Resource of the Month – Barefoot Revenue Catalogs

One of the more diverse collecting interests within philately in recent years, whose popularity initially waned after the first World War, are stamps not normally listed in some of the more recognized stamp catalogs such as Stanley Gibbons and Michel. Revenue stamps, also known as fiscal or tax stamps, are stamps used to collect taxes and fees for a variety of goods and services by governments, either national or local, or by other official bodies.

These unique issues were used to collect taxes or fees on documents, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, drugs and medicines, playing cards, hunting licenses, firearm registration, and many other things considered taxable. Typically businesses or individuals would purchase the stamps and then affix them to taxed items as part of putting the items on sale, or in the case of documents, as part of filling out a form.

As revenue stamp collecting began to increase in the 1970’s, catalogs identifying, documenting and listing them began appearing in order to assist collectors. One of the more recognized revenue stamp catalogs to appear at this time, especially for Great Britain and the British colonies, were the brainchild of John Barefoot, a notable stamp dealer from York, England. As stated in many of his earliest editions of these revenue catalogs, Barefoot sought to “present, in a simplified form, a listing of all adhesive revenue stamps” for a given country, given that at the time he found that in many of the standard postage stamp catalogs “these issues are often omitted or in many cases information about them is sketchy.”

Barefoot’s initial publications included black and white illustrations of the issues with listings of the different denominations and varieties along with value information much like standard postage stamp catalogs. Also included in the first editions were date of issue, watermark, cancellation and specimen information. Along with writing partner Andrew Hall, Barefoot enlisted the assistance of his fellow stamp dealers and fellow collectors to compile many of these earliest revenue catalogs.

The first Barefoot revenue catalogs, as they came to be known, listed and described revenue issues for the Baltic States, Belgium, British Commonwealth, Great Britain, Guernsey, Jersey, Hungary, Romania, and Scandinavia. More recent Barefoot revenue catalogs compile and list the issues of Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Poland, Russia, Southeast Asia and Yugoslavia. Barefoot’s more recent catalogs and updated editions of earlier publications were also expanded to include color illustrations and as well as  perforation and in some cases printing company information. With subsequent editions listings were also expanded to include new revenue issues as they were identified or discovered.

The American Philatelic Research Library has many of these Barefoot revenue catalogs available for borrowing by members or for specific requests by either members or non-members for scanned pages or photocopies of particular pages. If you are interested in access to these unique resources for revenue issues contact the APRL at either (814) 933-3803 ext. 240 or