This website displays images of documents, which contain U.S. First Issue Playing Cards stamps. I am interested in doing a study of these stamps used on any documents. My personal sampling is very small, so I contacted Mike Mahler, author of Catalog of U.S. Revenue Stamps Used on Documents. He added to my list from research that he has accumulated since 1985. In many cases, I only have a description of the document but no image is available. I hope that collectors will go through their collection to see if they can add to my list.
So you may ask, “Why does Kristin want to concentrate on these 6 stamps?” Great question. First, I have already done extensive research on these stamps and their use by playing card manufacturers. This research and more went into the book, It’s A Wrap! U.S. Revenue Stamps Used on Playing Cards, 1862-1883. I am not looking to write another book, but then I was not anticipating writing the previous book. Rather, with very little information about this material’s use, it is difficult to make categorical conclusions. I am currently making plans to exhibit this sort of material at Washington 2006 Stamp Show. Even if I do not get an exhibit accepted, the knowledge obtained here may assist others.
With the inscription “Playing Cards” it would be correct to assume that the stamps were intended for use only on playing cards. But the amended Revenue Act of Dec. 25, 1862 stated,
That no instrument, document, writing, or paper of any description, required by law to be stamped, shall be deemed or held invalid and of no effect for the want of the particular kind or description of stamp designated for and denoting the duty charged on any such instrument, document, writing, or paper, provided a legal stamp, or stamps, denoting a duty of equal amount, shall have been duly affixed and used thereon.
As shown by examples on this website, this was interpreted by many users that any stamp with the correct denomination could be used in the collection of the revenue tax.
But the Act had an exception:
Provided, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to any stamp appropriated to denoted the duty charged on proprietary articles.
This is interpreted by many collectors to mean that proprietary stamps could not be legally used on documents. It appears from the examples on this site that it was common practice to use Playing Cards stamps on. Also, no known penalty was brought against any person using a playing cards stamp of the correct denomination when paying the required tax.
This article does not include examples of playing card wrappers or photographs since both were considered proprietary items. Examples of the former can be seen in the book It’s a Wrap! As for photographs, I estimate that thousands and in the case of the 2¢ blue Playing Cards stamp, tens of thousands were used on photographs between Aug. 1, 1864 and July 31, 1866.
The website is laid out with 2 areas, either by chronologically order or by stamp denomination. The same material is shown in each area. The website uses Scott reference numbers. Some detailed descriptions have been included below the enlarged images.
I believe more conclusive conclusions can be made once a more representative sample is examined. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with images and descriptions of the documents that contain Playing Cards stamps from 1862 to 1869. Your efforts are greatly appreciated and all documents sent will be displayed for others to see.