Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

We all have and handle these from time to time. "Back of book", Revenues, "Cinderellas", duty stamps and all kinds of other stamp like labels. Discuss them all HERE!

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Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

Post by Iain P »

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The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

I was determined not to start yet another area of collecting but the tax stamps on British and Irish newspapers and almanacks from the 1700s and 1800s are too fascinating to resist.

Printed from engraved copper plates for at least the first 100 years from their introduction in 1712 (1711 for almanacs), the stamps are also great works of art, and are often extremely ornate and detailed.

The duty started at ½d in 1712 but in 1757 this was increased by ½d, and then another two ½d rises were introduced over the following years, making a total of 2d. This lasted for 8 years, and then in 1797 a further Act (37 Geo. III c90) added three halfpences in one go.

It was stipulated that each increase must be shown separately on the same stamp, so each ½d and the final combined three ½d duty were added to the dies in turn, resulting in the gloriously named, and extravagantly detailed " Quadruple Halfpenny and Additional Three Half-Pence" stamp of 1797. That's a 3½d stamp to you and me!

A discount of 16% was allowed in the 1797 Act for publishers who did not increase their prices beyond the increase in the three half-penny rise, and an additional discount of 4½% was introduced in 1801 (41 Geo. III c10), but this did not last long, and was reduced to 18 shillings per £100 from 5th July 1802 (Geo. III c94).

The example from my collection is a Type 9, which was introduced on July 5th 1802. It's a third recut, which dates the stamp from August 1802 to the cancellation of the die on 8th September 1803. The die number 41 is from Plate 2, (dies 26-50) and this further restricts the date range to December 1802 - 8th September 1803 ( Chandler, J. H. & Dagnall, H: "The Newspaper & Almanac Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland." 1981)

Quadruple Halfpenny and Additional Three Half-Pence stamp 1802 / 1803
Quadruple Halfpenny and Additional Three Half-Pence stamp 1802 / 1803


And here it is superimposed on page 36 in "Creating a Good Impression", Dagnall, H. (1994) showing the sources of the individual duties and discounts:

Figure 20 in Creating a Good Impression showing 1802 tax stamp
Figure 20 in Creating a Good Impression showing 1802 tax stamp


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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Iain P »

This is the oldest one in my collection so far. It's a Type 2a ( Chandler, J. H. & Dagnall, H: "The Newspaper & Almanac Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland." 1981) ½d stamp.

The Type 2 die was first registered on 12th May 1716, which is less than 4 years after the introduction of the first stamp on 1st August 1712.

Die number 554 is on the plates 23-24, which were registered on 21st November 1725. The main detail on the stamp is just 27mm x 20mm, so shown much enlarged here:

The Type 2a  ½d Newspaper Tax Stamp
The Type 2a ½d Newspaper Tax Stamp


The soft metal of the copper plates needed regular re-cutting and repair. The first recut was marked by a single line running through the die number, subsequent recuts had ornamentations and curlicues added to the lines.

Looking at the diagram on p33 in "Creating a Good Impression", Dagnall, H. (1994) you can easily see the possible date range for the stamp by checking the "progress" of the curlicues.
The stamp was made from the 3rd recut die. Plates 23-24 had the dies from number 551-600, so the example in the diagram and my example are from the same plates, so were recut on the same date, which is... 6th June 1728. As you can see, the next recut was on 11th March 1729, so the stamp dates from that 10 month period between 1728 and 1729.

recuts diagram for 2a ½d dies in  "Creating a Good Impression", Dagnall, H
recuts diagram for 2a ½d dies in "Creating a Good Impression", Dagnall, H


But the fun doesn't stop there. Knowing the dies are on plate numbers 23-24 means we know who the engraver was:

Plate engravers for tax stamps Type 2, halfpenny
Plate engravers for tax stamps Type 2, halfpenny
[From Dagnall, H. (1994)]
John Rollos' workmanship was finer than that of John Pine: "His lines are more delicate and his detail more elegant." (Dagnall)
Here is the man himself, drawn in chalk by Marcellus Laroon III in 1718. (Dagnall, p31)

John Rollos, 'his Majesty's Engraver of ye broad seal'
John Rollos, 'his Majesty's Engraver of ye broad seal'


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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Flyboxfan »

Thank you.

