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Playing-Card Tax Stamps from Italy

Before unification, the individual states in Italy had their own tax stamps for playing-cards. You can see some examples on a separate web page. The stamps shown below are from after unification.

Italian cards with a tax stamp can normally be exactly dated, as for a long time there was a date stamp in addition to the tax stamp.

Normally, there were two stamps used at the same time, until 1917 one was for packs with up to 52 cards, and the other for packs with more cards (tarot packs and 'Mercante in Fiera' packs). Afterwards, common and luxury card packs were distinguished for the tax and got different tax stamps, independant of the number of cards.

These are stamps in use from 1863 to 1874. The text is 'REGNO D'ITALIA' and 'LEGGE 21 Sett 1862', and the values are 30 resp. 50 Centesimi.

 

These are stamps in use from 1874 to 1879. The text is 'REGNO D'ITALIA', and the value is 'CENTESIMI 30' resp. 'CENTESIMI 50'.
(left stamp scanned by John Sings, right stamp scanned by Christian de Ryck)

 

This is a stamp in use from 1880 to 1882. The text is still 'REGNO D'ITALIA', and the value is 30 Centesimi resp. 50 Centesimi, but the design has been modified.
(left stamp scanned by Ralph Scotoni, right stamp by Gianni Monzali)

 

These stamps were in use in Italy from 1883 to 1914. The text is 'REGNO D'ITALIA', the value is 'CENTESIMI 30' resp. 'CENTESIMI 50'. Note that Mercury is facing to the left now.

 

These stamps were in use in Italy from 1914 to 1917. The text is again 'REGNO D'ITALIA', but the value is now 'CENTESIMI 50' resp. 'CENTESIMI 80'.
(right stamp from a scan by Massimo Grossi / Claudio Talacci)

 

This is a stamp in use from 1917 to 1922. The text is 'MINISTERO FINANZE' and 'R. PRIVATIVE'.
(scanned by Anders Gustafsson)

 

This is a second stamp that was in use from 1916 to 1922. The text is 'MINISTERO FINANZE' and 'D.G. MONOPOLI'.

 

This is one of the stamps in use in 1922 and 1923. It has again the text 'REGNO D'ITALIA'. The value is 'LIRE 3'.

 

These stamps were in use in Italy from 1925 to 1943. The text is again 'REGNO D'ITALIA', but Mercury now is facing to the right again. The value is 'LIRE TRE' resp. 'LIRE CINQUE'.

 

This is a stamp in use 1944/45 in the 'Italian Socialist Republic', the fascist republic in Northern Italy.
The number 'XII' is for Milan, the value is 'LIRE CINQUE'. There was a time when the Roman numbers on such stamps ('XII') were supposed to be for the (12th) year of fascist regime, but that is definitely wrong.

 

These are two more stamps in use 1944/45 in the 'Italian Socialist Republic'.
The number 'XXIII' is for Trento. The value is 'LIRE TRE' resp. 'LIRE CINQUE'.
Mostly these stamps were in black ink, like the one above. I do not know why these examples are in red/brownish colour.

 

During WWII there were sometimes provisional stamps in use. This is an example from 1943, from Treviso. The value is 5 Lire.
(scanned by André Müller)

 

These are stamps used from 1945 to 1947. The value is 'LIRE VENTI' resp. 'LIRE TRENTA'.

 

This is one of the stamps used from 1947 to 1948. The text is now 'REPUBBLICA ITALIANA', the value is 'LIRE VENTI' (and the other stamp has 'LIRE TRENTA').
(from a scan by Steve Bacon)

 

These stamps were in use from 1948 to 1954. The text is 'REPUBBLICA ITALIANA', the value is 'LIRE CENTO' resp 'LIRE DUECENTO'.

 

These stamps were in use in Italy from 1954 to 1972 (when stamping of playing-cards was abandoned). The text is 'REPUBBLICA ITALIANA'. The value is 'LIRE TRECENTO' resp. 'LIRE CINQUECENTO'.

The stamp was on the One of Coins for Latin-suited cards, and on the Ace of Hearts for French-suited cards, but I have seen packs with early stamps where the tax stamp was on the Two or Four of Hearts, on the Two of Spades, or on the Four of Diamonds. You can see two of these examples below. (left scan by John Sings)

When cards were intended for export, they got a different stamp. I know two early stamps that can be dated pretty good, but afterwards there have been several different designs that I cannot really date. The dates assigned below result from 'intelligent guessing' based on other details of the packs (e. g. foreign tax stamps).

