in Paoli, PA.

Driving a diesel means sometimes having to go miles away for cheaper fuel (think, like, a whole dollar less per gallon), and so my detour earlier on Monday from Wayne to KOP back to Newtown Square via Paoli led me to spot this West Catholic High School plate on 252. Maybe it’s a Catholic school thing, but this is also a plate still on the www base even now in 2015 (eleven years after the VISA base was introduced!). The current high, according to Tom Perri’s site, is W/C 01058, spotted 49 months ago. Current issues are also still on the www base, meaning it’s also ineligible for personalisation.

Oh well. Off by 2. Just a few blocks later, I spotted the Person with Disability high (a few images above), so it’s all good.

1953 YOM plate spotted 14 September 2015 in Newtown Square, PA (at the border of Radnor, PA)

I don’t usually post YOM plates, but that’s because I don’t often see YOM plates. If I could, I’d go to more car shows!! Thing is, I don’t live in Carlisle anymore, and I don’t have any friends who can call me up and say “hey there’s a car show on, get your ass in gear, see you in twenty.”

That’d be super, though. Seriously. I love cars. How could a serious license plate enthusiast not also like cars? 😮 I mean…it kinda comes with the territory, right?

After all, license plates are typically found on cars. Or so I’m told.

This, I believe, is a very well-kept 1953 Packard Clipper (Deluxe? please correct me if I’m wrong) out for a jaunt on a gorgeous autumn day. Nice piece of American history. His turn signal is on in the photo above – both of the rear lights work – and although I went straight here, I caught up with him a few minutes later and gave the “thumbs-up” of appreciation out my window. 😉

I ran into the rental I drove from April to July!

Okay, no, I did not actually run into it. Ha ha.

The brakes on the Murano (which I’m driving above) are so much better than those on the Charger (which, unfortunately, I did drive for a few months). It’s a dreadful car. It does the name itself a huge disservice by so much as existing with a 212 hp naturally-aspirated V6 and front-wheel drive whilst weighing in at two tons. Oh, and the 18 mpg was supposedly “good for its class.” In what, 1960?!

Disgusting. When I returned it, I told Enterprise that “underwhelming” was an understatement, and that they should actively work to remove all American cars from their fleet until our country has learnt how to build them properly.

Really old school bus plate on an old bus, still in service. Spotted 18 September 2015 in Rosemont, PA.

This School Bus plate was likely issued towards the end of 2000, possibly early 2001. It’s valid, renewed til July 2016, and (given the way bus plates are handled) has been on the same bus for over 15 years. Quite possible this bus (being an older model) once bore a yellow-on-blue plate in the SB- series.

10001 R/F, spotted 28 September 2015 in Wayne, PA

Now, this is clearly a blurry photo. Get it? It’s litotes!

Okay, not really. Here’s a cropped and corrected version.

10001 R/F, spotted 28 September 2015 in Wayne PA, cropped, rotated, and masked for legibility. Sort of.

In the cropped version, you can clearly tell it’s a #1 plate, although it’s not exactly a “clear” photo. Unfortunately, I was driving, so my eyes were on the road and not my phone. For the record, I was moving at about 15 mph when I took this photo, and was quite a ways back to boot.

Even so, it’s always cool to see a #1 plate! This is 10001 R/F, the first Radnor Fire Company (of Wayne) plate to be issued. Given I was in a strictly residential area, I’d imagine this person lives on the dead-end street onto which they were turning.

This brings my #1 plate spotting total to two. I also saw this one a few months back.

“Call-Me” vanity spotted 29 September 2015 in Ardmore, PA

Here is another angle of this plate, albeit equally blurry. Sorry about that.

My phone – the LG G3 – was marketed as having a superb camera that excelled in low-light environments due to its “laser auto-focus.” In my experience, that is not the case. Sure, I was moving whilst taking this photo, but even when standing still, the resulting image is almost always unacceptably blurry.

“Call Me.” Huh. Well, I can’t really “call” you without being provided a number…plus, you’re driving a Contour…I’ll pass.

Across the parking lot from this – so, to my immediate right – was a serial remake. I love seeing serial remakes, but sadly I wasn’t able to get a photo (see above excuses).

I mean, I did get a photo of the car…it’s a dark gray Honda Pilot, but then again, so are at least 9% of the cars on the Main Line. In any case, take my word for it – it bore a www-base remake in the ABC-123 format (as seen on the “You’ve Got a Friend” base, for instance) that started with either ZBG or ZGB and ended with 4nn…there was a 2 in the last bit as well. Meh.

Ever since I was made aware of the existence of serial remakes on new(er) bases, I’ve seen a few. Not many, mind you, but certainly a few. For example, here’s one I saw back at the end of March.

ZZW-771 remake, spotted 28 March 2015 in Frazer, PA

Note the use of the keystone separator. Although drivers were required to submit requests for serial remakes as “vanities” (using PA DMV form MV-904), those plates were simply re-made using the new (at the time) “www” or “gradient” base and the owner was thus able to retain their current plate number.

Here’s an even older re-make! 😀

Re-make of a very old serial spotted 19 April 2015 in Ardmore, PA

This serial was likely issued in either 1977 (on the blue-on-yellow “Keystone” base) or even as early as 1970 (on the “Bicentennial” or “Liberty Bell” base), as those are the two most recent years PA has issued all-numeric plates of this format.

Of course, PA has issued all-numeric plates before, and in fact for for most of our history, but with so many general re-issues (not to mention the fact we issued new plates nearly every single year until the 60s or 70s), it’s highly unlikely anybody could possibly hold onto a serial from the 1950s…say, 1958, for example – I have such an all-numeric plate from 1958 – no, it is not for sale – and it’s highly unlikely PA will ever issue all-numeric plates again.

In fact, the only states still doing so are Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Both states have relatively small populations and thus many fewer registered vehicles. Additionally, New Hampshire has a downright weird history of issuing unnecessarily long serials when they run out of available combos in their current series…and Rhode Island, of course, is just completely batshit in every way. I’m told that even though the “official story” is that they’re currently issuing AB-123 plates that were “never issued,” they are in fact simply re-issuing inactive plates as they have for the past decade. Of course, they were also supposed to have had brand-new flat plates on the road for about a year now, so who knows what’s in the water up there…

That’s all for now. Hopefully it won’t be another two months before I have more to share.


Plates update: July 2015

The past month has been fairly eventful. I have been in the process of expanding my personal collection of Pennsylvania plates. My goal is to (eventually) complete a display showing the full history of PA passenger plates from the early 70s Bicentennial base onwards, as well as a history of Commercial/Truck (not Apportioned) plates from about the same time period. I figure there’s enough to make for a sizable collection, at least for a start.

Here is a part of my collection as it is right now – there are some old Illinois plates and three other PA plates not pictured. The three absent PA plates are on my “family wall,” as they all belonged to…you guessed it, my cats. Naturally.