I have just started to collect these ultra interesting "stamps" by buying a couple of collection and some of the named newspaper ones singularly.

How do you store them. At the monent I have them on stock cards in box files. Full newspapers are in ring binders.

Is there a better way?

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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Iain P »

Flyboxfan wrote:
01 Apr 2021 19:22
How do you store them. At the moment I have them on stock cards in box files. Full newspapers are in ring binders.
Is there a better way?
Hi, yes the ones on newspapers are a problem. At the moment I just have them opened out in a large pile with my vellum indentures with the blue embossed stamps on. These manuscripts are even bigger than the newspapers! It's not ideal, but I haven't found a better way yet.

For the cut stamps, I'm using an antique record card drawer. I couldn't find any thick black cards the right size so I've cut my own, and I fix the stamps on with photo corners.

The information for each card is printed on adhesive labels.

It works well for the red tax stamps, and also for the embossed blue revenue stamps, as there's no pressure on the surface of the stamps , and in the case of the blue embossed stamps, I cut out a hole to show the cypher label on the back:

Filing system for newspaper stamps and embossed revenue stamps
Filing system for newspaper stamps and embossed revenue stamps

Filing system for newspaper stamps
Filing system for newspaper stamps

Filing system for embossed revenue stamps
Filing system for embossed revenue stamps

Filing card system for cypher labels
Filing card system for cypher labels


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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Iain P »

Here's another Type 2a Halfpenny stamp. It's a 1st recut, and the die number 890 places it on Plates 35-36, which have the die numbers 851-900. The recut took place on 21 Apr 1733 and the plates lasted in this form until the 2nd recut the next year, on 20 Jun 1734.
Apart from the slight damage on the left side, it's in particularly good condition, and the quality of the printing is excellent.

Type 2a Newspaper Tax stamp 1733/34
Type 2a Newspaper Tax stamp 1733/34


Unlike a lot of these stamps, this one still looks good in a close crop:

Type 2a Newspaper Tax stamp 1733/34 close crop
Type 2a Newspaper Tax stamp 1733/34 close crop
For over 100 years the dies were hand engraved on pairs of copper plates, each plate having a row of 9 dies and 2 rows of 8, making 25 on each plate. As Dagnall notes in "The Newspaper & Almanac Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland" there is a striking uniformity of design on dies throughout each plate, but there are still differences to be found.

When the plates could no longer be usefully recut and repaired, they were defaced and replaced by the next pair of plates and of course even greater differences can be seen between the stamps made on earlier plates and later ones.

A complication when comparing stamps from different dies is that the stamping process was not uniform, so different amounts of ink will be transferred on one stamp compared to another.
Looking again at the previous Type 2a stamp, it's clear that less ink was transferred for this one:

Type 2a Newspaper Tax stamp 1728/29
Type 2a Newspaper Tax stamp 1728/29


This is the 3rd recut of die number 554, placing it on plates 23-24, with a date range of 6th June 1728 to 11th March 1729, so the stamp number 890 was produced from a die engraved around 5 years later than number 554, and from a plate which was several iterations later. Here are the 2 stamps as an animated gif:

compare Type 2a Newspaper Tax stamps, 1728/29 & 1733/34
compare Type 2a Newspaper Tax stamps, 1728/29 & 1733/34


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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Iain P »

The requirement to show additional increases on newspaper duty stamps was dropped in 1789, and the new Act of that year permitted the various amounts to be consolidated. The Commissioners of Stamps did not take advantage of this change for many years because, presumably, they found it easier to add the new amounts on the existing plates.

