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The Kansas Upland Game Bird Stamps – Part One

In today’s post, I find it is first necessary to modify our frame of reference before we begin looking at the Kansas upland game bird stamps, themselves. Over the years much has been written by myself and others about the predecessor to this series, the Kansas quail stamps. However, relatively little information is available for collectors about the upland series.

There are a couple of good reasons for this. First, the much revered Kansas quail series is of far greater importance to our hobby. This is owing, in large part, to the fact that historically they were believed to have been the first fish and game stamps issued by a state government in the U.S.

The bi-colored quail stamps were printed for 25 years and issued for 24 (more on this later) and the series includes numerous constant varieties which have captivated philatelists ever since. Second, there is scant information available to the philatelic researcher and writer to work with when it comes to the upland stamps. A thorough internet search was of very little help.

The upland stamps were issued over a much shorter period (1961 – 1973) and they lack the constant varieties. Therefore, it may be tempting to conclude they are relatively uninteresting and their primary philatelic significance is that the series serves to complete the quail stamp story.

Nonetheless, as we move through this series of posts we will find that embedded within the upland game series are four printing errors – ranging from one that is relatively minor (but still quite interesting) to one of the most dramatic errors in the fish and game hobby.

First, I must walk you through a rather momentous correction on my part.



The Kansas quail stamps were formally introduced to collectors by Joseph Janousek, in his column in the October 1959 issue of The American Revenuer. Janousek pictured a (1957-58) stamp which showed an inscription printed on the bottom , “VOID AFTER JUNE 30, 1958”. He went on to state: “The fiscal year is July 1st to June 30[.] First issued on June 30, 1937″ (see Figure 1).



Figure 1. Joseph Janousek’s column featuring the Kansas Quail stamps. Note the text beneath the quail stamp image.



The September 1968 issue of the State Revenue Newsletter included E.L. Vanderford’s serial publication, HANDBOOK OF FISH AND GAME STAMPS. This issue covered the quail series in more detail. Instead of being precise about the first date of issue, Vanderford stated “First issued for the 1937-38 season” (see Figure 2). When the Handbook was published as a stand-alone collector’s guide in 1973, this page was exactly the same.



Figure 2. E. L. Vanderford’s Kansas Quail Hunting Stamps page, published in the September 1968 (Vol. 8; No. 6) issue of The American Revenuer.



And now for some embarrassment on my part. As stated in Ken Pruess Remembered – Part Three, in 1972 the State Revenue Society published Charles J. Bellinghausen’s Kansas State Revenue Catalog. Here, the esteemed Kansas revenue specialist discussed the quail stamps in much greater detail than Janousek or Vanderford.

The introductory sentence to the Quail section clearly states, “Quail stamps were first placed on sale in Kansas in the fall of 1937 following enactment of legislation requiring their issuance earlier that same year” (see Figures 3 and 4).



Figure 3. Cover for the Kansas State Revenue Catalog, by Charles J. Bellinhausen.



Figure 4. Introduction to the Quail section in Bellinghausen’s catalog. Note the first sentence.



When I started to exhibit in the early 1990s, I included a page which showed the first quail stamps (on and off license). I stated at the top of the page, “In 1937, Kansas became the first state local government to issue a fish or game license stamp with one required to hunt quail” (see Figure 5).



Figure 5. Kansas Quail Stamps page from my first exhibit.



So far, so good. At this point I had not yet acquired a copy of the undated Pymatuning hunting (waterfowl) stamp – the 1938 Pymatuning stamp was still believed to be the first in that series.

Subsequently, I obtained an undated Pymatuning stamp. My research showed it was likely issued in the fall of 1937. I stated, “while complete documentation is still lacking… on September 1, 1937, the Ohio Conservation Council did approve a stamp…” (see Figure 6).



Figure 6. Pymatuning exhibit page – subsequent to the acquisition of an undated (1937) stamp and a few trips to Ohio, researching information on the series.



I’m still OK at this point. I did not know for certain the undated stamp was issued in the fall of 1937. However, I must confess it never occurred to me the 1937 Pymatuning hunting stamp may have been issued prior to the 1937 Kansas quail stamp.

Like Janousek and (no excuse) influenced by his statement made back in 1959 – I always had it in my mind the 1937 quail stamp was issued sometime toward the end of June. Unfortunately, when Bellinghausen’s catalog came out in 1972 – his statement simply did not register with me.

I believed, like Janousek, that since the stamp bore a fiscal year expiration date – it would have been issued a year prior. This in keeping with the precedent set by the federal waterfowl stamps introduced in 1934. It never occurred to me that the expiration date on the first quail stamp was selected to conform to the expiration date on the state licenses and had no relationship to when the first stamp was actually issued.

In 2010, David Boshart and Ira Cotton discovered an example of the undated Pymatuning stamp, used on license with a 1937-38 federal waterfowl stamp. My understanding is that Ira discovered the item while looking through a box of misc. licenses that had been laying around David’s office for quite some time (see Morton Dean Joyce: Fish and Game Hall of Famer – Part Three and Figure 7).



Figure 7. The 1937 Pymatuning waterfowl stamp on license. Photo courtesy of Will Csaplar.



Ira called me and I soon made a deal with David to acquire the amazing piece for my own collection. A couple of years later, when Will and Abby were still in the planning stages for their upcoming exhibit, A License and Stamp System for Waterfowl Conservation in the 20th Century U.S., we all decided the piece was integral to telling their story and I agreed to sell it to them.

At this point, I knew for a fact the undated Pymatuning stamp was issued in the fall of 1937 – and it still did not occur to me it may have been issued prior to the quail stamp. Up until recently, including several places on this website, I have stated the quail stamp was issued “a few months earlier”.

I was wrong. In 1937, the waterfowl season in Ohio began on October 9  – the Kansas quail hunting season over a month later, on November 20 (see Figures 8 and 9).



Figure 8. Ohio 1937-38 Digest of Game Laws. Note waterfowl season opened October 9 (upper left).



Figure 9. Reverse of 1937 Kansas Resident License to Hunt. Note quail season opened November 20 (paragraph five).



So now we know, the 1937 Kansas quail stamp was not the first fish and game license stamp issued by a state government in the U.S. That honor goes to the 1937 Pymatuning Hunting stamp –  issued by the state of Ohio to hunt waterfowl on Pymatuning Lake (see Figures 10 and 11).



Figure 10. 1937-38 Kansas Quail stamp – missed being the first state fish and game license stamp by less than two months.



Figure 11. 1937 Pymatuning waterfowl stamp –  the first state fish and game license stamp.



It wasn’t until today, while in the initial stages of researching this blog series on the Kansas upland game bird stamps – that I finally connected the dots. I think I should pause here and allow everyone some time to wrap their minds around this – myself included.



Continue to Part Two



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