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Playing-Card Tax Stamps from Germany

A unified tax legislation for playing-cards in Germany started in 1879.

The text on all stamps is 'DEUTSCHES REICH' resp. 'Deutsches Reich'.

This and similar stamps were in use in Imperial Germany from 1879 to 1918. There were two values: 'DREISSIG PF' or 'DREISZIG PF' and 'FUNFZIG PF'. The number below the eagle indicates where the cards were stamped.
The changes to the stamp may help to narrow down the time frame for individual packs. Read about it on the Imperial Germany page.

During WWI there were extra stamps for packs intended for the German troups; these enjoyed tax privileges.

This is one of these stamps.The text is 'ROTES KREUZ' and 'MANNHEIM' (Red Cross / Mannheim').

You can see additional stamps of this type on an extra page.
The stamp office numbers were used on the later stamps as well. You can find a list of some tax office numbers here.

This stamp was in use in Germany from 1919 to 1923.
The values were '1M' (packs with up to 24 cards), '2M' (packs with up to 36 cards), and '3M' (packs with more than 36 cards).


This stamp was in use in Germany from 1923 to 1929.
The values were omitted due to the rapid inflation progress.


This stamp was in use in Germany from 1929 to 1931.


This stamp was in use in Germany from 1931 to 1936.


This stamp was in use in Germany from 1936 to 1939.
In 1939, stamping of playing-cards was discarded, although there still was a tax on playing-cards (in the Federal Republic until 1980).
And sometimes there were still stamps on the cards, but those were non-tax stamps.

The stamp was on the Ace of Hearts for French-suited cards, and on the Deuce of Hearts for German-suited cards.

Please note that stamps from after 1923 were sometimes used not only in the time period indicated, but also later. A well-known example are Dondorf decks from c. 1932 with a tax stamp from the 1923 to 1929 period.

During the time of the German occupation of Poland in WWI (1915 to 1918) the 'Generalgouvernement Warschau' was installed there with a partial independent administration. They had a special tax stamp for playing-cards.

This stamp had the text 'K. G. GEN. GOUV. WARSCHAU', with 'K. G.' presumably meaning 'Kommandierender General' (Commanding General). Possibly there was a value or number at the bottom, but that cannot be seen here.
(scanned by Paul Cardwell)

Also in WWI, the 'Kaiserliches Gouvernement Riga' was established in Latvia 1917/18, and they had a stamp for playing-cards, too.

The text at the top of the stamp can be recognized as 'Kaiserliches Gouvernement Riga', the rest is too blurred to be read.

From 1920 to 1935 the Territory of the Saar Basin ('Saargebiet') was a region of Germany governed by the United Kingdom and France under a League of Nations mandate. It had own playing-card tax stamps.

This stamp had the text 'SAARGEBIET' and a value in Mark: '3 MARK' in this example.
(from a scan by Ulrich Knüpfer).

From 1920 to 1939 Danzig (today Gdansk) was a free territory ('Freie Stadt Danzig'), which had own playing-card tax stamps.

This stamp had the text 'FREIE STADT DANZIG' and a value 2 MK (Mark), it was in use 1920 to 1923. There was a '1' above the value.
There were also the values '1 MK' and '3 MK', as in Germany.
(from a scan by Klaus Jürgen Schultz)

This stamp had the text 'FREIE STADT DANZIG A' and a value in guilders: '0,40 G' or '0,60 G'. This currency was introduced in Danzig in September 1923, and these stamps were in use from January 1924 until 1939.
(left stamp from a scan by Klaus Jürgen Schultz)

During the time of the German occupation of Poland in WWII (1939 to 1944) playing cards there in the 'Generalgouvernement' continued to be tax stamped and sealed. You can see examples of that on the Poland page.

Before the unified tax legislation, most of the individual states used their own tax stamps. Here are some examples.

© Peter Endebrock, 04 March 2021