This stamp was in use from 1862 to 1865, it is similar to the regular stamps shown above for that time. The text is 'REGNO D'ITALIA' and 'LEGGE 21 Sett 1862', and instead of a value there is the text 'PER L'ESTERO' (for abroad).
(from a scan by Massimo Grossi / Claudio Talacci)

 

This stamp was in use from 1865 to 1874, it is similar to the preceding one, except for the ink colour.

 

This is a stamp in use from 1880 to 1882. Again, the value is replaced by 'PER L'ESTERO'.

 

This stamp was in use around 1899 (there is a date stamp). It is similar to a round stamp used around that time, but Mercury is facing to the right. Instead of a value there is again the text 'PER L'ESTERO' (for abroad).
(scanned by Régis Fermet)

 

This stamp is from around 1938. The text is 'CARTE PER L'ESTERO' (cards for abroad).
(scanned by Ralph Scotoni)

 

This stamp is from around 1950. The text is again 'CARTE PER L'ESTERO', but with a different design.

 

This stamp is another stamp from around the same time with the same text, but with yet another different design.
(scanned by Ralph Scotoni)

 

This stamp is another stamp from around the same time with the same text, but again with a different design.

 

This stamp is from around 1950. The text is 'ESPORTAZIONE' (export).

 

This is another stamp probably from around 1950. The text is 'CARTE PER ESPORTAZIONE' (cards for exportation), and in the middle 'S. A.', for which I presently have no explanation.
(scanned by Ralph Scotoni)

 

This is a stamp with a design slightly different to the previous one, probably also from around 1950.
(scanned by Ralph Scotoni)

 

This is yet another stamp with a similar but slightly different design, probably also from around 1950. Note that this time the text is 'CARTA PER ESPORTAZIONE' (in the singular), which is strange.

 

And another similar stamp with 'CARTA PER ESPORTAZIONE' (in the singular).

Besides the round stamps for export cards, there were also 'linear' stamps.

This stamp was presumably in use around 1950, too. The text is 'CARTE PER L'ESPORTAZIONE' (cards for export).
I do not know what the '190' below that stands for.

This is an imprint that is not really 'linear'. Probably it was used around 1950. The text is 'CARTE PER ESPORTAZIONE'.

This stamp is presumably from around 1925. The text is 'CARTE PER L'ESTERO' (cards for abroad).

This stamp is from around 1950. The text is now 'Carte per l'Estero', in a different colour.

 

This is a similar stamp as that above, but the font used is different.

This is a stamp from around 1960, I think. The text is again 'CARTE PER L'ESTERO'; it was stamped on the border of the card.

 

This is another stamp that I date as from around 1960. The text is also 'CARTE PER L'ESTERO'; this wasn't stamped, but printed at the top of the card.

Additionally there were special tax stamp for playing-cards in Italian colonies and in some countries during Italian reign in and after WWI and WWII.

This is a provisional stamp used after WWI probably in 1919 to cancel a previous Austrian stamp in South Tyrol.
The text is 'R. Ufficio delle Imposte' ('Royal Tax Office') and 'Merano'.
(scanned by Claudio Talacci)

 

This might be another example from South Tyrol. The Austrian tax stamp was used between 1920 and 1922.
The overprint might be an Italian date stamp used from 1880 to 1922 (and again later), see below. The place shown here is 'BOLZANO', which is in South Tyrol and belonged to Austria, but became Italian in autumn 1919.

 

I learnt from Augusto Conti that this stamp most probably was used during the Italian occupation of Trieste from 1918 to 1920.
I think that 'C. 50' on the left side is a value (Centesimi 50), but I am not sure what the text and the number '23' on the right side is.
(from a scan by Massimo Grossi / Claudio Talacci)

 

This is a stamp from Eritrea when it was an Italian colony. The text is 'UFFICIO TASSE E AFFARI ASMARA', and the date '1 DIC. 38'. It looks similar to date stamps from Italy, see below. There was also an export stamp from Italy on the card.
(from a scan by Massimo Grossi / Claudio Talacci)

 

This stamp is another stamp used in Eritrea. The text (as far as I can read it) is 'GOVERNO DEL ERITREA', 'SERVIZIO ...', 'DIREZIONE A.E.F.', and 'Tassa sulle carte da gioco'.
(from a scan by José Luiz G. Pagliari)

Additional examples are shown on the Yugoslavia page.

