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Punxsy man’s plate collection has 100-year-old prize

January 21, 2011

Douglas Bartlebaugh, of Punxsy, received this 1911 Pennsylvania license plate from a local man who read about his plate collection in a previous edition of The Spirit. Through some research, Bartlebaugh learned that the plate is worth about $4,600. (Photo by Jennifer Barr)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Whether buttons, old coins, baseball cards or dolls, everyone has a collection that he or she cherishes.

Ever since Douglas Bartlebaugh was a little boy, he had a fascination with license plates. When he was young, he took the plates off old cars at his PaPa’s junk yard, whereas they all were special to him, and still are.

Today, Bartlebaugh has more than 100 license plates from all 50 states, as well as Ontario, New Brunswick and four from the Caribbean Islands. He also has a license plate from Iowa that is damaged and battered, but has survived a tornado. Further, he has temporary license plates from North and South Carolina.

Among the many plates with which Bartlebaugh fills his bedroom walls and space is a Pennsylvania license plate that has just reached a special birthday with the coming of 2011.This particular license plate is now 100 years old.

After Bartlebaugh appeared in a past issue of The Spirit showcasing his very immense collection of license plates, a local resident — known only as Joe — got in touch with Bartlebaugh and shared that he had collected a license plate from every time something bad had happened, such as a very old license plate from the time of the Great Depression.

Joe then furnished Bartlebaugh with 12 old Pennsylvania plates ranging in dates from 1911 to the 1970s.

Among the 12 license plates Bartlebaugh received from Joe was the 100-year-old plate.

When Bartlebaugh received this particular 1911 license plate from Joe, he instantly was attracted to it by the age that it reached. He knew from the moment that he received this plate that it was very old since the date was on the plate, on the left- hand side under the word “Penna.,” and above the word dealer. In this case, the plate was a dealer plate.

“A dealer plate is a license plate that the car dealer used at the shop,” Bartlebaugh said.

Along with the revealing face of the plate, the back had a story of its own: The back uncovered that the vehicle that bore the plate weighed 2,228 1/2 pounds.

Following the event of receiving the 12 plates, Bartlebaugh researched the 1911 Pennsylvania license plate, using eBay to look up the exact plate, taking into consideration its condition.

After searching for the exact year, state and condition, Bartlebaugh was pleasantly surprised to see that the license plate that he received from Joe was worth $4,600.

Bartlebaugh said he probably won’t sell this license plate, and wants to keep it.

When asked if he told Joe how much it was worth, Bartlebaugh replied, “I will probably tell him about it next month.”

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