An excise stamp is a type of revenue stamp affixed to some exciseable goods to indicate that the required excise tax has been paid by the manufacturer.
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Excise stamps are often as detailed in their design as banknotes - usually made from the same type of paper and containing holograms and other anti-counterfeit devices.
The reason for such measures is that excise duty is extremely expensive, in most EU countries accounting for around half the market price of the product.
Excise stamps are most commonly found on tobacco and alcohol products, which reach the consumer in neatly packaged units (namely packets and bottles) to which the adhesive stamp is easily affixed.
Since counterfeit alcohol and cigarettes are extremely common in many countries, the presence of a genuine excise stamp also goes some way towards guaranteeing the genuineness of the product, as only certified producers may legally buy excise stamps.
Whiskey was often labeled as - and sometimes even embossed - "For Medicinal Purposes Only" as early as the mid-19th century - long before National Prohibition took effect in January of 1920 (Wilson & Wilson 1968).
This page provides some examples of how to use the website (primarily the Bottle Dating pages) to determine the approximate date or date range for various types of bottles made between the early 1800s and the mid-20th century.
(However, illegally obtained or counterfeit stamps are common in some countries.) Manufacturers will buy a certain quantity of excise stamps from the government at their excise value which they are then obliged to affix to every packet of cigarettes or bottle of spirits produced.
The excise stamps are ideally affixed with strong glue over the cap of a bottle or across the lid of a box of cigarettes (and underneath the plastic/foil wrapper on the bottleneck or the cellophane of the cigarette-box) in such a way that they are destroyed when the product is opened.
- was bottled in a wide variety of bottle shapes and sizes ranging from small flasks that held a few ounces to demijohns and carboys that held gallons.