As mentioned before, there normally was an additional date stamp on the card that had the tax stamp.

The date stamp was round from 1880 to 1922.
It shows the day, month, and year, and the text is 'UFFICIO DEL BOLLO STRAº', and the place where the cards were stamped.

 

This is an example of the date stamp in use from 1922 to 1972.
The month and year is shown. The design of these 'linear'stamps may be slightly different in other examples.

 

The round date stamp was was used again in some places (especially the 'Italian Socialist Republic') around 1944/45.

When the taxes changed and the cards had not been sold, they normally had to be restamped with the new stamp (and possibly the new date).

This pack was first stamped with the 1863 to 1874 stamp shown above, and later again with the 1874 to 1879 stamp.
Note that the stamps were on different cards.
(scanned by Rudolf Hasenpflug)

 

This is a pack with an additional stamp at the top. It is illegible here, but I know that the text is 'AUMENTO / Legge 19 Luglio 1914 / N. 694'. It signifies that the pack had already been stamped when the tax was increased in 1914.

 

This pack was stamped in December 1923 with a 3 Lire stamp, and again in October 1925 with a 5 Lire stamp.
You can see two different versions of the linear date stamp on this card.

 

I have other examples where the difference to the new value was not raised by a new stamp, but by adhesive stamps inside or on the package.

This is an example for the use of adhesive stamps for a tax upgrade from 3 Lire to 20 Lire. The stamps were cancelled in September 1946.
The adhesive stamps have the text 'MARCA da BOLLO', and a value in Lire.
(scanned by José Luiz G. Pagliari)

 

The regular stamp on these cards was the 'LIRE TRE' stamp shown above and a 'Nov. 1940' date stamp. The adhesive stamps were cancelled in 1948. The upgrade here was from 3 Lire to 100 Lire.

 

The regular stamp on these cards was the 'LIRE VENTI' stamp shown above and a 'Dic. 1947' date stamp. These are similar adhesive stamps; they were cancelled in March 1948. This is an upgrade from 20 to 100 Lire.

 

The regular stamp on these cards was the 'LIRE TRENTA' stamp shown above and the 'Giug. 1943' date stamp. These are again similar adhesive stamps. They were cancelled in February 1948. Here the upgrade is from 30 to 200 Lire.

 

These stamps were used in 1954 to update the tax from 100 Lire to 300 Lire. The date is '25 NOV. 1954'.
(scanned by Jan Wessels)

This is another example for an update of the tax from 100 Lire to 300 Lire. The date is also from 1954.

These stamps were used to update the tax from 200 Lire to 500 Lire, again in 1954. The date is '2 DIC. 1954'.

 

Another example is an adhesive sticker on the box, without a value.

The original stamp is the 'LIRE TRE' stamp from the 'Italian Socialist Republic'. The text is 'APPLICATO SUPPLEMENTO TASSA DI BOLLO' and 'Decreto Luogotenenziale No. 394 d.d. 14 Giugno 1945'.

 

Still another example used a stamp along the border of the card to change the tax value.

The original stamp is the 'LIRE VENTI' stamp shown above, with a date stamp from 1945. The text along the right border is 'Regolarizzato il bolle, Boll. 4201 del 12/12/1955', and there is another illegible black stamp on the bottom part. From other examples I have seen I guess that the text is 'UFFIZIO DEL REGISTRO / PISTOIA'. This might also be another example of a late use of a round date stamp.

In addition, at least from 1916 to 1922, there was a tax band for imported cards. The text was 'MONOPOLIO CARTE DA GIUOCO', 'CARTE ESTERE', and a price, here 'PREZZO Lire 12'. The band shown below is incomplete.

 

Below is a similar (also incomplete) example, this time without a value.
 

 

Additional information:
Virgilio Ferrari produced a table with exact dates together with stamp illustrations where you can get an easy overview.


© Peter Endebrock, 15 June 2017