Missouri’s Audubon – Part Five

Throughout their prodigious 40+ year careers (and especially during the 1960s and 1970s) Charles and Libby Schwartz were kept very busy with a wide variety of projects. While much of their time was spent producing wildlife and conservation movies, they were also responsible for creating artwork and text for The Missouri Conservationist as well as many other MDOC publications and informational materials (see Figure 1), several of which I have touched on in this series of posts.

This was in addition to conducting wildlife research projects (arguably, their main line of work), producing shorts for television shows and writing and illustrating books for themselves and others, independent of their official Department duties. For a time, Charles even had a conservation-themed comic strip in newspapers throughout the state, a la Ding Darling.

The point being the Schwartzes were nothing, if not always multitasking. In the last post, I discussed sport fishing in Missouri and highlighted Charles’ trout stamps which he produced from 1969 – 1982. In today’s post we shall explore some of the other projects they undertook during this same period of time, focussing on those related to waterfowl hunting.

We shall begin by reaffirming Charles’ special connection with Canada geese and take a look at the making of one of Charles and Libby’s most critically acclaimed films, Wild Chorus, before moving on to discuss their roles in one of the most important chapters in Missouri’s unique conservation history, the New Design for Conservation.

We shall take a glimpse at Big Game of North America, yet another important wildlife book illustrated by Charles and then, to end Part Five, we shall (at your option) survey waterfowl hunting in Missouri – culminating in the events leading up to the first Missouri waterfowl stamp being issued in 1979.


Those who wish to read the “full monty” version of today’s post, which includes the bonus section Waterfowl Hunting in Missouri (not an extended cut; additional information intended to provide context for the first Missouri waterfowl stamp – and which helps tie this series together), click here.

Those who prefer their read to be short and sweet, continue below:



Figure 1. Charles’ cover for the December, 1970 issue of the Missouri Conservationist.



Wild Chorus

When last discussing their wildlife movies in Part Three, I promised a return to this subject – which was far more than a sideline for the Schwartzes. Starting with The Prairie Chicken in 1949 and ending with Our Wild Inheritance in 1978, Charles and Libby produced 24 feature films. This alone would have constituted full-time work for most people and the fact that they were able to accomplish so much more during this same period seems to defy comprehension.

As we saw in Part Four, Charles took a special interest in Canadian Geese – an interest he shared with close friends Aldo Leopold and Sir Peter Scott – going so far as to learn how to converse with them in their own language (almost but, perhaps, not quite in the manor of Dr. Doolittle). As we shall see in this post, Canadian geese were also his favored subject whenever asked to create waterfowl-themed artwork.

In 1971 the MDOC asked the Schwartzes to make a movie about the Canadian geese. According to Libby’s memoir, “It was felt that sportsmen in Missouri didn’t appreciate the fact that their waterfowl hunting depended upon the ducks and geese in their northern breeding grounds – or their survival in southern wintering grounds.” This was a project that was right up Charles’ alley. Libby continued:

“When we went north to Churchill, Manitoba to film Wild Chorus, there were three of us: Charlie, Glen Chambers, and me… My list of baggage contained 30 parcels; we had 3 motion picture cameras, at least 3 still cameras, boxes with film for both motion picture and still cameras, tripods, sound equipment (see Figure 2), several types of blinds, plus camping gear.’



Figure 2. Charles and Libby record the sounds of hatching baby Canada geese in July, 1971 near Churchill, Manitoba. Courtesy of Glenn Chambers.



“We had a helicopter take us to where we did most of our photography. It was freezing most of the time and we were glad for our heavy parkas and insulated hip boots. We kept our cameras in our sleeping bags with us so they wouldn’t freeze and our polar bear gun was within arm’s reach. When the ‘boys’ were intent on their filming, I was on ‘polar bear patrol’ and constantly on watch…’

“On our return to the United States, we were stopped by custom officials in Minneapolis. They examined us in great detail, even to taking the component lenses apart on our telephoto lenses (which infuriated Charlie). But he had further problems to attend to [as] they insisted on opening [the] sealed cans containing our unexposed film! Finally an agreement was reached that these cans could be sent to a company in Kansas City that developed our motion picture film and be opened in the presence of a U.S. Custom official. If they had their way, this motion picture would have never existed!”