My small (but growing) collection of PA plates as of 9 July 2015.

You might have noticed I have five motorcycle plates as well. I mentioned several posts ago that my friend’s boyfriend’s father was going to throw away a bunch of old stuff, including license plates, and she said “wait, I know a guy.” I got those motorcycle plates plus three old Illinois passenger plates, the three gradient plates here, and the You’ve Got a Friend plate as well.

I have since added the 1992-issued AAE-1539 plate (which is likely a tad older than I am), and the Bicentennial Z11-354 (which is definitely a lot older than I am). There’s also this…

Issued around 1976 or 1977. In use until the replate in 2000. Never would have guessed…

I can only assume this was on eBay because the seller knew somebody would buy it for some reason. That somebody is me, and the reason has to do with historical significance and not much more. See, when a state does a mandatory re-plate, it’s generally an expensive undertaking, which is why PA decided against doing another in 2009-2010, and why they’re likely to stick with that decision for at least another five years or so.

However, by 1999, there were still quite a number of plates like this one on the road, having been in use by that point for well over twenty years. Given that in Pennsylvania we can transfer our active tag to our new car, or even between immediate family members (say you get daddy’s old car when he got a shiny new one, but didn’t want to pay an extra $28 for a new plate), plates can stay on the road for a very long time – even once they’re effectively illegible, which is of course the main complaint law enforcement brought to the DMV when the latter was considering a statewide re-plate. For all I know, 621-66P above was Exhibit A.

The stickers are piled so high that they are raised higher than the serial itself, and of course the adhesive doesn’t last forever, so I decided to have a look underneath. On top of the right pile is a 2-00 sticker, and on the bottom of that (far as I can tell) is SEP, from when PA issued two stickers for month and year. On the top of the left stack is 2-99, and as you can see in the photo, a partially-ripped 79 sticker is visible way underneath. I believe the blue one directly below that is a 78 sticker, which is probably the oldest one there. That means this plate was in use for over two decades. The owner had this plate nearly as long as my parents have had children. That’s kind of weird to think about.

Of course, it wouldn’t quite be PennDOT without some weird rules, so there are some limitations to transferring active tags. When our Suburban was totaled in Hurricane Sandy, my mother transferred its DFR tag (issued new in 2000) to her replacement, a used TrailBlazer that bore that plate until IT was totaled in March of this year. When she got her new Murano, though, the dealer told her they couldn’t transfer the tag despite it being active and legible. Who knows. It couldn’t be because of total loss of the previous vehicle. Maybe because the TrailBlazer was used? The world may never know.

Well, speaking of plates that have seen better days, there’s this one…

I honestly don’t know if it’s the older 3M sheeting or what, but it seems many of the DD- series plates look worse than others…

Seriously, how does that happen? It looks like somebody took a blowtorch to the plate. It looks like a geographical contour map or something.

And here’s a plate that didn’t have to be replaced, but certainly needs more stickers. Seven more, to be precise.

I wonder what happened to the original two plates for this callsign…

A 2008 sticker on an in-use, valid plate in 2015. That’s a new record for my sightings.

M/C1143 seen near Doylestown on 10 July 2015

Armed Forces Reserve plates like this one are an oddity for Pennsylvania. First, of course, is the fact they’re still issued on the old “www” gradient fade base. The only other plates issued as “new” on this old base are uncommon types like Circus/Carnival Truck, Commercial (and non-commercial) Implement of Husbandry, Apportioned Bus,  and Hearing Impaired, as well as the Armed Forces Reserve plates – Air Force (A/F0000), Army (A/R0000), Coast Guard (C/G0000), Marine (M/C0000), and Navy (N/R0000). There are also a number of Special Organisation plates (which these Reserve plates are considered to be) still on the old gradient fade base.

The other characteristic of these Reserve plates that makes them unusual for Pennsylvania is the close spacing of the prefix and serial (actually, there’s pretty much no spacing whatsoever) and the lack of leading zeroes on four-digit serials. Oh, and there’s no logo of any sort. On this base, logos were embossed rather than screened. This probably just means that these plates represent a design scheme that PennDOT turned out not to like as much as they thought, as all other special organisation plates feature a logo far to the left with the prefix directly following, and then a five-digit serial with leading zeroes (or starting with a 1, 2, 3, 4 etc if the prefix exists elsewhere). Alternatively, the logo will be on the left, followed by the serial, and the letters become a suffix on the far right.

I imagine the reason Pennsylvania issues these Reserve plates on the www base is the same as why we issue the other plates I mentioned – they over-estimated demand, and made far too many plates. That’s why the current Apportioned Bus high is only B/N-03102, up from B/N-01777 at the end of 2010. For comparison, normal Apportioned plates (for long-haul trucks, tipper lorries, and such) have progressed from AF-30000 to AG-38834 in about the same time.

There’s also the question of who actually wants these, seeing as I imagine they’re equally eligible for the U.S Marine Corps plate, which comes on the visitPA base, has a full-colour screened logo, and can be personalised as well. Go figure.

Still, uncommon sighting.

Second-issued “new” Tiger plate spotted in Newtown Square on 16 July 2015.

Speaking of plates that aren’t very nice to look at, here’s the second-lowest of the redesigned Tiger plate. This “family of plates” VISA card design replaced the old full-graphic version in summer 2013, and nearly 2500 have been issued as of this post. Proceeds go to support the Philadelphia Zoo, hence the P/Z suffix and “Support Your Zoo” legend. I guess the Pittsburgh Zoo drew the short straw?

For reference, here’s an older Tiger plate I saw a few days earlier.

Old, full-graphic tiger plate with A000A format.

Originally, I thought this was a neat find because it used both a zero and the letter “o,” but realised it was just the sun fooling me and the last letter is in fact a “C.” The letter “o” is typically not used on Pennsylvania’s standard-issue plates, except as a part of a prefix or suffix on special issues, such as the Combat Action Badge (40000 C/O) or International Union of Operating Engineers (O/E 00000).

There was, however, an “o” used on this older (fully graphical) version of the Tiger plate. Since the dies are different sizes, it apparently wasn’t confusing…even though the same dies are used on all the other PA plates that don’t have the letter “o.” Huh.

Nearly the high. Almost.

I drove to Abington and back the other day. It was awful. It would not have been so bad if I had our EZ-Pass (seriously, get one). Whilst stuck at the Mid-County Interchange for about 45 minutes, I saw this. It’s nearly the current high, except it’s not – the highest photographed so far is JXF-9302, and I’m sure we’re higher than that by now.

I really wanted a JX* plate, but the tag agency at which we finalised the purchase of my new (used) car had yet to run through their stock of JW*, so I ended up with this:

My new plate.

