1967 - 1981 N. Dakota Small Game Stamps
The North Dakota small game stamp series is one of the largest state series required to hunt waterfowl in the U.S. As such, they are one of the cornerstones of the waterfowl stamp collecting hobby. The series is full of interesting varieties which collectors love and is particularly suited for research and exhibiting.
North Dakota stamps were required to hunt waterfowl, in addition to other types of small game starting in 1967. Over the years the wording on the stamps has varied somewhat. Starting in 1981, an additional habitat component was included in the stamp and they were labeled "Small Game and Habitat".
Separate stamps were issued for resident and non resident hunters through 1980. Starting in 1981, an additional (reduced fee) stamp was added for resident youths. Through 1981 all North Dakota small game stamps were non pictorial and they comprise this gallery.
All resident and resident youth stamps in this gallery were printed and issued in booklet panes of five (1 x 5) with a tab at the top. 1967 through 1970 non resident stamps were printed and issued in the same format. Staple holes in non resident stamps from 1968 and 1969 are normal and not a fault, as they were issued stapled to a non resident hunting general hunting license.
It should be noted that very few collectors knew about the non resident stamps for several years and unused examples from 1967 (especially) through 1973 are difficult to acquire.
With the exception of 1973, non resident stamps issued through 1981 were die cut self adhesives with pressure sensitive gum. By 1976 (and maybe as early as 1974) they were issued se-tenant with non resident waterfowl stamps on the first page of a booklet that included a variety of tags and a license.
The 1973 non resident stamp is unique, perhaps literally and figuratively, as I am aware of one recorded example in unused condition that was formerly in the E.L. Vanderford collection. The stamp is rouletted on the top and left sides, implying the format was larger than a pane of five and probably ten.
There are two types of 1981 non resident stamps. Type I has a lettering font that is thinner below the serial number than above. In Type II stamps (higher serial number range) use the same font above and below the serial number.
1982 - 2001 N. Dakota Small Game Stamps
In 1982, an enterprising midwestern print dealer approached the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and proposed they allow the company to print their resident stamps with waterfowl artwork in full color.
As part of the deal, the print dealer was allowed to retain a large number (thousands) of unused stamps, ostensibly to be packaged with future print sales and, perhaps, be signed by the artist.
The deal was struck and North Dakota resident small game and habitat stamps through 1988 were pictorial. Starting in 1989, the habitat component was removed from the resident small game stamps and through 2001 the stamps remained pictorial. Starting in 2002, the stamps came full circle and once more became non pictorial.
From 1982 through 2001, there were two types of pictorial stamps. Type I was printed in booklet panes of five (1 x 5) with a tab at the top and was sold by the License Section in Bismarck and distributed to venders throughout the state for sale to hunters. These have become commonly known as hunter type stamps.
Type II stamps were printed in large sheets with selvage all the way around, ensuring that every stamp would have perforations on all four sides. It was determined by the print dealers that this was preferred by collectors. These collector type stamps were only available through the main office in Bismarck and through print, wildlife art and some stamp dealers.
Resident youth stamps were discontinued following the 1992-93 seasons. Non resident stamps continued to be die cut through 1984-85. From 1985-86 through 1995-96 they were issued se-tenant with non resident general game and non resident waterfowl stamps, stapled through an attached tab to a non resident fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate.
From 1992-93 through 1995-96, the non resident small game stamps were issued in a second se-tenant format with the non resident general game stamp only. From 1994-95 through 2001-02, the non resident stamps were issued in booklet panes of five (1 x 5) with a tab at the top.
Following the 2001-02 seasons, the format for the non resident small game stamps was changed yet again and I was told by the License Supervisor they were no longer required to hunt waterfowl.
Alaska Sport Fishing Stamps
In 1951, Alaska (along with Puerto Rico) became the first U.S. territory to use stamps to validate hunting or fishing licenses. Alaska printed and issued separate sport fishing stamps for residents and non residents. Native Americans were not required to purchase the stamps.
For 1952-53, Alaska re-used remainders from the first year, by overprinting the "Fiscal Year Ending 1952" year date with a rubber stamp that was intended to obscure "1952" and print "1953" beneath it. The stamps issued in 1952-53 also included a partial hole punch, presumably to indicate the stamps were remainders.
The stamps issued to non residents in the first two years are difficult to acquire and in the days of the pioneer fish and game collectors, they attained iconic status in the hobby. Over the last thirty years a few more have turned up but they remain in high demand.
