Over the past couple of months we have made many additions to the website: the federal waterfowl stamp catalogs have been revised and updated (to include the separate catalog for graded stamps); in response to an avalanche of requests following the post on Will Csaplar being awarded a second large gold medal in London – we have rescanned the exhibit in its current state (for those unaware, there have been numerous changes since it was shown in Finland in 2017); we have also added two First of State Duck Stamp Print galleries, along with many new PDFs and Flipbooks.
Federal Waterfowl Stamp Catalogs
Updating the federal catalogs primarily consisted of two operations: first, bringing the listings up to date, literally, through 2021-22 and second, adjusting the valuations to more accurately reflect market conditions.
With regard to the standard catalog, some of the early federal stamps saw modest increases in unused condition (see Figure 1), however, more significant changes occurred in the contemporary listings, starting around 1990 and continuing to date. Values for unused stamps from the last three decades showed increases across the board, reflecting a market where the demand for these issues has consistently outstripped the supply for such a period of time that we can fairly label it “a trend.”
This trend began about six or seven years ago and has picked up steam with the stamp collecting renaissance brought about, in large part, as a result of the COVID pandemic.
With regard to the graded catalog, the changes were quite mixed – with significant movement in both directions. This underscores the potentially volatile nature of a sub-niche market where the number of players, items and transactions are relatively few and far between compared to the mainstream.
The graded changes were such that we felt they deserved a breakdown providing numerous examples in this introduction, so that readers may come to their own conclusions as to whether they wish to consider this area:
RW5 in grade 95 increased from $1,250 to $1,750.
RW10 saw big increases in most of the higher grades (90 – 98).
RW14 in grade 100 increased from $900 to $1,750 (see Figure 2).
RW15 in grade 98 increased from $475 to $675.
RW23 in grade 100 increased from $1,100 to $3,500.
RW25 in grade 100 increased from $1,100 to $1,350.
RW26 in grade 90 increased from $140 to $190 and in grade 95 from $190 to $275.
RW27 in grade 90 increased from $105 to $160 and in grade 95 from $140 to $225.
RW28 showed substantial increases in grades 90 through 100 (see Figure 3).
RW29 in grade 90 increased from $115 to $160 and in grade 95 from $150 to $225.
RW30 in grade 90 increased from $105 to $150 and in grade 95 from $145 to $200.
RW37 in grade 90 increased from $80 to $135.
RW43 saw decreases across all grades to include grade 95 from $60 to $35.
RW45 showed substantial decreases across all grades, including grade 90 from $35 to $18 and grade 95 from $60 to $30.
RW46 in grade 90 decreased from $35 to $20 and in grade 95 from $60 to $30.
RW56 in grade 100 decreased from $650 to $450 (see Figure 4).
RW57 in grade 100 decreased from $500 to $300.
RW69 in grade 100 decreased from $250 to $175.
RW77 in grade 100 decreased from $400 to $200.
RW77b showed decreases in all grades.
RW80 showed increases in all grades (see Figure 5).
RW83, RW83b, RW84 and RW84b showed dramatic increases in all grades.
So there you have it; although from these results one can generalize that the market for earlier graded federal stamps (RW37 and before – or those issued prior to the end of the Vietnam War) remains very strong while the market for many of those issued after the war concluded, not so much… potential players should also have gained an understanding – this is not an area for the faint-of-heart.
To be taken to the standard Catalog of Federal Waterfowl Stamps, click here.
To be taken to the graded Catalog of Federal Waterfowl Stamps, click here.
New Csaplar Exhibit Gallery
It is with a tremendous sense of pride that we are able to share with everyone unable to attend the recent 2022 London International Stamp Exhibition a new, updated gallery which presents Will Csaplar’s exhibit exactly as it was shown there (see Figure 6).
For those unaware, Will’s superb exhibit, A License and Stamp System for Waterfowl Conservation in the 20th Century U.S., was awarded a second International Large Gold Medal (see Figure 7), following a similar honor at Bangkok 2018.
For the complete story on this amazing accomplishment, click here.
To be taken directly to the new exhibit gallery, click here.
