Michael Jaffe is a long time waterfowl stamp collector, dealer and exhibitor. Michael’s excellent exhibit, A Philatelic Survey of U.S. Waterfowl Hunting Jurisdictions, received another national large gold medal in November; this time at Philatelic Fiesta (San Jose, CA). Inspired by this website, Michael has spent a great deal of time the last couple of years, reworking his exhibit and, in it’s new format, it has been well received. The Fiesta jury was comprised of many highly respected judges with both national and international experience – and Michael’s exhibit scored a solid 91 points.
As previously reported in this blog, the exhibit has scored as high as 96 – at ROMPEX – like Fiesta, a Champion of Champions qualifying show. We at Waterfowl Stamps and More having been working with Michael throughout this past year to ready the exhibit for inclusion in the Exhibits area of this website and are happy to say it is now up for your viewing enjoyment. It has occurred to me that many readers and, perhaps, even some judges would appreciate an online walk-through. This will be the subject of today’s post.
The Title Page
The first thing to note is the title of the exhibit, A Philatelic Survey of U.S. Waterfowl Hunting Jurisdictions – plural. From this we can infer the exhibit will include stamps required to hunt waterfowl by more than one level of government. The exhibit is, in fact, a comprehensive treatment and includes stamps printed and issued by federal, state, local and tribal governments. There are even stamps required to hunt waterfowl on a military base, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and in the Territory of Puerto Rico.
The Title Page informs us that these various entities were both autonomous and interdependent (see Figure 1). In other words, they work together to regulate the harvest of waterfowl and, therefore, help keep waterfowl populations in equilibrium throughout the U.S. The Title Page also states Michael’s exhibit will “place an emphasis on revenue usage by presenting hunting licenses and related documents that when the stamps were affixed convey specific rights”. In this regard, the exhibit may be seen to take on some of the characteristics of a philatelic postal history exhibit.
In the case of postage stamps, when they are affixed to an envelope (often referred to as a “cover”), the stamp – or a specific combination of stamps – convey the right to have the piece carried through the mail via a specific type of service and often along a specific route. For this reason, postal history exhibits may be viewed as a study of rates and routes.
In the case of fish and game stamps, when they are affixed to a license or a similar document, the stamps convey the right to harvest various species at specific times of the year and often in specific locations. As with postal history, it is interesting to study the combination of stamps affixed to the document as this provides a snapshot of an individual’s hunting history and allows us to learn about rules and regulations that were in effect at the time.
In both cases, the usages serve to demonstrate the purpose for which the stamps were originally printed and issued.
Michael’s Tile Page explains that the items with the highest degree of difficulty of acquisition are indicated through the use of red captions and/or matting. This is an especially valuable technique when you consider that each judge is responsible for numerous exhibits and, therefore, has a limited amount of time they can spend viewing each frame.
With this in mind, the selective use of color makes it much more likely the judges are going to locate the better items in an exhibit – which may be outside their areas of expertise. It also allows them to be more efficient with their time and enables the judging process (and, therefore, the exhibition in general) to run more smoothly.
Finally, we notice that Michael has matted an 1899 North Dakota Resident Hunting Permit half way down his Title Page. Including an important or eye-catching item on the title page is an accepted practice used to capture the viewer’s attention and draw them in.
Many judges recommend a strong collateral item for this purpose. This may be an item that would not otherwise fit into the flow of the exhibit, itself. A strong piece that precedes the initial items in the exhibit, chronologically, is a safe pick. Since Michael’s exhibit consists exclusively of material from the 20th century, his choice of a rare 19th century hunting license with the year date in large red numerals fits the bill perfectly.
The addition of a non-stamp forerunner section in fish and game exhibits was one of my own innovations, begun in the early 1990s. Initially it served to add age to our exhibits and helped to close the “first impression” gap when competing for the top awards with exhibits of 19th century postage stamps and postal history.
Eventually, the fish and game forerunner section came to be seen as important for providing context for the subsequent issue of the stamps, themselves, and it is now considered an invaluable element in telling the license and stamp story in the U.S. Whereas I used to employ half of the first frame for this purpose, the Csaplar’s have expanded the non stamp section to a full frame – with much success – and Michael has followed their lead.
In fish and game exhibits, it seems to make the most sense to organize the forerunner section chronologically, thus building momentum toward the first adhesive stamps being issued in the 1930s. Michael leads off with one of the most powerful items in the entire exhibit, a Hunter’s License issued by South Dakota in 1904 (see Figure 2).
Today, the South Dakota population ranks 46th in the U.S. (2012 census 833,354). Back in 1900, the population was less than half at 401,570. In addition, much of the population at the time this license was issued was Native American and they generally did not obtain state issued licenses but, rather, hunted on tribal lands. The net result is that very few state licenses were issued.
