Stump Duty
The first ‘stamp duty’ was introduced on 28 June 1694 as a temporary measure (for four years) to fund the war on France. It was paid on all paper, vellum, or parchment to be used for legal documents, and an embossed, colourless stamp indicated payment, hence the name.

Various duties where stamps indicated the payment was devised and withdrawn over the years, applying to anything from dice and playing cards to hats, gloves and mittens.

Once ink technology improved in the 1870s, stamp presses were developed and redesigned to stamp many different values and be more efficient and secure.

  • Playing cards (1711-1960) (became excise duty from 1864)
  • Dice (1711-1862)
  • Almanacks (1711-1834)
  • Advertisements (1712-1853)
  • Newspapers (1712-1855)
  • Patent medicines (1783-1941)
  • Gold and silver plate (1783-1890) (Stamp duty was also payable on licences to deal in plate)
  • Hats (1784-1811)
  • Game certificates (1784-2007) (became assessed tax from 1808 and excise licence from 1860)
  • Gloves and mittens (1785-1794)
  • Attorneys’ and solicitors’ licences (1785-1949)
  • Pawnbrokers’ licences (1785-1974) (excise licence from 1864)
  • Hair powder (1786-1800)
  • Perfumes and cosmetics (1786-1800)
  • Receipts (1795)
  • Paper (1795)
Interested in rehoming a decommissioned stamp press from HMRC?
Please contact to find out more.

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