To be taken to a very high quality PDF of the exhibit, click here.
First of State Duck Stamp Print Galleries
While the market for multicolored duck stamp prints (both federal and state) has been weak for a very long time now due to, in most cases, overly optimistic edition sizes which resulted in a glut on the market that was exposed by the advent of Ebay in the 1990s, the same cannot be said for many of the “first of state” prints issued in the 1970s – those which had print runs totaling 500-600 prints.
These include California (1971), Iowa (1972, see Figure 8), Maryland (1974), Massachusetts (1974), Illinois (1975), Indiana (1976), Michigan (1976), Mississippi (1976, see Figure 9) and South Dakota (1976).
The collecting of duck stamp prints is still very much alive and well, and the depressed print values – especially for those issued during and immediately after the Heyday and Post Heyday periods, when duck stamp and print collecting was at a fever pitch and print publishers, in the moment, manifestly misjudged future demand – is simply a matter of excess supply over and above adjusted real demand .
Publishers produced way too many extra prints to meet an expected level of future demand that never materialized; a calculated guess which was based, in large part, on a decade or two where the real demand was steadily increasing exponentially and, in hindsight, was inescapably unsustainable. Today we might refer to that period as a “bubble.”
The fact is, there are always new collectors desiring to collect state prints, whether it be the first print issued by the state in which they were born, currently live or have hunted – or even all of the prints by a favorite artist, from a particular state or the first print issued by many or all of the states.
Regardless, whenever the desire extends to those early first of state prints issued in the early to mid 1970s, before edition sizes increased exponentially, there still exists a considerable challenge factor – especially when trying to locate many of them in really nice condition.
As we at Waterfowl Stamps and More are beginning to focus more attention on pictorial state duck stamps and prints, we have introduced two new galleries for the First of State Duck Stamp Prints. Initially, it was our intention to reproduce all of the prints in high definition (600 dpi).
Unfortunately, after many attempts at building the gallery – we were faced with the fact that with the technology currently available – the gallery simply would not load in a reasonable amount of time, even at download speeds in excess of a gig.
Therefore, we rescanned the the entire group at 300 dpi and, while certainly not fast, a poll of users has found it to be acceptable and, as time goes on and technology improves, it will only get faster.
Then we made the decision to add a second gallery, featuring only the early prints (1971 – 1979) at 600 dpi for those who are willing to wait a while longer for higher quality image.
To see all 50 First of State Duck Stamp Prints at 300 dpi, click here.
To see the early (1971 – 1979) First of Ste Duck Stamp Prints at 600 dpi, click here.
New PDFs & Flipbooks
As Waterfowl Stamps and More’s mission statement for the website is to serve as a comprehensive educational resource, we are pleased that feedback consistently shows the PDFs to be one of the site’s most popular features. Recognizing the value for collectors and dealers to be able to print a hard copy of the digital information for their reference library – or to read while on a plane or someplace where a fast internet connection is not readily available – we have added many new ones to the list:
The Kansas Upland Game Bird Stamps first provides a comprehensive overview of the popular Kansas Quail Stamps (see Figure 10), the precursor series to the Upland stamps and one of the prettiest and most important series in the hobby (third earliest fish and game stamp series behind only the federal waterfowl stamps and the Pymatuning Waterfowl Stamps).
When the series ultimately reaches the Upland Game Bird stamps, themselves, readers will learn “the rest of the (quail stamp) story” and discover a number of fascinating printing errors and varieties (see figure 11).
1913 Hunting & Fishing Licenses in Historical Context has proven to be one of the all-time most popular blog series I have written. There are many days each month when the series still receives more “hits” than any other – many years after it was published!
The series starts out with an overview of hunting and fishing licenses issued in the U.S., whereby a periodic decline in printing quality is clearly evident following the decade spanning 1910 to 1920, which I state is the apex for license collectors (see Figure 12).
In Part One to the series, I include a short essay aimed at supporting my thesis that one of the main factors that stimulates us to collect anything (in this case pre-stamp hunting and fishing licenses) is, more often than not, “It is cool because it is so old.”
From there I postulate, “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.”
