Netherlands : German Railway Ticket Tax Stamps : 1906-1917

The information at our disposal for this article is rather limited and comes from three main sources:
'The American Revenuer', June 1985, Page 87.
'Spoor en Post', a book produced in 1979 by the Railway Museum in Utrecht, Page 52.
A tax-paid travel document bearing instructions as to its correct use, plus two further stamps.

We should particularly like to thank Martien Romme of The Netherlands and the Spoorwegmuseum in Utrecht for their help in collating much of the information we have used to produce this short article.
The Utrecht Railway Museum's website can be found here (opens in a new tab).


Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax Fahrkartenstempel Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax Fahrkartenstempel Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax Fahrkartenstempel Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax Fahrkartenstempel

In the early part of the 20th century, there was an agreement, little known today, under which passengers in The Netherlands buying international train tickets for travel from their country into Germany were to pay the German Reich's Railway Ticket Tax in The Netherlands before they travelled.

The tax collected in The Netherlands was by means of revenue stamps expressly printed for two railway companies. The text on these stanmps is in Dutch but the tax due is expressed in German currency, the Reichsmark. Few detailed records appear to have been retained relating to this arrangement but one presumes that the participating Dutch railways collected the fee from the passenger in local currency, either at a semi-fixed price in Gulden or at the current exchange rate with the German Mark. The accounting methodology by which the ticket taxes collected in The Netherlands reached the German Treasury, perhaps via some form of railway clearing house which included the German railway company or companies involved, is unknown to us.

Within Germany, the tax was not limited to travel by train and certainly included shipping company tickets, as the scan lower down proves, but, to our knowledge, journeys between The Netherlands and Germany that incurred the tax were only by rail.

Before examining the Dutch ticket tax stamps, we shall look briefly at the Ticket Tax table for Germany, which is instructive for Germany, although not 100% illuminating for The Netherlands. Note that the tax is based on ticket price, not distance travelled.

Railway Ticket Tax stamps issued in Germany

Different stamps to those used in The Netherlands were employed in Germany, the design for these being the German Eagle with the inscription 'FAHRKARTENSTEMPEL' (Travel Ticket Revenue Stamp) and the value in Marks and Pfennigs.

Germany Stamps Fahrkartenstempel Railway Ticket Tax Germany Stamps Fahrkartenstempel Railway Ticket Tax

The black and white scan of the 1M80 German Ticket Tax stamp comes from the American Revenuer article.

The interesting shipping company ticket with tax stamp affixed is reproduced here by kind permission of Bjarne of Fyns Frimaerke Service. Binz to Sassnitz is a straightforward journey within Germany on the island of Rügen, a distance of 16 kms by road. At the time however, Rügen was still an island without fixed connection to the mainland and road transport on the island would have been very limited. The local ferry from the mainland carrying freight and calling at several ports on the island would have proved a useful passenger transport link as well.
The ticket price of Mk 1,55 and the ticket tax charged of 5pf indicates that this is a third-class ticket (see charges table below.) Note the low serial number on the ticket, suggesting perhaps quite low passenger numbers were carried, and that a blank space has been left on the ticket for affixing the revenue stamp.

These German stamps were produced for 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers and there were eight tariffs for each class of passenger, the tariffs based on the price of the ticket, not the distance travelled, although these are typically closely related. The tax table applicable to wholly German tickets is shown below.

We have found no equivalent table for The Netherlands, but one may have been produced. However, if the international ticket price was simply the price from the departure station in The Netherlands to the first station inside Germany plus the price of an internal German ticket, then access to a German train ticket price list would have been sufficient for a ticket clerk in The Netherlands to calculate the ticket tax payable for the German section of a journey.

Tax Table on Railway Tickets : For GERMANY only.
Note : The 18 different tax rates shown in the table below exactly match the face value of the 18 stamps listed in the 1915 Forbin world catalogue of revenue stamps, shown as a 1905 issue, Forbin Germany Fahrkartenstempel #1-18. The Forbin catalogue shows no other issues for Fahrkartenstempel but anything issued after 1912, or, at latest, 1913 is not included in Forbin.

