Private Proprietary Stamps (Match and Medicine)

There are many aspects of United States Philately that simply don’t exist with the stamps and the collecting of other countries. Certainly, the emphasis that American collectors have placed on Revenue collecting is unparalleled in the philatelic world. Revenues are stamps that are issued by governments for tax paying rather than postal purposes. United States collectors have a huge number of these stamps to choose from, not only in the general Revenue category but in specialized revenues as well. In the post Civil War period the US levied taxes on patent medicines, match books and perfumes. Companies had to pay so much per bottle or pack sold and a Revenue stamp was required on the bottle to indicate that the tax had been paid. Companies could use a United States revenue stamp, but the Treasury department also offered manufacturers the option of designing and printing their own advertising revenue stamps that would indicate that the tax had been paid. This would look better on the product packaging and could be used by the company as part of its marketing. This unique American solution to a taxing problem saved the government the cost of producing tax stamps and allowed companies to retain attractive product design. There are thousands of varieties of United States Match and Medicine stamps and they are listed in the Scott specialized United States catalog. Some are very rare but most can be acquired for only a few dollars each. Because the tax stamps were placed over the tops of the bottles or covers of the matches, most where damaged when the product was used and high quality specimens are hard to find.

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