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US Revenue Stamps

Provisional Revenues of 1898

For US revenue stamps, 1898 was a transitional year, brought on by the advent of the Spanish American War.  The new series of Documentary revenue stamps was not yet available, and lower denomination revenue stamps were needed, as supplies of them were running short.  The situation necessitated the provisional overprinting of US definitive postage stamps, in order to fill the urgent need for revenue stamps.



The three definitive postage stamps shown above were overprinted by the Department of Internal Revenue in 1898 for use as US revenue stamps.

The 1 C. denomination overprinted stamp comes in two major types.


  • Square or rectangular periods in the overprint, with there being two different sizes of letters.
  • Oblong periods in the overprint, with there being two different sizes of letters.

The 2 C. denomination stamp has the second overprint type.  The over print was applied to both the Type III and Type IV postage stamps.

The catalog details are as follows:


  • 01 C.  (1898 - Rectangular Periods - Sc. #R153) - Green
  • 01 C.  (1898 - Oblong Periods - Sc. #R154) - Green
  • 02 C.  (1898 - Oblong Periods - Sc. #R155, #R155A) - Pink, Carmine

These three government produced provisional revenue stamps are very common and inexpensive.  Even examples with inverted overprints are available for not too much more than the price of the regularly issued stamps.



The three definitive postage stamps shown above were privately  hand-stamped by the Michigan Mutual Life Insurance Co. over a five day period during July 1898.

According to company records, 41 of the 8 C. denomination stamps were used, 66 of the 10 C. denomination stamps were used, and 28 of the 15 C. denomination stamps were used.

Their catalog details are as follows:


  • 08 C.  (1898 - Sc. #R156) - Violet Brown
  • 10 C.  (1898 - Sc. #R157) - Dark Green
  • 15 C.  (1898 - Sc. #R158) - Dark Blue

These hand-stamped emergency provisional US revenue stamps are exceedingly rare, and they should only be purchased with a certificate of authenticity.

The three images shown above are from a 2015 Daniel F. Kelleher auction, where the three stamps sold for a combined total of $9,000.



Most collectors of US revenue stamps will NEVER EVEN SEE the two Trans-Mississippi 1 C. denomination provisional overprints shown above, much less ever own either of them.  BUT, they ARE listed in the Scott Specialized Catalog of United States stamps.

These two provisional revenue stamps were overprinted, with government permission, by the Purvis Printing Co. during 1898.

L. H. Chapman of the Chapman Steamboat Line ordered 250 stamps with the L. H. C. overprint, and P. I. Daprix & Son ordered another 250 stamps with the P. I. D. & Son overprint.  Both of these companies operated freight-carrying steamboats along the Erie Canal.

Unfortunately, very few of the 500 overprinted stamps that were ordered have survived.  As of 2015, only 19 stamps with the L. H. C. overprint, and 3 stamps with the P. I. D. & Son overprint have been recorded.

Their catalog attributes are as follows:


  • 01 C.  (1898 - L. H. C. - Sc. #R158A) - Dark Yellow Green
  • 01 C.  (1898 - P. I. D. & Son - Sc. #R158B) - Dark Yellow Green

The two images shown above are from a 2011 Robert A. Siegel auction, where Scott #158A (used, with faults) sold for $6,250 and Scott #158B (unused, partial gum, with faults) sold for $16,500.



Five Dollar denomination Newspaper and Periodical stamps were overprinted and surcharged "INT. REV. / $5. / DOCUMENTARY" in red during 1898.  These were the first issue of what would become U.S. Documentary stamps.  Both overprint orientations are shown above.

The catalog details are as follows:


  • 05 D. on 05 D.  (1898 - Surcharge Reading Downward - Sc. #R159) - Dark Blue - Allegory of Clio, the Ancient Greek Muse of History
  • 05 D. on 05 D.  (1898 - Surcharge Reading Upward - Sc. #R160) - Dark Blue - Allegory of Clio, the Ancient Greek Muse of History

Though a bit pricey, these stamps are abundant, in both mint and used condition, in the philatelic marketplace.





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