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US Revenue Stamps

Beer Tax Stamps

1878-1902

Federal beer tax US revenue stamps first appeared in 1866.  No stamps were produced between 1919 and 1932, during the Prohibition Era in the United States.  Production of federal beer tax stamps was resumed in 1933 and discontinued in 1951. 

The federal beer tax rates were $1.00 per barrel from 1878 to 1898, $2.00 per barrel from 1898 to 1901, $1.60 per barrel in 1901, and $1.00 per barrel in 1902, with a standard barrel containing approximately 31.5 gallons of beer.

Beer tax stamps were provided to brewers in imperforate sheets.  After filling the barrel, the brewer would then cut out the appropriate stamp for the particular sized barrel being shipped to the consumer.  The stamp was to be placed over the bung (stopper or cork) of the barrel and then canceled.  When the barrel was opened by the consumer, the stamp would usually be punched-through or otherwise mutilated, with the end-result being the prevention of the stamp's reuse. 

Quite a few of these stamps must have been more carefully removed though, as many undamaged, very nicely canceled examples are available in the philatelic marketplace.

Several different varieties of paper were used to produce many of the beer stamps.  Only examples of the major denominations are shown in the images.  Printing and paper varieties will be notated in the catalog detail tables at the end of each section.  For a detailed listing of all these varieties, please refer to the Scott Specialized Catalog of United States Stamps.

The images used on these beer stamp pages are NOT SIZED TO SCALE.  Most of the beer stamps measure approximately 2 3/4 inches in width by 2 3/4 inches in height.  The images have been re-sized so that more of them can be displayed in this webpage format.


The
seven major-type beer tax US revenue stamps shown above were introduced in 1878.   These US revenue stamps were printed by the National Banknote Co., and they are all inscribed "SERIES OF 1878".

The designs of these new stamps feature the portrait of a famous American

The catalog details are as follows:

  • 12 1/2 C.  (1878 - Sc. #REA37) - Blue on Green, Blue on Pale Green, Blue on Light Blue, Blue on Blue, Blue on Dark Blue - George Washington.
  • 16 2/3 C.  (1878 - Sc. #REA38) - Light Brown on Green, Light Brown on Pale Green, Light Brown on Light Blue, Light Brown on Blue, Light Brown on Dark Blue   - Thomas Corwin.
  • 25 C.  (1878 - Sc. #REA39) - Green on Green, Green on Pale Green, Green on Light Blue, Green on Blue, Green on Dark Blue - Thomas Hart Benton.
  • 33 1/3 C.  (1878 - Sc. #REA40) - Violet on Green, Violet on Pale Green, Violet on Light Blue, Violet on Blue, Violet on Dark Blue - General George Thomas.
  • 50 C.  (1878 - Sc. #REA41) - Orange on Green, Orange on Pale Green, Orange on Light Blue, Orange on Blue, Orange on Dark Blue - Thomas Jefferson.
  • 01 D.  (1878 - Sc. #REA42) - Red on Green, Red on Pale Green, Red on Light Blue, Red on Blue, Red on Dark Blue - Andrew Johnson.
  • 02 D.  (1878 - Sc. #REA43) - Brown on Green, Brown on Pale Green, Brown on Blue, Brown on Dark Blue - Silas Wright.


The
major-type beer tax US revenue stamps of 1878 were provisionally surcharged in 1898.  The tax rate was increased to $2.00 per barrel, due to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.  Examples, with varying surcharge types, are shown above.

Most of the surcharges were applied to the 1878 beer stamps that were printed on Blue or on Dark Blue paper.

There were four major types of the surcharges:

  • Type A -- Bureau of Engraving and Printing (diagonal) surcharge "TAX $2 PER BBL. / SERIES OF 1898", with 4 1/4 mm high letters.
  • Type B -- Bureau of Engraving and Printing (diagonal) surcharge "TAX $2 PER BBL. / SERIES OF 1898", with 5 1/2 mm high letters.
  • Type C -- Hand-stamped provisional surcharge with similar wording in one to three lines.  More than 30 different styles!
  • Type D -- Printed provisional (horizontal) surcharge in two lines in various colors.

The catalog details are as follows:

  • (25 C.) on 12 1/2 C.  (1898 - Type A - Sc. #REA44)
  • (33 1/3 C.) on 16 2/3 C.  (1898 - Type A - Sc. #REA45)
  • (50 C.) on 25 C.  (1898 - Type A - Sc. #REA46)
  • (66 2/3 C.) on 33 1/3 C.  (1898- Type A - Sc. #REA47)
  • (01 D.) on 50 C.  (1898 - Type A - Sc. #REA48)
  • (02 D.) on 01 D.  (1898 - Type A - Sc. #REA49)
  • (04 D.) on 02 D.  (1898 - Type A - Sc. #REA50)

  • (25 C.) on 12 1/2 C.  (1898 - Type B - Sc. #REA51)
  • (33 1/3 C.) on 16 2/3 C.  (1898 - Type B - Sc. #REA52)
  • (50 C.) on 25 C.  (1898 - Type B - Sc. #REA53)
  • (66 2/3 C.) on 33 1/3 C.  (1898- Type B - Sc. #REA54)
  • (01 D.) on 50 C.  (1898 - Type B - Sc. #REA55)
  • (02 D.) on 01 D.  (1898 - Type B - Sc. #REA56)
  • (04 D.) on 02 D.  (1898 - Type B - Sc. #REA57)

