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I have been a stamp collector for over 40 years, a postal historian and a philatelist for about 15 of those years and a specialist collector of revenue stamps and documents for the last 5 years. I've been a member of some the most friendly and well-run groups you could ever imagine - the State Revenue Society and the American Philatelic Society are both examples of best practice - and I even flirted briefly with philatelic exhibiting. Despite having served such a lengthy apprenticeship I still don't have an answer to a really basic question: "Why are postage stamps catalogued, collected and researched with so much more energy and enthusiasm than revenue stamps?" There are many countries where there doesn't seems to be a reliable and up-to-date catalogue of revenue stamps - certainly not one accessible to a virtual monoglot such as myself. I think it comes down to what I call "critical mass". Without enough revenue stamp collectors it is hard for dealers to establish a viable business but without dealers generating catalogues and generally raising the profile of this branch of the hobby I suspect that prospective revenue stamp collectors tend to wander off into the sunset searching for easier pickings. The Revenue Society has defined revenue stamps as " ...stamps, whether impressed, adhesive or otherwise, issued by or on behalf of International, National or Local Governments, their Licensees or Agents, and indicate that a tax, duty or fee has been paid or prepaid or that permission has been granted." This small study is intended to bring to the attention of the collecting public the sheer diversity of revenue stamps.
About the Author
Martin Nicholson (born 1954 in Westminster, London) was educated at St Albans School in Hertfordshire and Nottingham University. After a brief spell working in the food industry Martin became a college lecturer based in Somerset and later in Northamptonshire. Although he had a successful career as a teacher he is probably best known for the 25 years+ he served as a school governor and for the ground-breaking work he carried out in the fields of amateur astronomy and postal history.