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The Kansas Upland Game Bird Stamps – Part Three

In today’s post we shall take a look at the Kansas upland game bird stamps which superseded the quail stamp series in 1961. The upland bird stamps had a more modern look than the classic quail stamps and were printed in a single color. However, starting with the third issue the stamps were printed with serial numbers on the face. The colors of ink used to print the numbers included red, blue and black. Of major interest to philatelists is the fact that stamps from several different years have been recorded with the serial numbers missing.



At the end of the 1950s, quail populations decreased precipitously on farms across Kansas. In 1960, bag limits were greatly reduced and many farmers did not allow hunting on their farms at all. Quail hunting prospects were perceived as dismal, at best.

According to an article in the Emporia Gazette on Saturday, November 12, 1960, “The purchase of quail stamps is down in this county by better than 50 per cent. Many hunters say they are not going to hunt quail, therefore they will not purchase a stamp”.

Such sentiments set off a debate among sportsmen. Those hunters that were conservation-minded purchased a stamp anyhow because the money was used for restocking purposes and, therefore, analogous in purpose to the federal waterfowl stamp (see Figure 1).



Figure 1. One of the last quail stamps used to hunt in Kansas. Note that in addition to the federal waterfowl stamp, a 1960 Marion County fishing stamp is folded-over the right side.



In other words, many hunters realized that continuing to support the program was in the best long-term interest of both quail populations and quail hunting. Unfortunately for the venerable quail stamp, the handwriting was on the wall.



Upland Game Bird Stamps Issued

In his catalog, Charles Bellinghausen stated: “During the first part of 1961, quail stamps bearing the expiration date of June 30, 1962, were printed and sent to County clerks and license vendors. However, the legislature, meeting at the same time as the distribution was being made abolished the quail stamp and instituted in its place the upland game bird stamp.

Subsequently, the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission withdrew the distribution of quail stamps and issued the upland game bird stamp bearing the expiration date of December 31, 1961. Persons who had already purchased the 50 cent quail stamp were allowed to trade in the stamps on the purchase of the $1.00 upland stamps”.

In Morton Dean Joyce: Fish and Game Stamp Hall of Famer – Part Two, I explained that after the last of the state-funded quail farms closed down – the emphasis on Kansas game management switched to upland game birds in general.

The switch from a quail stamp to a general upland game bird stamp made it more likely sportsmen would purchase a stamp at all – it gave them more hunting options and more “bang for their buck”.

An article which appeared in the Salina Journal on Friday, November 10, 1961, informed sportsmen “This year hunters will have to have an Upland Game Bird stamp in their possession to hunt prairie chickens, pheasants and quail”.

The first three upland game bird stamps (1961 – 1963) were printed on different colors of paper and had a simple line border. Unlike the quail stamps, a calendar year expiration date was printed across the bottom. The subjects depicted on the stamps were pheasants, prairie chickens and wild turkeys, respectively. The 1963 stamp was the first to have a serial number printed on the face (see Figures 2, 3 and 4).



Figure 2. 1961 Kansas Upland Game Bird stamp.



Figure 3. 1962 Kansas Upland Game Bird stamp.




Figure 4. 1963 Kansas Upland Game Bird stamp.



In 1963, at least one pane of ten stamps (2 x 5) was printed with the serial numbers missing. The error was listed by Bellinghausen as “UGB3a… serial number omitted” and Curtis as “SHKAUB3a… Serial No. missing” (see Figure 5).



Figure 5. 1963 Kansas Upland Game Bird error – serial number missing, ex Bellinghausen, Smiley.



Beginning with the 1964 issue, all remaining stamps in the series were reduced in size, did not include a border and  were printed on white paper (see Figures 6 and 7).



Figure 6. 1964 Kansas Upland Game Bird stamp.



Figure 7. 1968 Kansas Upland Game Bird stamp.