Yes, I’ve got a Volkswagen. It’s a lot different from my old Spark, namely in that it is larger and faster, and probably safer and more reliable too, seeing as this has got 125K miles and the Spark hardly made it to 18K before blowing up. My girlfriend also notices it’s quieter at speed, which is cool because even with the big diesel engine there’s less road noise than in the Spark.

This plate is temporary, though, as I plan to finally get my vanity in the near future. Speaking of which, I’ve seen some of those as well.

You don’t say.
Most people would probably read this as “avid reader,” so I shall as well.
This person works in theatre. Or on a ship. Or in construction. I don’t know. This parking lot is shared by Lowe’s, Best Buy, and DSW, so it’s anybody’s guess.
DMV only allows you seven characters? Make a supplemental sticker. Problem solved. Clever.
Seen in Chinatown, of course.

Gamers love Chinatown.

And now onto New Jersey. I was at Island Beach State Park on the 24th, which was a nice day trip and a nice drive as well. I had some pretty decent luck seeing plates, too, and even managed to photograph one (at the beach itself). On the way, I did see the Temporary high – J700***, but couldn’t get a photo and didn’t get the whole number. I can at least say they’re into the J7***** series, though.

Current New Jersey high, G58-FSB, seen 24 July 2015 at IBSP.

New Jersey seems to move through plate series pretty quickly, or maybe that’s just me since I don’t live there. PA goes pretty fast too, in fairness. The series advanced from Z99-FPZ to A10-FRA late last month, since Q is not used on regular passenger plates. Now we’re in FS*.

Speaking of New Jersey’s passenger issue…they don’t use Q, nor U, I, or O, but they’ll use A and E. With three alpha characters, then, there’s plenty of opportunity to make words. Now, I don’t know about you, but there are some words I wouldn’t necessarily want to have bolted to the back of my car by legal mandate.

U48-FEC seen 24 July 2015 at IBSP.

Yep, it says FEC. Don’t worry, though – they’ve also issued FAC, FAK, and FEK, all of which I have seen at least in passing. I got cut off on I-295 by a big black Acura wielding a FAK plate. Classy.

Seriously, are people at the New Jersey MVA just more mature or open-minded, or oblivious, or what? It gets kind of hard to justify “mature” when you see plates like this, though:

Y90-FAP seen 24 July 2015 in Tom’s River.

Yes, that says exactly what you think it does. If you don’t know what it means, go ask a teenage boy.

What I said when I saw the plate above.

Well, okay, I didn’t say “twenty-nine f.”

Aww, sorry to disappoint you. Also, sorry that it’s blurry. Not sure why that happened.

Let me emphasize again that these are all normal, sequential passenger plates. Pennsylvania, of course, has also issued word plates like this in the past, especially back when we used vowels (A and E, specifically) in the second position – ACT, AWW, BAD, BAE (which was not an English slang term back then), BED, BAT, CAT, CAB, DAD, DEB, EAR, EAT, and so forth. Oh, and YAH, YAK, YAM, YAP, and YAY on truck plates. I’ve at least seen YAK on the road.

Someday I hope to have a decent collection of “word plates.” For now, the closest I have is an Illinois plate from the mid-80s with serial OX-2020, where the same die is used for the zeroes and the “o.” Weird. We were issued APT in 1994 with our brand-new Jeep, but I have no idea where any of the old plates are. My parents don’t either. Knowing my family, they have not been thrown out, but that doesn’t mean hunting them down will be easy. We’re also apparently cleaning out my grandmother’s attic because she’s probably got a lot of junk up there (or just cool stuff), and there’s a chance she has some old plates as well. My aunt might have some Virginia plates from when she lived there, and my brother apparently has a Florida plate somewhere (I don’t know why, and I didn’t ask).

Hopefully, then, my collection will expand. Slowly, probably, but it’s a start.

This one’s starting to show its age quite a bit.

I’ll leave you with this one. Even though it was only issued in 2008, this plate’s sheeting is bubbling badly. Many older plates from the AAA-10A series still exist on the road in decent condition, albeit with some background fading, and of course there are still some of the “buff-on-blue” plates out there, perfectly legible. I guess 3M must have had a few bad batches of sheeting in the past. Some of the older PA www plates are really looking rough now, mostly in the early D-series. This was slightly before the changeover to Avery sheeting, but incidentally issued around the same time as NJ was issuing 3M-sheeted plates (they still are, of course) of the sort still legible but faded.

The world may never know.

Also – what causes such dramatic bubbling? Long periods of direct sun exposure? It’s New Jersey! People go to the beach! There’s gonna be sun. Go figure.

Plates update: June 2015

June was a particularly active month for license plates, even here in Pennsylvania.

We actually had a bill pass (SB 284) that makes possible a new optional plate for motorcycles, Honoring Our Veterans, which is the first such MC plate in PA history. Thanks to John McDevitt and his PAPL8S site for this update – I highly recommend taking a look at the wealth of information on his site if you want to learn more about PA plate history. Most of what I know about the plates of this Commonwealth I’ve learned from his website!

I’d love to see a photo of one of these new plates. I’m sure they will be out there very soon, since the bill takes effect just over two months from now (1 July). This is the first special-issue (technically, special fund) motorcycle plate for PA, and also the first graphical PA motorcycle plate – presumably, anyway, since it’s probably going to have the same image as the current car special fund H/V plate, just smaller. The only other PA plate of non-standard size to feature a screened logo or icon is the Person with Disability motorcycle plate, which features a screened light-blue universal handicapped symbol to the left of the serial.

In non-Pennsylvania news…

I’ve determined that Rhode Island is not actually re-issuing “dormant” serials in the AA-123 format as they had until 2007, but rather running through those in that format which had either expired AND been purged from all state records, or else never issued at all. No idea how the latter would have been possible, but I guess it is. They appear to have started in the EA-series. My ex’s father purchased a used car and registered it at about exactly the same time Rhode Island had issued 399-999 (our neighbor had 399-419). The plate he got is in the EA-series, but other accounts say RI actually jumped first to the EZ-series. To be brutally honest, nothing the Rhode Island DMV does really surprises me anymore. The fact they re-issued expired serials in the first place speaks to their relative lack of foresight and/or resourcefulness.

New York has apparently issued GZZ-9999 and is now moving into the Haa-series. Depending on whom you ask, New York’s general issue is on track to overtake Pennsylvania’s within the next couple years.

This makes sense when you consider that Pennsylvania began issuing seven-character serials in 1992 at AAA-0000, whilst New York started doing so in January of 2001 at ACA-0000. Currently, PA is in the JX-series, but NY is already in the HA-series. For reference, it took PA nearly sixteen years to make that kind of progress; New York needed only about thirteen and a half, and that’s bearing in mind New York readily issues remakes of old serials on new bases (whereas Pennsylvania offered such an option only back in the early-2000s re-plate…but no longer).

New Jersey is in the nnn-FPa series now. I expect to start seeing nnn-Gaa by mid- to late August. NJ remains the only state with a flat plate using a font that doesn’t suck*.

