Today’s post features an update on Will and Abby Csaplar’s revised exhibit, A License and Stamp System for Waterfowl Conservation in the 20th Century U.S. The exhibit will be shown at Finlandia 2017, an international stamp exhibition in Tampere, Finland from May 25-28. Tampere is located 99 miles north of Helsinki and is the second most populated urban area (364,000) after the capital city. It is also the most populated inland city in all of Scandinavia (see Figures 1 and 2).
The reason the show will be held in Tampere, rather than Helsinki, is because Tampere is home to the Finnish National Postal Museum and they are sponsoring the show. This will be the first time a fish and game stamp exhibit has been shown outside of the United States since my second one, U.S. Fish and Game Stamps: 1960 – 1979 was shown at Philanippon ’01, held in Tokyo in 2001.
Many of us in the hobby have enjoyed followed the Csaplar’s exhibit while it was shown in this country and we have high hopes the exhibit will continue to do well as it makes its first stop on a scheduled four-year international tour.
Will and Abby last showed the exhibit at World Stamp Show New York 2016. It was their first international competition. The exhibit was well received by the jury and was awarded a Gold Medal with Felicitations. The latter is seldom awarded (at the discretion of the jury) to “those exhibits demonstrating outstanding research or originality” – quite an auspicious start at the international level, to say the least!
In international competition, the first time an exhibitor is allowed a maximum of five frames. If they are fortunate enough to be awarded a Large Vermeil (or higher), they are then required to show their exhibit in eight frames each time thereafter, with no exceptions.
It is often difficult for exhibitors to get a Large Vermeil on their first attempt and a Gold is truly an extraordinary accomplishment. Not only did it not happen to me, it took five attempts before I was awarded my first international Gold Medal (at Indepex ’97, held in New Delhi). The problem in going to eight frames is that many international judges have demonstrated the tendancy to be suspicious of “padding” the first few times a new exhibit expands in size.
This is especially the case (overseas) for U.S. revenue exhibits, as the judges are more likely to be unfamiliar with our material. For this reason, it is sometimes not only difficult to improve upon your initial score – there have been many cases where exhibits have actually dropped a medal level the first time they were shown in eight frames.
Knowing that international exhibiting can be challenging – and facing the prospect of showing in eight frames for the first time outside of the U.S. – the Csaplars started looking to add some significant new pieces to include when expanding for Finlandia 2017.
1943 Marion County Duck Stamp
Following New York 2016, Will and Abby were incredibly fortunate (good Karma?) and were able to make their most significant acquisition to date – the long rumored second copy of Marion County’s 1943 Duck Stamp (see Figure 3).
The 1943 Marion County stamp is arguably the most important in the fish and game hobby, owing to the fact it was the first in the world to bear the inscription “Duck Stamp”. This was the third Marion County stamp issued for waterfowl hunting (overall) and 250 were printed. Of these, only 60 were sold – all by Jerry Mulliken from his office out by the lake (see Figure 4).
Prior to last year, only one example had been recorded. Originally in the Bellinghausen collection, the discovery copy was one of the cornerstones of my own Classic State and Local Fish and Game Stamps. I started hearing rumors of a second copy shortly after mine was displayed at the National Postal Museum in 1998-99.
I was able to track the stamp’s whereabouts to a collector in central Kansas. However, the person was not interested in selling and not even willing to provide a photocopy for verification purposes. Over the years, numerous attempts at learning more about the stamp met with the same results. I eventually came to doubt its existence.
After we publicized the Csaplar’s New York success in a post on this website, the owner contacted me. It was the first time we had spoke in over a decade. I explained that Will and Abby were just beginning to exhibit internationally and that the stamp would be of tremendous value to the exhibit. Further, if the exhibit continued to do well it would likely bring much needed positive attention to our niche area of the hobby.
Within two weeks, the Csaplars had acquired the stamp for an undisclosed amount (believed to be a world record for a duck or fish and game stamp). The previous owner wishes to remain anonymous.
1952 Illinois Daly Usage Stamp
For those of you who read the post on World Stamp Show New York 2016, you will remember that I was able to purchase two great rarities at the show. This included the second recorded example of a 1952 Illinois Daily Usage Stamp for ducks or geese. As I already had the other (discovery) copy in my collection, I was happy to work out a deal with the Csaplars enabling them to add one of the stamps to their exhibit.
As told in The Illinois Daily Usage Stamps, the stamps were used at the public hunting grounds which operated on a (daily) permit basis. These included legendary hunting areas like Rice Lake, Horseshoe Lake and union County. Here the stamps served as an integral part of the permit system; they acted as a control to limit the number of hunters to the site’s daily capacity, they provided evidence the appropriate fees were paid and they validated the hunter’s permits for the days hunt. Following the end of the season, they were also available as an auditing device.
