Arago: Albums


Boutwell presentation album


A flood of expenditures threatened the Union’s financial viability as the Civil War accelerated. Scrambling to control the situation, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1862, which established the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and initiated the use of adhesive revenue stamps. Revenue stamps prepaid taxes on items such as documents and also applied an excise tax on certain items—matches and medicines, for instance. As the first Commissioner of Internal Revenue, George S. Boutwell sought bids from security printers for the design and production of revenue stamps. Philadelphia-based Butler & Carpenter won the first contract to print the revenue stamps. Though Butler died in 1868, the firm held the contract until 1875. It consistently produced beautifully engraved stamps and private dies.

Joseph R. Carpenter, one of the firm’s primary partners, presented this album of proofs and essays of federal revenue and private die proprietary stamps to George S. Boutwell when Boutwell retired in 1873. In 1884 he passed the album on to his daughter, inscribing its elaborate presentation page, "To Georgiana A. Boutwell, From her father, Geo. S. Boutwell, Groton, Mass. 1884.”

The black, leather-bound album consists of twenty-one double-sided pages of sink matted objects—fifty blocks of four, seventy-eight pairs, and 254 singles of first, second, and third general revenue and proprietary issues and private die issues for match, perfumery, and medicine companies. Of special note is the inclusion of one $5,000-denomination Persian Rug revenue proof (United States Scott R133). The beautiful album cover, heavily gilt embossed with a central silver presentation plate, was hand-finished by I.G. Kohler of Philadelphia.

silver presentation plate at center "Hon. George S. Boutwell / SECRETARY of the TREASURY / United States of America" in gold tool on album cover below silver presentation plate "HAND FINISHED BY IG. KOHLER PHILADA."
leather; metal; gilt; paper; silk/bound; tooled; gilded; engraved
Height x Width x Depth: 20 3/4 x 14 1/4 x 4 1/2 in. (52.7 x 36.2 x 11.4 cm)
Museum ID:

  • Boutwell Presentation Album
  • Boutwell Presentation Album
  • Boutwell Presentation Album
Additional Records