*excluding Delaware, who have been issuing flat plates for decades and are apparently immune to graphic-design-based criticism because they are Delaware and do things their own way. Good for them. We love Delaware plates.


Here are the Pennsylvania highs I’ve spotted since my last post on 19 June.


Transporter high, spotted 29 June 2015 on SR 352 somewhere outside Elwyn, PA. This is nearly 1000 higher than the current high seen on
Repair Towing (RT-66146) spotted in Upper Merion Township near the King of Prussia Mall on 30 June 2015.

These RT plates tend to be issued to mechanics and/or towing companies, and don’t necessarily have to be put on a tow truck or flatbed wrecker or what have you, in much the same way as a WL (Salvage Yard) plate can simply be issued to a pickup owned by a guy employed by a scrap yard who goes around doing scrap yard business, whatever that might entail. Thus, you’ll often see tow trucks with normal Truck plates (or occasionally Apportioned plates, if they’re meant for highway tractor recovery and the like).

It’s a bit misleading – as a private citizen, and bearing in mind I’m currently unemployed, I could legally purchase, own, and drive a tow truck on a regular basis. No idea why anybody would do that if they didn’t actually own or work for a towing company, but it’s perfectly legal. However, I would not be legally allowed to register a RT or WL plate – I’d have to use a normal Truck plate.

I guess I understand though – you see a tow truck and you don’t really need to think too hard about the kind of business to which it might belong. 😉

Taxi high spotted in downtown Media on 20 June 2015. This type hasn’t seen a new high reported in over a year.
Here’s a high I saw back towards the end of April and somehow forgot to post. It’s an International Association of Firefighters plate I spotted in Broomall – P/F 06161. Sorry it’s a bit blurry. Also, Mr. Firefighter – fix your top taillight.
In all fairness, this WAS a high when I spotted it on 19 June in Wayne. I’ve since seen JWV-4505 and am aware that JWZ-9382 exists. That leads me to believe JXA-nnnn is out there as well. Oh well. Perhaps someday I’ll find the highest PA passenger plate for more than a couple hours. XD

And now for some PA plates that aren’t highs.

This trailer plate was likely issued in 2002 or 2003 and is really showing its age. (West Chester, PA)

Oddly, the trailer to which it’s attached is in significantly better shape than the plate itself, which bears a 2017 expiration sticker. Note it’s held on with a couple zip ties and what looks like bungee cord, and that at least one of the bolt holes is completely ripped and useless…nobody ever said landscaping work was easy.

Ah, the good ol’ days when PA issued plates with serials that could actually make words! (Newtown Square, PA)
Damaged passenger plate, 2001 issue. (Broomall, PA)

At around the GRA-series in mid-2007, PA began producing plates using Avery rather than 3M sheeting. This resulted in a very slightly different appearance for the “PENNSYLAVANIA” and “” legends. The vast majority of people cannot see any difference, which was ostensibly the DMV’s intention. However, it also seems Avery got this contract because 3M’s sheeting had already begun to show its age, and it’s all the more evident in plates such as this DWY-series (issued towards the end of 2001) and even some of the mid- to late-Eaa-series plates out there.

I assume it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the Faa-series plates begin to deteriorate in much the same way. I’ve seen some early Gaa-series plates in absolutely horrid condition, whilst I’ve seen GSa-series plates used on a daily basis up in the mountains that look pristine – and remember the harsh winters we’ve had!!

Damaged Permanent Trailer plate (Media PA)

Speaking of plates starting to show their age, how about this veritably ancient PT plate? Obviously, the “Permanent” in “Perm. Trailer” really does mean “permanent,” as in both the plate and registration are valid for the life of the trailer.

As you may have guessed, this trailer is a petrol tanker, and that’s not exactly something you’d trust if it was all rusty and beaten up! Luckily, the trailer was in great shape – clean and shiny, actually – but the plate looks like crap. This photo doesn’t do it justice, since it was about 2 in the morning and I was using my G3 camera, but it’s pretty obvious that the old 3M sheeting just isn’t as durable as it ought to be. This trailer has presumably done over a hundred thousand miles since this plate was issued (probably 2002 or 2003) and yet only the license plate seems to be succumbing to age-related wear and tear…

Long-expired plate…oops. (Drexel Hill, PA)

This is another one from the end of April I forgot to post. This vehicle’s registration is still valid, but you wouldn’t know it since the plate expired four years ago. How hard is it to open your mail and put a sticker on your license plate?! Apparently, the Commonwealth agrees that it can be quite challenging for its more simple-minded inhabitants, and has decided to do away with registration stickers altogether, beginning in 2017. Sigh.

I’ve no idea why this person thinks route 422 sucks. 322 is much more dangerous, although to be fair, it is less crowded…usually. Why the sticker is rainbow I have no clue. Yes, the photo may appear the wrong way round on your screen.
Do you believe in magic? 😉 note: this makes more sense if you have some understanding of Latin. Completely random pairing seen in Exton, PA.
This is just kinda interesting – this plate is 10 above our newest plate, which is also on a Nissan from the same dealer. Seen in Newtown Square, PA – my hometown, and less than a mile from my house, at that.

That makes sense enough. In late 2000, we were issued DFR-5052 (currently decommissioned and hanging on my wall) and maybe five years later, I remember seeing DFR-5051 on the highway. It’s just kinda cool when you realise that means of all the cars with which you could have possibly come into contact, overtaken, or even just seen from a distance, out of the millions on the road today, you saw one that somebody almost certainly bought at the same place on the same day as you.

License plates do say a lot more than most people realise.

Well, okay, some just say “Eyy.” But look, stereotyping people of Italian heritage ain’t cool, aight? I’ve dated a few of ’em, namean?

On a more personal side note, the trees to the right of the road (PA 252) in the above photo have been cut down within only the last few days.  This is to make way for a Whole Foods.

All I have to say here is this: Fuck you, Whole Foods. Newtown Square is not the Main Line, nor do we want to be. Go away. Nobody wants you here. Well…nobody except the developers you’re paying to level some of the last trees remaining on Newtown Township-owned property, anyway.

We are more than capable of driving ten minutes to your location in Devon if we want self-righteous over-priced garbage that makes people think we care about the environment or whatever. Your store’s “mission” is a joke and your marketing is at best a gimmick-ridden farce designed to play on the insecurities of the socially-conscious scientifically-illiterate masses. Anybody with half a brain knows that “organic” does not mean “better” in any way, except in terms of your wallets.

Again, kindly get out of Newtown Square. We do not want you here. You are not welcome here.

I’d honestly rather have some goddamn TREES.


Mystery VA tag. (Wayne, PA)

I honestly have no idea what this Virginia tag is. It appears to have the same formatting as later POD (print-on-demand) VA temp tags, but they stopped issuing those a while ago. Nowadays, VA issues 30-day temporary permits, to my understanding, which follow a nnUnnn pattern (the alpha character currently being the letter U, not G, nor in the first position.)