It was not all that long ago, perhaps twenty years, when no Illinois Daily Usage Stamps had been recorded from either 1951, 1952, 1954 or 1955. In Finland, the Csaplar’s exhibit will feature a stamp from each of these years and this will be – without question – the most complete assemblage of these fish and game rarities ever shown.
The willingness on the part of the Csaplars to make selections from their tremendous collection available for everyone to enjoy and study is greatly appreciated by all of us in the hobby. In the case of the early Illinois stamps, if not for the Csaplar’s exhibit, collectors might go their entire life without having the opportunity to view even a single stamp, up close and in person.
I allowed Will and Abby to purchase the discovery copy, as it is the one pictured in several places on this website and we thought the provenance may prove of some value to the exhibit (see Figure 5).
1991 California Lifetime Hunting Stamp
Very little is known about the early California Lifetime Hunting Licenses and Stamps. The item here was originally part of the collection belonging to longtime National Duck Stamp Collectors Society President Ira Cotton. Ira told me that he purchased it on Ebay, sometime in 2013.
California began regularly offering lifetime licenses and stamps to “dedicated Hunters and anglers” in 1996. In general, the younger the sportsman, the higher the fee. This fee structure was obviously based on estimated utility. However, there were generous discounts provide to the very young and also the elderly.
California experimented with this system by issuing a very limited (unknown) number of lifetime licenses and stamps as early as 1991. I acquired this interesting piece from Ira in a trade for a very rare fish and game stamp he coveted and then kept it in my own collection until the Csaplars inquired about unusual items they might add to their upcoming exhibit in Finland. We then worked out a trade (see Figure 6).
1902 Indiana Hunter’s License
Most serious license collectors are aware that Indiana first required Hunters to purchase a general hunting license starting in 1903. No so well known is the fact that this event was preceded by the issuance of a hunting license valid for a limited 41 day period (October 1 – November 10) in 1902.
The experimental license was valid for “squirrels, wild duck and other waterfowl”. As it is rare and esoteric (once again, two examples recorded) and, perhaps most important, the earliest license recorded to specify waterfowl, it was an obvious choice to include in the Csaplar’s Pre-Stamp (forerunner) Chapter.
I located a collector who had one – but he did not want to sell it for any price. After many months of negotiations culminating in five-way trade, the Csaplars were finally able to acquire the piece for their exhibit (see Figure 7).
1943 Federal Waterfowl Sketch
The Csaplar’s were also able make a trade with another advanced collector to improve the exhibit’s Federal Chapter. It is a preliminary sketch done by Walter Bohl, who created the original artwork for the 1943-44 federal waterfowl stamp.
Original art is a welcome addition to a traditional exhibit, as it adds interest and variety to the production material more typically included, essays and proofs.
Pencil sketches were frequently utilized by artists to render their initial conceptualization prior to the more laborious wash or equivalent “finished product”. What makes this piece so fascinating is that is clearly shows Bohl originally had the wood ducks flying toward the right – opposite to the actual stamp design (see Figure 8).
Getting Ready for Finlandia 2017
So Far, I have informally outlined some of the more important additions the Csaplar’s have made to their exhibit since it was last shown in New York. Both national and international stamp shows allow for a more formal (brief) Synopsis, wherein the exhibitor provides information that is considered essential for the judges to understand (and score) their exhibit.
In the Synopsis, the exhibitor should 1) state the title of the exhibit; 2) speak to the importance of the exhibit (in my opinion, this can be critical when exhibiting internationally); 3) explain how and why the exhibit is organized the way it is shown and 4) list the top ten key items so that the judges can do their research in advance (see Figure 9).
It is imperative to understand the judges have a tremendous amount of work to do to prepare for a large show. Once they are standing in front of your frames – they have relatively little time for new evaluation. It behooves the exhibitor to provide as much information as possible well in advance of the exhibition.
In this exceptional case, as the Csaplars managed to acquire arguably the most important item in their field prior to Finlandia 2017. Therefore, it was appropriate to 1) bring this to the judges attention in the Synopsis and 2) emphasize the point by drawing analogies with other worldwide rarities they were no doubt more familiar with.
The Future is Here Now
In a precedent setting move, Finlandia 2017 made an (optional) request for a digital copy of all exhibits (to be delivered a month in advance). To my knowledge, this is a first for international exhibiting and likely a harbinger of things to come in this age of rapidly increasing technology.
For the dedicated judge (and one who has the time) this represents the “perfect world” scenario in terms of being able to evaluate an exhibit such as the Csaplars. Let’s face it, our material is often not as well known – or understood – by the majority of philatelists as, say, classic U.S. or European stamps and covers.
One of the goals of this website is to facilitate favorable change in this status quo. With the assistance of Will and abby Csaplar and other present and future fish and game stamp exhibitors – I feel confident that we can make a difference.
From everyone at Waterfowl Stamps and More, we wish the Csaplars continued success in Finland! You may now click here to view the revised eight frame international version of the Csaplar’s exhibit, A License and Stamp System for Waterfowl Conservation in the 20th Century U.S.