All of the Alaska sport fishing stamps through 1956-57 were printed in booklet panes of four (2 x 2) with a tab at the left. Five panes were stapled together between printed covers to form a booklet.
In 1955-56 and 1956-57 the prefix "No" was added to the serial numbers. For both years, there are two types of resident and non resident stamps. Type I stamps (the two on the left side of the pane) have a "." under the "o" in "No". Type II (the two stamps on the right side) have a "-" under the "o".
A seven day Visitor's Special Sport Fishing stamp was issued in 1957-58 and combination hunting and sport fishing stamps for 1957-58 and 1958-59. For decades the 1958-59 combination stamp in unused condition was one of the hobby's great rarities. Over the last 20 years, quantities of unused remainders of both of the combination stamps have entered the collector market.
Nebraska Pictorial Hunting & Fishing Licenses
The Pictorial hunting and fishing licenses issued by Nebraska have always been sought after by collectors, and are perhaps second in popularity only to the California pictorial licenses they were modeled after.
The first Nebraska license to include an illustration was issued for a portion of the 1911 seasons. It is very rare and not included in this gallery. For 1912, Nebraska issued a license with the illustration printed with blue ink. This was the only time Nebraska licenses from the pictorial period were printed in a color of ink other than black.
The best of the Nebraska licenses artistically, including 1912, 1913 and 1915, were produced by the highly regarded Klopp & Bartlett Printing and Lithographing Company of Omaha, Nebraska.
It is interesting to note that in 1912 Klopp & Bartlett also printed the revised edition of one of the most important ornithology references of all time, The Color Key to North American Birds, by Frank M. Chapman, Curator of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History.
Two separate pictorial license series were issued by Nebraska; Resident Licenses to Fish and Hunt from 1911 through 1929 and Resident Licenses to Trap from 1920 through 1929. Trapping licenses are much more difficult for collectors to acquire.
Starting in 1930, Nebraska once again followed California's lead and their licenses featured the state seal instead of fishing, hunting and trapping illustrations.
Combination game laws and license holders are popular with collectors, especially in the state of Nebraska, so I have chosen to include some representative examples in this gallery.
1964 - 1967 Idaho Fishing Stamps
Idaho first issued undated fishing license stamps for the 1964 season. The die cut self adhesives are very similar to the California hunting and fishing license validating stamps issued during this same period.
In fact, Idaho requested advice from the California Department of Fish and Game about printing and issuing these stamps. Acting on a tip from a contact in the California DFG, pioneer fish and game collector E.L. Vanderford learned about the first Idaho stamps and purchased one unused example of each type for his collection.
Starting in 1965, the stamps had the year of validity printed on them. Stamps that were issued from 1964 through 1966 were printed with several lines of instructive text in the center and this is considered to be the classic period for the series.
It took several years for most collectors to learn about the stamps. Therefore, unused Idaho fishing stamps prior to 1967 are very difficult to acquire.
Tennessee Big Game Stamps
Tennessee first issued big game stamps for the 1955-56 season and the series was discontinued after only four years. However, the stamps are a collector's dream, with the last three being over-sized and all were beautifully designed by artist Worth B. Carnahan.
The first issue, as is often the case, was unknown to all but a few collectors so unused examples are difficult to acquire. The copy shown in this gallery was formerly in the Les Lebo collection.
For 1956-57, two types of stamps were printed and issued. Type I was imperforate and printed in bright blue ink with a bright red serial number. Examples of this stamp can be differentiated from trial color proofs by the lack of the initials W.B.C., for Worth B. Carnahan, on the reverse. Carnahan initialed all of the Tennessee big game and trout stamp proofs that he designed.
The 1957-58 stamp, featuring a large turkey in flight, is a favorite among collectors specializing in turkey hunting license stamps.
Curtis Michigan Trout Sheets
David Curtis was a fish and game stamp collector and dealer who lived in Killeen, Texas. I met David in the late 1970s, after he had retired from the army at Fort Hood and was working for the Postal Service in nearby Killen. Prior to retiring, David had served in Vietnam where he became a highly decorated war hero and rose to the rank of senior sergeant in the U.S. Army.
My wife and I stayed with David in Killeen and the walls of his office were covered with medals and citations, including the purple heart. Not many collectors know that in battle, David was a man who selflessly risked his life, often venturing into heavy fire to carry wounded soldiers to safety. While saving others, David was seriously wounded himself on more than one occasion.
