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 ūüėČ ) 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. ūüėČ


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. ūüėÄ


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. ūüôā 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. ūüėõ

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. ūüėČ

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 √úber (or¬†√úber “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. ūüėÄ

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 ūüėõ ) 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 Рspecifically, 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. ūüėČ

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? ūüėģ

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. ūüėõ

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? ūüėģ 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. ūüėČ

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! ūüėÄ

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.


Author: Jaska

I am the person behind this entire site; I am a musician, an artist, a programmer, a technician, a problem-solver, a hopeless romantic, a computer collector, and probably a bunch of other things. I don't like writing biographies because the content changes EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

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