Thursday, July 2, 2009

Battleship Revenues: 50 Cent Documentary

The 50 cent battleship documentary stamp debuted with the series at the beginning of the 1898 tax period. According to the tax act of 1898, specific activities taxed at the rate of 50 cents included:

  • Indemnity bonds
  • Deeds, instruments or writing whereby any lands, tenements, or other realty sold shall be granted, asssigned, transferred or otherwise conveyed to, or vested in the purchaser(s)...when the the value exceeds $100 but does not exceed $500 (and for each additional $500 or fraction thereof)
  • Entry of any goods, wares, or merchandise at any custom house, either for consumption or warehousing, exceeding $100 but not exceeding $500.
  • Entry for the withdrawal of goods or merchandise from customs bonded wareshouses.
  • Leases, agreements, memoranda or contracts for the hire, use, or rent of any land, tenement, or portion thereof for a period of time exceeding one year but not 3 years.


50 cent documentary roulette, unused with guideline at bottom.

50 cent documentary hyphen hole unused



50 cent documentary hyphen hole block of 4, used with cut cancels. Handstamped cancel by Walker Brothers of New York.
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Notes on values:
  • To date in this blog I have not written much about the values of the stamps that I post. I will comment here though about the block of 4 above. For many revenue stamps the Scott catalogue has additional values for stamps that have been cut cancelled or mutilated in some sort of way, as with perforation cancels. Two values in the documentary battleship series are treated this way in the catalogue. These are the 40 and 80 cent values, which are scarcest stamps in the set, especially those with hyphen holes. The value of the block above is listed at $6.75 in the 2009 Scott Catalogue, though with the cut cancels this block is necessarily worth much less. A general rule is that any stamp with cut cancels is worth less than those without.

  • Unused single copies of the 50 cent documentary with very fine centering are valued at $30 for the roulette and $60 for the hyphen hole. Used stamps of this value are quite common and therefore cheap, with used roulettes valued at 25 cents and hyphen holes at 1 dollar in the 2009 Scott Catalogue.

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