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Silver Tax Stamps

1934-1940

Silver tax stamps were authorized by Congress on June 19, 1934, pursuant to the Silver Purchase Act of 1934.

As a measure to stabilize the US economy and to prevent runs on banks, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, the Gold Standard was abolished in 1933, and all gold bullion and gold coins in private hands were recalled.  The government then feared that people would start hoarding silver bullion, causing further runs on US banks.

In order to curb the hoarding of silver bullion, the Silver Purchase Act of 1934 established the Silver Standard, called for the government to establish silver reserves to backup the silver certificate banknotes in circulation, and called for the cessation of the minting of silver dollar coins.  The act also imposed a 50% tax on the profit realized on any transfer of silver bullion occurring after May 15, 1934 and provided for the use of silver tax stamps.

The new silver tax stamps were attached to transfer memorandums, indicating the payment of the federal silver tax.  From 1934 to 1940, documentary revenue stamps were overprinted "SILVER TAX".  New silver tax stamps were first produced in 1941.


The documentary US revenue stamps of 1917 shown above were overprinted "SILVER TAX" in 1934.  Some of the cent denominations are not shown in the images above.

The catalog details are as follows:

  • 01 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG1) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 02 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG2) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 03 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG3) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 04 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG4) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 05 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG5) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 08 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG6) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 10 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG7) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 20 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG8) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 25 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG9) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 40 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG10) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 50 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG11) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 80 C.  (1934 - Sc. #RG12) - Carmine Rose (shades).
  • 01 D.  (1934 - Sc. #RG13) - Green.
  • 02 D.  (1934 - Sc. #RG14) - Rose.
  • 03 D.  (1934 - Sc. #RG15) - Violet.
  • 04 D.  (1934 - Sc. #RG16) - Yellow Brown.
  • 05 D.  (1934 - Sc. #RG17) - Dark Blue.
  • 10 D.  (1934 - Sc. #RG18) - Orange.


The five high-denomination documentary US revenue stamps of 1917 shown above, in the top and middle rows, were overprinted "SILVER TAX" (with narrow spacing) in 1934.

The two high-denomination documentary US revenue stamps of 1917 shown above, in the bottom row, were overprinted "SILVER TAX" (with wide spacing) in 1936.

The catalog details are as follows:

  • 0030 D.  (1934 - Narrow Spacing - Sc. #RG19) - Vermilion.
  • 0060 D.  (1934 - Narrow Spacing - Sc. #RG20) - Brown.
  • 0100 D.  (1934 - Narrow Spacing - Sc. #RG21) - Green.
  • 0500 D.  (1934 - Narrow Spacing - Sc. #RG22) - Blue.
  • 1000 D.  (1934 - Narrow Spacing - Sc. #RG23) - Orange.

  • 0100 D.  (1936 - Wide Spacing - Sc. #RG26) - Green.
  • 1000 D.  (1936 - Wide Spacing - Sc. #RG27) - Orange.


Documentary
US revenue stamps of 1917 were machine-overprinted "SILVER TAX" and "Series 1940", as shown in the two examples above, during 1940.  The ENTIRE set is shown above.

The catalog details are as follows:

  • 01 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG37) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 02 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG38) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 03 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG39) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 04 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG40) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 05 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG41) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 08 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG42) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 10 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG43) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 20 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG44) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 25 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG45) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 40 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG46) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 50 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG47) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 80 C.  (1940 - Sc. #RG48) - Rose Pink (shades).
  • 01 D.  (1940 - Sc. #RG49) - Green.
  • 02 D.  (1940 - Sc. #RG50) - Rose.
  • 03 D.  (1940 - Sc. #RG51) - Violet.
  • 04 D.  (1940 - Sc. #RG52) - Yellow Brown.
  • 05 D.  (1940 - Sc. #RG53) - Dark Blue.
  • 10 D.  (1940 - Sc. #RG54) - Orange.


The three high-denomination
Documentary US revenue stamps of 1917 were machine-overprinted "SILVER TAX" and hand-stamped "Series 1940" during 1940.  Authenticated examples of these three silver tax stamps are very rare.

The catalog details are as follows:

  • 0030 D.  (1940 - Narrow Spacing - Sc. #RG55) - Vermilion - Ulysses S. Grant.
  • 0060 D.  (1940 - Narrow Spacing - Sc. #RG56) - Brown - Abraham Lincoln.
  • 0100 D.  (1940 - Wide Spacing - Sc. #RG57) - Green - George Washington.





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Silver Tax Stamps of 1934-1940






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Provisional

Overprints


Between 1934 and 1939, there were two groups of provisional silver tax stamp overprints, both official and private, utilizing contemporary documentary stamps.

The first group of official overprints consisted of "SILVER / TAX" hand-stamped in violet.  These were used on the 1 C., 3 C., 5 C., 10 C., and 80 C. denomination documentary stamps (Sc. #RG28-32).

The second group of official overprints consisted of "SILVER TAX" applied with a typewriter.  The Scott listed varieties are the $2, $3, and $5 denomination documentary stamps (Sc. #RG34-36).  In a footnote, the catalog indicates that these typewritten overprints also exist on the 2 C., 3 C., 4 C., 20 C., and 50 C. denomination documentary stamps.

There are other types of private overprints, which are not listed in the Scott catalog.

Authenticated examples of these provisional overprints are exceedingly rare, and they almost never appear in the philatelic marketplace, outside of the occasional major stamp auction.

The image above shows the only recorded example of the 1 C. denomination, with the violet hand-stamped overprint (Sc. #RG28), from a Matthew Bennett auction catalog.