Cigar Stamp notes


Research and Text by Chris Ryan


    This page is for the serious student of Canadian tax stamps, and provides details not necessarily useful to the casual collector or dealer who is trying to date a cigar box.

    This page is intended to be used after Dating Canadian Cigar Boxes.





Notes on Canada’s Cigar Tax Stamps


   In most instances, Canadian revenue stamps for cigars (and other

tobacco products) were not recalled or rendered obsolete upon the introduction of new laws and designs. Supplies of “old” stamps could continue in use for as long as years afterwards. This is in marked contrast to the U.S. where the use of supplies on hand was limited. There were, however, some notable exceptions to this rule:

        [1]  The recall of the green stamps affixed in 1864 and 1867 to stocks of cigars on hand.

        [2]  The 1883 withdrawal of the red, green and black Excise stamps used when the tax was based on weight. The replacement stamps reflected tax based on the number of cigars in the box. The blue, weight-based stamp for Customs continued in use for a time after the recall of the Excise stamps, but it too was eventually withdrawn.

        [3]  The 1908 withdrawal of red, green and blue stamps in favor of a uniform black color. This withdrawal explains the large number of

these stamps available in unused condition to collectors today.

 · 1864: June 1st:

Excise duty imposed and payable on all stocks on hand at manufacturers as well as on all new production. Duty on cigars set a graduated rate per thousand based on value. Typographed stamps introduced and were to be affixed to packages by Revenue officers. (G104-G106)


 · 1864: End of June:

Stocks on hand at manufacturers exempted. Stamping requirements extended to importations and to stocks on held by traders, the latter were exempt. Stamping of stocks on hand to be done August/September. (G101-G103, G501-G503)


· 1867: December:

Following Confederation, excise laws extended to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Stocks on hand in Maritimes stamped as exempt. (G107)

    The design Brandom gives as 1867 stamps was introduced in 1864.  However, there were several printings over the next few years on various papers, one of which is watermarked "1867".  Very few of these early stamps exist today and so a collector could easily think of a stamp so watermarked as having been issued in 1867, rather than just being a printing on that particular paper in or after that year.

    The small diamonds appeared after the initial issue, but it is uncertain exactly when, since so few have survived. However, the small diamond in green dates from December 1867 from stocks on hand when the excise duty was extended to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

· 1868: September:

Lithographed Excise stamps in red and black from the British American Bank Note Company (BABN) are introduced. These stamps do not have serial numbers. Their outer frames incorporate a reference to the law "XXXI Vict./Cap. VIII". The seventh line in the central oval reads as "Val per M ". (G138TP, G143TP) Customs continues to use the old, typographed designs.  (G505-G509)


· 1869: circa April:

Serially numbered versions of the Excise stamps are introduced. (G138-G147) Blue BABN Customs stamps are also introduced. (G510-G511, G516-G517)


· 1870: April:

The basis for cigar taxation is changed from number to weight. Soon

thereafter, the seventh line on the Excise stamps is changed to read "M lbs". (G120, G122) Blue Customs stamps retain the old "Val per M ".


· 1873:

By this year, the serial numbers on Customs stamps reach one-million and the letter "A" is incorporated into the design as a prefix to a new series of serial numbers. (G512-G513)


· 1874: September:

Division-specific Excise stamps prepared for Montreal and Toronto. Other Inland Revenue Divisions added in subsequent years. The Montreal and Toronto stamps omit the "M" in the seventh line.

(G124-G130) Later division-specific stamps include the "M". (G121,



- Turn of 1874/75:

Serial numbers on black Excise stamps reach one million and "A" is added as a prefix for a new series. (G131)


· 1876:

Customs stamps with "B" prefix produced in error with "Excise"

inscription. Error stamps recalled in November, but have been found to have been used in 1878. Later, error stamps were overprinted in red to make them into proper Customs stamps. (Not listed in Brandom)

· 1880: July:

BABN was instructed to remove reference to 1868 law (31 Victoria, Chapter 8) from stamps. (G113-G119) A special, reduced duty was introduced for  cigars made exclusively from Canadian tobacco. Green

stamps were used  to indicate the special rate.


· 1881: February:

A new horizontal design (Series of 1881) approved for both Excise and Customs purposes. BABN instructed to commence printing immediately. (G150-G167, G520-532)


· Before 1883:

Until 1883 the stamps did not have a face value. Furthermore, the pre-1883 stamps were not sold even to manufacturers. Excise officers controlled and were supposed to affix the stamps. Manufacturers paid the duty semi-monthly, based on production.

