I have decided to try something new today and am looking forward to your feedback. This was a challenging project from an organizational standpoint, however, I feel there may be a considerable upside here and, if readers agree, I am willing to produce similar narratives in the future.
This post will focus attention on pre-stamp hunting and fishing licenses. This is a fascinating area of our hobby that can be overlooked by those who view it simply as “collateral” to the fish and game stamps, themselves. It seems, to some extent, to be a frame of reference thing, as many advanced collectors and exhibitors tend to view it as an integral part of the story and pursue it accordingly. While others (often longtime license collectors) specialize in the area almost exclusively and can view the stamps as collateral or even as a by-product of the licenses.
The latter is a valid point. This is not akin to the chicken and the egg, for in this case we clearly know what came first. If we were talking television, early state licenses would be All in the Family and the federal and state stamps would be Maude and The Jeffersons.
Regardless of your take on this, I don’t think I have ever met anyone that cannot appreciate a license from the pre-stamp period to some extent – and it is usually an instantaneous gut reaction. There is just something about them that has universal appeal and I believe I know what it is. If I am right, it is not rocket science. Hopefully we can expand on it today and create some more interest.
As individuals we all have different ideas about what makes something attractive, desirable or of interest to collect. When it comes to collecting early (pre-stamp) hunting and fishing licenses, there are numerous considerations which may include a particular aspect of wildlife conservation history (deer, trout, waterfowl), license composition and any artwork (think California and Nebraska), the year date in large numerals (Idaho, Minnesota, New York), a collector’s home state or place of birth, rarity (generally smaller states with low populations, southern states and “dry” states such as Arizona and New Mexico) or the first year of issue for each state.
These are all valid considerations, however, in my years of experience – the biggest factor that stimulates interest in pre-stamp licenses is their age. Let’s face it, most of the readers of this blog specialize in collecting paper items that were produced starting with the federal migratory bird hunting stamp that was issued in 1934 (see Figure 1). See The First Fish and Game Stamp.
Unlike, for example, collectors of classic U.S. postage and revenue stamps that were issued starting in the mid 19th century, fish and game collectors have developed a passion for items that have a more contemporary 20th century appearance and production values.
While the stamps, themselves, and their usages are really great and fun to collect, licenses issued prior to 1934, in addition to being an important part of the the story – see A license and Stamp System for Waterfowl Conservation in the 20th Century U.S. – allow us an opportunity to step back in time and enjoy related fish and game items that were produced at the end of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century (the first state resident hunting licenses were issued in 1895).
A Periodic Decline in Quality
Stepping back and adding some of these to your collection may prove to be surprisingly rewarding, for while this 30 plus years might not seem like it could make a big difference – there were, in fact, visible declines in overall license quality that occurred approximately every ten years starting at the turn of the 20th century.
The licenses issued prior to 1910 have a very early feel and may resemble classic postage stamps, revenue stamps and – perhaps a better analogy – the documents 19th century revenue stamps were affixed to (see Figure 2).
Those issued from approximately 1910 to 1920 represent the apex of U.S. hunting and fishing licenses from a combined participation and quality standpoint. By this time all fifty states or territories were producing licenses and maintained relatively high overall production values. In some instances, the licenses issued during this ten year period were truly exceptional (see Figures 3 and 4).
The roaring twenties brought about a substantial decline in overall license quality (they tended to be rather nondescript) due to lower production values which I have never been able to fully understand as, in many ways, this decade was known for extravagance and excess – ultimately precipitating The Great Depression.
One redeeming factor during this period was that a number of states printed the year date across their licenses in large and sometimes colorful numerals (see Figures 5 and 6).
With the 1930s and the Depression, license production values took another big hit and overall license quality and appearance were substantially lowered. These are the licenses most collectors are familiar with as federal stamps were affixed to them. Subsequently, war year finances and shortages would ensure this trend toward basic utilitarian objects was here to stay. In many cases, the licenses were reduced in size to save money and materials.
Therefore, if one takes a look at the hunting and fishing licenses issued just 20 years or so before the first federal stamps were printed, they may seem pretty different in a really cool sort of way. Simply put – they look really old.
It Is Cool Because it is So Old
As we have just seen above, the age of a license has a bearing on its appearance and this aesthetic can result in a palpable, rational attraction for those collectors who are so oriented. Further, while it is almost always more complicated, age is often equated with rarity – and rarity is usually deemed desirable among collectors of all things.
Still, I have found that these traits are often not what initially gets people excited. What gets people’s juices flowing seems to be a subjective, almost primal instinct – It is cool because it is so old.
I often feel the same way when encountering an old collectible (especially when it is well preserved). Perhaps it is simply an subconscious form of respect and appreciation for the fact that it has survived all these years (see Figure 7).
