Federal Blog Posts
On March 16, 1934 President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act into law. The primary purpose of this Act was to generate badly needed funding for waterfowl restoration and conservation purposes. The main feature of the Act produced colorful historical artifacts directly tied to waterfowl conservation (the stamps themselves) and provided the origin for the hobby that we enjoy today – the collecting of waterfowl stamps and fish and game stamps in general.
While archival material and stamps affixed to documents from August can be difficult to acquire, there are many other options for collecting the 1934-35 federal waterfowl stamp. This is due to the law prohibiting the sale of unused stamps being changed. For a two week period prior to the stamps being withdrawn from sale and destroyed, June 30, 1935, anyone was allowed to buy unused 1934-35 federal waterfowl stamps in singles, blocks, plate blocks or sheets.
One of the biggest trends over the last twenty years is to collect federal waterfowl stamps used on license. The motivation behind this method of collecting is the desire to document the role the stamps have played in the license and stamp system. Federal waterfowl stamps fall under the umbrella of revenue stamps. Their primary purpose is to generate a fee from hunters. Once the fee has been paid, the stamp itself serves as a colorful receipt that conveys the rights to hunt waterfowl (within the rules and regulations established for that particular year and sometimes for a specific area).
One of the most popular methods of collecting federal waterfowl stamp usages is to collect stamps affixed to Form 3333. By far and away the most readily available are from 1934-35, as this was the only year the card was actually required to be used. I would estimate there are more 1934-35 Form 3333 usages in collections today than all other years combined. One collector who specializes in 1934-35 Form 3333 usages has told me he has over 200 alone. Although the intended use of Form 3333 became obsolete starting with the 1935-36 issue (when hunters were required to sign their stamp across the face), a surprisingly large number of Post Offices continued to use the form in subsequent years.
One of the more intriguing ways of collecting federal waterfowl stamps is to acquire stamps signed by the artist who designed the original artwork. In this way, the miniature piece of art is signed like a larger painting or print. Some advanced collectors attempt to acquire the larger signed original sketches and paintings and a much greater number collect what are commonly known as signed limited edition prints. In any form, a piece bearing a signature done by the artist's own hand has the ability to transcend the inanimate and provide an intimate connection for the collector.
Yes, I know, I am one of the foremost persons crusading to change the way we refer to to these stamps and make it waterfowl rather than duck stamps. Waterfowl stamps is undeniably more correct, as the stamps have portrayed – and conveyed the right to harvest – various other waterfowl species besides ducks.
Aside from the proofs, singles, plate number blocks and sheets that we discussed in Part One, what else can be added to a specialized collection of (in this case) the 1941-42 federal waterfowl stamp (RW8)? A lot of things that can help to provide context and make the story more interesting – and some pieces that are just enjoyable to look at.
In todays post, we will begin to explore artist signed stamps and prints. Once a mainstay of the market, artist signed material went a little soft during the great recession. However, if the results from Siegel's (March 2016) Bill Webster sale are any indication – artist signed stamps and prints may be poised for a huge comeback.
As we learned in Part One, the medium Edwin Kalmbach chose for his original artwork in 1941 was tempera with a black and white wash. For most collectors, the closest we can get to enjoying our favorite artists' work is through a print copied from the original art and reproduced in an edition size that was (usually) predetermined by the artist. These are better known today as limited edition prints.
Today we will start to look at the life of Walter Alois Weber, a very talented artist who holds the distinction of becoming the first person to design more than one federal waterfowl stamp. In the process, Walter was the winner of the first ever federal duck stamp contest, held in 1949.
In today's post, we shall continue our survey of the 1944-45 federal waterfowl stamp – the first of two federal stamps featuring artwork by Walter. A. Weber. When we get to usages, I shall introduce an exciting new discovery that is relevant to our story and then provide an inside look at the prints made for the 1944-45 federal stamp.
We continue our story about Walter Weber by first taking a look at two of the paintings he had published in The National Geographic Magazine, in 1949 and 1950 – around the same time he painted his winning federal duck stamp entry. It is for this exquisite wildlife art that Walter is, perhaps, best remembered.
In today's conclusion to our series about Walter Alois Weber, winner of the first federal duck stamp contest, we shall start by looking at two errors that occurred when printing the 1950-51 stamp. Then we will see how Alvin Broholm once again plays into our story, look at some amazing usages and finish the fish and game portion of this post with a discussion of the prints that were made of Walter's winning entry. For many readers, one final surprise awaits you.