However, in 1802, when there was no increase in duty, the new 3 ½d stamp (Type 11) was produced to replace the Quadruple Halfpenny and Additional Three Half-Pence stamp, though these were used as well, until the plates wore out (Dagnall 1981).

The Type 11 Threepence Halfpenny is similar to the previous stamps, the two main changes being the introduction of the shamrock and the changing of the motto from SEMPER EADEM (always the same) to the motto of King George III, and all subsequent British Sovereigns, DIEU ET MON DROIT (God and my right ).

The Type 11 shows the discount of 16% for publishers who did not increase their prices beyond the increase in the previous three half-penny rise, and the additional discount, which was reduced when the stamp was introduced in July 1802, from 4½% to 18 shillings per £100.

This stamp from die # 689 comes from plates 27-28 (# 651-700) and is from the unrepaired plates, so it dates from 15th October 1805 to the first recut on 27th August 1807.

The stamp is just 3.5cm tall but is in good enough condition to make it worth showing in much enlarged:

Type 11 Newspaper Tax Stamp 1805-1807
Type 11 Newspaper Tax Stamp 1805-1807


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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Iain P »

Here's a proof on laid card of a Consolidated Fourpence, Type 18, die # 2138, 3rd recut.
The type 18 plates 85-86 (# 2101 - 2150) were produced from altered 3½d Type 11 plates, which were first introduced on 20th August 1812. They were recut on 1st November 1814, then the plates were converted to Fourpence dies and registered on 10th August 1815, and marked with the second recut.
The third recut of these plates took place on 7th November, 1816.

Newspaper tax stamp. Consolidated Fourpence, Type 18, die # 2138, 3rd recut
Newspaper tax stamp. Consolidated Fourpence, Type 18, die # 2138, 3rd recut


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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Iain P »

Something a little unusual here. On September 15th 1836, the duty was reduced from 4d to 1d on newspapers.

Each newspaper had its own Distinctive Die(s) and these had to show the use of the die (Newspaper, Supplement etc) and the name of the publication.

These stamps are marked C 34 and A 568. The C dies were used for supplements , with duty set at ½d, and the A was used for newspapers up to 1530 square inches, which were taxed at the basic rate of 1d.

The Die A Newspaper stamp is Type 32, and these were registered from November 1836 and Disused in 1857. The Die C Supplement stamp is Type 33, and these were registered from 1st December 1836, and Disused in 1855.

Southampton Chronicle newspaper tax stamps, distinctive dies and cancellation
Southampton Chronicle newspaper tax stamps, distinctive dies and cancellation


Why are there two stamps on the same paper, and one cancelled?

The seller wasn't sure what was going on here, and nor was I, until I found the explanation and the identical stamps on page 285 of The Newspaper & Almanac Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland (Chandler & Dagnall.1981).

I was initially suspicious that mine were photocopies of the ones in the book as the die numbers are the same, but it turns out that the Southampton Chronicle only had one set of dies, registered on 14th June 1847. Also the position of the stamps is different and so is the position of the cancellation.

Cancelled newspaper tax stamp
Cancelled newspaper tax stamp


Paper stamped at a lower rate was sometimes cancelled and re-stamped at a higher rate, either due to an error in the initial stamping at Somerset House, or because the publisher needed to use the paper previously stamped at the supplement rate for the newspaper.

The cancellation stamp consists of the 2 words in the cross shape, not one stamp used twice, and it is a Type 57 Green stamp. These were used in the London office from 1846 onwards, so we can date the stamps to between June 1847 (the registration date of the Southampton Chronicle stamp) and 1855 (the year of the Disuse of the supplement stamp).

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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Flyboxfan »

Thank you.... these are wonderful. I will try and find my collection. I have just moved house so finding things is quite difficult and try and add something to the discussion.

