Tax Stamps on matchboxes

Many governments have used Tax Stamps to raise extra funds for their Exchequers by imposing a specific tax on high-volume consumable goods, like matchboxes and cigarettes.

The earliest known use of Tax Stamps on matchboxes is during the American Civil War (1861 – 65) where they were introduced to help the North offset costs of fighting the South. A law was passed in June 1864 making it obligatory to use “Revenue Stamps” or “Private Die Match Stamps” on all matchboxes, and over 500 different types of Tax Stamps were used between 1864 and 1883. The manufacturer fixed the Tax Stamp around the matchbox in such a way that it sealed the contents within, and the seal would then have to be broken to access the matches.

Tax Stamps in Spain

1874 tax stamp (War Tax)
1874 tax stamp

Taxation was imposed on the Spanish Match Industry through the law of 26th June 1874, because the Treasury desperately needed to raise money and saw the introduction of a tax on matchboxes as part of the process. From this point on all matchboxes required a Tax Stamp.

In 1874 Spain was fighting two wars :

  1. a civil war, the Third Carlist War from 1872 to 1876
  2. the Ten Years war with Cuba from 1868 to 1878

The blue Tax Stamp illustrated here says “Impuesto de Guerra” or “War Tax”.

Tax Stamps in the Gremio period (1892 – 1908)

Gremio box with Insert and Tax Stamp

The Gremio used Tax Stamps or “banderoles” which are typically rectangular, long and narrow in shape.

Here is an example of a Gremio box containing an Insert and with a banderole still intact.

Josep Thomas of Barcelona printed many of the Spanish banderoles and the company name can be seen on many of them.

Tax Stamps after 1908

After 1908 ownership of the Spanish Match Industry changed from the Gremio to Hacienda Pública, which continued using this type of Tax Stamp, probably up until the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 39). Here is an example of an Hacienda Pública banderole.

Hacienda Pública Tax Stamp




Tax Stamps from other countries

Here are some examples of Tax Stamps used in other countries.


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