All recorded South Dakota licenses issued prior to 1908 were issued to members of the same family and these entered the philatelic market as a single find in the 1990s. No early South Dakota licenses have been recorded in over 20 years.
The next license (page three) is also very difficult to obtain, a 1905 Indiana Resident Hunter’s License. The early Indiana licenses are unique in that they included a box in the lower right for the hunter to paste a photo of himself for identification purposes. Very few of these forms have been recorded and, in most cases, the photo is absent. This license is no exception, however, it is in a remarkable state of preservation and bears a nice embossed seal at the lower left.
Page nine includes two all time collector favorites, a 1913 Nebraska License to Fish and Hunt and a 1914 California Hunting License. Both are pictorial, with the Nebraska license being lithographed by Klopp and Bartlett and the California license being lithographed by Mysell-Rollins of San Fransisco. Both licenses are always in extremely high demand and, therefore, difficult to acquire (see Figure 3).
Page 12 includes a 1915 White Pine County, Nevada, Hunting and Fishing License which was produced out of copper metal and intended to be used as a watch fob. Most remarkable, the license is shaped in the head of a hunting dog and, for this reason, is very desirable and difficult to obtain.
The next item on the page is a 1917 Rhode Island Hunter’s Certificate. The Rhode Island population currently ranks 43rd (2016 census 1.056 million). However, in 1917, it was far less at 606,000 and licenses from this time period are very difficult for collectors to acquire. The final item on the page is a 1918 California Citizen Hunting License, another Mysell-Rollins gem featuring a hunter and his dog in a boat on a marsh setting.
The very next page features another of the great classics – a 1922 Montana Hunting and Fishing License. The license is oversized and is very striking, depicting images of a five-point buck deer in the upper left, a string of fish in the upper center, a bear’s head in the upper right and and a Mallard flying across the bottom – all in green ink. Simply incredible eye appeal and very difficult to acquire, especially in choice condition (see Figure 4).
Federal Waterfowl Stamps
As Michael has been a national duck stamp dealer since the 1970s, one might imagine that the federal section would be a strong point and I am happy to say it does not disappoint. Frame two, page two features two remarkable items, a provisional Form 3333 dated November 8, 1934 with a 1934-35 federal waterfowl (RW1) affixed and an actual Form 3333 cancelled in Lihue, Hawaii in 1935 with a 1935-36 federal affixed (see Figure 5).
It is hard to say which item is more amazing – you can count the number of recorded examples of each on one hand. Since I have a soft spot for Hawaiian items, I will go with the latter. Records show that only 97 federal waterfowl stamps were sold in the entire state in 1935; to have one on a Form 3333 is ridiculous! To my knowledge, the one in the Csaplar’s exhibit is the only other recorded example.
Frame two, page four features one of two recorded examples of the 1937-38 federal waterfowl stamp (RW4) large die proof – and the only recorded example in the accepted green color (the Charles Ekstrom waterfowl stamp exhibit features a trial color large die proof for RW4 printed in purple ink). The proof has been signed by the letter engraver, George A. Payne (see Figure 6).
Frame two, page seven features another of Michael’s strongest items, the only recorded example of an essay for the 1942-43 federal waterfowl stamp (RW9). The essay lacks the printed denomination in the lower left corner, as well as the line of text across the bottom of the stamp that states, “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR”. It has been mounted on card stock (see Figure 7).
The following page in the exhibit features one of two recorded examples of the 1943-44 federal waterfowl stamp (RW10) small die proof (see Figure 8).
Frame two, page 12 features a 1947-48 federal waterfowl stamp affixed to a provisional duplicate hunting license issued by a city clerk in Illinois – a very nice item (see Figure 9).
A couple of pages later we find quite possibly the only recorded example of a 1950-51 federal waterfowl stamp, reverse inscription (partial) plate number block of six. As stated at the top of the page, starting with the 1950 issue the sheets were trimmed in such a way that the the reverse plate number was completely removed. Therefore, this piece is the result of a production error. Although not stated, the provannence is: ex Rudy, ex Csaplar, ex Torre (see Figure 10).
Frame three, page one includes a 1958-59 federal waterfowl stamp (RW25) with the reverse inscription inverted. This is one of two recorded examples and the only one signed in the obverse selvage by artist Les Kouba (see Figure 11).
Frame three, page 15 includes a nice selection of early Vandenberg Air Force Base hunting stamps. Not every stamp is present here, however, considering the difficulty of acquisition for these issues, the page is impressive. Only military personnel could obtain the stamps and for this reason, they often elude even the most advanced collectors (see Figure 12).
State, Territorial and Local Stamps
Michael’s exhibit features many important items from Marion County, Kansas. These were the first local waterfowl stamps in the U.S. and the first true “duck” stamps issued worldwide. Frame four, page four, is an especially strong page with a fabulous combination usage at the top.
