Dave Elsmore


This is the ninth in the series of ‘Let’s Educate the Judges’ in evaluating the exhibits of the Australian States Revenue and Railway Stamps. 

Most of us know that many aspects of Victorian Philately have been well researched and the revenue stamps are no exception.  There are several references available for judges to ‘polish up’ on, but as stated before, none are complete. In fact some are wrong and all are  badly in need updating.  Purves studied Victoria in great detail and had much published in many philatelic journals.  The Stamps of Victoria gives some background on the fiscal postals and beer duty stamps.  Victoria Revenues by Craig 1999 has a simplistic listing but neither is complete.  Some articles can be found in the London Philatelist and Philately from Australia.  Stanley Gibbons lists the fiscal postals which includes the Stamp Statutes.  All published works have drawn from articles by JRW Purves FRPSL.

This paper is not a critique: it is written to help guide the judge in this fairly new field of Revenue Exhibiting. I offer my 40 years of knowledge in collecting Victorian revenue stamps.

As with the Victorian Railway paper, which was published in the last issue of Asia Pacific Exhibitor (Vol.8, No. 5, pp. 136-138) the exhibitor should have deep pockets.  I believe this is the glamour state for revenue collecting, prices do not reflect the large quantities available to the collector.  Survival rate is very high up to 1920.  Usage is scarce to very rare, 90% of the early revenues were stripped from documents and forged postal cancels applied. Unfortunately in the past this has somewhat tainted the collecting of these revenues with postally used copies commanding a high premium.  As with other Australian States, finding quality revenue usage can be near impossible and the judge should appreciate such usage if shown.  One such eight frame international exhibit of Victorian revenues comes to mind, which has been recently sold; it never had one piece of usage in it!  It was given Gold in India [the first international gold for a revenue exhibit] the owner stating, if it was entered in today’s arena it would lack usage and struggle to keep its medal level.  Most dealers keep large stocks of pre 1900 revenues and struggle with post 1900.  Although listed as rare progressive and master die proofs from most issues appear to be always available [at a price].  An exhibitor should have no trouble at all putting together a five or eight frame exhibit.

Stamp Statute:  The first group from the Stamp Statute series was issued on 26 April 1871 and was introduced predominantly to pay court fees. By 1879 the series became valid for general duties and with the Post Office Act of 1883 making this series available for postal and revenue use.  Most values to £5 [fig 1] of this series are found in all three perfs 12, 12.5 and 13, various watermarks can be found and the exhibitor should explain these well.  Nothing is scarce, except mint copies and full document usage of high values.


Fig 1

£5 probably a cleaned fiscal with per favour postal cancel applied 

Stamp Duty:  A stamp duty series from 1d to £100.00 [fig 2] was issued in 1879.  It was a rush for the printer to have this series ready, having to turn to litho printing to speed up the process for some values, this should be well explained by the exhibitor, very little new research can be shown in this series, a ‘value’ study should be appreciated by the judge.  I have a one frame of the 1/6 litho, so this can be achieved.  Progressive & die proofs are available.  A £6 unrecorded die proof [fig 3] exists.  Collectors of the time made up a few postally used philatelic covers from 1884.  Specimen overprints exist and a selection should be shown.  This series ran till 1965 with perf 11, colour, watermark changes and values added; this should be well explained by the exhibitor.  Quality low value usage [fig 4] and high value usage [fig 5] is of great rarity, plenty of the so called scarce 35/- are available, with a low print run, it would appear 95% have been salvaged.  High value perfins are rare and should reward if shown.  Affixing stamps to vellum documents appeared to be a problem as no system was in place, similar to NSW or Qld, in which base paper and silver staples were used to affix the stamps.  I have a document where the stamps have been stitched on!


Fig 2

£100 double hand stamped specimen


Fig 3

Unrecorded £6 die proof


Fig 4

Joint usage with Naish duty

Postage stamps available for fiscal use [inscribed ‘Duty Stamp’] 1884-1901


Fig 5

Rare £7 usage


Further high values were introduced in 1887.  Bi colours £5 - £9 again are plentiful and are available running until 1965; which should be well explained by the exhibitor.  Later [post 1950 perf 11] usage [fig 6] appears scarce to rare.



Fig 6

 £5 bi colour usage


A numeral series from 1d – 2/- [fig 7] was issued from 1902 – 1965; purpose revenue stamps, with values added and or surcharged through the years, a good selection should be shown, detailing the various papers, perfs, roulettes and watermarks.  Usage is available with attractive low value company bill head receipts.  The exhibitor should show some personal research here as work can be done to improve this neglected issue.  Precancels and perfins abound and a study should reward.


Fig 7

 Numeral Design


The exhibitor may wish to include a frame of impressed issues [fig 8].  Issued from 1879, and were in use till 1966.  Used ½d - £300 are recorded.  High value £100 and above appear scarce to rare and should be appreciated by the judge.  Specimen overprints are known to £500 and a selection should be shown.  Various dies were used, some values showing in both figures and words, which should be well explained.  Attractive company cheques can be found with low value impressed duty on and would give the frame a lift if added. 


