Match and Medicine Stamps

1-cent Herrick's Pills and Plasters revenue plate proof
Herrick's Pills and Plasters proprietary revenue stamp, 1862.

The heavy demands placed upon stamp designers and engravers by this rush of stamp issues led the government to allow some purveyors of taxed goods to design their own stamps, with the design subject to official approval. The result was a wide and colorful variety of private die proprietary revenue stamps, also called “match and medicine stamps”. While most of these were used to collect taxes on the sale of matches and medicinal products, perfumes, playing cards and canned fruit were also represented. The medicine stamp for Herrick’s Pills and Plasters is a typical example.

Since the companies were allowed to create their own stamp images, they took advantage of the situation to include advertising content in the designs. This was a rare opportunity to profit from an otherwise unwelcome taxation.