  • (25 C.) on 12 1/2 C.  (1898 - Type C - Sc. #REA44a)
  • (33 1/3 C.) on 16 2/3 C.  (1898 - Type C - Sc. #REA45b)
  • (50 C.) on 25 C.  (1898 - Type C - Sc. #REA46a)
  • (01 D.) on 50 C.  (1898 - Type C - Sc. #REA48a)
  • (02 D.) on 01 D.  (1898 - Type C - Sc. #REA49a)
  • (04 D.) on 02 D.  (1898 - Type C - Sc. #REA50a)

  • (25 C.) on 12 1/2 C.  (1898 - Type D - Sc. #REA44b)
  • (33 1/3 C.) on 16 2/3 C.  (1898 - Type D - Sc. #REA45c)
  • (50 C.) on 25 C.  (1898 - Type D - Sc. #REA46b)
  • (01 D.) on 50 C.  (1898 - Type D - Sc. #REA48b)
  • (02 D.) on 01 D.  (1898 - Type D - Sc. #REA49b)
  • (04 D.) on 02 D.  (1898 - Type D - Sc. #REA50b)


A new series of seven
beer tax US revenue stamps was introduced in 1898.  These US revenue stamps were printed on Blue paper, and they are all inscribed "SERIES OF 1898".  Two examples are shown above.

The designs feature the portrait of a famous American

The catalog details are as follows:

  • 25 C.  (1898 - Sc. #REA58) - Blue - George Washington.
  • 33 1/2 C.  (1898 - Sc. #REA59) - Brown - Thomas Corwin.
  • 50 C.  (1898 - Sc. #REA60) - Green - Thomas Hart Benton.
  • 66 2/3 C.  (1898 - Sc. #REA61) - Violet - General George Thomas.
  • 01 D.  (1898 - Sc. #REA62) - Yellow - Thomas Jefferson.
  • 02 D.  (1898 - Sc. #REA63) - Red - Andrew Johnson.
  • 04 D.  (1898 - Sc. #REA64) - Dark Brown - Silas Wright.


Another new series of seven
beer tax US revenue stamps was introduced in 1901, after the federal beer tax was reduced to $1.60 per barrel These US revenue stamps were printed on Blue paper, and they are all inscribed "SERIES OF 1901".  Four examples are shown above.

The designs feature the portrait of a famous American

The catalog details are as follows:

  • 20 C.  (1901 - Sc. #REA65) - Blue - George Washington.
  • 26 2/3 C.  (1901 - Sc. #REA66) - Yellow Orange - Thomas Corwin.
  • 40 C.  (1901 - Sc. #REA67) - Green - Thomas Hart Benton.
  • 53 1/2 C.  (1901 - Sc. #REA68) - Violet - General George Thomas.
  • 80 C.  (1901 - Sc. #REA69) - Brown - Thomas Jefferson.
  • 01.60 D.  (1901 - Sc. #REA70) - Red - Andrew Johnson.
  • 03.20 D.  (1901 - Sc. #REA71) - Dark Brown - Silas Wright.


Three
of the major-type beer tax US revenue stamps of 1901 were provisionally surcharged (diagonally) "TAX $1 PER BBL. / SERIES OF 1902" in 1902, when the tax rate was reduced to $1.00 per barrel.  An example of Sc. #REA74 is shown above.

The catalog details are as follows:

  • (16 2/3 C.) on 26 2/3 C.  (1902 - Sc. #REA72)
  • (33 1/3 C.) on 53 1/3 C.  (1902 - Sc. #REA73)
  • (02 D.) on 03.20 D.  (1902 - Sc. #REA74)


A new series of seven beer tax US revenue stamps was introduced in 1902, after the federal beer tax was reduced to $1.00 per barrel These US revenue stamps were printed on five different colors of paper, and they are all inscribed "SERIES OF 1902".  Five of these new beer stamps are shown in the image above.

The catalog details are as follows:

  • 12 1/2 C.  (1902 - Sc. #REA75) - Blue on White, Blue on Dark Blue, Blue on Pale Green, Blue on Light Blue, Blue on Bright Blue - George Washington.
  • 16 2/3 C.  (1902 - Sc. #REA76) - Yellow Orange on White, Yellow Orange on Dark Blue, Yellow Orange on Pale Green, Yellow Orange on Light Blue, Yellow Orange on Bright Blue - Thomas Corwin.
  • 25 C.  (1902 - Sc. #REA77) - Green on White, Green on Dark Blue, Green on Pale GreenGreen on Light Blue, Green on Bright Blue - Thomas Hart Benton.
  • 33 1/3 C.  (1902 - Sc. #REA78) - Violet on White, Violet on Dark Blue, Violet on Light Blue, Violet on Bright Blue - General George Thomas.
  • 50 C.  (1902 - Sc. #REA79) - Brown on White, Brown on Dark Blue, Brown on Pale GreenBrown on Light Blue, Brown on Bright Blue - Thomas Jefferson.
  • 01 D.  (1902 - Sc. #REA80) - Red on White, Red on Dark Blue, Red on Pale Green, Red on Light Blue, Red on Bright Blue - Andrew Johnson.
  • 02 D.  (1902 - Sc. #REA81) - Dark Brown on White, Dark Brown on Dark Blue, Dark Brown on Pale Green, Dark Brown on Light Blue, Dark Brown on Bright Blue - Silas Wright.


The definitive reference book on beer tax US revenue stamps is "United States Beer Stamps", by Thomas W. Priester.  This reference book, along with the Scott Specialized Catalog of United States Stamps, is an absolute necessity for anyone wishing to specialize in US beer stamps.





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Beer Tax Stamps of 1878-1902





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