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US Revenue Stamps

Playing Cards Tax Stamps

1894-1940

US revenue stamps, inscribed PLAYING CARDS, were included in the US revenue general issues of 1862-1871, but after the general issue was retired in 1871, other revenue stamps were used to indicate the payment of the federal tax on playing cards.

New revenue stamps, designed specifically for the federal tax on the sale of playing cards, were introduced in 1894.  This new series of playing card stamps would continue in use, until the tax was abolished in 1965.


The four major type playing cards tax stamps shown above were issued between 1894 and 1902.  The design features a playing-card-hand and the denomination.

The lake colored stamp, issued in 1894, is inscribed ON DEMAND / AUG 1894.  The blue colored stamps, issued between 1894 and 1902, are inscribed ACT OF / AUG 1894.

Their catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 02 C.  (1894 - Rouletted - Sc. #RF1) - Lake.
  • 02 C.  (1894 - Rouletted - Sc. #RF2) - Ultramarine, Blue.
  • 02 C.  (1896 - Wmk. USIR - Rouletted - Sc. #RF3) - Blue, Ultramarine.
  • 02 C.  (1902 - Wmk. USIR - Perf. 12 - Sc. #RF4) - Deep Blue.

In most cases, the playing cards US revenue stamps were precanceled with the name of the manufacturer.  When combined with other official overprints and surcharges, the proper identification of certain varieties can be challenging, as can be seen with the provisional issues shown below.


The three wartime provisional playing cards US revenue stamps shown above were issued in 1917.

The first stamp was hand-stamped ACT OF 1917 / 7 / CENTS in rose.  There are various settings of this hand-stamped overprint used by Internal Revenue Service offices.

The second stamp was overprinted 17 in black.  This overprint indicated that the seven cent tax had been paid, according to the Act of 1917.

The third stamp was overprinted 7 in black, indicating the new seven cent tax.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 07 C. on 02 C.  (1917 - "ACT OF 1917" - Sc. #RF5) - Ultramarine.
  • 07 C. on 02 C.  (1917 - "17" - Sc. #RF6) - Blue.  Used by the New York Consolidated Card Co.
  • 07 C. on 02 C.  (1917 - "7" - Sc. #RF7) - Blue.  Used by the Standard Playing Card Co.


The three wartime provisional playing cards US revenue stamps shown above were also issued in 1917.

The first stamp was vertically surcharged 7 CTS. in red or violet.  The surcharge exists oriented both upward and downward.

The second stamp was vertically surcharged 7 CENTS in black, violet, or red.  There are MANY varieties of this stamp listed in the specialized catalog.

The third stamp was horizontally surcharged 7 C in carmine.  Inverted, double, and triple surcharges exist.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 07 C. on 02 C.  (1917 - "7 CTS." - Sc. #RF8) - Blue.  Used by the Russell Playing Card Co.
  • 07 C. on 02 C.  (1917 - "7 CENTS" - Sc. #RF9) - Blue.  Used by the Andrew Dougherty Co. and the Standard Playing Card Co., which would eventually become divisions of the U.S. Playing Card Co.
  • 07 C. on 02 C.  (1917 - "7 C" - Sc. #RF10) - Blue.  Used by the Russell Playing Card Co.


The four non-denominated, vertical-format playing cards US revenue stamps shown above were issued during 1918.  The central design features the four playing-card-suits.

These stamps were used as seven cent stamps until April 1, 1919.  After that date, they became eight cent stamps.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • [07 C.]  (1918 - Imperforate - Sc. #RF11) - Blue.
  • [07 C.]  (1918 - Rouletted - Sc. #RF12 a,b) - Blue.  Used by the N.Y. Consolidated Card Co. and the Russell Playing Card Co.
  • [07 C.]  (1918 - Perforated - Sc. #RF12 c,d) - Blue.  Used by the Logan Printing House.
  • [07 C.]  (1918 - "7 CENTS" - Sc. #RF13] - Blue.


The three provisional playing cards US revenue stamps shown above were issued during 1919.

