In the last post I reported the Kansas quail stamps were not the first fish and game stamps to be issued by a state government in the U.S. When I looked at the quail stamps in my album this morning, I found that my feelings for them had not changed – I still find them to be captivating. Before moving on to the upland series, we will take a closer look at the quail series and some of the the varieties that makes them so fun to collect.
The first game law in Kansas was enacted in 1861 and applied only to Leavenworth County. It protected deer, quail, partridge, prairie chicken and wild turkey from April 1 to September 1.
In 1877, Kansas Governor George T. Anthony established the office of Commissioner of Fisheries. He then appointed Mr. D.B. Long as the first Commissioner. Long negotiated the introduction of shad from China and over 100,000 salmon from California into Kansas ponds and streams.
The Kansas Fish and Game Department was formally organized in 1905 and a new set of game management laws was announced (the bag limit for quail was 20). At this time, resident hunters were required to purchase a license and the first Kansas game wardens were paid from the license proceeds (see Figure 1). To see all of the early Kansas Licenses to Hunt (1905 – 1910), click here.
In 1911, the State Fish and Game Department was placed under the supervision of the University of Kansas Board of Regents. At this point the hunting license form was changed from a horizontal to a vertical format (see Figure 2). A similar form was used until the 1930s, when boxes were added to the bottom for federal waterfowl stamps (1934) and quail stamps (1937).
In 1925 the Fish and Game Department was reorganized as the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission. A three-member Commission was appointed by the governor. Starting in 1927, men between the ages of 18 and 70 were required to obtain a license before fishing and the Forestry, Fish and Game Commission was authorized to appoint game wardens.
The Kansas Quail Stamps
For an introduction to the Kansas quail stamps and a discussion of quail stamp proofs, please see Morton Dean Joyce: Fish and Game Hall of Famer – Part Two.
In the Joyce blog I quoted Kansas quail stamp specialist David Lucas, “[Starting in 1937] The quail stamps were issued by the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission to raise monies for the Quail Preservation and Propagation Fund, which supported the state quail farms and other efforts. All quail hunters were required to purchase the 50-cent stamp and affix it to their hunting licenses”.
The quail stamps were printed through 1961-62. To see images of all the regular stamps, click here.
I covered the Kansas quail proofs in some detail in the Joyce blog, including some of the constant printing varieties that collectors find so fascinating. Today’s discussion will focus primarily on the varieties that can be found on regularly issued quail stamps.
All of the Kansas quail stamps were printed in two colors. Philatelists often refer to these stamps as bi-colored. This is one their most striking features and accounts for no small part of their allure. As we shall see later in this post, it also allows for some very collectible printing varieties.
The first Kansas quail stamp was printed with a central image (vignette) in the shape of the state enclosing a quail standing in the grass. Both the vignette and the void date were printed in dark brown ink.
The vignette was centered within a light green outer border area which included round denomination (50 cents face value) tablets in all four corners and the void date of “June 30, 1938” – which we discussed at length in part one. The resulting effect draws you in with near 3D eye appeal.
The quail stamps were then cut into large 50 subject panes and distributed to county clerks (see Figure 3). There are really no major varieties to speak of on the first issue, only color shades. However, if you examine the pane below, you will see several stamps along the right side which exhibit a slightly broken frame line on the right – where the metal plate was “nicked”.
The following year (1938-39), the quail stamps were printed with a black vignette and void date within a red border and issued in sheets of 50 (see Figure 4).
The second year saw the introduction of a flaw in the printing plate, likely due to wear. Over time, this plate flaw became enlarged. Some pioneer fish and game collectors decided it resembled a “white feather” – and the name stuck. The white feather variety is by far and away the most highly sought after and prized by collectors today (see Figures 5 and 6).
The white feather variety can be found on all of the quail stamps printed through 1961. To see images of all of them in one gallery, click here.
Also starting with the second year, we find examples of quail stamps with numbers printed on the face (occasionally written by hand). It is believed these numbers were applied at the county level and served in bookkeeping procedures (see Figures 7-9).
At the end of the 1938 season, there was a shortage of quail stamps available to the county clerks. Howard Thorn, an enterprising clerk in Wyandott (eastern Kansas) subsequently created provisional quail stamps in early 1939 (see Figure 10).
Starting with the third year (1939-40), the quail stamps were printed and issued in single-stamp booklet panes with a tab at the left side (see Figure 11). This practice continued through 1946-47. Acquiring these issues with the complete tab represents a challenge for collectors today.
By this point in time, the plate flaw had grown to the point where the white feather was clearly visible (see Figure 12).
The broken frame line located along the right side has become more conspicuous (see Figure 13). This constant variety may be found on quail stamps for all years through 1961-62.
I showed two proofs from the 1939-40 issue in the Joyce blog, including a white feather variety. Since then, I have acquired an exhibit page from Kansas specialist Neil Danielson which shows the largest recorded multiple of this proof (see Figure 14).
The 1940-41 issue is the earliest I have encountered with a number printed on the reverse (see Figures 15, 16 and 17). This is relatively uncommon for the booklet type stamps.
Starting with the 1947-48 issue, the Kansas quail stamps were printed in panes of ten (two across and five down). From this point on, quail stamps from most years have been recorded with numbers printed on the reverse.
In some cases you find one number (usually in red) that is in the hundreds. I believe these were pane numbers. In other cases, you find larger numbers (in the thousands). These larger numbers can be found in both red and black. These would be numbers for each individual stamp on the pane. An on occasion, you find both on the same stamp (see Figures 17 and 18).
As promised earlier in this post, the bi-colored nature of these stamps allowed for some collectible varieties in the form of dramatic shifts that occurred when trying to center the vignette within the outer border (see Figures 19 and 20).
These are just some of the many varieties that can be found on the Kansas quail stamps. It is easy to see why this this series has been a favorite of philatelists since the day they were issued!
As stated by David Lucas, the primary purpose of the quail stamps was to fund the quail farms located throughout Kansas. In the 1950s, Kansas began closing down these farms. The final stamp in the series, 1961-62, was printed but never issued as the last of the quail farms had already closed (see Figure 21).