If anybody has an idea about this one, please let me know. It’s expired by now and likely supplanted with a normal PA tag, as I happen to know this vehicle belongs to somebody who lives in PA. Still, though, I don’t like unsolved questions – what the hell is this? 😮

Mystery European plate. (Wayne, PA)

This is another “mystery plate” that, thanks to the License Plate Collectors group on Facebook, is no longer a mystery. This is, in fact, a German export tag that expired 25 October 2012.

It’s entirely possible this person bought their 3-series directly from Germany, although I’ve no idea why anybody would do that when identical BMWs are sold right here in the USA. This is, however, a real and legitimate plate, which means this car more than likely embarked on a trans-continental voyage at some point before the end of 2012…:o

Finally, there’s this one. Normal PA tag on the back, sorry, but still, gotta wonder – is this person an ALPCA member? A Caribbean immigrant? Normal person with a cool yard sale find? Who knows. All I know is it’s not what I expect to see at the King of Prussia Mall. Sorry if this image appears upside-down on your end. Click on it. I’m mystified by my own web server…!

I’m afraid that’s all I have for now. June was an interesting month, to say the least, both within and outside of the hobby. Sadly, my time is taken up in the real world a lot more often than I’d like, which means my plate-related posts will likely continue to be relegated to a semi-monthly basis at best.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out John McDevitt’s PAPL8S site and Tom Perri’s, and – to all of which I contribute content as often as I can. 😉


Plates update: late May through mid-June 2015

Given I no longer drive as far (or, indeed, as often) as I did earlier this year, I’m not presented with as many opportunities for plate-spotting. That said, my girlfriend tends to make plans that require me commuting at rush hour, so what I lack in opportunity I make up for in volume…

First, though, I am pleased to say I have finally gotten my very own “plate wall” underway! These two photos show the extent of my collection at present.

My “plate wall” (including some of my photographs and a few other decorations)
My “family plate wall,” reserved for…my family’s plates. Top – our old Suburban and our old TrailBlazer, issued August 2000; Middle – my father’s first Infiniti – which was totaled – issued October 2006; Bottom – my Spark, which was also totaled :’-( …issued August 2013.

You may have noticed there are some Illinois plates there. That’s because there are some Illinois plates there. 🙂

See, I have this great friend who is a fantastic listener and a very understanding, open-minded individual in general. She’s also a scientist and is prodigiously intelligent, but none of that really explains where I got these plates.

In fact, every plate in the first photo (that is, the ones that aren’t from my family’s cars or my car) were gifts from this friend of mine. Her boyfriend’s father – clearly a motorcycle enthusiast – found these in his garage and was going to throw them away. My friend said something to the effect of “wait, I know a guy,” and, well, here we are.

Taken with flash – these plates my friend gave me were sitting in a garage for some time, based on the dust and dirt obscuring the reflective sheeting.

I cleaned them all and now, thanks to advice from a member of the wonderful License Plate Collectors group on Facebook, have (finally) mounted them to my wall. Those binder rings are a genius idea. I used to clip them to my ears long ago before I actually had real piercings, so why I didn’t think of them for this use I’ve no idea. XD

Now, onto my recent spottings. These are in chronological order.

Silver Star high, spotted 3 June 2015. The Silver Star is the third-highest US military honor, awarded for “gallantry in combat against an enemy of the United States of America.”
Hard to make out (sorry!) but this is JWS-2705, spotted in North Wales, PA on 15 June 2015. At the time of this post, this serial is the current PA passenger high.
LM-29370 spotted in Newtown Square, PA (my hometown, and a mile or so from my house at that) on 17 June 2015. At the time of posting, this serial is the current Limousine high.

I should note that, within the last several months, I have spotted no fewer than five consecutive limousine highs (according to both and – LM-29251 in February, LM-29328 and LM-29344 in May, and now LM-29354 and LM-29370 in June.

Interestingly, all but the latter (pictured above) have been on Über cars. For those who aren’t aware, Über is a sort of app-based black cab service, providing direct competition to more established yellow cab companies. Since yellow is a hideous colour, it’s no surprise companies like Über are so rapidly dominating the market.

Also, your everyday “cabbie” is at best a suspicious sleazeball with a thick accent and a strong smell of at least one kind of spicy foreign food about him. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but…well, it’s a bit odd when you always smell like you’ve spent all day just sitting inside A Taste of India, despite not working there…and not being of Indian descent.

I digress. Oops! Sadly, those are the only highs I really have for now. The last few weeks have been uneventful at best. So, to (hopefully) make up for it, here are some non-high still-interesting plates!

BN-02162 spotted in Norristown traffic on 15 June 2015. These Apportioned Bus plates are not very common, as evidenced by the fact the current high is BN-03102 and the plates are still issued on the old gradient-fade “www base.”
00021-M/S (National Multiple Sclerosis Society) spotted 12 June 2015 in downtown Media, PA. Although this is 60 less than the current high, it’s a relatively uncommon plate (this was most likely issued way back in 2011) and this is the lowest serial yet photographed (that I’ve located.)
As somebody of primarily German descent whose family owns a lakefront cabin in the Poconos, I approve of this vanity plate. ;)
You don’t say?! Also, um…isn’t SE the lowest trim level? I’m currently driving a Dodge Charger SE and feel no need to flaunt it. Of course, that could be because it’s a dreadful car. To its credit, this Focus sold very fast, whilst the BMW that had been there for a week prior is STILL for sale today. ;)
Just a neat vanity – Z-9. Spotted in Rose Tree, PA on 28 May 2015.
Yet another entry into my collection of self-righteous Prius vanities. This particular plate may seem innocuous at first glance, but it takes only a tiny bit of knowledge to know this in fact refers to the Prius’ “regenerative braking” system…just as much knowledge, in fact, as is required to understand the Prius is actually a horrid car that is ironically awful for the environment! :D
Another Prius vanity. “53 MPG.” Uh-huh, suuuuuure. My old Spark cost half what your hideous hybrid demanded, cost less at the pump, and had a significantly lower environmental impact! Oh, and the Spark was also never recalled for trying to kill its occupants with unstoppable throttle activity. ;)
I know I included this in my last plate post, but it just fits so well with the previous two vanities… I’m willing to bet real United States dollars that this person hasn’t the foggiest clue what carbon dioxide actually does to the atmosphere, how it’s produced, and why buying a disgusting-looking hybrid won’t actually offset jack shit. You want to lower CO2 emissions, starting at home? Spay/neuter your pet(s). Hell, neuter yourself. Stop reproducing, stop buying shit you don’t need, and definitely stop giving money to companies like Toyota who are killing the environment AND their customers…at the same time. :o

Well then. Um, here are some plates that aren’t from Pennsylvania.