Train Ticket Price 1st Class Tax 2nd Class Tax 3rd Class Tax
60pf - 2 Marks 20 pf 10 pf 5 pf
2.01 Marks - 5 Marks 40 pf 20 pf 10 pf
5.01 Marks - 10 Marks 80 pf 40 pf 20 pf
10.01 Marks - 20 Marks 1.60M 80 pf 40 pf
20.01 Marks - 30 Marks 2.40M 1.20M 60 pf
30.01 Marks - 40 Marks 3.60M 1.80M 90 pf
40.01 Marks - 50 Marks 5.40M 2.70M 1.40M
More than 50 Marks 8.00M 4.00M 2.00M
According to the American Revenuer article, certain tickets were free of the the ticket tax, namely :
. . . Tickets costing less than 60pf.
. . . Tickets for military personnel.
. . . Tickets for students.
. . . Discounted 'workers tickets' (in most countries valid on a few selected trains, especially early morning departures).

With regard to the German rates' table shown above, the American Revenuer article gives the opening day for their use within Germany as June 3rd, 1906 against Forbin's 1905. We think June 1906 is correct.

Railway Ticket Tax Stamps issued in The Netherlands

Around the time that this foreign tax was being raised in The Netherlands, there were two principal railway companies. One, the Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M., also sometimes H.Y.S.M.), was a wholly private company, founded in 1837. It owned the trains and the tracks they ran on, its network comprising some of the most profitable rail routes in the country.

The other, the Maatschappij tot Exploitatie van Staatsspoorwegen, usually abbreviated to S.S. for Staats Spoorwegen, was, despite its commonly-used name, a private company which just operated the trains on railways which had been built by the Dutch Government to provide railway links to regions of the country which were not commercially appealing to private enterprise. In today's jargon, the S.S. would be called a T.O.C.

Both these railway companies operated the scheme under which they collected the ticket tax on behalf of German Railways. The railway ticket, along with the stamped receipt showing that the German ticket tax had been paid, were placed in a folder. The text on the receipt explicitly states that it must be in the hands of the passenger. A typical receipt is shown below:

Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax stamped coupon docket receipt
Note that the currency is expressed in Reichsmarks (Rmk). On the internal German stamps, it is simply Marks (M).

The first thing that strikes one about this receipt is that it is in German, French and Italian - but not Dutch. French has long been an international diplomatic standard language and an official language for documents, but not Italian.

Several fraud prevention / accounting measures are apparent on this receipt:
The amount due, Rmk 5.40, is shown in manuscript and it matches the value of the stamp.
The number of the folder containing the train ticket and receipt is shown in manuscript.
It is punched AMSTERDAM HOLLBAHN, the punch passing through the stamp.
The date is also punched into the foot of the receipt, here 3 4 07 (April 3rd 1907).

We imagine that the punch through the receipt (and stamp) obviated the need to write in the location of the issuing office. It is clear that the receipt itself was not designed with a view to affixing an adhesive stamp. We do not know whether other countries collected the ticket tax on behalf of Germany but it seems unlikely that The Netherlands would have been singled out for this process. We suspect that this same form was used in several countries to collect the German tax but, to our knowledge, it seems that only The Netherlands chose to affix stamps to it for their book-keeping purposes. The fact that the stamps were printed by Enschedé, security printers in Haarlem (Neths.), rather than in Germany, also suggests that the initiative to use revenue stamps for accounting purposes came purely from the two Dutch railway companies.

Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax stamped coupon docket receipt

The Rmk 0.90 stamp shown above is Mint with full gum. The Rmk 4.00 is without gum and with part of a two-line punch at the top of the stamp, therefore clearly 'used'. The bottom line of the punch ends 'S.', perhaps the ending of 'S.S.'. There is only a small part of the top line present, but the part of the last three letters of the word that are visible might well be the base of the letters 'CHT', suggesting an issuing office such as 'UTRECHT', or perhaps Dordrecht but we do not have information with regard to which stations were on the S.S. network around 1910, nor which of them were authorised to issue international tickets.

