February 5, 2013

Adding a revenue stamp to my collection

US-R24c-1862Last week my BidStart alert for March 4 showed me a cancelled stamp that fit perfectly into my collecting interest. Unlike another recent post, this lot was within my price range at $1.50 (+$1.50 for shipping), so I clicked on Buy; yesterday it arrived in my mailbox. This lot was an example of a U.S. revenue stamp, Scott # R24c, with a very clear and very well centered March 4, 1869, cancellation. This stamp was issued in a series that was printed from 1862 to 1871.

The stamp in this auction lot was sold off-paper, so other than the “CERTIFICATE” inscription on the stamp, I don’t have any idea of what tax this particular stamp was used to pay (but even that isn’t a very helpful clue as we’ll learn below). The top of the cancellation shows “H. GREINER” which I presume was the name of the tax collector who represented the U.S. Department of Revenue, and the bottom of the cancellation shows “SALEM, O” which would be Salem, Oregon, where the tax was collected.

As to the price I paid for this item… the stamp itself is listed in the 2006 Scott catalog with a used value of $0.35, but the note at the head of the revenue stamps section says that handstamp-cancelled stamps in this series are usually valued higher than those that are pen-cancelled. I still need to check a newer catalog to see how much the catalog price has changed, but I suspect it hasn’t moved very much. Altogether, I paid $3 for this stamp, and I am happy with my purchase because it is what I consider a very good quality stamp, and the very clear March 4 cancellation on it is the most important part for me.

I have to do some research still on this acquisition and I have a few specific questions, not the least of which is, who was H. Greiner? The section heading for Revenue stamps in the Scott catalog says that after December 25, 1862, the stamps could be used to pay for taxes on any item indiscriminately, so since this stamp was cancelled in 1869, the certificate inscription is more or less meaningless. I do at least have a city where this stamp was used.

According to Wikipedia, Salem was founded in 1842, became the Oregon Territory capital in 1851, and was finally incorporated in 1857; two years later, Oregon became the 33rd U.S. state on February 14, 1859, with Salem as the state capital. In 1869, the capitol building was in the midst of construction, with the original capitol having burned down in 1855. With this stamp’s cancellation just over a decade after the state’s admission to the union, the Federal government would have had a comfortable presence in the city. The Salem Public Library has a history resources page that may give me a little more information about the city in 1869, and other resources may help with a little more background on this time period as well.

If you, dear reader, have any information that would be helpful in researching this stamp, I would be more than happy to hear about it in the comments section for this post.

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