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Re: The Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712 - 1855

Post by Iain P »

Flyboxfan wrote:
07 Apr 2021 02:42
Thank you.... these are wonderful. I will try and find my collection. I have just moved house so finding things is quite difficult and try and add something to the discussion.
Great, I look forward to seeing what you've got, and to learning from each other!
The discipline of posting here is forcing me to research each stamp carefully as my collection grows, and I'm working things out as I go along.
Iain

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Re: Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

Post by Iain P »

Some of the Type 18 Consolidated Fourpence plates were created by altering the old consolidated Threepence Halfpenny Type 11 plates, then later Type 18 plates were created from new.

This # 97 Consolidated Fourpence Without Discount Type 18 was made from the new plates numbered 3 and 4 (dies 51-100) registered on 22nd February 1816. It's a 1st recut, but the Proof stamp for this is missing, so we can only date it between the registration date and the 2nd recut on 5th March 1818. Looking at the time elapsed between the recuts on the other plates for this Type, it's probably 1817.

Consolidated Fourpence, Type 18, Newspaper Tax Stamp
Consolidated Fourpence, Type 18, Newspaper Tax Stamp


It's interesting to compare it to the proof of the Type 18, die # 2138, 3rd recut, Consolidated Fourpence in an earlier post:
(https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?p=7181835#p7181835)
This one was made using plates 85-86 (# 2101 - 2150) and these were produced from the altered 3½d Type 11 plates, which were first introduced on 20th August 1812. The third recut of these plates took place on 7th November, 1816.
There are clear differences when viewing the 2 stamps as an animated GIF, but still a surprising degree of uniformity, considering the dimensions are just 35mm x 20mm and they were hand-carved on different plates around three and a half years apart, and allowing for the fact that the # 2138 stamp is a proof whereas the # 97 was stamped on the original newspaper.

Type 18 newspaper tax stamps compared
Type 18 newspaper tax stamps compared


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Re: Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

Post by Iain P »

Sheet and book almanacks were also taxed, in fact the Almanack Duty was first imposed in 1711, a year before the Newspaper Duty.
Here's a Type 80, which was the first of the almanack stamps to show the Unified Duty, ie. a single total amount, rather than showing the individual increases.
The One Shilling Type 80 was first used on 1805 almanacks, and it had the same design as the previous Type, but with the addition on each side of the rose, thistle and shamrock emblems, representing the Act of Union with Ireland (though the stamp could not be used in Ireland).

One Shilling Type 80 tax stamp on 1813 almanack
One Shilling Type 80 tax stamp on 1813 almanack

One Shilling Type 80 almanack tax stamp
One Shilling Type 80 almanack tax stamp
The die number is 15, which places it on the first pair of Type 80 plates (die # 1-50), which were registered on 31st July 1804.
Looking closely you can see the line through the number for the 1st recut, and the additional strokes on the ends of the line showing the 2nd recut.

Die 15 2nd recut One Shilling Type 80 almanack tax stamp
Die 15 2nd recut One Shilling Type 80 almanack tax stamp


The first recut of plates 1-2 took place in May 1808, the 2nd recut in 1813, and another recut in 1815.

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Re: Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

Post by Flyboxfan »

I find Almanac stamps are difficult to find.

This is a lovely item

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Re: Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

Post by Iain P »

Flyboxfan wrote:
09 Apr 2021 02:20
I find Almanac stamps are difficult to find.
This is a lovely item
Yes, after a lot of searching over the last couple of months, I have only managed to pick up one other. The older ones on eBay tend to be quite expensive.

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Re: Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

Post by Iain P »

On 9th April 1857, the manager of The Illustrated London News asked the Commissioners for permission to stamp his own paper, rather than having to have the paper sent to Somerset House for stamping, and this was granted on 25th April 1857.
Due to technical problems, however, it was not until 10th April 1858 that the first "black stamp" was used on an edition of the paper, but following further problems, it was not until 18th September 1858 that the old red stamps were completely superseded by the new black stamp.
The standard 1d stamp was produced with 2 dies, the N1 (Type 49) and the N2 (Type 49a).
By 1865 both N1 and N2 were showing signs of damage and wear, and were sent back for repair.
The proof strikes for the repairs are annotated in the De La Rue records with: "Repaired May 1865." And the cost of the repair was a mere £1 each.

