Skip to content

Happy New Year and the Introduction to Killer Eleven

First, we would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and health, happiness and success in 2019. This past year was an eventful one for collectors of fish and game stamps, highlighted by the website’s Federal Home Page expansion and Will Csaplar’s Large Gold Medal in Bangkok. Now we may all look forward to what the new year has in store for us.

The purpose of today’s post is to introduce Killer Eleven. Highlighted by 42 different items that were chosen for their eye appeal and, yes, a bit of “wow” factor, it can be reached by clicking on Killer beneath the Home page banner, then clicking on “Killer Eleven”.

The Killer pages are collages that are intended to achieve an uncommon visual experience. For this reason, the text has been limited to captions that are only visible when hovering over each image. We recommend first taking in the entire collage at once, with the aid of the scroll bar located to the far right of your screen (or with the dial on your mouse, for those with that option).

If you click on an image it will expand in size (allowing the entire caption to be seen). From there, you can navigate through the collage using the forward and back arrows located at the right and left sides of your screen. The slide show function is especially effective with the Killer pages. It may be activated by clicking on the symbol located at the lower right of the enlarged image (it looks like a triangle facing right). Once the slide show is running, the same symbol then turns into a pause button (see Figure 1).



Figure 1. Screenshot of a Dupont Powder advertising cover from Killer Eleven, enlarged image showing the command functions located at the sides and in three corners.



You may also choose to go full screen by clicking the symbol located at the the upper left of the image (it looks like arrows extending in four different directions). To get back to the collage, click the “x” symbol at the upper right of the image or click on the page outside of the image.



The First California BOY Hunting License

The very first Killer page, Killer One, featured E.L. Vanderford’s personal 1928 California Citizen [BOY] Hunting License, issued to Van when he was 15 years old. The only recorded unused example of this iconic license is included at the upper left of Killer Eleven (see Figure 2). The evocative BOY wording was only used for two years, in 1928 and 1929.



Figure 2. 1928 California BOY Hunting License, unused.



Starting with the 1929 license, the serial number included a “B” prefix and this practice continued after the word “BOY” was replaced by “JUNIOR” starting in 1930. For the 1934-35 license year, only, California issued celluloid-covered hunting license buttons for at least five classes of hunters: Resident, Junior, Non Resident, Alien and Declarant Alien. A “Declarant Alien” was an immigrant who was in the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship.

Duplicate and Sample buttons were also produced and I have heard from several old time collectors, including Van and Bill Oliver, that buttons were produced which were were inscribed “Indian” and provided to resident Native Americans at “NO FEE”. To my knowledge, no Indian license buttons have been recorded.

To see all of the California BOY and JUNIOR licenses issued through 1934-35, click here.



RW1 Small Die Proof

The only recorded example of a small die proof for the first federal waterfowl stamp (1934-35) can be seen at the upper center of the collage. Large and small die proofs represent an integral step in the federal waterfowl stamp production process and, as such, as avidly sought by advanced collectors and exhibitors.

After the stamp designer at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has taken the artist’s original artwork and incorporated it into the stamp’s design (the artwork serves as the basis for the central visual element or vignette), it is turned over to the Bureau’s Engraving Department. There, two or more engravers are assigned to produce die proofs. Die proofs differ from essays in that the image exactly matches the finished product – while essays do not.

In the case of die proofs, images are pulled to judge the quality of the die. Die proofs for engraved stamps are usually printed under great pressure onto a thin piece of paper (India) that is about the same size as the engravers die block. If the paper with the stamp image was mounted on a larger piece of card stock, these are known as large die proofs. Since the impressions are printed from the master die, they are normally of very high quality.

Alternatively, the paper which was originally the size of the engraver’s die block could be trimmed down to a much smaller size. These are known as small die proofs. All of the original small die proofs that I have examined have margins that are 5-6 mm. Small die proofs for 1934-35 through 1937-38 federal waterfowl stamps were mounted on card stock roughly the same size of the paper. Those for 1938-39 through 1945-46 were not mounted.

Small die proofs are known for their intense, vibrant color. Often small die proofs were created to mount in presentation albums for important government officials such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an avid stamp collector.

This particular piece of waterfowl stamp history was formerly in the collection of Jeanette Cantrell Rudy and was exhibited in the Court of Honor at NAPEX in the late 1990s and was on display at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. for many years (see Figure 3).



Figure 3. RW1 Small Die Proof on Card, ex Rudy.



For more information on this part of the production process, visit the Proofs and Essays Page. To see the complete set of federal small die proofs (RW1 – RW12) that was assembled by Jeanette Rudy, click here.