That would have been unfortunate, as Wild Chorus, released in 1973, would become one of their finest productions. It explains there are, in fact, eleven different types of Canada geese. Of these only one, the Giant Canada, both nests and winters in Missouri. Another, Todd’s Canada or “interior” Canada geese have nesting grounds in Canada and then migrate south via the Mississippi Flyway, one of the four migratory waterfowl flyways identified by Frederick C. Lincoln, to winter in Missouri. As such, it is the one that Missouri hunters are most familiar with and this movie tells their story.

It opens with some of Charles’ artwork (which is featured throughout). At the 2:45 mark it provides a rare opportunity to watch him at work, painting a Canada goose scene; at the 2:57 mark he is shown working on one of his most important pieces (a good shot, albeit in sepia, appears at the 3:10 mark):





We will be discussing the pivotal role this painting played in Missouri’s unique conservation history shortly. The recipient of many awards, Wild Chorus was voted the best “Conservation Film Program” by the Outdoor Writers of America in 1974.


The New Design for Conservation

In Part Two I stated that after learning they would be receiving additional funding via the Pittman-Robertson Act, the Missouri Conservation Commission was able to hire five new full-time biologists. As we already know, one of the young men hired on July 1, 1940 was Charles Schwartz. Another was Carl Noren who, like Charles, was passionate about wildlife conservation and had studied under Drs. Bennitt and Curtis at the University of Missouri. There, Charles, Libby and Carl all met and became close friends.

Noren was originally assigned to to the northeast part of the state and also to study raccoons statewide while Charles was assigned the seven counties just to the west of him (north-central Missouri) and to study prairie chickens. The three stayed in close contact. Noren was subsequently transferred twice; first to deer restoration which he thoroughly enjoyed and then to river basin studies – all before rising to the position of Director of the MDOC in 1967 (see Figure 3).



Figure 3. Carl Noren, circa 1940. Courtesy of The First 50 Years.



As the 3rd Director of the MDOC, Carl Noren is undoubtedly best remembered for overseeing Missouri’s New Design for Conservation – an updated expansion of the Department’s conservation program. Over time, Design has become inextricably linked to a valiant tax-based funding plan that, when combined with the unique make-up of the Missouri Conservation Commission (see Part One), really sets the state’s conservation management program apart from others in the U.S. It would also mark yet another wildlife conservation milestone in which Charles and Libby would play pivotal roles.

When Noren took office in the late 1960s, the MDOC was faced with several immediate concerns; their funding at that point in time was still heavily dependent upon hunting and fishing license sales (in addition to the monies they were allocated from federal aid programs such as Dingle-Johnson and Pittman-Robertson). However, the state’s population had been steadily increasing since the end of WWII – going from 3.5 million to 4.5 million in 1967 – and it was becoming more diverse.

An increasingly larger segment of the population was not interested in participating in Missouri’s traditional outdoor recreational activities of hunting and fishing (or purchasing licenses to do so). Rather, they were interested in non-game activities like bird watching, nature photography, hiking, back-packing, camping, boating, kayaking and floating (see Figure 4).



Figure 4. Cave Spring on the Current River. Missouri offers extraordinary opportunities for kayaking and floating.



Unlike hunters and fishermen, this meant they were using the wildlife areas managed by the MDOC without paying for a portion of the costs to maintain and oversee them. This prompted Noren to think about ways in which to restructure Missouri’s conservation program to make it more inclusive of the state’s rapidly changing demographic – and continue to make it financially viable.

Fairly early in this quest, he came into contact with Warren Lammert, an influential member of the Missouri Prairie Foundation. They were simpatico in finding a solution and Lammert agreed to help. According to James Keefe, “In April, 1968, Lammert [then] met with the Conservation Commission to urge an expanded outlook, and the Commission directed the staff to develop a program for those who simply enjoyed wildlife for its own sake, as well as hunters and fishermen.”

A three-man team, headed by Starker Leopold, was subsequently commissioned to make a study of the Department, its current programs and make recommendations as to its future course of action. On May 23, 1970, their findings were presented to over 200 concerned citizens at a meeting held at the MDOC headquarters building in Jefferson City (see Figure 5).



Figure 5. Carl Noren speaking at the public meeting held in 1970. Starker Leoplod sits in the center of the three-man committee behind him. Courtesy of The First 50 Years.



In an article titled “The Seven-Year Night”, which originally ran in the Missouri Conservationist on September 2, 2006 and then again (revised) on November 29, 2010, author Joel Vance stated:

“The trio concluded that while the Department had done an exemplary job of providing for hunters and anglers, it had neglected the majority of Missourians who didn’t hunt or fish. It was, the study concluded, a lack of money, not a lack of desire. And the flip side was that hunting and fishing areas were being used for many activities other than those two things, but the people doing the using were paying none of the upkeep.’

