The poster stamp

The limits of the state
How a tax policy redefines the boundaries of the state
By Frédéric Graber

From Year VI onwards, posters put up by private individuals were subject to a tax stamp, while official posters were exempt. Official and private posters had already been distinguished since 1791, with special posting places and the colour white being reserved for posters from the administration. However, the opposition between “public authority” and private individuals became more complex during the Empire, as the central administration, mainly the Ministry of Finance, extended the stamp requirement to a growing number of official posters, which were thus assimilated to those of private individuals. Over the course of developing a relatively minor tax measure, the taxation of posters, the central administration in the 19th century examined a number of categories of governmental action and redefined the boundaries of the state. By examining the colour of posters and the stamps affixed to them, we can look at the history of the relationship between the central government and local authorities.

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