Security Engravers Presentation - BEP Taxpaids and Special Tax Stamps

Discussion in 'Paper Money' started by gsalexan, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    In 1862, to help fund the cost of Civil War (and later Reconstruction), Congress authorized excise taxes on a host of products. Then, as now, some of the easiest items to tax were those deemed “sinful” -- namely tobacco and alcohol. These included cigars, snuff, beer, and distilled spirits. Eventually these were extended to include occupational taxes on persons and businesses who created and sold these products: brewers, exporters, warehousers, manufacturers and retailers. These were essentially annual permits or licenses, often paid on a monthly basis.

    In 1868 the goverment began issuing "stamps" to document payment of these taxes. The excise stamps are known as taxpaids, the occupational licenses are Special Tax Stamps—first issued in 1873. Many of these early stamps bear a distinct resemblance to the currency of the time, both in size and format, and to thwart fraud included intaglio vignettes, security threads embedded in the paper and serial numbers. Like currency, these were first printed by contracted banknote companies, then by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing as it increased its production capacity. I was surprised to note on several early stamps imprints for *both* Continental Bank Note Co and the BEP. The engraved work on many of these is quite exquisite...
     

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  3. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    Used versions of these stamps are often very rare, due to the fact that they received harsh treatment in being attached to casks and various products and summarily cancelled in ways that seriously reduce their visual appeal as you can see in the issued stamp below. Special Tax Stamps, because they were of no use at the end of the year, were just tossed out. Collectors of this little known field owe a huge debt to a pair of entreprenuers who salvaged a vast amount of remnant material destined to be destroyed.

    In 1890, Hiram Sterling and Edmund Deats, probably the two foremost U.S. revenue stamp collectors at the time, together purchased seven boxcars full of surplus paperwork from the U.S. Treasury. The 213 tons of material turned out to contain a massive assortment of revenue stamps, many unused. Eventually the Treasury Dept. realized its mistake, demanded the material be returned, and Deats and Sterling complied. Mostly...
     

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  4. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    A small percentage (but still a very large number) of these tax stamps were held back, primarily examples that were punch cancelled. Sometimes these were partially filled out in advance by the tax collector. These are considered "remainders" and though they are less valued than genuinely "used" stamps, I consider them better showpieces of the engravers art. In some cases remainders are the only surviving examples of these stamps. Deats & Sterling sold off this hoard over many years to collectors and other dealers. They even printed advertisements on the backs of some 50,000 and gave them away as samples (which should give you an idea of how much they actually had in stock)...
     

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  5. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    The pieces shown here were picked up in mail auctions, stamp and paper money shows, and sometimes through dealers. It's a very narrow niche market and I know of only one dealer, Eric Jackson, who specializes in it. Other types of taxpaids exist, taxing narcotics, oleomargarine and grape brandy. I've even seen a License for Sugar Producer. These are hard to find and fairly expensive. However, the Special Tax Stamps from 1873 to '85 are fairly common and often show up on eBay.

    Taxpaids are usually about 3"x4-6", ignoring the stub. Special Tax Stamps can measure up to 14.5"x7", if you include coupons and stub. These are the largest U.S. "stamps" ever produced -- a good bit of trivia if you're ever a contestant on Jeopardy.
     

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  6. ikandiggit

    ikandiggit Currency Error Collector

    Excellent presentation!

    When I was a kid, I used to collect the revenue stamps from cigarette packs, tobacco cans, playing cards and liquor bottles. I have no idea what happened to those.
     
  7. mpcusa

    mpcusa "Official C.T. TROLL SWEEPER"

    Very informative! Great job :)
     
  8. 1066merlin

    1066merlin ANA#R3157534

    :thumb: VERY informative post! Great pics too! Thanks for posting it! :thumb:
     
  9. krispy

    krispy krispy

    Really a wonderful collection and informative presentation. Excellent work.
     
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  10. Dave M

    Dave M Francophiliac

    Nice presentation gsa! That's a neat little corner of the collecting world. Many of those vignettes look vaguely familiar, I wonder if a collateral collection could be made of other places the same vignettes are used.

