By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
Match and medicine revenue stamps (known formally as private die proprietary stamps) remain one of the most active segments of the U.S. stamp market.
The Revenue Act of 1862 was enacted to help pay for the cost of fighting the Civil War. It levied taxes on the sale of matches, patent medicines, perfumes, playing cards, and other items.
Producers of such products were permitted, at their own expense, to design and have produced the dies and plates for printing the revenue stamps to show payment of the tax on their products. They got a 5 percent to 10 percent discount on their taxes for doing so. But perhaps an even greater inducement was the opportunity to use the stamps as advertising.
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A good one to look for is the 1¢ Dalley’s Magical Pain Extractor revenue stamp (Scott RS74). The product, advertised as “the great family ointment,” was applied topically to sore muscles and joints.
Three common varieties are listed: old paper (RS74a), silk paper (RS74b) and paper watermarked “USIR” (RS74d). The 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values them at $16, $12, and $9.25, respectively.
All three are currently selling at 20 percent to 40 percent above catalog value. If you find them with only minor flaws offered at catalog value, they would be a great buy.