Answered Gaslight question #1

Dennis Hayward, a colleague at Mount Royal College, asks:
Why does my 1934 schoolbook copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a donkey have a stamp with a price and his name inside the back cover?

  We received the following answer from Dr. Terence Day, who works with the Librum website out of Nova Scotia:

  This stamp is acknowledgement of the fact that 2.1 pence royalty was paid to Stevenson's estate, or the original publisher. I have seen similar stamps for other authors (Dickens, I think?) and have always seen them placed on cheap editions, presumably because someone didn't trust the publishers to accurately report sales.

  I would guess that the odd denomination of the stamp represents 10% of 21 pence (i.e one shilling and ninepence), or 5% of three shillings and sixpence.

  Great site.
  Terence Day (

A Previous Suggestion

Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 14:15:35 -0600
From: Kiwi Carlisle 
Subject: Stevenson stamp

Had a look at this stamp.  It reminds me of the tax stamps used in the 
U.S. on liquor and on narcotics (such as opium for research purposes) 
once upon a time. 

I would speculate that this had something to do with paying royalties, 
except that I've never seen such a thing in books of similar vintage.

What about this--say it was one of a series of books, i.e. school edition 
of Stevenson's collected works, and the price on it was supplied in this 
manner to stores which sold schoolbooks.  Perhaps two shillings and ten 
pence?  That seems like a fairly standard price for kids' books in the 


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