Maryland House of Delegates plate, Baltimore and Howard Counties, spotted 6 June 2015 at an estate sale in Newtown Square, PA. Coincidentally, the town of Newtown Square, MD is in Maryland district 12A and thus represented by this very delegate (and two others)!
…really? So glad your fetish for the military-industrial complex and dreadful excuses for off-road vehicles has helped you “shed the pounds,” but still, it’s already plastered on the side of your car. Ugh.

Plates update: April through mid-May 2015

I have not made a post about license plates in some time, for a number of reasons, so this post may be quite long!

I’ve seen quite a few highs lately, as well as some oddballs and a few interesting vanities and nice numbers. Let’s start, though, by acknowledging I am now living in Pennsylvania full-time, as opposed to spending months in Rhode Island (like late 2014 to earlier this year) or New Jersey (like much of last year). This is both good and bad in terms of plate spotting, but on the whole it’s nice to be in a relationship that doesn’t require hours of travel. Take my advice – if possible, date somebody less than an hour away! Seeing other states’ plates is nice and all, but long-distance relationships don’t work out, and license plates aren’t as important as happiness!

Without further ado, then, here’s a long-overdue plate-spotting update.

Mass Transit high, seen 26 March 2015
Mass Transit high, seen 26 March 2015 on South Street in Philadelphia. Oddly, for a relatively recent plate, this one’s quite grimy. Cue unwarranted comments about SEPTA’s image…
Operation Enduring Freedom high, seen 3 April 2015
Operation Enduring Freedom high, seen 3 April 2015. Yes, it was expired. This person risked their life buying a car less than a mile or so away from a nuclear power plant, for crying out loud – cut them a break! Oh, and it’s quite likely they were in Afghanistan as well…
BMW Car Club high, seen 21 April 2015
BMW Car Club high, seen 21 April 2015. 

The plate frame on the BMW, in this case, actually helps, which is unusual – I kid you not, the full text of the caption is “Delaware Valley Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America.”

They’ve somehow managed to fit that in the same space normally occupied by the much-more-succinct “” – naturally, the font kerning is so incredibly thin it’s practically illegible, and serves to explain, at least in part, why BMW owners seem to work in fields like finance and business management rather than graphic design and media. 😉

Side note: for an old 318, this one’s actually in really good shape, so props to the owner for maintaining it so well. This is their daily driver – the owner is local, and I see the car around every few days or so.

Person with Disability high, seen 30 April 2015
Person with Disability high, seen 30 April 2015. Only several days prior to snapping this photo, somebody posted 52332 – quite a jump.
Big jump observed in Person with Disability plates, especially considering the most recent reported high was 51482-P/D!
Big jump observed in Person with Disability plates, especially considering the most recent reported high was 51482-P/D!
Dealer high, seen 4 May 2015
Dealer high, seen 4 May 2015. I saw this whilst driving home, and decided to park a block away and then walk to surreptitiously snap this photo. Worth it – nice number!
Friends of Valley Forge Park high, seen 7 May 2015
Friends of Valley Forge Park high, seen 7 May 2015. These aren’t terribly common, I take it, given the most recently-reported high was 00066-V/F back in August 2012!
National Ski Patrol high, seen 9 May 2015
National Ski Patrol high, seen 9 May 2015. I saw this in the parking lot at the KOP Mall the day before Mother’s Day. The most recently reported high was 00197-S/P back in late January 2013, making this another old high supplanted. Note: I understand this might not actually be the highest plate of this type to have been issued…
Limousine high, seen 15 May 2015
Limousine high, seen 15 May 2015. It was Villanova University’s graduation this past weekend, so there were LOTS of out-of-state plates around, plus plenty of these Über cars as well. I saw LM-29328 on 2 May and then saw this not two weeks later…
Municipal Motorcycle high, seen 15 May 2015
Municipal Motorcycle high, seen 15 May 2015. The most recently reported high was MG40D way back in May of 2013. Before that, nothing since 2010…! It’s quite possible there are higher plates out there, though.

This guy – the cop riding the bike with the Municipal Motorcycle high MG57D above – actually cut me off in traffic during morning (school drop-off) rush hour.

If you know who he is – his badge number, whatever – kindly inform Radnor Township that he has no place being a motorcycle patrol officer, since he clearly lacks awareness of basic traffic laws. The blue lights above his indicators also shouldn’t be turned on during the day unless he’s making a traffic stop…which he was not.

I should note, in the interest of fairness, I was driving a white Dodge Charger, which many mistake for an unmarked police vehicle. It’s a testament to their collective stupidity, if anything, seeing as I have Ontario plates.

And now for some other plates that aren’t highs…

Low-numbered Villanova University plate, seen 15 May 2015
Low-numbered Villanova University plate, seen 15 May 2015. Lowest plate of this type that’s been photographed was 00005-V/U.
The only choice for the conceited hybrid driver.
The only choice for the conceited hybrid driver. I swear this exists and is real.
Foon? This plate's seen better days, but...what does it even mean?
Foon? This plate’s seen better days, but…what does it even mean?
Either this is the owner's nickname, or the owner is a German mattress enthusiast.
Either this is the owner’s nickname, or the owner is a German mattress enthusiast.
Nice low number vanity. Also my birth year.
Nice low number vanity. Also my birth year.
This plate is in awful condition - aside from the serial, which is perfectly legible. Go figure!
This plate is in awful condition – aside from the serial, which is perfectly legible. Go figure!
Sola 01 vanity...on a Ferrari FF. That's really the only reason I took this photo. I haven't seen an FF on the road before!
Sola 01 vanity…on a Ferrari FF. That’s really the only reason I took this photo. I haven’t seen an FF on the road before!
An unusually high-numbered Temporary tag seen in Philadelphia...
An unusually high-numbered Temporary tag seen in Philadelphia. 

Tom Perri informs me this is a fake, which makes sense as the current high is about two thousand numbers lower…and the font doesn’t match.

Sod off. How nice.
Sod off. How nice.
NOO-0110 is kinda fun to say out loud...
I had no idea what the hell this plate was until I got home and looked it up. It’s not a high, but NOO-0110 is kinda fun to say out loud…
Got enough stickers?
Got enough stickers there…? All this does is prove the owner, at one point, renewed their registration two months late. ;)
Vertical MC plate...oh wait, never mind.
Even though they aren’t very good-looking, vertical motorcycle plates exist for good reason. I’ve never actually seen one on the road, however.
And I don't actually watch Dr. Who.
And I don’t actually watch Dr. Who.

Should note that in my above shot, the “XCL-R8” vanity is on a Porsche Macan Turbo and the hyphen has been painted red for some reason. Insecure much?

And finally, some non-PA plates. New Jersey plates, to be precise.

