One of the more popular collecting interests within philately, especially in recent years, one whose popularity had waned after the first World War, are stamps not normally listed in some of the more recognized stamp catalogs such as Scott or Stanley Gibbons. Revenue stamps, also known as fiscal or tax stamps, are issues used to collect some form of tax or fee for a variety of goods or services.
These unique issues were used to collect taxes or fees on documents, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, drugs and medicines, playing cards, hunting licenses, firearm registration, and many other goods or services that were considered taxable. Typically businesses or individuals would purchase the stamps and then affix them to taxed items as part of putting the items on sale, or in the case of documents, as part of filling out a form.
As revenue stamp collecting began to increase in popularity in the 1970’s, so too catalogs identifying, documenting and listing them began to appear to assist collectors. One of the more recognized revenue stamp catalogs to appear around this time, especially for those issues of Great Britain and the British colonies, were the brainchild of John Barefoot, a notable stamp dealer from York, England. As stated in many of his earliest editions of these revenue catalogs, Barefoot sought to “present, in a simplified form, a listing of all adhesive revenue stamps” for a given country, given that at the time he found that in many of the standard postage stamp catalogs “these issues are often omitted or in many cases information about them is sketchy.”
Barefoot’s initial publications included black and white illustrations of the issues with listings of the different denominations and varieties along with value information much like standard postage stamp catalogs. These first editions of the catalogs also included data for the date of issuance, watermarking, cancellations and known specimens. Along with writing partner Andrew Hall, Barefoot enlisted the assistance of his fellow stamp dealers and fellow collectors in order to compile many of the earliest edition of the catalogs.
Pages for India and Jamaica from 2019 British Commonwealth Barefoot Catalog
The first Barefoot revenue catalogs, as they came to be known, listed and described revenue issues for the Baltic States, Belgium, British Commonwealth, Great Britain, Guernsey, Jersey, Hungary, Romania, and Scandinavia. More recent Barefoot revenue catalogs compile and list the issues of Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Poland, Russia, Southeast Asia and Yugoslavia. Barefoot’s more recent catalogs also include updated editions of earlier publications expanded to include color illustrations and as well as perforation data and in some cases printing and production information. With subsequent editions listings were also expanded to include new revenue issues as they were identified or discovered.
Pages from 2019 Barefoot Catalog showing Overprint, Perfin and Watermark Data
The American Philatelic Research Library has many of these Barefoot revenue catalogs available for borrowing by members or for specific requests by either members or non-members for scanned pages or photocopies of particular pages. If you are interested in access to these unique resources for revenue issues contact the APRL at either (814) 933-3803 ext. 240 or email@example.com.