Notes from the Past

Postal War Tax of 1917

The article, "The Postal War Tax Act of 1917," in STAMPS a few weeks ago, brought back memories of the "War Stamp" overprints on U. S. 1¢ stamps, which created some interest when they were seen for a short time in the mails during 1917.

British Colonials had been extensively issued up to that time with "War Tax," and War Stamp" overprints, and the United States had just recently entered the fight.  Increased taxes, in consequence were a foregone conclusion and with discussion of an increase in postage rates, there was some philatelic agitation for a special U. S. "War Tax" stamp issue.

Within a short time some of the 1¢ green stamps of the then current issue were seen in philatelic mail from the Pacific Coast, the stamps bearing a bright red overprint, "WAR STAMP."  They had been produced by Charles S. Thompson, well known philatelic writer, of Los Angeles, and he was using them on all his mail, two cents for postage and one of the overprinted 1¢ stamps as an additional rider.  I believe he thus hoped to influence Uncle Sam toward a specially designated issue, but the Post Office Department failed to adopt the suggestion.  When the ultimate increase in postage was passed by Congress in October of that year, as Mr. McGee relates in his article, no special issue was forthcoming and the ordinary regular stamp issued were made to suffice.

The U. S. "WAR STAMP" overprints are still seen occasionally in collections that were in formation during that period and are regarded as interesting philatelic mementos of World War I days.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
March 18, 1944
  Posted January 5, 2000  

Index of 507 Notes from the Past

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