Along with Barry Porter in Tennessee, David played an important role in the development of the fish and game stamp market. In the years before the internet, Curtis painstakingly put together lists of stamps he bought and sold and did business primarily through the mail. Along with Porter, he helped many collectors to get started and build their collections.
David also had an advanced personal collection of fish and game stamps, much of which I purchased in the late 1980s when he became more interested in collecting Star Trek memorabilia.
The fishing stamp part of the collection was especially strong and included the Michigan trout stamp sheets shown in this gallery. Although a quantity of 1948 to 1963 Michigan trout sheets came into the collector market in the early 1980s (when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources conducted a house cleaning operation), the set belonging to David was one of the few that was not broken up for singles.
South Dakota Non Resident Waterfowl Stamps
South Dakota first began requiring non resident waterfowl hunters to purchase these stamps in 1970. A portion of the stamps were rubber stamped with a number or unit designation to control the number of persons allowed to hunt within a particular area or county each season.
Ed Neilson, former License Section Supervisor for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, told me that the un-overprinted stamps were regularly issued for hunting areas of the state aside from the controlled areas or units.
A relatively small sampling of used South Dakota non resident waterfowl stamps has been recorded. Nearly all have been rubber stamped. Those that were not rubber stamped had the area or unit designation applied with a ball point pen. In addition, all used copies have the had the month(s) and days of validity hole-punched. The potential for discovering newly recorded overprints on these stamps is still fairly high and this is a fertile field for collectors.
There were two major errors in this series, both involving serial numbers missing. One pane of five 1970 stamps was discovered with the serial numbers completely missing and two panes of 1983 stamps were discovered with the printed serial numbers missing and having the serial numbers rubber stamped in black ink.
For 1985, records show that all but 14 of the stamps that were printed were sold to hunters.Therefore, unused examples of this stamp are highly sought by collectors and can be difficult to acquire.
California Fishing License Stamps
NO FEE Overprints
California began issuing fishing license stamps in 1958, as a way to obtain additional revenue to fund primarily habitat improvement and artificial trout propagation. The 1958 stamp was designed by staff artist Paul Johnson and featured a golden trout, the California state fish. One stamp was required to fish for steelhead and warm water species in inland waters except trout or frogs and two stamps if they wanted to fish for trout or take frogs.
The stamp requirement seemed a fair way to spread the cost of preserving the state's wildlife resources among those who stood to benefit the most – the state's sportsmen. At the same time, lawmakers realized there were financially disadvantaged segments of the sporting population that would be hard pressed to support such a program.
Therefore, Assembly Bill 616 provided that both a license and a pair of stamps were to be issued free of charge to four classifications of California residents. These included any persons receiving aid to the aged under the provisions of the Old Age Security Law; every veteran having a 70% or greater disability; every blind person with central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye and any Indian residing in the state.
The use of overprints on stamps has long fascinated collectors. There are typesetting varieties and, if the overprint is rubber stamped as in the case of the California NO FEE stamps, different colors of ink to be discovered and collected. For these reasons, the stamps in this gallery are very popular with advanced collectors.
1975 -1978 Fort Peck Reservation
Hunting and Fishing Stamps
The Fort Peck Indian Reservation is among the most remote in the continental U.S. It is located in northeastern Montana, near the Canadian border. For this reason, it has historically been very difficult for collectors to acquire examples of their stamps.
The earliest recorded stamps from Fort Peck were issued in 1975; one for game birds and one for fishing. However, I am fairly certain both types of stamps were issued in 1973 and possibly even earlier.
The stamps were printed in panes of ten (5 x 2) with a tab at the left. Two carbon copies were affixed to the tab behind the stamps. Pioneer revenue collector and dealer Bert Hubbard showed me carbon copies for 1973 bird and fishing stamps and I believe he sold the actual stamps in one of his famous approval packets sometime during in the 1970s. If anyone knows the whereabouts of these stamps I would like to obtain scans for this gallery.
The short-lived series features other rarities, with one pane of ten 1976 bird stamps stamps discovered with double impressions and two sets of 1976 bird panes discovered with duplicate serial numbers. For decades only ten 1977 bird stamps were known – all in the same complete pane. The pane was eventually broken.
It is believed that the bird and fishing stamps issued in 1978 were used for many subsequent years as, for the first time, the year of validity was not printed on the stamps.