R55d First Issue Entry of Goods, Silk paper, Uncanceled GEM
Cracked plate, lower left
Civil War era, First Issue
In August 1862, while the American Civil War was being waged, the United States government began taxing a variety of goods, services and legal dealings. To confirm that taxes were paid a ‘revenue stamp’ was purchased and appropriately affixed to the taxable item, which would in turn pay the tax duty involved. The new stamps were printed in several colors and depicted a portrait of George Washington on all thirty denominations from one-cent to $200. The new revenue stamps were used to pay tax on proprietary items such as playing cards, patent medicines and luxuries, and for various legal documents, stocks, transactions and various legal services. The cancellation of these stamps were usually done in pen and ink, while hand stamped cancellations were seldomly used and subsequently are more rare. When the Civil War ended it did not mean an end to revenue taxes as the federal government still had not paid the $2.7 billion debt it had acquired until 1883, at which time it finally repealed the excise tax.