I originally wrote most of the following articles in the 1990s and had them published in the American Revenuer, the journal for the American Revenue Association. For this website, the articles have been expanded by adding and updating the text as well as adding more images and presenting them as high quality full color scans. A separate PDF option is also available. Please enjoy and as always, I look forward to your comments and feedback.
Fish and game license stamps, as defined here, are those stamps required by federal, state, local or tribal law to be purchased by sportsmen and affixed to a license prior to fishing or hunting for various wildlife in the U.S. In most instances, such stamps convey additional rights that are not granted by a basic fishing or hunting license. A fee is generally paid by the sportsman to acquire these additional rights and the stamp serves as a receipt. For this reason, fish and game license stamps fall under the philatelic classification of revenue stamps. Once the stamps have been affixed to the license (and subsequently signed by the licensee in many cases) the license has been validated for harvesting the particular species involved — within the limitations established by a fish and game code.
The non-pictorial stamps issued by Marion County, Kansas, have long held a fascination for advanced collectors and students of fish and game stamps. Over fifty years ago it was first reported that Marion County might have issued the first local fish and game stamps in the United States (Janousek, 1959). Since that time, a relative lack of published information about the stamps and the area where they were used has prevented the stamps from enjoying widespread popularity. The same can be said for many other fish and game stamps, aside from pictorial waterfowl stamps. The purpose of this article is to tell the story of the Marion County stamp program and to provide descriptions of stamps which were previously unrecorded. It is hoped that this knowledge might enhance the appreciation of longtime collectors for this interesting segment of fish and game philately and, perhaps, encourage prospective new collectors to take a closer look at these stamps.
When the Kansas State Historical Society made their search of the Marion County Courthouse in 1982 and no stamps were found, a mystery that went unsolved for years was born (see Figure 1). What had become of the collection that Charles Bellinghausen mounted for the county archives? Hugh Smiley returned to Marion in the late 1980s to inquire about any remaining stamps. Marquetta Eilerts, the current County Clerk, informed Smiley that not only were no additional reminders to be found, but that the archives collection was missing as well.
Thanks to an inspired collaboration at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, the world is finding out that there is much more to duck stamp collecting than just the federal stamps. The Feds had their day in the sun at the Postal Museum at the 1998-99 Federal duck stamp first day ceremony and the reopening of the Jeanette Rudy Duck Stamp Gallery on July 1. Now, the non-federal aspect of financing waterfowl hunting and conservation is the subject of a special exhibit of state, local and Indian reservation duck stamp issues that was inaugural at the Museum on July 4.
Following the federal waterfowl stamps, the two most popular series of waterfowl stamps among longtime collectors are undoubtedly those issued by California for Honey Lake and the Illinois Daily Usage stamps. The Honey Lake stamps are non-pictorial, while the Daily Usage stamps may be liberally described as semi-pictorial. Their appeal results less from their aesthetic qualities than from their usages, related history (both social and philatelic) and longevity.
For 1995 Scott has expanded the hunting permit section of this catalogue to include state, local and tribal waterfowl stamps. One of the main purposes of the state waterfowl stamp programs has been to generate revenue for waterfowl conservation and restoration projects. In addition, waterfowl stamps validate hunting licenses and often serve as a control to limit the harvest within a specific geographical area.
The purpose of this article, the second of two discussing the stamps used on waterfowl management areas in California and Illinois, is to tell the story of the Illinois Daily Usage stamps. In Illinois, as in California, a number of such areas were developed in the 1940s and 1950s. In contrast to the situation in California, waterfowl depredations to agricultural crops did not serve as a major stimulus for these projects. The Illinois Department of Conservation (IDOC) had two priorities at this time. The first was to provide additional food and refuge for the large population of Canada geese that annually winters in the state. The second was to provide regulated public shooting grounds for sportsmen who could not afford to belong to private hunting clubs.
Editor’s note. Long gone are the days when pioneer exhibitors furnished only a title, then presented their material for judging. Eventually an explanatory title page became de rigeur, later an additional “second title page” giving an outline and highlights. The latter has lately morphed into a multi-page synopsis. All this is consistent with the realization that a key to successful exhibiting is facilitating the judge’s’ understanding of your material so as to maximize their limited time in front of the frames. The following pages provide an informative “inside look” at the explanatory material one pair of revenue exhibitors furnished to further this process. The results are shown in Figures 1a, b and c.
Only two exhibits from throughout the world are selected to be included in the rarity vault of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.. each year, and the current exhibit. State, Local and Tribal Waterfowl Stamps, assembled by David R. Torre, has been extended until the middle of January 1999.
Fish and game philately lost one of its most prominent collectors during September of 1994. Elmore Vanderford passed away in his sleep at his long-time residence in Sacramento California. Known better as E. L. Vanderford or simply “Van” in philatelic circles, he had suffered from a variety of illnesses in recent years, including a chronic heart condition and asthma. These robbed him of much of his energy and time. For this reason he recently was unable to keep up the voluminous correspondence that had maintained faithfully for over 30 years. Although alternating between good days and bad, he was able to derive a great deal of enjoyment and personal satisfaction from the fish and game renaissance of the 1990s. For this, the author will be forever grateful.
An overprint on a stamp frequently stimulates special interest on the part of collectors. The overprint, be it rubber-stamped or printed, is an additional element to be appreciated and studied. Typesetting varieties may be discovered and in examples derived from a rubber stamp in particular, different colors of ink may have been used. More intriguing is the idea that an overprint often implies a usage that is out of the ordinary as compared to that for which regular stamps were issued. An above average rarity factor may be inferred from an overprinted stamp, if it is assumed that the usage was so limited as to preclude a separate stamp from being printed for it.
Information about stamps issued by Indian Reservations in South Dakota was first published in revenue publications in the early 1960s. (Strock) Since then, a relatively small group of state revenue and fish and game collectors have avidly pursued these paper artifacts. As the early tribal stamps feature printed text only, they may not appear especially attractive in comparison to many of the classic pictorial fish and game stamps issued during this period (see Figure 1). Despite this fact, they have held a special interest for many collectors as they link stamp collecting with the study of Native American culture. The choice on the part of tribal governments to adopt the system of stamps and licenses previously developed by the federal and state governments represent an effort on the part of the Indian peoples to assimilate with an American institution of special interest to revenue collectors. Collections that include these interesting stamps serve to document this accomplishment.
In 1989, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe issued the first pictorial Indian Reservation fish and game stamps in the United States. The stamps featured black and white photographs of deer, geese, pheasants and prairie dogs with red serial numbers (see Figure 1). The Tribe issued similar stamps in 1990. Following a three-year hiatus, the Tribe recently resumed their stamp program. Semi-pictorial stamps were issued for the fall seasons of 1994 and pictorial stamps, similar to those issued in 1989 and 1990, are being issued in 1995.