Match tax stamps

Tax stamp and label, 30 x 45 mm
Tax stamp and label, 30 x 45 mm

Exhibitor : Fernán Pacheco

I am pleased to exhibit this material on match tax stamps as it represents a connection between the hobbies that I am passionate about: phillumeny and philately.

Revenue stamp collecting, especially of the excise tax stamps, is one of the least known and studied fields of philately, which has traditionally focused on postage stamps. Regarding phillumeny, match tax stamps are included as the last on the list of the “match-related collectables” in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Matches (Barry T. Sturman, K. L. Kosanke, B. J. Kosanke and Robert M. Winokur. 2020 Internet Edition), which defines them as “small paper stickers formerly attached to match boxes in some countries to indicate that the required tax had been levied”.  They are not popular but they are part of both hobbies.

I am more attracted to labels with tax stamp attached than loose stamps, since they combine the colour, design and attractiveness of the label, with the official and sober appearance of the stamps, also because it denotes a sign of use and circulation, rather than dismiss it as a label made especially for collectors.

The purpose of this exhibition is to show a bit of the variety that exists within this field of collecting, specially the different types of stamps used to collect match taxes.

Italian and Cuban boxes with tax stamps, 40 x 78 mm and 45 x 65 mm
Italian and Cuban boxes with tax stamps, 40 x 78 mm and 45 x 65 mm

Many countries around the world saw the convenience of charging a small excise tax on a box of matches. Usually the amount of tax was set in accordance with the number of matches per box even differentiating if they were local or imported.     

As with these Cuban and Italian boxes, double tax bands and stamps were used in order to reach the amount of the tax.

English tax stamp, 17 x 40 mm
English tax stamp, 17 x 40 mm

In England, although the stamp was printed ready for circulation, there was political debate that led to the Congress not approving the law in 1871, so the stamps are classified as “non emis”; a pity for the English treasury and us collectors.

 

 

Most of the stamps were attached to the box by the manufacturers themselves, who generally did so by a manual process. Being a cumbersome process, the most diverse methods were devised to collect the tax. The one that represented more security but that, due to its size, was more expensive, were the “around-the-package” tax bands called “banderoles”, which today are the most difficult to obtain, specially unbroken.

Canadian tax stamps
Canadian tax stamps

In other countries, like Canada, being more practical, the amount of the tax was printed on the label;  and in the case of imported matches, a regular documentary revenue stamp was attached to the box.

Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil tax stamps
Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil tax stamps

In Mexico, in the matchbooks, the amount of the tax was hand stamped on the inner face or a small label was attached.

In my country, Costa Rica, back in 1947, due to the temporary shortage of tax bands, regular postage stamps were resealed with the “impuesto fosforos” overprint.

In the case of Brazil, tiny stamps were attached to the book matches.

Chinese tax stamp, 50 x 35 mm
Chinese tax stamp, 50 x 35 mm

 

There were also small tax bands that even when they did not surround the entire box, they adhered to one of their sides and broken when opened.  

French banderole, 55 x 115 x 35 mm
French banderole, 55 x 115 x 35 mm

Finally, some countries like France opted to apply banderoles on packets.

 

Costa Rica tax stamps for 100 boxes, 50 x 100mm, and regular box, 10 x 65 mm
Costa Rica tax stamps for 100 boxes, 50 x 100mm, and regular box, 10 x 65 mm

There is much to investigate and classify in this particular area of philately-phillumeny and I hope this exhibition will stimulate that process.

 

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