Every hobby has its own folklore, often involving legendary figures in key roles. Fish and game lore is no different. The story I have chosen to begin telling today involves four of our greatest protagonists and will show how their lives became entwined to produce one of the most recognizable images in our hobby.
In todays post, I will talk about Ding Darling and reveal his role in our story. Much has been written about Darling and I will attempt to summarize the literature and hopefully add a few insights not readily found elsewhere. When discussing Darling's early life, many writers point to a series of events that are seen as formative in his life.
In todays post, I will talk about the legendary wildlife artist Maynard Reece. Still strong and sharp at 96 years of age, Maynard consented to a series of interviews this past week and through these, I gained some insights for our story. As with Ding Darling, there have been numerous accounts written about Maynard's life and, once again, I found the details often varied. Maynard and his son, Brad, were kind enough to clarify many of these points for me.
Today I will talk about King Buck, arguably one the most famous sporting dogs that ever lived and certainly the most important dog in the fish and game hobby. Then, in the culmination of our story, we will see how the iconic 1959-60 federal waterfowl stamp came into being. In a surprising narrative – and perhaps for the first time – Maynard Reece reveals the exact sequence of events that led to a once in a lifetime encounter.
Today we shall start to look at the career of Les Kouba, one of the more memorable artists from a state which has heavily influenced the wildlife art scene since the late 1930s. Les was not a stereotypical artist. They say that the artist's mind generally makes for a poor businessmen; such was not the case with Les Kouba.
When we last left off, Les Kouba had recently opened American Wildlife Art Galleries and was enjoying all that 1950s post-war prosperity had to offer a talented, hard-working individual with a head for business. By 1957, Les had already been receiving notices from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for several years informing him about the annual federal duck stamp art contest.
In today's post we shall continue discussing the career of Les Kouba. We will learn about his relationship with fellow artist Edward Morris and see more of how prominently Cornelius Bartels figured into the careers of both men.
Today we shall take a detailed look at the 1967-68 federal duck stamp and print. This was Les Kouba's second federal win and it also happens to be one of my favorite duck stamps. For Les, the stamp cemented his status as one of the most influential artists in the duck stamp program's history.
Les Kouba's career did not slow down after winning his second federal duck stamp contest in 1966, far from it. There was, however, a conscious reduction in his commercial advertising output. After achieving national fame as a two-time duck stamp winner, Les would enjoy much success in the 1970s and 1980s while focussing on his wildlife art.
We are back from our trip and I am ready to provide you with an insider’s look at the Bill Webster Sale, held at the Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York on Friday, March March 18, 2016. First, I am happy to inform everyone that for the second consecutive year, a fish and game exhibit…
In this, the second of three parts providing an inside view from the Bill Webster sale, we shall focus on the federal waterfowl stamp prints. This was the most organized part of Bill’s collection and prior to the sale I had always thought that Bill and I were the only two collectors to acquire one print…
In part three of our inside view of the Bill Webster sale, we shall focus on the federal waterfowl stamps. This session of the auction proved to be quite an experience for all who participated; for myself it was at various times exciting, frustrating, humbling and – ultimately – encouraging and heartening. When discussing the prints session in part two of…
The award winning documentary film by Brian Davis, The Million Dollar Duck, is set to air on Animal Planet on Wednesday, September 14 at 9 PM EST. Animal Planet can be found on the Discovery Channel. The film follows six artists in their journey to capture the ultimate prize in wildlife art – winning the federal duck stamp contest.
The annual federal duck stamp art contest was held this past weekend at the Academy of Sciences in downtown Philadelphia. At noon on Saturday, James Hautman was declared the winner for the fifth time, tying him with his brother, Joseph, whose art is featured on the 2016-17 stamp.
The annual federal duck stamp art contest was held this weekend at the Noel Fine Arts Center, located on the University of Wisconsin campus at Stevens Point. The event was co-hosted by the College of Natural Resources and the College of Fine Arts and Communications. By all accounts, the organizing committee did a fabulous job…
Introductory Note: As we get closer to our official launch, today’s blog marks an exciting milestone in the development of the Waterfowl Stamps and More website – a blog post created entirely by someone other than David Torre. This post was provided by Richard Prager and it relates his experience serving as a judge at…
Saturday was a new day; same morning routine. However, this day had a more serious tone to it. Breakfast in the hotel with the same crew and then over to the Noel Fine Arts Center to preview the remaining 64 entries at 8am. The 64 remaining entries were of higher overall quality and the judges…