By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
Private die proprietary revenue stamps remain one of the most active segments of the U.S. market.
To help fund the massive expense of the Civil War, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1862, levying taxes on a wide variety of products, including matches, patent medicines, perfumes and playing cards.
Manufacturers were allowed to produce their own dies for the revenue stamps to be used on their products with a discount of 5 percent to 10 percent for doing so.
Many manufacturers recognized the possibility of using the revenue stamps for advertising their products, and revenue stamps with attractive, unusual, and sometimes bizarre designs were produced.
Because of the nature of the products being taxed, these stamps are informally known to collectors as match and medicine stamps.
The tax was repealed effective July 1, 1883.
Values for revenue stamps in this category run the gamut from very expensive to easily affordable.
Often collectors will choose one type of stamp to collect. For example, those with an interest in medicine will collect the stamps issued to pay the tax on patent medicines.
Collectors with an interest in gaming, gambling or card playing might specialize in the much smaller category of playing card revenue stamps.
A good place to start is with the 5¢ black New York Consolidated Card Co. stamp (Scott RU14). The design shows a left hand holding a spread of cards running from deuce to ace.
The 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the stamp at $7.50, and it is a good buy at that price.
These stamps were often torn in opening the product they taxed. Examples that are somewhat faulty are perfectly acceptable so long as the faults are not readily apparent from the face of the stamp.