Collecting U.S. Revenue Stamps

Collecting Revenue stamps makes an interesting side hobby for any serious philatelist, as well as a fun pursuit in its own right. Unlike postage stamps, Revenue stamps are used for tax purposes on certain products. They show that a manufacturer has paid the appropriate tariffs for legal sale. While their use was previously more widespread, you’ll still find Revenue stamps on certain imported goods — typically alcohol and tobacco products.

Collectible and Rare U.S. Revenue Stamps

Revenue stamp use in the United States dates back to colonial times. The passage of the British Stamp Act in 1765 was a major catalyst for the burgeoning revolutionary movement. The first domestically-produced stamps, however, did not appear until 1862, when they were commissioned to raise funds for the U.S. Civil War. Called First Issue Revenue stamps by collectors, these were produced in denominations ranging from one cent to $200. In circulation for two years, First Issue Revenue stamps were applied to a wide range of goods, including patent medicines, playing cards and legal documents.

Revenue stamps were issued again in 1871 and 1872. During this time, separate stamps were created for tobacco and alcohol. Known as “Beer stamps,” these were typically attached in such a way that opening the product would destroy the stamp and prevent its reuse.

How to Collect U.S. Revenue Stamps

The practice of collecting rare U.S. Revenue stamps has drifted in and out of fashion among philatelists. In recent years, it has enjoyed a minor renaissance, as many collectors who have grown frustrated with the rising prices commanded by rare postal stamps have become interested in this more accessible hobby. Because Revenue stamps were also produced at the state level, you can further specialize your collection if you wish.

Beginning or Building Your Collection

Whether you’ve been collecting Revenue stamps for years or are just beginning this fascinating hobby, Apfelbaum, Inc. is your best resource for buying rare and unique Revenue stamps from the U.S. and all around the world. We have more than 100 years of philatelic expertise and regularly host sales that are open to anyone interested in growing their collection.  Find more information on our Buy It Now Sales on our website.

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