1937 Pymatuning Waterfowl Stamp on License

The Ohio license shown at the upper right represents arguably the single most important stamp usage in the entire hobby. The Pymatuning Hunting stamps were required solely to hunt waterfowl on Pymatuning Lake (actually a reservoir). This series has the greatest overall difficulty of acquisition in the hobby, with the least difficult stamp, issued in 1945, having three confirmed examples recorded.

For over 50 years, the 1938 Pymatuning Hunting stamp was thought to be the first state-issued waterfowl stamp, and combined with the fact that it was unique, earned it the title of the “British Guiana” of the waterfowl stamp hobby. Starting in the 1990s, collectors became aware of the first of two recorded Pymatuning hunting stamps without a printed year date (both off-license).

My subsequent research showed Ohio did in fact authorize the Pymatuning stamps just prior to the waterfowl seasons of 1937. However, there was no evidence to confirm the undated stamps were from that year. The 1937 Ohio license in this montage, bearing both the undated Pymatuning and 1937-38 federal waterfowl stamps, provides confirmation that the stamps were indeed issued in 1937 and are, therefore, the first state waterfowl stamps.

This historic piece (see Figure 4) is currently one of the cornerstones of Will Csaplar’s outstanding exhibit, A License and Stamp System for Waterfowl Conservation in the 20th Century U.S. Just over a month ago, it became the first fish and game exhibit to be awarded an International Gold Medal, at the Thailand 2018 Wold Stamp Exhibition. For more on this event, click here.



Figure 4. 1937 Pymatuning Waterfowl Stamp used with a 1937-38 Federal Waterfowl Stamp on an Ohio license.




1941-42 Marion County Husband and Wife Fishing Licenses

Husband and wife licenses are fun to collect for two reasons. They are usually consecutively numbered which is kind of cool. In addition, they serve as a reminder that a husband and wife shared a passion for the same hobby and spent many meaningful hours together – presumably enjoying each other’s company and fortifying their relationship.

This particular pair of husband and wife licenses has special meaning for me, personally – and they are significant to our fish and game hobby as a whole – for not only are the husband and wife team Jerry and Verona Mullikin of Marion County fame –  but the fishing stamps on their licenses are the only two examples that have ever been recorded (see Figure 5).



Figure 5. 1941-42 Marion County Fishing stamps used on Jerry and Verona Mullikin’s Licenses.



Marion County, Kansas, became the first local government in the U.S. to issue fish and game stamps with one required of county residents to fish on the newly constructed and stocked Marion County Lake, in May of 1940. During the fall and winter of 1940-41, thousands of migrating ducks stopped over at the lake.

As a direct result, one J.J. Siebert formally proposed that waterfowl hunting be allowed on the lake. On August 16, 1941, the County Board of Commissioners passed and adopted a resolution to allow waterfowl hunting during the 1941 season, “Provided that each person so hunting shall have a state license with Federal duck stamp attached, also a Marion County Duck stamp or permit as the case may be [my emphasis]”.

With this resolution, the first local waterfowl stamps in the U.S. were printed and issued. Overseeing this historic operation was the first Park and Lake Supervisor, Jerry E. Mullikin, a former peace officer who had a life long interest in fish and game conservation (see Figure 6).



Figure 6. Jerry Mullikin (left) talking with County Commisioner Karl Moshbacher in front of the lake.



Marion County issued both duck and fishing stamps through 1973. For decades after, the county held the record for the longest consecutively issued state or local waterfowl stamp series in the U.S. There have only been five supervisors since the lake’s completion. Jerry held the position until his death in February of 1956, after which time his wife Verona (see Figure 7) took over temporarily until John Waner could succeed Mullikin in April of that same year.



Figure 7. Verona Mullikin standing in front of the lake with a catch of fish, circa 1940s.



If you would like to read an in-depth article discussing Jerry and Verona and learn more about this fascinating story, see The Fish and Game Stamps of Marion County, Kansas. To see a galley containing images of all of the Marion County fishing stamps issued from 1940 – 1973, click here.



1934 California Alien Angling License Button

In addition to the 1934-35 hunting license buttons California issued for the 1934-35 fiscal year, the state produced a number of angling license buttons to cover the 1934 calendar year. Separate buttons were issued to Resident, Non Resident and Alien fishermen. Sample and Duplicate license buttons were also produced. For a gallery with all of the different California Angling License Buttons, click here.

Alien licenses have always captivated collectors. The wording is exotic and, in most cases, they are really hard to acquire – thus providing the ultimate “thrill of the hunt” experience. Many years ago, I completed a set of California paper Alien fishing licenses from their inception in 1914 through some time around WWII.

The early ones were produced by masters of chromolithography. To learn more about how these licenses came to be, see the six part series starting with California Hunting & Fishing Licenses – Part One. To see a gallery featuring images of the California Alien licenses, click here. However, the 1934 Alien Angling button always eluded me (six examples recorded).