This primal feeling is not limited to fish and game collectors or philatelists. I have found it to be present in every hobby that I have been closely associated with; postcards, bottles, advertising, Native American basketry and movie memorabilia.
We don’t think of ourselves as just collecting postcards or bottles – we collect old postcards and old bottles. In all these diverse hobbies, I frequently hear collectors state “the older the better.” There is just something about old things that is inherently appealing.
Several highly respected collectors have explained to me that these “old things” are, in fact, artifacts that serve to capture and preserve history. I have given this some thought and have concluded that if we initially like something simply because it is old – perhaps we might like it even better if we were provided with some additional historical context.
A historical frame of reference may allow us to form stronger connections with the old licenses and this, in turn, could make a difference when we are deciding whether or not to add these to our personal collections.
I have selected 1913 to start with and, if people enjoy it and find it is of value, I will pick another year to look at when I can find the time. I chose 1913 for a several reasons. By this point nearly all of the states or territories were issuing hunting or fishing licenses, so this allowed for a relatively large selection of examples to choose from when illustrating this blog.
In fact, the year 1913 was unprecedented in that five new states began issuing their first resident hunting licenses – Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Second is that in 1913 the first U.S. law regulating the shooting of migratory birds was passed – the precursor to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 – and we can talk about that a bit. Last, but certainly not least, the overall production values in 1913 were still fairly high – se we will get to see a lot of great old licenses!
Going Outside the Box
Ostensibly, the goal here is to supplement the traditional collector information found throughout this website with a historical summary or narrative. In order to provide a useful historical perspective for the licenses issued in 1913 (and hopefully facilitate connections), we are going outside the box from the way I have presented things on this website in the past.
Rather than present the licenses alphabetically state by state and discuss their reason for being issued, numbers issued, examples recorded, provenance, etc. – in today’s blog we will go through the year month by month so you can see what life was really like in 1913 – citing a wide variety of events and happenings, both domestically and world-wide.
Not everyone will recognize all of the references (I know I didn’t before researching this post). That is OK, this blog is intended to be a learning experience. I have taken an eclectic approach and tried to include something for everyone – the arts, sports, politics and world events. Who knows, maybe this will help the next time you play a game of Trivial Pursuits…
Following the historical references for each month, the licenses will be shown in chronological order by date of issue. I have come up with at least one license that was issued each month in the first half of the year and in the second half, especially after the hunting seasons opened – well, let’s just say it should be pretty fun.
When the referenced days are shown in red – that indicates there is a corresponding license(s) below that was issued on that very day. It is possible that when the person who obtained the license awoke the next day and read their newspaper – this was the headline.
The real purpose of this series is to transport you back in time for a while, so that the next time you see a license from around 1913 – it will strike you as something more than simply “old”. Hopefully, you will be able to relate to it in a more meaningful way. I would encourage you to read each of the monthly narratives, then linger over the licenses and allow your mind do the rest.
2 (Some sources say the 12th) The comic strip Bringing Up Father made it’s debut. Created by George McManus and distributed by King Features Syndicate, it ran for 87 years, until May 28, 2000 – second longest of all time.
6 Actress Loretta Young was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Considered one of the most beautiful and nicest actresses of her day (see Figure 8), Young began her storied career as a child actress and then made 99 feature films. She won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Katrin in The Farmer’s Daughter in 1947. She passed on August 12, 2000 (at age 87).
8 The Hotel McAlpin opens in New York City. It was built by Edwin A. McAlpin, the son of David H. McAlpin, a successful tobacco manufacturer in New York. The Hotel was the largest in the world with a staff numbering 1,500 and rooms for 2,500 guests. It still sits at the corner of Broadway and 34th Street and is now known as Herald Towers.
8 At the London Peace Conference to end the First Balkan War, Serbia gave up its demand for a port on the Adriatic Sea. The conference was an international summit of six great powers Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Italy. The purpose was to arbitrate territory claimed in the war and to determine the future of Albania, which had proclaimed independence from the Ottoman Empire on November 28, 1912.
9 Richard Milhous Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. Nixon served for eight years as vice president (1953-1961) before narrowly loosing to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. He ran again in 1968 and defeated Hubert Humphrey to become the 37th president of the U.S.
Nixon was president when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, bringing an end to the “moon race” with the Soviet Union, visited China in 1972 and opened diplomatic relations between the two powers before ending the Vietnam War and the military draft in 1973. In his second term the Watergate scandal resulted in Nixon resigning the presidency – the only time this has occurred in U.S. history.
13 Delta Sigma Theta was founded by 22 African-American women at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Today, it is the largest predominantly black sorority in the world with over 900 chapters in 10 countries and over 300,000 initiated members.
