US Stamps

An affordable start to a beer stamp collection

Feb 17, 2022, 8 AM
The United States 1878 12½¢ blue George Washington beer revenue stamp on green paper (Scott REA37) is an attractive and affordable stamp with which to begin a beer stamp collection.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

Revenue stamps are popular with many U.S. collectors. Unlike postage stamps, revenue stamps show payment of or exemption from payment of tax.

They have been used to show collection of taxes on alcoholic beverages, documents, hunting licenses, medicine, narcotics, playing cards, tobacco, matches, operating an automobile, firearm registration, stock transfers and just about anything else a government can think of to tax.

Beer revenue stamps are a perennial favorite among collectors, especially among those with a fondness for the brew. Many U.S. beer stamps have colorful and attractive designs.

The first beer stamps were issued in 1866 and the last in 1951. Just as with U.S. postage stamps, some are quite affordable while others are prohibitively expensive for all but collectors in the highest income brackets.

An attractive inexpensive beer stamp to start with is the 1878 12½¢ blue George Washington on green paper (Scott REA37). The stamp paid the tax on one-eighth of a barrel of beer.

The Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the stamp in used condition with small faults at just $7.50.

Depending on the appearance and the exact nature of the faults, the stamp is generally a good buy at that price or perhaps a bit higher.

The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog lists and values five minor number varieties with values ranging from $30 to $1,250. 

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