This past year was notable for me in that not only was I finally able to acquire one example for my collection during the summer (see Figure 8) – I actually obtained a second at the end of the year! This is not the first time I have hunted for something rare for decades, only to come up with two in a relatively short space of time. That is one of the things that makes our hobby so exciting; you never know what lays around the next bend.



Figure 8. 1934 California Alien Angling License Button.




1955-56 Tennessee Big Game Partial Sheet

This is a rather startling find made by Cynthia Carnahan, a few months after she helped me with the popular blog series From Girly Pulps to Trout Stamps. The series tells the story of her gifted father, Worth B. Carnahan, and his amazing career.

Worth was an artist, illustrator, magazine editor and publisher. He participated in the origins of two pop culture mainstays, girlie pulps and comic books, whose images today invoke two very different connotations.

We saw how the development of both industries was directly linked and, in so doing, revealed the remarkable background of an artist who would later design some of the most popular stamps in the fish and game hobby.

While growing up in Washington, Worth was an avid stamp collector and frequently visited the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to observe the production process. He was interested in art from an early age, liked to draw and envisioned a career as a commercial artist, a technical draftsman or an engraver.

Deeper down, below these practical aspirations, Worth yearned to design stamps and would revisit this desire many times throughout his life. Later in life, he came to live in Nashville where he initially worked as a freelance commercial illustrator. Some of his assignments were for the Tennessee Fish and Game Commission, who liked his work so much that they eventually employed him full time as an illustrator.

When the Commission began requiring sportsmen to purchase big game and trout stamps in the mid 1950s, it was Worth B. Carnahan who designed nearly all of them.

In Part Three, I included an extensive survey of the philatelic literature prior to discussing the stamps, themselves. As it regarded the 1955-56 Big Game stamps, I illustrated pages from the previous work of Frank B. Applegate, Joseph Janousek and E.L. Vanderford.

Applegate did not comment on the production format for the stamps, however, Janousek and Vanderford did. In his “State Game Hunting and Fishing Revenue Stamps” column which appeared in The American Revenuer, Janousek stated the 1955-56 Tennessee Big Game Stamps were “Issued in sheets of 15 stamps” (January, 1960).

Vanderford, in his “Tennessee Big Game” listings which appeared in the State Revenue Newsletter dated July, 1970, went a step further. Like Janousek, Van stated the stamps were “From sheets of 15” and then added “[The sheets were] (5 x 3), approx 135 x 185 mm and imperf all four sides. Sheets were serial numbered at top”.

As the descriptions made by Janousek and Vanderford roughly match up to the partial sheet discovered by Cynthia in boxes of her father’s things – one can safely deduce that both Janousek and Vanderford were in contact with Carnahan when they were producing their listings and it was Worth who provided the information about the format. Clearly, neither Janousek nor Vanderford ever examined the “sheet” and never even saw a xerox copy.

For, in fact, the “sheet” in Carnahan’s possession was not complete and only consisted of the top three rows of what was almost certainly a sheet of 25 (5 x 5) – the same format used to print all of the other Tennessee Big Game stamps. Why neither man questioned this odd format and why Vanderford stated that the (partial) sheet was “imperf all four sides” will always remain a mystery.

At any rate, prior to Cynthia’s find, there had been no multiples of any kind and only a very few unused examples recorded. Therefore, this qualifies as one of the most important finds in fish and game philately and the piece is truly “Killer” (see Figure 9).



Figure 9. 1955-56 Tennessee Big Game Upper Block of 15 with Plate Number, ex Carnahan Archive.



I resisted the temptation to publish this information for one year, in the expectation that Cynthia might make some additional noteworthy discoveries and I would report on all of them at once. Alas, no others were were to be made. Nevertheless, I find myself indebted to Cynthia once again for helping to bring another important item into the hands of collectors and, in so doing, shedding more light on the extraordinary work her father did for the Tennessee Fish and Game Commission.



RW5 Top Plate Number Single Signed by Artist Roland Clark

One of the popular ways to collect federal waterfowl stamps is signed by the artist who created the original artwork that was used for the vignette. In general, the signatures of those who designed the art for the earlier stamps are the most highly sought after and, as a result, can be difficult to acquire.

Such is the case with Roland Clark, who was selected by a special committee appointed within the Bureau of Biological Survey (now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) to create the artwork for the fifth federal waterfowl stamp to be valid during the 1938-39 fiscal year.

Bob Dumaine commented in The Duck Stamp Story, “The most difficult signatures to obtain are those of Roland Clark (1938) and Francis Jaques (1940), both deceased. Clark disliked signing and usually made the person requesting the signature agree not to sell it. Any dealers who asked him to sign would have their stamps returned, often with a caustic note”.

Fortunately, this was not the case when the request came from Alvin Broholm. Alvin would become well known in the wildlife art community as a serious stamp collector with a very specific interest – Alvin collected artist signed federal waterfowl stamps.

