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. The latest known usage of a federal waterfowl stamp on Form 3333 is from 1955-56.
There have been many theories proposed for why this occurred. Those most often heard suggest that either 1) Postmasters in remote locations were simply “out of touch” and were not aware that use of the form had been discontinued and 2) that some Postmasters were not very diligent and did not bother to read all of their official correspondence. Either way, it is possible to generalize and state that seldom did later usages originate from Post Offices in highly populated cities or towns.
Collecting on Form 3333
There are many ways to approach collecting usages on Form 3333. Many collectors are satisfied with owning one example from the state in which they were born or the state in which they currently live. Other collectors find themselves captivated by the blue card and develop bigger ambitions. Perhaps the most common pursuit involves attempting to acquire one Form 3333 with a federal waterfowl stamp affixed from as many different states and territories as possible – ideally every state and territory that issued one.
Such collections usually consist predominantly of 1934-35 usages, either because they are more easily obtainable or because so many collectors favor Darling’s stamp. It is also a fact that later usages command a (sometimes substantial) premium. When attempting to acquire one example from every state and territory, one quickly discovers that about half of the collection can be readily acquired and the other half can be quite difficult. In general, the smaller the physical size of the state or territory in square miles and more specifically – the smaller the population at the time of issue – the more difficult a Form 3333 usage is to acquire.
Three of the keys to this type of collection are the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii and the state of Nevada (see Figures 1, 2 and 3). Alaska and Nevada had the smallest populations during 1934-35, with both being under 100,000. Hawaii is small in both size and population and as I have previously stated, only 137 federal waterfowl stamps were sold there during the 1934-35 season. The Hawaii usage is considered the Holy Grail for collectors of federal waterfowl stamps on Form 3333.
Collectors always seek Form 3333 usages from states that are small in size, such as Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island (see Figures 4, 5 and 6). It should be noted that Form 3333 usages from southern states are also very desirable and can be very difficult to acquire. I have heard from many long time collectors that hunters in southern states often did not bother to to purchase a stamp (or a license for that matter) prior to hunting for waterfowl.
Another method of collecting Form 3333 usages is to attempt to acquire as many different types of cancellations on the card as possible. Some of the more difficult cancellations are Division of Finance (see Figure 7), General Delivery, and Stamp Section and Stamp Window (see Figures 8 and 9).
Perhaps the next most popular method of collecting Form 3333 usages is to attempt to acquire an example from as many different years as possible. This is also the most challenging, as there are relatively few Form 3333 usages in collections today that were issued after 1934-35. Remember, the form was by then obsolete and should not have been used at all. A fair number have been recorded, however, and I am aware of at least one example from every year through 1948-49 as well as 1955-56. In general, the farther removed from 1934-35 (the later the usage), the more difficult to acquire and the greater the premium.