Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If it was Good Once.... Attempts to use Civil War Imprints in the Spanish American War Tax Period

Imprints used to pay the bank check tax prior to 1883 were redeemable in that year and were demonetized shortly thereafter. In 1898 a decision of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue clearly stated that, "... stamps issued under acts now repealed can not be used in lieu of stamps required by the war-revenue law of 1898." Some people still tried to use the older imprints to pay the 1898 tax.

This check was written August 31, 1898. The National Exchange Bank of Augusta recognized that the Civil War tax imprint was not valid, and added the two-cent battleship, as it is canceled with their initials. There is no indication that the bank charged the two cents to the account holder.

The check above was written September 15th, 1898, and again the bank added a stamp to pay the tax. On this one it is clear that two cents extra was deducted from the writer's account to pay for it.

Incidentally, the revenue imprint on this check bears a known constant plate flaw, a colorless diagonal slash above the first "N" in "INTERNAL."

In 1898 banks were being encouraged to add stamps to checks presented without them in order to avoid numerous returned checks, but by July of 1899 the Commissioner did an about-face, ruling, "You are advised that banks must not affix stamps to unstamped checks presented, and must return to the drawer any unstamped check presented for payment."

The Rhode Island Hospital Trust either did not hear of the 1899 ruling or decided to ignore it in respect to the April 1, 1901 check above, as the tied battleship bears their handstamp. Additionally, the Civil War imprint has "STAMP REDEEMED" stamped on it, meaning it had been sent in for refund of the tax circa 1883, so the writer was attempting to pay the current tax with an imprint that he certainly should have known was not valid. One hopes his account was debited the extra two cents, but there is no indication that was the case.

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