Use Civil War Revenue Stamps to Date Your Photos

If you own a card photograph (or carte de visite) from the Civil War era, turn it over. On the back you may find a revenue stamp. The U.S. government financed a portion of the war using tax stamps. The U.S. Treasury Department, under an Act from Congress, issued legislation on August 1, 1864, requiring photographers to place tax stamps on the backs of images they sold to customers and to provide their initials and the date. In reality, few photographers fully complied with the latter requirements. The stamps themselves provide details on the cost of the card portraits to which they were affixed.

Learn more about Civil War revenue stamps, their pricing, the end of the stamp tax and what the stamps looked like in Chapter 3 of my book, Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album. Need professional help researching an old photograph? An online consultation with me is a cost-effective way to learn what clues lie in your old photo. Contact me if you’re looking for a speaker for your group on historical photography, family history and related topics.

Example: Revenue Stamp On Back Of Picture

Civil War photography, Civil War revenue stamps, philatelic genealogy

The presence of a revenue stamp on the back of an image is a quick way to define a time for a photograph. Civil War revenue stamps: The presence of a revenue stamp on the back of an image is a quick way to define a time for a photograph. This photographer placed his or her initials on the stamp.

– Collection of the author.