“The Leopold team concluded there was an obligation to provide and mange areas for everyone, but no money to do it. So, a conservation program for the future needed to find a funding source and then develop a program [focussing much more on non-game species] that offered something for everyone.” The Department estimated the additional costs would top 20 million dollars per year. According to Vance, “It sounded like pie in the sky.”

Undaunted and no doubt emboldened by their tremendous success in the 1930s, a group of staunch Missouri conservationists immediately formed the Citizens Committee for Conservation (CCC), led by attorney and long-time conservation supporter Ted Scott as chairman. They requested input from the Business School at the University of Missouri and a tax on soft drinks was initially recommended.

While the CCC formed a legal committee and drew up a petition, Noren and others within the MDOC (including Charles and Libby) authored the Design for Conservation. It was originally published in the September, 1971 issue of the Missouri Conservationist. The summary page is shown in Figure 6 (Note Charles’ illustration at the bottom).



Figure 6. The New Design for Conservation summary page which was originally published in the September, 1971 issue of the Missouri Conservationist.



According to Keefe, “Design is the basic blueprint for Missouri’s outdoor future – a plan to help mitigate the adverse impacts of modern development. It was, and is, a long range plan to expand the state’s conservation program and provide more recreational opportunities for all Missourians.’

“Under Design the Department pledged to buy land for recreation [and] forestry, and to protect critical habitats for rare or endangered species of plants and animals. The Department pledged to increase its services to the public…increase research into forestry and all species of wildlife – whether considered game or not… and provide more recreational opportunities for the future.”

In its first attempt to secure funding for the plans outlined in the Design for Conservation, the CCC initiated its petition drive in October of 1971. Very similar to the one used to create the Conservation Commission in 1936, the petition sought a constitutional amendment whereby Missouri residents would impose on themselves “a one cent tax on each sixteen ounces of carbonated soft drink they bought.” The Mizzou Business School estimated the penny tax would generate $20 million annually to support the Design proposal.

Within nine months the CCC had obtained 164,000 signatures – the most ever for a Missouri citizen initiative – and filed them with the secretary of state. However, all during the signature campaign the soft drink bottling industry fought against the tax – claiming it would lead to many of them going out of business (one penny, really?) and they enlisted the state’s brewers and grocers on their side.

Ultimately, the conservationists were met with bitter disappointment, largely of their own making. According to Keefe, “A Jefferson City attorney employed by the bottling industry met with the secretary of state at the same time the petitions were turned in and told him the petitions were flawed because they lacked an eight-word enacting clause, ‘be it enacted by the people of Missouri.’ The attorney general [then] ruled that the secretary of state should not certify the petitions. The CCC carried the matter all the way to the state Supreme Court, which ruled against the petition.” Defeated by a legal technicality, it was a stunning blow (see Figure 7).



Figure 7. Article which appeared in the Daily Capital News on July 28, 1972 (click to enlarge).



However, the CCC would prove to be indefatigable – and the steering committee immediately voted to continue on with the effort. Over the next two years (1973-1974) they conducted numerous public opinion polls in order to determine what form of tax would have the best possible chance of passing. This led them to explore options for an addition to the state sales tax – one that would be earmarked entirely for the MDOC’s new, expanded conservation program. There was broad support for such a tax increase, coming from groups as disparate as the NRA and the Sierra Club.

According to Keefe, “It was calculated that a one-eighth of one percent sales tax [addition] would provide the $20 million to fund the program outlined in Design.” The next step was to contact all of the volunteers who had helped with the previous petition and see if they would help with a new one. Nearly everyone was still onboard.

This would be a massive new undertaking, with volunteers across the state targeting a minimum of 150,000 signatures (state law required 100,000 from at least seven of the state’s ten congressional districts). Attorneys would have to ensure every “i” was dotted and “t” was crossed – there could be no more human errors. The biggest difficulty would be to find a reliable source to fund the advertising campaign necessary to ensure this second, larger effort would be successful.

In other words, the CCC needed funding to help secure funding for the MDOC. The CCC then hired a prominent public relations firm to raise the money and help win public support. In yet another blow, the firm bowed out after informing the conservationists they did not believe they could pull it off…


Charles’ Painting Plays a Pivotal Role

The CCC then decided it would try to raise the funds itself and conduct its own publicity campaign. Keefe stated, “Again, volunteers came forward. Some were associated with advertising or public relations firms and helped with publicity and advertising. Others raised money by conducting white elephant sales, auctions and chili suppers.’