14 The London Peace Conference ended without an agreement between the Balkan States and the Ottoman Empire.
15 The Ottoman warship Medjidie attacked and sank a Greek Merchant ship, the Macedonia, which had been armed as a troop transport.
15 Actor Lloyd Bridges was born in San Leandro, California. His career spanned 65 years (1936-2000) and included 119 feature films. He is perhaps best remembered for the television series Sea Hunt (1958-1961) and is the father of actors Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges.
17 Prime Minister Raymond Poincare (see Figure 9) was elected the President of France (1913-1920). Prior to the onset of WWI, Poincare had made a considerable effort to strengthen the Franco-Russian Alliance, announcing in 1913 that he would meet with Tsar Nicholas II in St. Petersburg in July of 1914. After Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in June of 1914, Poincare kept his commitment and used the opportunity to urge Russia to be cautious with Germany. However, Russia continued to mobilize toward a potential conflict.
On July 31, 1914, The German ambassador in Paris issued an ultimatum warning that if Russia continued its efforts – Germany would attack both France and Russia within 12 hours. Germany further demanded that France break its alliance with Russia and allow German troops to march into France and take over key military installations unopposed. Poincare considered the humiliation for France too great and rejected the ultimatum – an action which some historians have pointed to as one of the chief causes of WWI.
22 The Worcester Gazette published a story stating that Jim Thorpe, the son of an Irish father and Sac and Fox (Native American) mother and the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century (many say the greatest who ever lived) – had played professional baseball during the 1909 and 1910 seasons. This would eventually result in the loss of his amateur status and being stripped of the gold medals he had won in the decathlon and the pentathlon during the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.
27 The British Cabinet voted to remove a women’s suffrage bill from consideration in the House of Commons.
27 A new five cent coin was introduced in the U.S. Featuring the profile of a Native American on the obverse and an American bison on the reverse – they became know as the “Buffalo Nickels”.
29 Daniel Taradash was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Taradash was an American screenwriter, perhaps best known for the Pearl Harbor epic From Here to Eternity. One of the greatest motion pictures of all time, it was awarded eight Oscars in 1954, including Best Picture (see Figure 10).
Licenses Issued in January
2 President Taft signed a bill authorizing construction of the Lincoln Memorial.
2 At 12:01 a.m. the first train departed from Grand Central Terminal in New York City, which opened as the largest train station in the world. Grand Central Terminal replaced Grand Central Depot, commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1869 and completed in 1872. The depot became outdated and was completely torn down and began to be rebuilt starting 1903. The main impetus for the rebuild was the need to change from steam locomotives to electric, brought about by health and safety concerns.
3 Delaware became the 36th state to vote in favor of the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution, providing the 3/4 majority of the current 48 states needed to allow Congress to create a federal income tax. It became the first change to the Constitution in 43 years.
3 Fighting resumed in the First Balkan War between Ottoman Turkey and the Balkan States.
4 Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. In Montgomery on December 1, 1955, Parks defied bus driver James Blake’s order to give up her seat in the “colored section” to a white passenger after the “whites-only section” was filled.
Her action and the subsequent Montgomery bus boycott became high profile symbols of the civil rights movement. She became an iconic figure in the fight to end racial segregation and worked closely with Edgar Nixon and Martin Luther King, Jr. Parks passed on October 24, 2005 (at age 92).
7 While taking his bows, venerable opera star Vanni Marcoux was hit in the head by the lowering stage curtain in Boston. Marcoux was hospitalized but eventually recovered and went on to appear in 240 different roles during his long and illustrious career (see Figure 11).
14 American Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana. Hoffa disappeared from the parking lot of the Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, a suburb of Detroit, on July 30, 1975. He had gone there to meet with two mafia leaders, Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano. He was never heard from again.
23 Upon his arrival in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), Joseph Stalin was arrested by the Russian secret police. He was attempting to attend the International Women’s Day celebration. Stalin was imprisoned for four years by the Tsarist government and was not released until a few months before the Russian Revolution in 1917.
License Issued in February
3 On the eve of the presidential inauguration, Alice Paul led 8,000 women suffragettes in a parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. in support of women being granted the right to vote in the U.S.
4 Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as the 28th President of the United States. Wilson was president when the federal income tax was implemented, when the central banking system was created in the form of the Federal Reserve System and when the Federal Trade Commission and the Clayton Antitrust Act were passed to regulate big business. In 1917, Wilson Asked Congress to declare war against Germany.
4 Sponsored by Representative John Weeks (R) of Rhode Island and Senator George McLean (R) of Connecticut, the Weeks – McLean Act was the first law passed in the U.S. to regulate the shooting of migratory birds.
