1864-66 Illinois calling card photo of seated old lady, with tax stamp


Nice CDV photo of a seated older American lady. On back is a 2 cent 'Proprietary' revenue tax stamp.

Name of the lady written on back "Susan Willn--".

On the back, the name of the photographer:

Mason Street, Polo Illinois.


Stamp on back is stamped 'OCT 12'.

4” x 2 3/8”


Faced with the financial demands of the Civil War, a June 30, 1864, act of Congress placed a new luxury tax on "photographs, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes or any other sun-pictures." Photographers were required to affix a properly denominated revenue stamps on the back of the image and cancel it by initialing and dating it in pen.

However, there was not a special stamp created for photography. So, you will see on the backs of the calling card photographs US revenue stamps originally intended for Bank Checks, Playing Cards, Certificates, Proprietary, Bill of Lading, etc. These were accepted by the Federal Government on cartes de visite as long as the stamp denomination was appropriate.

The amount of tax required for a carte de visite was determined by the cost of the photograph:

Less than 25 cents: 2 cent stamp
25 to 50 cents: 3 cent stamp
50 cents to $1: 5 cent stamp
More than $1: 5 cents for each additional dollar or fraction thereof

Most calling card images cost between 25 and 50 cents. Thus, the majority of cartes de visite have a 2 or 3 cent revenue stamp affixed to them.

One cent stamps began being charged for less expensive photos from March 1865 to 1 August 1866. The tax on photographs was repealed on that date.


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