License Plates

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Pennsylvania License Plates

The first license plates in Pennsylvania were issued by the city of Philadelphia in 1903. The state of Pennsylvania did not begin issuing license plates until 1906. All license plates issued from 1903 through 1915 were flat printed porcelains. In 1916, Pennsylvania issued its first embossed steel license plates. Until 1979, Pennsylvania issued license plates with the year of issue on the license plate unlike all the other states where the year on the license plate was the date of expiration.  Following the Society of American Engineers guidelines, Pennsylvania adopted the 6” x 12” standard size for motor vehicle license plates with standard placement for screw holes.

The first slogan appeared in 1971 with the embossing of BICENTENNIAL STATE. These were used through 1976. In 1977, Pennsylvania issued the first KEYSTONE STATE license plate and this was valid until 1993. The slogan YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND IN embossed on top line was issued in 1983 changed back to KEYSTONE STATE in 1987.  Graphics representing the map of Pennsylvania (Keystone) first appeared in 1910 and skipping the year 1920, appeared on all license plates until 1937.  The keystone was dropped in 1938 until 1957.  The cracked Liberty Bell image was first embossed on Pennsylvania license plates in 1971 and lasted until 1976 when the KEYSTONE STATE slogan was re-introduced.  The embossed map outline first appeared on Pennsylvania license plates in 1937 and lasted until 1975.

Retro-reflective foil on aluminum substrate license plates were first introduced in Pennsylvania in 1977 and this has continued until today.  The 3M company supplied the foils for Pennsylvania license plates until Avery-Dennison broke into this market in 2008.  Pennsylvanians are proud of their automotive heritage and two of America’s top antique auto shows are held in Carlisle and Hershey, Pennsylvania each year.  The Carlisle Show is in the Spring and the Hershey Show in the Fall of every year.  These shows attract tens of thousands of antique automobile enthusiasts from all across the country and even some from overseas.