In 1968 Kansas revenue specialist Hugh Smiley obtained an interesting variety on the 1968 stamp. On first glance it looks like the serial number is missing. However, upon closer inspection, the serial number was impressed into the stamp but the numbering device had run out of ink (see Figure 8). Philatelists often refer to this as an albino or “ghost” serial number.



Figure 8. Ghost serial number on 1968 Kansas Upland Game Bird stamp, ex Smiley.



A short time later, Fish and Game Hall of Famer Charles Hermann came up with a second example. The Hermann example is even more striking, as it is from the left side of a pane (the same side as where the number is impressed) and includes an eye-catching blank space (see Figure 9).



Figure 9. Ghost serial number on 1968 Kansas Upland Game Bird stamp, ex Hermann.



In 1972, Hugh Smiley acquired an example of the last Kansas upland game stamp which has been recorded with a missing serial number (see Figures 10 and 11).



Figure 10. 1972 Kansas Upland Game Bird stamp.



Figure 11. 1972 Kansas Upland Game Bird error – serial number missing, ex Smiley.



This is the homemade album page where Hugh Smiley kept his three upland game bird stamps with serial number errors (Figure 12):



Figure 12. Hugh Smiley’s homemade album page for his Kansas Upland Game Bird errors.



The 1973 Invert

Late in December of 1972, the Sedgwick County Clerk’s office received 3,000 panes of 1973 upland game bird stamps (30,000 stamps). Upon receipt, Deputy Clerk Joan Waring was assigned to count the stamps and record the serial numbers for bookkeeping and auditing purposes.

While counting the stamps, Waring found that one of the sheets looked “different”. This was caused by a printing error. One pane of ten stamps became inverted after the design was printed and before the serial numbers and rouletting was applied. The preceding and following sheets were normal. Waring’s invert discovery was widely reported – in the national philatelic press and in newspapers throughout the state of Kansas.

The error was sold to Charles Bellinghausen, the Dean of Kansas Revenue Collectors. Shortly before his death, Bellinghausen sold it to his good friend, and fellow Kansas collector, Hugh Smiley. In 1990, when I was preparing my first exhibit, Classic State and Local Fish and Game Stamps,  Hugh allowed me acquire it for the exhibit (see Figures 13, 14 and 15).



Figure 13. Charles Bellinghausen kept this article in his stamp album.



Figure 14. The Unique 1972-73 Kansas Upland Game Bird Inverted Pane. Ex Bellinghausen, ex Smiley.



Figure 15. The preceding and following panes, mounted on the reverse of my exhibit page.



Following the 1973 seasons, the upland game bird stamps were discontinued – bringing to an end the combined Kansas quail-upland series that had started back in the fall of 1937.

To close out this series of posts, I would like to show images of the reverse and the obverse of the 1973 Kansas Combination Fish and Hunt License issued to John Waner, former Superintendent of Marion County Park and Lake.

The reverse of Waner’s license (the side I always show) has one of the last five Marion County Duck stamps sold affixed to it. The obverse – as luck would have it – has one of the last Kansas Upland Game Bird stamps affixed, signed by John Waner (see figures 16 and 17).



Figure 16. Reverse of John Waner’s 1973 Kansas Combination Fish and Hunt license.


Figure 17. Rare view of the obverse, showing one of the last Kansas Upland Game Bird stamps, signed by John Waner.



In an article from the Belleview Telescope, on Thursday, January 3, 1974, the sports editor informed his readers, “With 1973 at a close, Kansas sportsmen are reminded their hunting licenses expire. 1974 licenses are available from county clerks and local vendors. The Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission notes that an upland game bird stamp is no longer required in 1974…”

To see all of the regularly issued upland stamps and varieties in one gallery, click here.



I hope you have enjoyed learning about the Kansas Upland Game Bird stamps. I would like to thank Charles Bellinghausen and my old friend Hugh Smiley, pioneer fish and game collectors and also Neil Danielson and David Lucas, who followed in their footsteps, for making this blog series possible. As we approach the two year mark since our initial launch, all of us at Waterfowl stamps and More would like you all for your continued support – and Happy Collecting!



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