Starting when he was young and living in Michigan, Alvin would find out the name and address of each artist, starting with Ding Darling in 1934, and then write to them asking if they would be willing to sign stamps for him. Over the years, Alvin sent singles, blocks and plate blocks to be signed. However, his real passion was for top plate number singles and he would later form an award-winning exhibit from his specialized collection of these.

In July of 1938, while still living in Detroit, Michigan, Alvin wrote to Roland Clark and made his yearly request. Thankfully, when replying to Broholm Clark stated “[I] am glad to autograph the block of stamps as requested” (see Figure 10).


Figure 10. Artist Roland Clark’s warm response to Alvin Broholm.



After receiving the signed block back from Clark, Broholm separated the top plate number single and added it to his nascent collection (see Figure 11).  A few years later Alvin started to exhibit his artist signed plate number singles at stamp shows throughout the midwest. By 1953, his exhibit included the first twenty federal issues (see Figure 12) and then Alvin C. Broholm won the Grand Award at the 20th Anniversary of the Trans Mississippi Philatelic exhibition in Davenport, Iowa.



Figure 11. RW5 Top Plate Number Single Signed by Artist Roland Clark, ex Broholm.



Figure 12. By 1953, Broholm’s exhibit had expanded to include the first twenty artist signed top plate number singles. Clark’s stamp is located at the far left of the second row (click to enlarge).



For more on Alvin C. Broholm and his collecting interests, see My Favorite Federal Duck Stamp – Part Three. To see a gallery with images of Alvin Broholm’s RW1 – RW25 artist signed federal plate number singles, click here.



The1950 SD Waterfowl Complete Sheet

In the early 1990s, when I was in the early stages of exhibiting at national stamp shows, I ran a large number of ads in newspapers in states that had issued better fish and game stamps. The ads stated that I was looking to buy rare pieces that would enhance my exhibit.

One day I received a call from a man in South Dakota. He told me he had a complete sheet of the first South Dakota Waterfowl stamp and that he would sell it to me for $5,000.00, cash. This posed several challenges for me; not only did he live far from my home in California and wanted to be paid in cash because he did not know me from Adam – the biggest problem was that the sheet was very large and, therefore, would not fit on a standard exhibit page.

On the other hand, it was a mind-blowing rarity and an important part of the waterfowl stamp story in the U.S., so I was intrigued. I discussed it with a couple of philatelic judges and they told me I could have an oversized page made – the size of four regular pages – and place it in the frame that way. But then, how would I get it to the shows – or even back home from South Dakota safely? Shipping it seemed risky.

After deliberating for several months, I decided to go for it. Kay and I would drive to Minnesota and visit her family for a vacation – stopping by the guy’s house on the way. He lived in the north central part of the state, in the midst of endless fields of sunflowers. As we spent a considerable amount of time driving through the fields and it was a warm summer day – we were actually able to witness these thousands of sunflowers gradually turn their heads to follow the sun. It was an unforgettable experience.

We finally arrived at the guy’s house (I have forgotten his name) and he was actually a sunflower farmer. We had a nice chat wherein we learned the man was a lifelong hunter and had purchased a complete sheet when the stamps were issued in order to help out the state’s waterfowl habitat. I remember Kay and I thought that was pretty cool as that was the exact purpose of the stamps.

After a short period of time, he went in a back room and brought out the sheet. I immediately noticed two things – first, it was not the first issue from 1949 but the second from 1950 and second, the sheet had incredible eye appeal and would be killer in the exhibit!

When we arrived back in California, I set about getting the oversized page and mylar pocket made. Obviously, the page would not fit into my printer, so I printed all of the text on standard-sized pages (8.5 x 11) and carefully cut out and affixed them to the over-sized page with an acid free glue stick.

After successfully mounting the sheet I waited for an opportunity where I could drive the exhibit to a show. This finally happened a few years later, when a big international philatelic exhibition was held in San Fransisco – Pacific 97. After displaying the sheet as part of my exhibit there, it next appeared in my exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in 1998 (see Figure 13).



Figure 13. Panel Four from The National Postal Museum Exhibit in 1998. Note: This photo was taken subsequent to the exhibit and all the philatelic objects are color photocopies.



It seems hard to believe but It has now been over twenty years since the public has seen this sheet. It is currently owned by Will Csaplar and his plans are to show it at one or two national shows once he is done with international exhibiting, in a couple of years or so. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this great piece of waterfowl stamp history – and the rest of Killer Eleven!



Figure 14. 1950 South Dakota Waterfowl Complete Sheet of 50 (click to enlarge).



To be taken to Killer Eleven, click here.



Leave a Comment

Scroll To Top
Verified by ExactMetrics