The tax laws of 1862 were passed to help the North pay the costs of the United States Civil War. Among the items taxed in this law were playing cards, and from that time until 1965, taxes on playing cards would be a fact of life in the United States. Tax stamps on playing card boxes are among the things that help in the dating of decks of cards, as different tax stamps were used at different times.
Section 99 of the 1862 law provided, "That any proprietor or proprietors of proprietary articles, or articles subject to stamp duty under schedule C of this act, shall have the privilege of furnishing, without expense to the United States, in suitable form, to be approved by the Comissioner of Internal Revenue, his or their own dies or designs for stamps to be used thereon, to be retained in the possession of the Comissioner of Internal Revenue, for his or their separate use, which shall not be duplicated to any other person. That in all cases where such stamp is used, instead of his or their writing, his or their initials and the date thereon, the said stamp shall be so affixed on the box, bottle, or package, that in opening the same, or using the contents thereof, the said stamp shall be effectually destroyed;..."
Section 102 of the 1862 law went on to provide a discount for companies that used private die stamps: "That any proprietor or proprietors of articles named in schedule C, who shall furnish his or their own die or design for stamps, to be used especially for his or their own proprietary articles, shall be allowed the following discount, namely: on amounts purchased at one time of not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars, five per centum; on amounts over five hundred dollars, ten per centum."
These stamps are known as "private die proprietary stamps" or sometimes "match and medicine" stamps.
During the period from approximately 1864 through 1883, several American playing card manufacturers took advantage of this discount and issued their own private die stamps. Among those to do so was New York Consolidated Card Company, one of the major early American card companies.
For sale here is an NYCC private die proprietary stamp, 5 cent black, condition VF (very fine), (Scott #RU14b). This stamp dates to the period 1876-83.
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