New Jersey non-resident temporary high seen 13 May 2015.
New Jersey non-resident temporary high seen 13 May 2015. These plates are issued to people who buy cars in New Jersey even though they don’t live there. That should be fairly obvious… :P
Oddity! 64 sticker on a 1990 base...??
Here’s an odd one. My mom spotted this on I-95 northbound yesterday, around DC.

The serial FRL-51Y is a valid NJ passenger plate registered to a 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML-350. As you can see, it is clearly affixed to said vehicle. Thus, everything seems to be in order – all legal.

The thing is, though, this serial was issued in 1990. These “buff-on-blue” NJ bases are increasingly rare. The PA equivalent(s) would be the old blue-on-reflective-yellow plates (AAA-000 through GZZ-nnn, 1980-1983), the extremely unpopular “You’ve Got a Friend” gold-on-blue base (HAA-000 through RZZ-nnn, 1983-1987), and the more familiar gold-on-blue “Keystone State” base (SAA-000 through ZZZ-999, 1987-1992).

Although those PA plates – and indeed all PA plates issued from 1977 onwards – could have been re-validated through 2002 and were also eligible for serial re-makes on the then-new “www base,” they are not valid now, and have been illegal since 2002. If you think about it, that makes sense – PA has a history of not building, making, or engineering things particularly well (see: Veteran’s Stadium, I-276, the Salvation Army building, most of Philadelphia, every other state road and highway) and as such there were conceivably plenty of valid plates on the road as late as 2002 that were, at that point, 25 years old. The statewide re-plate, starting at DAA-0000, sought to address that. Even so, you still see early D- and E-series plates (even some of the F-series now) showing significant signs of wear just over a decade later…!

Compare that with the 1990 New Jersey plate above. It is not only still legal to display, but also perfectly legible! I imagine the latter enables the former.

The curious thing about this particular plate, however, is its sticker. New Jersey, historically, has avoided stickers on passenger plates except for a brief stint earlier in the 2000s. You’ll find them on just about every other type in the state, but not passenger plates. Indeed, there are no sticker boxes on NJ plates at all as of several years ago, and the only thing you’re likely to find on them are the red probationary stickers for which the MVA will charge you $4 and, being made by 3M, they will not come off without a fight. I had to put them on my old car, which was licensed in PA! That was not fun…

I digress. My mother knows I like license plates. She was going north on I-95 (she was not driving) when she noticed this old New Jersey plate, and then saw it’s got a sticker on. I think she took a photo just because she knows it’s an old plate and I’d probably appreciate it – I do! – but being a very intelligent woman, she also knows that New Jersey doesn’t use plate stickers…and that this particular sticker says “64,” which is her birth year.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s not why she noticed. It’s probably more to do with the fact it’s 2015, and this plate looks way too good to have been issued over fifty years ago.

Plus, I happen to know that in 1964, NJ was issuing plates much more similar in colour scheme (and slogan) to the ones we see today. That, and there were no stickers.

This is likely a commercial sticker on a passenger plate. Jim Moini has a nice collection of such misplaced stickers on his NJplates site.  My mom didn’t see the driver, though. Maybe it’s their birth year? Maybe it’s just a sticker? Who knows? It definitely doesn’t belong…

That’s all I have for now. Stay tuned!

Plates update: 11-14 February 2015

I’ve been back in Pennsylvania for less than a week, but I’ve been having some oddly good luck when it comes to spotting high plates.

I suppose being in and around Philadelphia has something to do with it. Not only are there more people (and thus cars) to begin with, but I get the impression people in the city get new tags on older cars fairly often. People in the suburbs seem to just transfer registrations over and over, hence things like the DAP-53** plate I recently saw on a 2015 Jeep.

I’ve seen several highs this past week: standard passenger, Limousine, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia specialty. I also saw the current high Truck plate (ZGS-3267) but couldn’t get a photo.

Highest (photographed) PA passenger plate JTR-2567 seen 13 February 2015
Highest (photographed) Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia plate 00392 C/H seen 12 February 2015.
Highest (photographed) PA Limousine plate LM-25251, seen 11 February 2015.

This next one isn’t a high, actually – it’s a low-numbered plate, which are arguably much rarer and harder to spot, but it’s always cool when you do. The owner of this plate lives relatively close to me, since I’ve seen it before on a different car in the same place. This one’s unique also in that it’s got only three leading zeroes instead of four, and of course also because it’s the original full-colour Tiger plate, not the hideous abomination the DMV is now passing off as its replacement.

P/Z 0002 spotted 12 February 2015

Note the expiration sticker – not that you can make it out clearly, but it’s a 3-16 sticker. That’d make this plate a doubly interesting find, since they must have transferred the registration and renewed it at the same time quite recently. Or maybe PennDOT changed some rules. Who knows. The plate is real and valid for 13 more months.

After that, PA is apparently doing away with stickers, so that’ll be interesting. NY, NJ, and CT don’t do stickers anymore either, so I guess it’s not as confusing as I originally thought.

Plates Update: 7 February 2015

As an addendum to the previous two posts – looks like the neighbor got a new car. Note the August expiration.

Highest (photographed) RI plate as of 7 February 2015

Not sure how RI does things with registrations and whatnot. When we transferred our Suburban’s registration to our new TrailBlazer, the expiration stayed the same – but then again, so did the plate serial! In PA, of course, the plate stays with the owner, but in some other states (including RI, in some cases) the plate can stay with the vehicle in certain cases…confusing.

Anyway, no 200-series spotted…yet.

Plates Update: 6 February 2015 – Rhode Island going flat

Back in October 2014, I read a news article about new RI plates coming “next year.” I found it interesting considering I’d only recently began spotting RI plates to begin with! Two different versions can be found here and here.

Rhode Island will soon join 29 other states in having a “flat plate” available, although there are not that many states using flat plates as general-issue passenger plates. For example, New York issues embossed general-issue passenger plates, but vanities are flat – both are on the same Empire Gold base, however. Indiana’s plates are all flat – same with Tennessee and Montana; New Jersey’s passenger issue is flat, but not all other classes are. PA has only ever made 100% flat plates as decorations at visitor centres (fun fact: these are also the only 8-character “vanity” plates in PA, although they aren’t really legal PA plates after all).

So…in other news, I DID spot a 399-4nn series plate on RI 146 South earlier today. I tried to take a photo, but it’s too blurry, so here’s a photo of a 398-series I saw ten minutes later instead.

Highest (photographed) RI plate, 6 Feb 2015. Several 399-nnn series have been spotted, but not (yet) photographed…

In any case, I’ll still be on the lookout for a 200-series plate before I leave tomorrow (before we get another two feet of snow up here…!)


In other news, has been updated for the first time so far this year. My guess is that Tom (the admin) has been unusually busy, since I’ve not seen such a long time between updates.  PA is apparently at JTM-5100, although JTN* is the highest that’s been photographed on the roads. At this rate, I expect we will be seeing JV*-series plates by early March, if not sooner.