Charles Schwartz donated a painting and several [smaller] wildlife sketches that were made into prints to be sold as fund raisers… In all, about $170,000 was raised for advertising and other campaign expenses.”

In fact, it was Charles’ beautiful painting (of a subject very close to his heart) that was directly responsible for raising almost half of the money and, therefore, made the CCC’s sales tax campaign possible. Specifically, it was the sale of 3,000 prints made from his large painting of Canada geese in flight, titled Missouri Canadas, that raised over $80,000 to help save the day – thus making it possible for more Missourians to enjoy the state’s unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities moving forward (see Figures 8 and 9).



Figure 8. Charles in his home studio, painting Missouri Canadas. Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri.



Figure 9. Photo and caption from the First 50 Years (click to enlarge).



You may recognize the piece from the opening scenes of the Schwartz’s award-winning Wild Chorus discussed above. After the soft drink tax set-back, Charles knew the CCC would likely be in need of short-term funding, so he donated the painting to them and they started selling limited edition prints (see Figure 10).



Figure 10. Charles and Libby’s personal copy of the Design for Conservation print. Courtesy of the Schwartz Family.



The MDOC helped publicize the print by using the image for an eye-catching wrap around cover for the November 1972 issue of the Missouri Conservationist (see Figure 11). Printed inside the front cover was the statement “Where you see one of these prints marks a true friend of conservation.”



Figure 11. Cover for the November, 1972 issue of the Missouri Conservationist.



After the public relations firm bowed out and the CCC was in a real bind, Missourians stepped-up and Charles’ print “started selling like hot cakes.” The CCC used the monies generated from print sales to help explain and publicize the the new sales tax initiative – and it enabled a small army of volunteers, led by Doris “Dink” Keefe (the wife of James Keefe), to gather an impressive 208,000 signatures which they turned over to the secretary of state.

Unlike the previous attempt, there was no challenge to the legality of the petitions. The proposed amendment was certified for the ballot and voted on by Missourians in the November, 1976 election. A Vote For Woods and Wildlife carried the day and Amendment 1 passed by about 30,000 votes (see Figure 12).



Figure 12. The slogan used to help pass the landmark amendment in 1976. Courtesy of the MDOC.



A Conservation Legacy to Be Proud Of

Over the course of 40 years (and two generations), starting in 1936 with men like Sydney Stephens, J.T. Montgomery, and Dr. Rudolf Bennitt and finishing in 1976 with men and women like Carl Noren, Warren Lammert, James and Doris “Dink” Keefe, Charles and Libby Schwartz and Joel Vance – among many others – the determined citizens of Missouri succeeded in completely transforming their wildlife conservation and management tradition into something they could be proud of.

When speaking about the sales tax amendment in her memoir, Libby commented: “At this time, our goal was to secure $21 million annually to fund our non-game program. After the tax passed, with time this amount increased until [by] 1994 it was $80 million, making the Missouri Department of Conservation the best funded conservation department in the United States.”

Vance added, “When the word finally came, conservation had won. Missourians had decided to tax themselves to ensure the diversity and health of Missouri’s woods, water and wildlife. It was and is a landmark effort, envied by every other state agency, and is still unique in its constitutional authority.”



Magazine publicity artwork for the New Design for Conservation by Charles W. Schwartz.



In the introduction to Part One of this series, I quoted Heather Feeler from a 2015 article which appeared in the Missouri Conservationist:

“For those of us who have grown up in Missouri, especially the last few decades, we’ve had the privilege of enjoying conservation at its finest – healthy forests to hike, abundant wildlife to watch or hunt, and ample fish to catch. We have a beautiful state with immense outdoor opportunities. While we are lucky to live here, the rich conservation resources have nothing to do with luck. It’s because citizens have led the way, year after year, for a better conservation future.”

Establishing the bipartisan Missouri Conservation Commission in 1936 was a tremendous start. Then, 40 years later in 1976, the next generation of Missouri Citizens – including the children of many of those who accomplished that original feat – authored the Design For Conservation and subsequently voted into law the sales tax amendment to support it, effectively sealing the deal.

