A Brief History of US Tax Stamps

                It’s tax season in the US, with returns needing to be filed by April 18th this year.  Sounds like a good time to talk about tax stamps!

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A postage stamp commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act’s repeal will be issued by the USPS in May, 2016.

Tax stamps are applied to items as proof of tax payment.  They were first used in America during the colonial period.  In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Duties in American Colonies Act which required colonists to use stamps or stamped papers to pay taxes on certain items or documents.  This caused quite an uproar at the time.  The reason behind the taxes was to pay for British military service protecting the colonies, but the colonists didn’t think that was necessary.  This lead to boycotts of British goods and protests (under the rallying cry “No taxation without representation”) which eventually lead to the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766.

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Collections Collide

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“Special Delivery” Pikachu plush from The Pokemon Center.

                This year marks the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, the Japanese cartoon and game series about catching and battling monsters. I’ve been a huge Pokémon fan for years! What does that have to do with philately? Well, stamp collecting and Pokémon might have more in common than you think.

                Last year I visited the Pokémon National Championships in Indianapolis. While we were there, we sat and watched part of the Trading Card Game tournament. The Pokémon Trading Card Game (or TCG for short) was first published in Japan in 1996, since then over 9,000 different Pokémon cards have been designed and printed. Cards aren’t only for those who want to play the game, however, there is also a large number of fans to want the cards for collecting and display.

                Card collecting and stamp collecting are fairly similar hobbies. While Pokémon cards may not have quite the historical value of postage stamps, they certainly inspire a similar passion. Continue reading

The Birth of a Postage Stamp

                This year the United States Post Office will release over eighty new stamp designs! As with most collectible items, it’s not uncommon for fans of postage stamps to eagerly await the release of the newest designs.

                There’s more to the release of a postage stamp than just stopping by your local post office, though. Each US postage stamp has a “First Day of Issue” ceremony and dedication! Think of it as a birthday party for each stamp. The earliest First Day Ceremony that I could find record of was held in 1940 to celebrate the issue of the 10₵ Mark Twain stamp, part of the Famous Americans series. A First Day Ceremony usually introduces the stamps by explaining the significance or history of the stamp subject, and naming the artists involved in the stamp’s design.

                Last week I visited the AmeriStamp Expo in Atlanta, and was able to see a First Day Ceremony firsthand. As a big fan of flowers and floral imagery, I was very excited to watch the new Botanical Art stamp booklet be issued. Continue reading