Fig 8



The smaller taxes beer, cattle swine, relief, income and betting tax: Very little reference material is available to the exhibitor, Victoria Revenues by Craig 1999 is the most concise but is also in need of an update, other published works have drawn from articles by JRW Purves FRPSL.  Some articles can be found in the London Philatelist and Philately from Australia.  Updated information has been published in the Cinderella & Revenue Journal published by the Cinderella Club of Australasia.  An exhibitor should have no trouble in putting together a five-eight frames exhibit.

Beer Duty: As with most states, beer duty issues offer a fascination to the revenue collector and an exhibit starting with a frame or two of beer duties should without doubt impress any judge.  There appears to be a good quantity of mint [fig 9] remainders.


Fig 9

 1st issue beer in casks 1880


I believe there is not a single collection of complete beer stamps extant so the judge should not deduct any points for incompleteness, on the contrary the judge should appreciate a selection.  First issued in 1880 for beer in casks and then in 1881 a series for beer in bottles [fig 10], the rates should be well explained by the exhibitor. 

Fig 10

1st issue beer in bottles 1881


With a change in the rates by 1892 various other values [fig 11 & 12] were added along with a change in design.  Legend changes to 1900 appear and should be explained.  After the formation of the Commonwealth, the 1902 design and rate changed  to c1920, when all beer stamps became uniform.  Usage on full document is rare to very rare; most stamps have been stripped from cart-notes, so if usage is shown it should be rewarded by the judge.


Fig 11

 One Hogshead

Fig 12

One Kilderkin

Cattle Duty:  In 1924 compensation funds were set up to recompense farmers who had stock destroyed due to the spread of T.B.  Overprinted existing revenues were used.  A 2/1 [fig 13] was added and is only found overprinted.  Various fonts were used and should be explained.  Usage is available and should be shown.

Fig 13

2/1 purpose cattle value

Swine Duty: In 1924, pigs were also a problem, spreading disease and a series was issued and existing revenue stamps were overprinted ‘swine’.  Usage is rare and should be appreciated by the judge.

Relief Tax:  In 1930 the numeral stamp duty series was used with an altered design to issue a series to 4/- both perf & rouletted.  Existing revenues 5/- [fig 14] to £100 overprinted ‘Relief’ completed the series.  All are available and a good selection should be shown, usage is also available.

Fig 14

Typical page from a wage book

Income Tax:  By 1932 unemployment relief tax was broadened to include all assessable incomes exceeding £50.  Several numeral revenue values were overprinted ‘Tax Instalment’ [fig 15] and 30/- to £5 overprinted.  

Fig 15

 Tax Instalment overprint

‘Tax instalment not transferable’ [fig 16] this should be well explained, and all are rare to very rare.  A single specimen set exists.

Fig 16

Unlisted £1-10s

By 1933 purpose stamps were issued inscribed ‘Tax Instalment’. By 1936 some values were overprinted 'Not Transferable' then by early 1938 a complete new design was issued [fig 17] a single specimen set to £1 is known, unlisted values can be found, there is room for study here and this should be shown.  Usage is available and a good selection should be shown.

Fig 17

Purpose £1

The Joint Commonwealth Tax stamps were introduced [VIC printed central] in 1941. 30 values 1d to £5 were printed with 15 only unique die proofs of the frame colours known.  Also known with part ‘CANCELLED’ showing one of these groups of letters CAN-CEL-LED.  These are from printers booklets sent to interstate tax offices as reference copies, all are very rare.   All issued stamps are available with mint being rare. Only a handful of the £5 exist and would be a plus if shown.    Usage is available with the £5 rare. A 10d value [fig 18] was added to this series of these stamps. This value is not present in any of the other states issues.

Fig 18

10d Tax Instalment

Betting Tax:  Circa 1946, three values were prepared and printed 1d, 2d and 3d.  Cut-outs are found but complete full tickets are surprisingly rare.  A good page filler to complete the story of this state’s revenues.

Complete documents from Victoria are particularly hard to find and an exhibit showing a good selection throughout should be appreciated by the judge.

Revenues, as a relatively new class, lack published information and there are few sources for obtaining material.  Thus the depth of original research and the difficulty of acquisition of unusual material should be taken into account, when an exhibit is compared with one from the more traditional classes.

Judges should ask does the exhibitor have good understanding and knowledge of the subject.  Does the exhibitor demonstrate this knowledge?

Treatment is left to the judge’s expertise with the exhibitor following the FIP SREV’s which can be found at the FIP web site here: https://www.f-i-p.ch/ The writer can be contacted at this email address: Dave


© copyright 1997 on

All Graphics. Dave Elsmore

No part of this page may be copied used, saved in electronic form or hard printed.