As highly respected wildlife biologists for the Department with long and varied resumes, Charles and Libby Schwartz were two of those next generation citizens who played a big role in “leading the way.” They both participated in authoring Design for Conservation, produced a movie with the same name in order to help publicize the need for the sales tax amendment to pass and, ultimately, provided the means (the Missouri Canadian painting) that funded much of the effort.

For the Schwartzes, the New Design for Conservation facilitated their lifelong goal of enabling more people to participate in outdoor activities and, in so doing, become more empathetic toward wildlife conservation and ecology. They firmly believed that a personal connection with the natural world made it much more likely humans would be good stewards of “the land” as defined by Aldo Leopold (see Prologue to Part Three and Aldo Leopold – Extended Cut):





Big Game of North America

Charles then provided the illustrations for another important wildlife conservation management book. Big Game of North America: Ecology and Management was first published in 1978. Complied and edited by Douglas L. Gilbert and John L. Schmidt for the Wildlife Management Institute, Big Game was an enormous undertaking (494 p) involving chapters written by dozens of different authors – each recognized as an expert in their respective field of study.

According to the organization’s website (see Figure 13), “The Wildlife Management Institute was established in 1911 by sportsmen / businessmen gravely concerned about the dramatic declines of many wildlife populations. Its founders saw a need for a small, independent and aggressive cadre of people dedicated to restoring and ensuring the well-being of wild populations and their habitats.”



Figure 13. The banner on the Wildlife Management Institute’s website features a photo of Aldo Leopold bow hunting.



In the Foreword, Daniel A. Poole, President of the Wildlife Management Institute, wrote: “Aside from its importance as a modern and comprehensive summary of the management of North America’s interesting and spectacular large mammals, the book, taken as a whole, has still another dimension.’

“Its many chapters testify to the fact that, given public support, cooperation and adequate funding, the wildlife profession is fully capable of maintaining populations of native wildlife within the capacity of natural habitats to supply needed food, water and shelter. The record attests to this fact. Many of the species covered in this book, now abundant, were [once] at perilously low population levels.”

This was the first book devoted to the ecology and management of the North American big game species. Similar to the Schwartzes’ Wild Mammals of Missouri, although it was a highly detailed and comprehensive book – it was written and illustrated in such a way as to appeal to both academics and amateur naturalists, alike (see Figures 14 and 15).



Figure 14. Big Game of North America: Ecology and Management, 2nd edition (1981).



Figure 15. The title page features a mesmerizing drawing of a mountain lion by Charles W. Schwartz.



There were two sections to the book; the first half discusses the ecology and management for each of the big game species in North America and includes such introduced “exotics” as the axis deer, desert sheep and the ibex.

The second half covers a wide range of topics, including early big game management history, nutritional considerations and the carrying capacity of various habitats, animal behavior and its implications for management, harvest management and predator control – to name a few.

All in all, Big Game of North America was an encyclopedic reference and a valuable addition to the wildlife conservation professional’s bookshelf. It was also engrossing reading for hunters, students and anyone, really, who was interested in learning more about big game animals. In what had by now become somewhat of a given, Charles’ detailed and anatomically correct illustrations served to facilitate the reader’s understanding of the points made by the experts in the text – and made for a highly satisfying read (see Photo 16).



Figure 16. This plate by Charles Schwartz is used to help identify various species of North American deer.



Big Game of North America holds a special significance for our current story, as it marked the last time Charles W. Schwartz – now in his mid 60s – would agree to illustrate a major conservation work other than his (and Libby’s) own or that of the MDOC. This ended a 30-year period during which he contributed drawings which helped facilitate connections for readers of many important publications, beginning with his friend Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac (see Part Three).



The First Missouri Waterfowl Stamp

The first state to issue a pictorial waterfowl stamp was California in 1971; it was self-adhesive and featured a duotone pair of pintails designed by Department of Fish Game staff artist Paul Johnson.  (see Figure 17). As discussed in A Set of Stamps for the Ages – Extended Cut the following year, 1972, the Iowa State Conservation Commission made a request of native son Maynard Reece to design the first state waterfowl stamp in multicolor. This decision was heavily influenced by the popularity of Charles Schwartz’ multicolor trout stamps – a series which had been, in part, inspired by Reece’s 1959-60 federal waterfowl stamp featuring King Buck.



Figure 17. 1971 California duck stamp.



