US Stamps

Looking for a new challenge? Try collecting taxpaid revenue stamps

May 13, 2017, 3 PM
This United States 11/8 -ounce John Quincy Adams tobacco revenue stamp is an example of a taxpaid revenue stamp.

Stamp Market Tips — By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

This week we tip a class of revenue stamps not often seen in stamp catalogs.

Revenue stamps are stamps that show payment of taxes or fees. The 2017 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers lists and values many types of revenue stamps. However, there are numerous U.S. revenue stamps that are not listed in the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog.

Taxpaid revenue stamps are stamps that are denominated by quantity or volume rather than in currency values. While the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog does list a few of these where the equivalent monetary rate by volume is known, such as the beer revenue stamps, it does not list most of them.

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Examples of products for which taxpaid stamps were used to show payment of taxes include tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, snuff, beer, liquor, distilled spirits, and oleomargarine. There are also state taxpaid revenue stamps. Taxpaid revenue stamps are avidly collected by a small group of revenue stamp specialists.

One attraction of taxpaid stamps is that they picture subjects not often found on postage stamps. They also offer different, interesting vignettes of people who are commemorated on postage stamps, such as this 11/8-ounce John Quincy Adams taxpaid tobacco revenue stamp.

Prices for taxpaid revenue stamps run the gamut from a few dollars up to several hundred dollars. You can often find them in cinderella stamp accumulations and lots for a dollar or less each. If you find them cheap, they are generally worth picking up. And you might get lucky.

Taxpaid revenue stamps are listed rather haphazardly in the long out-of-print Springer’s Handbook of North American Cinderella Stamps.

There are 10 volumes of this handbook, but Vols. 6-10 include reprints of the material in Vols. 1-5. So, you don’t need the first five volumes. You can also check online auction sites to get a feel for what is selling and at what prices.