The N1 pre-repair (State I) die can be differentiated from the post-repair (State II) die as the left-hand serif of the 2nd 'T' in ILLUSTRATED is longer than the one on the right in State I but on the State II die, the serifs are equal, so my example is a State II, post May 1865 one.
the stamp measures 32mm x 20mm.

Illustrated London News black stamp N1, State II black tax stamp
Illustrated London News black stamp N1, State II black tax stamp


The die was defaced on 13th November 1870, but the date range can be narrowed down much further by looking closely at the detail on the stamp.

The dies suffered more damage after the repairs, and there are 22 separate flaws which can be dated to a particular day, or a "by" date.

One complication with this method of dating is that further use and wear on the dies actually "healed" some of the flaws! (Chandler, J. H. & Dagnall, H: "The Newspaper & Almanac Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland." 1981).

The 2 flaws which date this example are Flaw F, which appeared on 27th May 1865, and Flaw E, which was present by 16th June 1866. Flaw F (in red) is present but Flaw E (in blue) is absent, so the stamp was produced in the second half of 1865 or the first half of 1866.

Illustrated London News black stamp N1, State II black tax stamp, flaws
Illustrated London News black stamp N1, State II black tax stamp, flaws


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Re: Newspaper Tax Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1712-1855

Post by Iain P »

I bought this "original antique newspaper - Portsmouth Telegraph or Mottley's Naval and Military Journal dated 14th October 1799" off eBay recently, as the stamp looked unlike any I'd seen before. The seller hadn't shown the stamp close up, but I could see it was black, which didn't make sense, since the black stamps weren't introduced until the mid 1800s.

My first thought was that the paper might be a facsimile, but examining it on arrival, it was clearly very old, with wear, rubbing, splits on the folds, and age discolouration. There is no market for counterfeit newspapers, apart from some very important historical examples, as they don't command high enough prices, and the seller had obviously sold it in good faith, for only £5, so this was something of a puzzle.

Portsmouth Telegraph or Mottley's Naval and Military Journal
Portsmouth Telegraph or Mottley's Naval and Military Journal

Portsmouth Telegraph or Mottley's Naval and Military Journal
Portsmouth Telegraph or Mottley's Naval and Military Journal

Portsmouth Telegraph or Mottley's Naval and Military Journal tax stamp
Portsmouth Telegraph or Mottley's Naval and Military Journal tax stamp


The answer to the puzzle came after spotting "No 1" on the left top side of the paper. Could this be a first edition paper? Well that would be too good to be true, and the rule is, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
A search on the British Newspaper Archive pulled up this result from 1957.
I was as disappointed as Dr. A. J. May of hayling Island was 64 years ago:

British newspaper Archive 1957
British newspaper Archive 1957


So it's a 122 year old copy of a 222 year old stamp!
Well I'm happy to have it, and it's still useful to look at the copy in more detail.

Despite its poor condition, it's easy to identify the stamp: the remains of the 16% Discount inscription can be seen at the top, and the Halfpenny inscriptions get larger as they 'fan out' away from the base. There is also a bar above the die number.

These features identify it as a Type 7a Quadruple Halfpenny & Additional Three Half-pence stamp. These were introduced on 5th July 1797. It's not possible to definitely ID the last number of the die, but it's not a '0' and all the #55(?>0) dies are found on Plate 23 (#551 - 575) and these plates were new in March 1798. The first recut took place in April 1799, according to Chandler & Dagnall "The Newspaper & Almanac Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland". This was indicated by a line through the number. At first I thought there was no line through the number, but since this newspaper is dated October 14th 1799 it should be a first recut. Looking again closely though, the remains of the line can be seen on the two fives.

Type 7a Quadruple Halfpenny & Additional Three Half-pence stamp 1st recut
Type 7a Quadruple Halfpenny & Additional Three Half-pence stamp 1st recut


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