Which leads us to the meat of the series – taking a historical journey through the chosen year, 1913, and then illustrating as many licenses I could locate that were issued on or around the significant dates – allowing readers to quickly develop a better appreciation for just how “old” these artifacts are (see text below, along with Figures 13 and 14).
January 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.
The Maryland Big Game Stamps is a series about a stunning set of oversized stamps, which I chose to write about during the Spring of 2020. It was intended as a “show and tell” to provide a diversion or escape for everyone who was confined to their homes and emotionally grappling with the beginning stages of the pandemic.
In the preface, I stated my original intention of saving this particular series for a point down the road, when the website was more completely built-out, generating more traffic and could benefit a greater number of people…
“Then something occurred to me a week or so ago. As I observed the world around us changing so rapidly and the effect it was having on all of our lives, I realized – there may never be a better time than the present.”
The Maryland Big Game Stamps include some of the most exciting stamps in the hobby, so enjoy (see Figures 15 and 16).
Finally, we have the five-part series on Collecting Used Federal Duck Stamps. This extended series of posts was designed to serve a dual purpose. Initially, it was intended to serve as a counterpoint to the previous post, A Collector’s Quest For the Ultimate Federal Set.
A Collectors Quest focussed on collecting federal duck stamps in the best condition possible: unused, never hinged stamps graded 98 or 100 “Jumbo.” Such a pursuit represents tremendous challenges; first locating the stamps and then managing to pay for them. The fact of the matter is, this method of collecting is very expensive (see Figure 17).
While this is fine for collectors with considerable means, the primary goal of Collecting Used Federal Duck Stamps is to present an attractive alternative approach; pursuing a set of used federal ducks with very small, unobtrusive signatures. Taking advantage of this method, the collector is able to enjoy a similar challenge factor – at a fraction of the cost (see Figure 18):
The secondary purpose is to tell the story of collecting federal duck stamps and prints, in general; starting with the laws that established the federal duck stamp program in 1934 and subsequently, in 1935, required that the stamps be signed across their face by the hunter (see Figures 19 and 20).
The series goes on to trace the development of collecting duck stamps and prints as a hobby, with features on early duck stamp collectors; the collecting of limited edition “duck stamp prints” and how the closely related hobbies reinforced and benefitted each other; first federal duck stamp art contest; the result that WW2 and, especially, the Vietnam War had on the hobby; the effects of droughts; the rise of the “duck stamp dealers” and print publishers and the positive and negative effects various economic climates had on the hobby (see Figures 21, 22 and 23).
And, of course, you will find a lot images of really cool duck stamps – which were signed in a very small, unobtrusive manner by the hunters, out of respect for the (frequently) amazing duck stamp art (see Figures 24 – 27). So please, enjoy!
To be taken to the PDFs, click here.
To be taken to the Flipbooks, click here.
Bonus – Help Solve a Mystery
I acquired the button shown in Figure 28 from an advanced collector a few years ago (we are showing it greatly enlarged for your inspection). Ostensibly, it has the potential to be one of the most important and iconic pieces in the hobby. On the other hand, there is that old saying, “If it seems too good to be true…”
Therefore, before we include it in the upcoming Killer Thirteen Gallery, we are soliciting feedback in the way of any information readers may be able to supply. Opinions are welcome also!
What We have been able to determine so far (or not): We cannot find evidence of a state-sanctioned trapping season in Mississippi in 1933; that is an issue. As all Mississippi Trapping buttons are super rare and among the Holy Grail’s of the hobby – it is tempting to write it off as an incredibly good fake.
However, the printing – to include the lettering and numerals – is identical to the other Mississippi buttons produced and issued in 1933 (see Figure 29). In addition, the pin, itself, is identical to the one used by the venerable Bastion Brothers in Rochester, N.Y. during this same time period (the back of this button is missing the Bastion Bros paper insert and is, therefore, unmarked).
So far, our best guess is that it is a bona fide sample button produced by Bastion Bros for the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission for a proposed trapping season that, for some reason, never came about. Or, perhaps there actually was a season but we are unable to find a record of it. Can anyone help solve this mystery? If so, please drop us an email.