Regulations did not permit the sale of current stamps to anyone other than importers, licensed manufacturers or licensed merchants. Stamps were stored and affixed under the supervision of excise or customs officers. At some point prior to the late 1930’s, foreign manufacturers could obtain stamps without prepayment of the duty, which was then only paid as the cigars passed through customs.


· 1883:  July:

The basis for tax was changed from weight back to quantity. Cigar

boxes were limited to sizes of 25, 50, 100 and 200. Only cheroots from Manila (Philippines) were permitted in boxes of 500. Excise stamps now sold to manufacturers, who became responsible for affixing stamps to packages. First Excise stamps under the new scheme were overprints on

earlier issues. (G132, G173-G175) For some time after July 1883, Customs continued to use the old stamps based on weight. The new Series 1883 stamps are produced in both lithographic and intaglio versions. (G176-230, G234-235)

   The form of cancellation on the Series 1883 stamps can be used to narrow down the date of a box. The very early cancels were a dated circle between a series of lines.  This was replaced by roller cancels, which in turn were replaced by a new form of undated circle between a series of wavy lines.

    Red warehousing stamps were discontinued. Bonded Removal Permit

stamps were introduced. (G540-G546) Specially licensed merchants could purchase Duty-Unpaid cigars from manufacturers and transfer them under this stamp to their own warehouses. The duty would then be paid at a later date when the boxes were sold by the merchant. The regular excise tax stamp would be pasted on top of these red four inch stamps.

    Yellow stamps introduced for sample boxes of cigars on which tax was not required (but under very restrictive rules). (G233 and unlisted)


· 1885:

Packages of 10 cigars permitted. (G236-G244)


· 1887: October:

Packages of 3 and 6 cigars permitted. (G245-G253)


· 1897: July:

The contract for printing tax stamps transferred from BABN to American Bank Note Company, Ottawa (ABN). Delivery of BABN stamps continue for some months after transfer. Over time, ABN’s Series 1897 introduced.


    Red Excise stamps are issued for cigars made of a combination of foreign and domestic leaf in approved proportions.


· 1908: June:

Production of new red, green and blue tax-stamps is discontinued. Black is now used for both Excise and Customs stamps, with the exception of red for the Removal Permit stamps and yellow for the tax-free sample boxes. Changes in stamp color are no longer related to the amount of tax or composition of the cigars.


· 1915:

Series 1915 prepared. (G295-G304)  A new smaller rectangular stamp is introduced for packages of 10 cigars, and later for 5 cigars. (G305-G306)


· 1922:

Small-strip stamps for 25 and 50 cigars are printed as Series 1922. (G312-G315)


· 1923: January:

ABN Ottawa becomes Canadian Bank Note Company CBN and assumes the ABN contract to print tax stamps.


· 1924:

Small strip-stamp for 100 cigars prepared as Series 1924. (G316)


· Circa 1925:

Rectangular stamps of Series 1915 replaced by bilingual designs depicting the Arms of Canada. (G317-G328)


· Circa 1929-1930:

Small strip-stamp for 30 cigars prepared by CBN as Series ‘A’.  (Not listed in Brandom)


· 1935: April:

Contract for tax stamps transferred from CBN to BABN. First stamps

in BABN’s “Series C” introduced almost immediately. (G339-G349)


· 1938: Late that year:

New small stamps introduced for packages of 5 and 10 cigars. Other package-sizes added in following years. (G331-G38) Each denomination of the new format possesses its own color (other than standard black). The new stamps are used concurrently with the previous design.


· 1939: April:

Tax-free sample boxes and their yellow stamps are discontinued. (G233

& unlisted) Bonded Removal Permit stamps discontinued. (G540-G546)


· 1960:

Small strip-stamps reduced in size as the Issue of 1960. Denominations and serial numbers are printed in blue ink. (G353-G356)


· Circa 1965:

Serial numbers are removed from Issue of 1960 strip-stamps. Denominations are now printed in black ink. (G357-G359)


· 1965:

New, small stamp introduced for 5 cigars. (G360)


· 1971: January:

Design of cigar stamps revised and reduced to two formats: Large and small rectangles. (G370-G384)


· 1974: August:

Government stamps discontinued for domestic production. The

Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers’ Council, comprising the Country’s largest firms, introduces common designs for  their new "duty-paid"

labels. (One of these stamps is incorrectly listed in Brandom as a

government issue: G390)


· 1974: October:

Government stamps are no longer provided to importers and foreign manufacturers.