Sample and Specimen Revenue Stamps from William III to Queen Victoria


A Definition of Sample:- "A specimen - an illustrative or typical example." From Oxford English Dictionary

"The history of these stamps is more concerned with the collection of taxation. The idea of taxation stamps came from the Netherlands in the early 17th Century. The idea was that legal documents would be taxed and a 'revenue stamp' proved that the tax was paid ... William and Mary happily introduced the scheme to Great Britain in 1694." Barefoot.

Whilst the later production of these stamps was similar to Postage Stamps and as Samuel and Huggins have pointed out, "very closely paralleled the postage stamps, occasionally leading them, as in the case of the 1868 Irish Admiralty Court stamps in two colours." This precedes the two colour Postage Stamps of 1887. The earliest printed Revenue stamps are from 1785, whilst the earliest Embossed Revenue stamps date from 1694. Embossed Stamps were made by the Stamp Office and Perkins Bacon and De La Rue did the printing.

Perhaps the most interesting introduction by Revenue stamps were the "Unappropriated Dies". "The term 'unappropriated' is used to describe a series of dies which were not appropriated to any particular stamp duty ... so the title of the duty to any stamp which was to be appropriated could be added in another colour by printing from another plate." (Samuel and Huggins). Most stamps are overprinted SPECIMEN. There are so many sizes of stamps they have been numbered 1 to 8, the smallest is 1. Only a small fraction of stamps can be shown. A Red box indicates a Rare item.

The purpose of this exhibit is four fold:-

(1) To show how the Unappropriated stamps were used, with different colours for each value.
(2) To show the QV SPECIMEN overprints and the later surcharges, from 1886.
(3) To show the range of different sizes and designs of the Revenue stamps, far more than on Postage Stamps.
(4) To show the multifarious ways in which the Inland Revenue could raid the pockets of its citizens.


Della Thompson et al, Oxford Shorter English Dictionary, Oxford University Press 1996
Marcus Samuel and Alan Huggins, Specimen stamps and Stationery of Great Britain, 1980 GBPS.
John Barefoot, GB Revenue Compendium 1981 UK.
Michael J. A. Tanner, Great Britain Medicine Stamp Duty, Revenue Society 2013.


Frame 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Revenue Embossed William III to George III
  3. Revenue Trial Proofs and Trial Proof
  4. 1st and 2A Size Revenue Stamps
  5. 2nd and B-C Size Revenue Stamps
  6. 2nd and 8th Size Revenue Stamps
  7. 3rd Size Revenue Stamps
  8. 4th and 5th Size Revenue Stamps
  9. 4th Size Revenue Stamps Foreign Bill
  10. 6th Size Revenue Stamps Probate Court
  11. 6th Size Revenue Stamps Matrimonial Causes Court
  12. 3rd and 7th Size Revenue Stamps Judicature Fees
  13. 8th Size Revenue Stamps Companies Registration
  14. Medicine Labels Revenue Stamps
  15. Mixture for Coffee Labels Revenue Stamps
  16. Colour Standards Revenue Stamps