Why Collect Revenue Stamps?
The trouble with collecting GB stamps is that you can put together a pretty good collection in no time at all, especially if you're buying off eBay.
What do you do then? You start looking for more and more obscure variations... slightly different colours or printings, watermarks in the wrong place or upside down, odd perforations. This is all very traditional, but you'll end up with pages of stamps that essentially look the same... I mean with some of the watermark variations you need a machine to see them!
Part of the attraction of stamps for me is the sheer detail in the early issues, they're minature works of art and I really like the different designs and varied uses.
This is where the revenues come in, they're just like postal stamps only better - they have tremendous histories attached to them (they were used for so many things), the sets are difficult to complete (there are very few dealers), there are plenty that haven't made it as far as a catalogue (now that's an exciting thought) and they're incredibly rare... if you want "conventional" rare stamp, no problem it's down to how much you have to spend... revenues start off rare and just get rarer!
The vast diversity and scope of fiscal stamps mean that you can collect for years without having to look for odd shades or strange watermarks, so duplication doesn't happen very often.
So which ones should I buy I hear you ask? Generally the more common ones are Contract Notes, Consular Service, Foreign Bill, Judicature and Inland Revenue. Having said this, there are still some scarce stamps within even these common categories. Overall you should aim for high value issues and ones with the most obscure usage... for some reason odd number denominations seem to be worth more than even denomination ones. My favourites are the Victorian high values although Edward VII has some pretty good issues too. Even really recent Elizabeth II revenue stamps can be worth a lot especially the ones that were used abroad in embassies and consulates.
Did you know that people who collected postal stamps were once regarding as inferior to the fiscal/revenue stamp collectors? This all changed in the 1920's when revenues stamps started being dropped from catalogue listings, but they're definitely on their way back... have a look at the Revenue Society website and check-out the Revenue Catalogues produced by John Barefoot of York... (they're even in colour these days).
...and when you've finished collecting all the United Kingdom revenues, there's the Empire (and beyond) still left... happy hunting!