The law was designed to stop commercial market hunting and the illegal shipment of migratory birds from one state to another. It provided the Secretary of Agriculture with the power to set hunting seasons nationwide and prohibited the spring hunting and marketing of migratory birds. It further prohibited the importation of wild bird feathers for women’s hats. Noble in intent, the law “rested on weak constitutional grounds” and was later replaced by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
11 Godfrey Charles Morgan, 1st Viscount Tredegar passed. When the Crimean War broke out in 1854, Morgan was captain of the 17th Lancers. On October 25, he led the charge of the Light Brigade into the “Valley Of Death” at the Battle of Balacalava. Both Morgan and his horse managed to survive the battle which was subsequently immortalized in the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (see video below).
18. The first minimum wage law went into effect in the State of Utah. Massachusetts and Oregon had passed similar laws earlier in the year, however, they were scheduled to take effect later, during the summer.
24 The Palace Theatre opened in New York City at Broadway and West 47th. It soon became known as the “Home of Vaudeville” and for a vaudeville entertainer, to “Play the Palace” meant you had made it to the top of your profession. In later years, The Palace was the location for such historic film premieres as Citizen Kane on May 1, 1941 and The Diary of Anne Frank on March 18, 1959 See Figure 12).
Licenses Issued in March
3. The leader of the British suffrage movement, Emmeline Pankhurst, was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted in a plot to bomb the home of David-Lloyd-George, Chancellor of the Exchanger. After reaching prison, Pankhurst went on a hunger strike and was released after only nine days.
4 MicKinley Morganfield was born on Stovall Plantation outside of Clarksdale Mississippi. He would later become known the “Father of Chicago blues, win five grammies and become inducted in both the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Better known by his stage name, Muddy Waters, he appeared on a U.S. commemorative stamp in 1994.
4 Baseball’s Brooklyn Superbas opened a new ballpark, Ebbits Field. The Superbas would later change their name to the Dodgers.
8 Connecticut became the 36th state to vote in favor of the 17th Amendment to The United States Constitution, providing the 3/4 majority of the current 48 states needed to allow citizens to directly elect U.S. senators.
10 The former New York Highlanders played their first baseball game under their new name, the New York Yankees.
12 The world’s first environmental organization was founded by 47 people in England and was named the British Ecological Society. A U.S. counterpart, the Ecological Society of America, was created in 1915. Both societies still operates today, with the British having over 5,000 members (in 92 countries) and the American over 9,000 (see Figure 13).
13 The first issue of Scouting, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America was published.
23 Mexico’s government began printing exorbitant amounts of currency in an attempt to finance its army during the Mexican Revolution. In the next two years, the government would release over 600,000,000 pesos into circulation and inflation would rise to more than 100,000% by September of 1916 (ouch).
24 The Woolworth Building, towering 55 stories and nearly 800 feet in New York City, opened as the tallest skyscraper in the world.
License issued in April
6 The British House of Commons rejected a women’s suffrage bill to grant women the right to vote, 216-299.
12 The RMS Lusitania was refitted by the British Navy for use in the event of war. Two years later, on May 7, 1915, a german U-boat torpedoed and sunk the ocean liner and 1,195 lives were lost – mostly civilians. Included were 128 Americans and this resulted in American public opinion shifting toward war (see Figure 14).
14 The Charter for the Rockefeller Foundation was approved by New York Governor William Sulzer. John D. Rockefeller started with a donation of $100,000,000.
16 In Austria-Hungary, a court in Vienna approved the the release of an inheritance to a 24 year old artist. The money allowed the artist to move to neighboring Germany – his name was Adolf Hitler.
17 Agustin and Parla and Domingo Rosillo, two Cuban pilots, became the first to fly an airplane between the United States and Cuba. They took off from Key West, Florida and landed in Havana. This was also the first international flight in Latin American history and was considered quite a feat as previous attempts had been met with failure by American pilots. Cuba commemorated the event with a special airmail stamp in 1938 (see Figure 15).
20 The 7.8 mile long Culebra Cut was completed as excavators from both sides of the Continental Divide met at 4:30 in the afternoon. This is considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the early 20th century. Construction of the Panama Canal was originally begun by the French in 1881 and the United States took over in 1904.
The Culebra Cut links Gatun Lake (Atlantic Side) to the Gulf of Panama (Pacific side). It is estimated that 100,00,000 cubic yards of material was removed in the effort.
22 The American Society for the Control of Cancer was founded by ten doctors in Washington, D.C. In 1946, its name was changed to The American Cancer Society.
30 The Treaty of London formally ended the First Balkan War between the Ottoman Empire and the Balkan League (Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro).
Licenses Issued in May