Stamp Act Excerpts, Playing Card Provisos

British Parliament - 1765

 

An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and plantations in America, towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several acts of parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said colonies and plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned.

And for and upon every pack of playing cards, and all dice, which shall be sold or used within the said colonies and plantations, the several stamp duties following (that is to say)
For every pack of such cards, the sum of one shilling.
And for every pair of such dice, the sum of ten shillings.

XIX. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons shall, in the said colonies or plantations, or in any other part of his Majesty’s dominions, counterfeit or forge any seal, stamp, mark type, device, or label, to resemble any seal, stamp, mark, type, device, or label, which shall be provided or made in pursuance of this act; or shall counterfeit or resemble the impressions of the same upon any vellum, parchment, paper, cards, dice, or other matter or thing, thereby to evade the payment of any duty hereby granted; or shall make, sign, print, utter, vend, or sell, any vellum, parchment, or paper, or other matter or thing with such counterfeit mark or impression thereon, knowing such mark or impression to be counterfeited; then every person so offending shall be adjudged a felon, and shall suffer death as in cases of felony without the benefit of clergy.

XX. And it is hereby declared, That upon any prosecution of prosecutions for such felony, the dye, tool, or other instrument made use of in counterfeiting or forging any such seal, stamp, mark, type, device, or label, together with the vellum, parchment, paper, cards, dice, or other matter, or thing having such counterfeit impression, shall, immediately after trial or conviction of the party or parties accused, be broke, defaced, or destroyed, in open court.

XXXVII. And, for the better securing the said duty on playing cards and dice; be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said first day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty five, no playing cards or dice shall be sold, exposed to sale, or used in play, within the said colonies or plantations, unless the paper and thread inclosing, or which shall have inclosed, the same, shall be or shall be also marked or stamped on the spotted or painted side thereof with such mark or marks as shall have been provided in pursuance of this act, upon pain that every person who shall sell, or expose to sale, any such cards or dice which shall not have been so respectively sealed, marked, or stamped, as hereby is respectively required, shall forfeit for every pack or parcel of cards, and every one of such dice so sold or exposed to sale, the sum of ten pounds.


XXXVIII. And it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person within the said colonies or plantations, or any other part of his Majesty’s dominions, shall sell or buy any cover or label which has been made use of for the inclosing any pack or parcel of cards; every person so offending shall, for every such offence, forfeit twenty pounds.

XL. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons shall fraudulently inclose any parcel or pack of playing cards in any outside paper so sealed and stamped as aforesaid, the same having been made use of for the purpose aforesaid; then, so often, and in every such case, every person so offending in any of the particulars before-mentioned, shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of twenty pounds.

 

Stamp Act Excerpts, Playing Card Provisos

Simple Language - 2003

 

An act for taxing the American colonies. The tax is for stamps and other items such as playing cards and dice. This tax will pay for the defense of the colonies.


The Stamp Act will tax playing cards and dice:
The tax for playing cards is one shilling.
The tax for every pair of dice is ten shillings.


19. Counterfeiting the stamps on playing cards and dice and other items is a very serious crime, punishable by death without clergy. Death without clergy is extremely serious because counterfeiters will be executed without last rites.


20. After counterfeiters are convicted, their counterfeiting tools and materials will be destroyed.


37. Starting on November 1, 1765, no playing cards or dice can be sold or played with unless they have the official stamp. Anyone caught selling cards or dice that do not have the official stamp will be fined ten pounds per deck of cards or pair of dice.


38. Anyone caught buying or selling the used cover or label of a pack of playing cards will be fined twenty pounds per offense.


40. Anyone caught trying to hide non-stamped playing cards within the used cover or label of a stamped deck of cards will be fined twenty pounds per offense.


Some Interesting thoughts….
Let’s assume that in 1765, one British pound sterling (£1) was worth $4.44 in American dollars. Let’s also figure that £1=20 shillings. Using a commodity price index (CPI) we can compare 1765 stamp duties on playing cards and dice to today’s dollar.
For example, a one-shilling tax on playing cards equals 1/20 of a British pound sterling, which equals $0.222 (1/20 = 0.05. 0.05 * 4.44 = 0.222). $0.222 in 1765 has the same purchasing power as $5.37 in today’s dollars.

Dice taxed at the rate of 10 shillings in 1765 would cost almost $54 in today’s dollar.
Violating the Stamp Act was costly. A £10 fine in 1765 equals a fine of $1,073.38 in current dollars; A £20 fine would be the same as $2,146.77.

These estimates are rough, but they help us understand what colonists were upset about. Can you imagine paying $5 for a deck of cards? Wouldn't you want your representative to speak for you, and vote against such high taxes on playing cards?
To learn more about comparing historical values of money to today’s dollar, see How Much Is That Worth Today.



To learn more about colonial games, see All the World Plays the Best of Games.