The 1948 Kansas license has a 1948 Marion County duck, 1948-49 Kansas quail, 1948-49 federal waterfowl and a 1948-49 Marion County Fishing stamp – all affixed to the obverse. Only five of the Marion County duck stamps have been recorded and, of these, only two are on license.
The lower portion of the page includes an unused example of the very scarce 1967 Marion County duck stamp and an unused pair of the 1969 Marion County duck stamp. The latter includes the famous “Dusk” printing error. Seven examples of the Dusk error have been recorded and it is widely considered it to be one of the most desirable errors in the waterfowl stamp hobby (see Figure 13).
The very next page features an unused example of the 1973 Marion County duck stamp. By this point in time, the federal government had built a large reservoir just a short distance from Marion County Lake. The ducks were protected on the larger body of water and suddenly stopped coming to the smaller county lake. Only 50 duck stamps were printed for 1973, the last year of issue.
Of these, only five were sold to hunters. Currently, there are 17 recorded examples in collector’s hands, including one intact pane of ten and a block of four. Therefore, the stamp is historical and rare, in extremely high demand and, understandably, quite difficult to acquire (see Figure 14).
Michael shows a good run of Illinois Daily Usage stamps starting with frame four, page 12. While not quite as impressive as the Csaplar’s (the most comprehensive showing ever assembled), Michael’s 1953 $2.00 stamp for duck hunting is believed to be the only unused example with full original gum (see Figure 15).
Frame five, page one, features a 1957 Puerto Rico Permit to Carry a Gun and Hunt. When half of the current $10.00 internal revenue stamp was affixed to the permit it validated the permit for waterfowl hunting. The other half of the stamp was affixed to a record keeping copy. A very unusual territorial usage that is in high demand among advanced collectors (see Figure 16).
Frame five, pages three – five, display the highlights from, arguably, Michael Jaffe’s greatest achievement as a collector. Michael just recently became only the fourth person to complete the Honey Lake Waterfowl stamp set, issued from 1956 through 1986.
The list of collectors who spent their entire life attempting to complete this classic set – only to fall short – reads like a virtual Who’s Who of our Hall of Fame. Their names include David Curtis, Charles Hermann, Bert Hubbard, Joseph Janousek, Morton Dean Joyce, Les Lebo and Mrs Powell.
The only collectors to have ever completed the set are E.L. Vanderford, myself, the Csaplars and, now, Michael. There is not space to show every single stamp in his exhibit – but all of the rarities are here for your enjoyment (see Figure 17).
Tribal Waterfowl Stamps
As many of you already know, Michael’s specialty (aside from federal ducks) is Indian Reservation stamps – both as a collector and a dealer. Indeed, Michael is the editor of the Indian Reservation Stamp Catalog. For this reason, the tribal waterfowl stamp section of the exhibit is very strong.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota became the first tribal government to issue fish and game stamps, starting in 1959. Included was a Tribal Game Bird stamp which was required to hunt waterfowl. It is believed these stamps were used through the 1960s, however, relatively few were issued. Hence, they are all extremely difficult for collectors to acquire and, at this point in time, the latest known stamp is from 1963. That stamp currently resides in Michael’s exhibit (see Figure 18).
Michael’s run of Crow Creek Reservation (S.D.) stamps is very impressive. It includes an unused example of the earliest recorded stamp required to hunt waterfowl, a small game permit issued in 1962 (see Figure 19); one of five recorded examples of the 1990 Non-Resident Waterfowl stamp with the serial number missing (see Figure 20); as well as one of five recorded examples of the 1994 SD/Non-Resident Waterfowl error (see Figure 21). In the case of the latter, the stamps were printed with an incorrect fee and recalled by the Tribal Council.
On frame seven, page 11, Michael shows three early (1960s) Lower Brule (S.D.) Waterfowl stamps on license. Please note that, in general, the vast majority of early (pre-1980) Indian Reservation stamps are difficult for collectors to acquire, used on original license.
It is not yet known when stamps were first issued on the Fort Peck Reservation (Montana). Carbon copies are known from 1973, however, the earliest recorded stamps, themselves, are from 1975. There are many difficult stamps and varieties for the 1970s and Michael shows them all on frame seven, page 13. The 1976 bird with a double impression is an unusual variety to find on fish and game stamps (see Figure 22).
In the last frame of the exhibit, on page 14, Michael shows two stamps issued by the Colville Reservation in Eastern Washington. Although the stamps are very plain and, perhaps, somewhat visually uninteresting – these stamps are extremely difficult to acquire. In large part, this due to the remoteness of the Coleville Reservation. I personally know of many, many collectors who have attempted to obtain a copy of these stamps but to no avail (see Figure 23).
So there you have it; simply a magnificent effort on Michael’s part. To see the exhibit in it’s entirety, click here. From all of us at Waterfowl Stamps and More, we congratulate Michael on his recent success and expect even bigger things may be in store for this exhibit in the not too distant future!