    Thanks for the enjoyable read.

    Dave
     
  11. connor1

    connor1 Collector

    Great presentation,beautiful vignettes..... fantastic fact that I was never aware of,I'm still learning !
     
  12. USS656

    USS656 Here to Learn Supporter

    Great to see you Bob, Hope you are well!!!

    Wonderful presentation! I have never handled any but would love to have some in the collection. Someday I will come across one/some and just have to have them! Thanks for taking the time to put this together!

    Best Regards ~ Darryl
     
  13. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    Thank you, gentlemen, for your words of praise. I've been wanting to post something on these for a long time and figured this was an excellent forum. It's an odd niche, not quite stamp collecting, not quite paper money, but aspects of each. Since I collect primarily for vignettes these fit right in. I do think complimentary items could be found for many of these vignettes, on other federal securities. I suspect some of the early work by the banknote companies shows up on stocks, bonds and possible obsolete currency.
     
  14. RickieB

    RickieB Expert Plunger Sniper

    I was looking at this site today and saw this posting on the S.E.G.
    This is a group and topic on paper money that I must say has captured my heart of hearts. I wanted to stop in and comment here if I may be allowed to do so?
    From your post you say it is "not quite stampcollecting nor not quite paper money" and this I am sure everyone will agree upon. But what it is, is simply a remarkable collection of Engraving works performed by some of the greatest there ever will be or ever was. I find it remarkable and a wonderful presentation you provided this group with. While I no longer have parts of my collection, what I do have is a tobacco tax stamp that has the engraving of a young U.S. Grant and I can think of no one else's collection that would be so deserving of this. If you will allow me, I would like to send "my only Tax Stamp of Grant to you for your collection" if you agree what I will ask of you is to post a scan of it when it arrives to you. A small token of appreciation for a Great Presentation on a really neat topic. The Vignette of Grant on this Stamp is one you do not see very often..a "Young Grant" one of which portrays his youth in the engraving. One more request, please never sell it.


    Sincere regards,

    RickieB
     
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  15. Dr Kegg

    Dr Kegg Star Note Fanatic

    Great article and very informative! I saw some of those at my dealer a month or so ago and forgot to ask about them. Now I know!
     
  16. USS656

    USS656 Here to Learn Supporter


    Rick, You are always welcome as far as I am concerned! It is nice that you stopped by and a very generous offer which is par for the course with you! We all are lucky to have members/friends that care as much about the hobby as you and Bob!

    Be Well!

    Darryl
     
  17. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    Wow, Rick -- I am just floored by your kind words. And very gratified that there are other collectors with as much appreciation for this material as I have. I'm always pleased to shine a light on areas of collecting that may inspire others to branch out. Even if it might make eBay a little more competitive. ;-)

    I would be honored to accept your tobacco stamp and I can tell you already that I have no others with a vignette of Grant. It will be a welcome addition and I'll scan and post it as soon as it arrives. (I'll PM you my address.) It will remain in my collection permanently!

    Greg
     
  18. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    Here are a few more images of interest. These are not part of my collection, just photos I archived when I came across them. Wish they were higher resolution, particularly the Sugar Producer.
     

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  19. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    Just came across this photo from an 1892 issue of [FONT=Tahoma, Arial, sans-serif]Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News. It shows Hiram Edmund Deats posing with I.A. Mekeel (son of the editor). Without Deats, chances are [/FONT][FONT=Tahoma, Arial, sans-serif]my collection[/FONT][FONT=Tahoma, Arial, sans-serif]wouldn't contain the stamps posted here. [/FONT]
     

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  20. krispy

    krispy krispy

    A very nice piece of history to add to your research on the collection.
     
  21. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    Rickie's taxpaid tobacco stamp arrived today and to fulfill the promise, here is a scan. This is a prized addition to my collection, not one I have and a top-of-plate example to boot. It has an imprint I've never seen before, too small to read in this scan, it says "Willcox's Chameleon Paper Patented May 16th 1871." More mysteries to research!

    Rickie, thank you so much for this early Christmas present. :i-wave-hi:
     

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