The first stamp was surcharged REVENUE ACT / OF 1918 / 8 / CENTS in magenta or rose.

The second stamp was horizontally surcharged (inverted) 8 C in carmine.

The third stamp was horizontally surcharged 8 Cts. in carmine or vermilion.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 08 C. on 02 C.  (1918 - "8 CENTS" - Sc. #RF14) - Ultramarine.
  • 08 C. on 02 C.  (1918 - "8 C" - Sc. #RF15) - Blue.  Used by the Russell Playing Card Co.
  • 08 C. on 02 C.  (1918 - "8 Cts." - Sc. #RF16) - Blue.


New, non-denominated, small-format playing cards US revenue stamps shown above were issued during 1922.  Both varieties are shown above.  The central design features a circle containing CLASS / A.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • [08 C.]  (1922 - Rouletted - Sc. #RF17) - Blue.
  • 08 C. on [08 C.]  (1922 - Rouletted + 8c - Sc. #RF18) - Blue.  Used by the Pyramid Playing Card Co.


The denominated major-type playing cards US revenue stamps shown above were issued between 1924 and 1929.  The central design of these new stamps features a denomination numeral.

The new playing cards stamps were produced in three different formats -- rouletted, vertically-perforated coils, and perforated.  The coil stamps only exist precanceled.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 10 C.  (1924 - Roul. 7 - Sc. #RF19) - Blue.
  • 10 C.  (1926 - Perf. 10 Vert. - Sc. #RF20) - Blue.
  • 10 C.  (1927 - Perf. 11 - Sc. #RF21) - Blue.
  • 10 C.  (1929 - Perf. 10 - Sc. #RF22) - Blue.


The wide-format denominated major-type playing cards US revenue stamps shown above were issued between 1929 and 1931.  The central design of these new stamps features a denomination numeral.

These new playing cards stamps were produced in two different formats -- horizontally-perforated coils, and perforated.  The coil stamps only exist precanceled.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 10 C.  (1929 - Perf. 10 Horiz. - Sc. #RF23) - Blue.
  • 10 C.  (1930 - Perf. 10 - Sc. #RF24) - Blue.
  • 10 C.  (1931 - Perf. 11 - Sc. #RF25) - Blue.

These were the last denominated playing cards stamps.


The wide-format non-denominated major-type playing cards US revenue stamps shown above were issued in 1940.  The central design of these new stamps is inscribed 1 PACK, indicating that each stamp is valid for the payment of the tax on a single deck of playing cards.

These new non-denominated playing cards stamps were produced in two different formats -- horizontally-perforated coils, and perforated.  The coil stamps only exist precanceled.  The perforated stamps were printed by both flat plate and rotary press, and they come in both wet and dry printings.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 01 Pack  (1940 - Perf. 10 Horiz. - Rotary- Wet Printing - Sc. #RF27) - Blue.
  • 01 Pack  (1940 - Perf. 10 Horiz. - Rotary - Dry Printing - Sc. #RF27) - Blue.
  • 01 Pack  (1940 - Perf. 11 - Flat - Wet Printing - Sc. #RF28) - Blue.
  • 01 Pack  (1940 - Perf. 11 - Rotary - Dry Printing - Sc. #RF28) - Blue.
  • 01 Pack  (1940 - Perf. 10 x 11 - Rotary - Sc. #RF29) - Blue.

These non-denominated playing cards stamps continued in use, until the playing cards tax was repealed on June 22, 1965.





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Return to US Revenue Stamps from
Playing Cards Tax Stamps of 1894-1940






SBI!









The non-denominated playing cards coil stamp shown above (Sc. #RF26) was issued in 1940.  The central design of these new stamps is inscribed 1 PACK, indicating that each stamp is valid for the payment of the tax on a single deck of playing cards.  This coil stamp comes in both wet and dry printings.


Examples Used

on

Playing Card Boxes


Sc. #RF19  (after 1924)

 

Sc. #RF27  (after 1940)