Note that PA has not used vowels in the second position on passenger issues since the Exx-series plates of the very early 2000s. This is, understandably, to avoid the appearance and/or accidental issuance of plates that form words, offensive or otherwise, with the first three letters (and sometimes the first one or two numbers). For example, I have seen several plates starting with DAD, which is harmless, but it’s therefore reasonable to assume the DAG-series exists as well, and one wouldn’t want a zero in the first numeric position…especially if one is of Italian or Sicilian descent! I believe the DAY-series was issued as well, although I know for a fact the letters I, O, and U are never used in the second position – this has been true since the AAA-series first appeared in 1992.

Odd, considering PA’s letter and number dies are physically different sizes (letters being smaller). I guess if you really want those letters, you’d get a vanity anyway. They’re allowed on vanities, of course. No keystones appear, so no spoofing general issue plates…!

So, with all that said, the JU*-series will not exist, just as the GU-, FU-, and HU-series did not exist. I don’t even think the F**-series used vowels in the second position – you wouldn’t want a plate starting with FAG, FAK, FAP, FEG, FEK, or FUK, after all. Well, okay, maybe you might, but I’m willing to bet the DMV would have a different opinion. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a plate starting with GAG or GAY – seriously – although GAB-xxxx would remind me of my ex and GAP-xxxx could be seen as copyright infringement by some overzealous bigwig, I’m sure….

Nobody would want a plate starting with HAG, HAK, or HEL, either…probably. HEL-0666 would be a pretty fucking cool plate, now that I think of it. Not just a helluva cool plate, either. Haha.

I digress. We’ll see JVA-0000 or something like that fairly soon. That’s all I was going for with that little aside!

Plates Update: 5 February 2015

I will be posting about license plate sightings on a fairly regular basis from now on, at least when I have something worth posting. I spot primarily Pennsylvania and Rhode Island plates, although I naturally see other states’ plates fairly often – mostly New Jersey (when I’m in PA) and Massachusetts (when I’m in RI).


I have been in Rhode Island for the past month or so. I will be leaving tomorrow to return to Pennsylvania, namely in the interest of beating yet another four to six inches of snow (on top of the foot we’ve already got), so it appears I may well miss the imminent rollover to the 200-xxx series of plates.

When RI began issuing the current six-digit passenger format in 2007 – presumably sometime between running out of 5-digit numbers and realising that using the exact same numbering pattern on at least three different plate types might be a bad idea – they started at 710-001. I have yet to find any explanation for this. For all I know, it was the personal preference of somebody with executive power. In any case, we do know that 700-000 through 709-999 do not appear to have ever been issued. Perhaps they are a reserved series for some as-yet-unreleased specialty plate, which would also be unusual as RI uses the same serial format across all passenger bases…

Anyway, the 710-001 progression reached 799-999 quite soon due to statewide replating efforts (although quite a significant amount of AA-xxx plates remain in use to this day) and switched to 800-000, then 900-000 by early 2009. When that reached 999-999, the issue moved to 600-000 (naturally!) in the spring of 2010. Around June of 2011, 699-999 rolled over to 500-000; the 400-xxx series appeared in the fall of 2012, and the current (for now) 300-xxx series began issue towards the end of 2013.

From this, one can reasonably assume that plates in Rhode Island are issued at a fairly consistent rate, exhausting one full xxx-xxx series roughly every 15 months.

Within the past week, I have seen two plates in the 399-xxx series. One was 399-1?? (it was a front plate that the owner had already bent under their bumper…oops) and more recently I spotted 399-384, which is the current (albeit unverified) high. I can’t easily take photos while driving, be it with my camera or my cell phone, although the ability to take photos with my voice (saying “cheese” to my phone, I kid you not) is potentially quite helpful. The highest I have spotted and verified is 397-822 on 20 January. Since we were sitting in the drive-thru queue, my girlfriend was able to snap a photo with her iPhone (although she still doesn’t understand my fascination with license plates).

This means that 399-999 will be issued very soon, if it hasn’t already, and we should then start seeing 200-xxx series plates. It’d be neat if I could spot at least one before I leave. With my luck, though, I’ll see a 200-xxx series high leaving Rhode Island, on I-295 or I-95, at night, while it’s snowing. Such is life!

In other plate news:

Pennsylvania has reportedly reached at least JTN-3xxx in my absence. When I left in early January, the high was JTA-2749 and the highest I’d seen was JSZ-7578.

PA Permanent Trailer plates have reached PT-9999Z and the issue has progressed to PT-000A0. I am unsure if this new serial format has been seen yet, but PA’s plate history would suggest this is indeed the logical next serial format and by now I’m sure there are at least a handful or two out on the highways.

Rhode Island Veteran plates continue to confuse me (and others) with their varied formats. Technically, the Veteran plates are – as in all other states – special-issue, usually carry a reduced fee, and require official verification of veteran status. RI does have active-duty plates, but only for the National Guard. The thing is, also like many states, RI issues several types of plates to veterans of the armed forces. There appear to be three distinct formats: Veteran, War Veteran, and Disabled Veteran. Now, by “distinct,” I mean there is literally no difference whatsoever aside from the caption at the bottom (Veteran, War Veteran, or Disabled Veteran). The background is an American flag, there’s an Armed Forces seal on the far right, and they all follow an all-numeric serial format. Currently the high is 19905. The highest I can verify with a photo is 16489, which I spotted back in November. I saw 19307 not even two weeks later.

It seems the “War Veteran” slogan has been discontinued in favour of “Veteran,” presumably because many who serve(d) in some capacity (and thus qualify for these plates) served in some non-combat role; indeed, there are plenty who have served in the armed forces during peacetime, which makes the “War Veteran” slogan not only incorrect, but also potentially undesirable! The Disabled Veteran plates draw from different serials, the highest I’ve seen being three digits, but the plates are identical in every other way. Since the caption is relatively small and often covered by a plate frame or something, it’s not always possible to tell what kind of veteran plate you’re looking at. Also, unlike many states, Rhode Island does not issue any sort of handicap plate, favoring instead exclusively placards hung from the rearview mirror, like neighboring Massachusetts. I assume this means the Disabled Veteran plate does not itself confer handicap parking privileges, as (for example) the PA Severely Disabled Veteran plate does. I am under the impression that federal law requires the handicapped symbol to appear on anything conferring such privileges, as one can see on other states’ handicap plates.

But even with that in mind, it seems rather superfluous. I’m sure law enforcement has better things to do than checking for placards in a car with a “Disabled Veteran” plate on. It does say “disabled,” after all.

A new plate design has apparently been announced for Rhode Island, although I have no further information on when it will be formally released or even if it’ll be simply another option (like the current Sailboat Plate). My understanding is that the Wave Plates are being superceded by whatever this new design is (not replaced, since in typical RI practice all older plates will remain valid indefinitely, until illegible or retired)…we shall see.