Two sources plus Forbin (under Pays Bas - Netherlands - Impot sur les Billets de Chemin de Fer pour l'Allemagne, #1-23) provide identical lists of the 23 values that were issued. We have no reason to mistrust the listings of face values and therefore repeat them below, but Forbin's issue date of 1912 for these Dutch stamps is incorrect, as is clear from the 1907 receipt scanned into this article

Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij ( H.IJ.S.M. ) : Text in Brown on a Lilac Ground (steam locomotive and patterns)
The five face values in the darker shade of green are rates that are additional to those in the German rate table.

H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.05 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.10 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.20 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.30 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.40 [ . ]

H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.45 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.60 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.70 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.80 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 0.90 [ . ]

H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 1.00 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 1.20 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 1.35 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 1.40 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 1.60 [ . ]

H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 1.80 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 2.00 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 2.40 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 2.70 [ . ]

H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 3.60 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 4.00 [ . ]
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 5.40 [ . ] ψ
H.IJ.S.M. Rmk 8.00 [ . ] ψ

: Stamp (or scan of stamp) that we have seen.

Maatschappij tot Exploitatie van Staatsspoorwegen( S.S. ) : Text in Brown on a Lilac Ground (steam locomotive and patterns)
The five face values in the darker shade of green are rates that are additional to those in the German rate table.

S.S. Rmk 0.05 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 0.10 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 0.20 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 0.30 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 0.40 [ . ]

S.S. Rmk 0.45 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 0.60 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 0.70 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 0.80 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 0.90 [ . ] ψ

S.S. Rmk 1.00 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 1.20 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 1.35 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 1.40 [ . ] ψ
S.S. Rmk 1.60 [ . ]

S.S. Rmk 1.80 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 2.00 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 2.40 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 2.70 [ . ]

S.S. Rmk 3.60 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 4.00 [ . ] ψ
S.S. Rmk 5.40 [ . ]
S.S. Rmk 8.00 [ . ]

: Stamp (or scan of stamp) that we have seen.

These revenue stamps are all rare. We have only ever seen those marked ψ in the lists above. Based on their rarity, we would suggest that aspiring to collect anything more than a small sample range of them is probably unrealistic.

As mentioned higher up, we do not have a rates' table for the Dutch tickets. As with their template-style German counterparts, new values would have been relatively easy to produce quickly in the Netherlands, using the lilac 'locomotive & pattern' design as blanks on which to type-set the various values required, if supplies ran out or new rates were introduced.

We have been advised that use of these Dutch-issued ticket tax revenues was limited to the period August 1906 to April 1917. The Netherlands was a neutral country during World War I. If, as we suspect, other countries were also collecting the German tax, most of them would have ceased to do so from the outbreak of war in 1914.

Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax Fahrkartenstempel Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax Fahrkartenstempel Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax Fahrkartenstempel Netherlands Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (H.IJ.S.M.) German Ticket Tax Fahrkartenstempel

We conclude with some speculation on Issue Dates (and purpose of issue) of the additional five Dutch values :
We are rather nonplussed by the five additional values found on the Dutch stamps beyond those known to us for use within Germany. Two possible explanations come to mind:

1. That there were some additional taxes payable on certain international services that did not match any tax rate charged on internal tickets within Germany.
2. That, at some time, most likely around 1912, new tax rates were introduced both in Germany and The Netherlands.

We are very conscious that Forbin contains errors. Additionally, we have been unable to locate any reliable listing of German revenues for the period 1910/11-1917. There exists the possibility, therefore, that new German and Dutch rates were introduced and that this accounts for the additional five Dutch values - and maybe also for some new German values, of which we are unaware.

However, in view of the fact that the same edition of Forbin (1915) lists 18 German and 23 Dutch values and that we have no evidence of price increases or additional values being added to the German Fahrkartenstempel, an issue date of 1906 for all 23 Netherlands values remains the most likely, even if it leaves the need for the additional five values unexplained . . . until a correspondent perhaps enlightens us?

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