Soon, it would Charles’ “turn” again. When Missouri conservation leaders learned of the Iowa waterfowl stamp – they wanted one too. According to Keefe, “Back in 1972, the waterfowl committee of the Conservation Federation of Missouri [the same organization that was formed in 1935 and spearheaded the initiative to establish the Missouri Conservation Commission] issued a resolution requesting the [MDOC] to create a waterfowl hunting stamp similar to the federal duck stamp [and the Iowa waterfowl stamp], with proceeds to be used to enhance waterfowl hunting in the state.’

“At about the same time Ducks Unlimited [DU] had asked for such a stamp, also. The commission was deeply involved in the Design for Conservation program then, and didn’t want to tackle anything that might affect those efforts.”

Glenn Chambers writes in Waterfowl Hunting and Wetland Conservation in Missouri, “The fate of that [Conservation Federation] resolution is unclear, and there is little evidence it was formally adopted and advanced. In November 1974, leadership from Missouri DU petitioned the MDOC to adopt a state duck stamp. The proposal was for a $3.00 stamp that would be required of all waterfowl hunters sixteen years and older.’

“Proceeds would be allocated in a three-way split: 10 percent for MDOC administrative fees, 45 percent for waterfowl and wetland enhancement in Missouri, and 45 percent for habitat improvement on the breeding grounds in Canada.”

Once again, the DU’s timing was bad as the Commission was now focussed on the sales tax initiative to fund the Design for Conservation program – so the state waterfowl stamp was rejected for a second time. In 1975, after three more states had issued pictorial stamps, including another neighbor (Illinois – see Figure 18), Missouri DU made another request and the Commission refused for the same reason as before.



Figure 18. 1975 Illinois waterfowl stamp.



After the sales tax initiative passed in 1976, the Commission was more receptive to the stamp. However, it was decided they should obtain feedback in the form of two surveys to determine whether the state’s hunters supported the idea – especially since the Department’s legal council expressed reservations as to whether the fees could be distributed according to DU’s proposal (almost half of the net proceeds would fund conservation programs in another country).

The surveys indicated widespread support among the state’s waterfowl hunters (in no small part due to the education they received from watching Wild Chorus, produced by Charles, Glenn and Libby and released in 1974). According to Glenn “At least two-thirds of the respondents to both surveys were in favor of the duck stamp proposal. Based on this [unequivocal] information, the Wildlife Division recommended the establishment of a state duck stamp consistent with the 1974 proposal from DU. [However], in spite of the strong support among waterfowl hunters, [now] the Department’s Regulations Committee rejected the proposal.”

After more discussions between determined Missouri DU members and the Commission, at a February 16, 1979 meeting of the Commission (and Larry Gale’s first meeting as Director), the Commission finally approved creating a $3.00 waterfowl stamp with the proceeds to be distributed per DU’s original request – with the proviso that fees charged Missouri hunters only help fund projects in Canada that produced birds migrating through Missouri.

According to Keefe, “The Commission contracted with Ducks Unlimited for two water projects that could enhance duck flights into Missouri, the Bethel Project and the Two-Mile Chain Project, both in southern Manitoba… proceeds from waterfowl stamps are providing breeding and gathering sites for ducks that make their way to Missouri, and providing feeding and resting places for the birds when they get here.’

“Missouri waterfowl stamps also have added to the treasury of waterfowl art, as prints from the stamps help recognize Missouri artists and enrich the lives of their purchasers. It was one waterfowl flap with a happy ending.”


Charles W. Schwartz Selected to Design…

And now we have reached a part of our story that is of prime interest to many of our readers. According to fellow research biologist, frequent film collaborator and close friend Glenn Chambers, “It is no surprise that Director Larry Gale selected Charles W. Schwartz to design and paint the first Missouri Waterfowl stamp.’

“Neither is it a surprise Schwartz chose the Canada Goose for his subject because of his love for the birds [that deepened] through [his] association with them while filming Wild Chorus, a feature-length motion picture about the life history of the birds that nest in the Hudson Bay Lowlands near Churchill, Manitoba.”

In Wildlife Drawings (1980), Charles states: “When I started designing the first Missouri waterfowl stamp, I decided that Canada geese would represent our waterfowl very well. What you see here is one of a number of preliminary drawings I made (see Figure 19)…. From this I did an oil painting (see Figure 20), and the stamp was made from that.”



Figure 19. Preliminary drawing Charles made for the 1979 Missouri waterfowl stamp. From Wildlife Drawings (1980).



Figure 20. Charles’ painting for the first Missouri waterfowl stamp was featured on the back cover of the October, 1979 Missouri Conservationist.



Often, it is left to me to explain and / or critique the stamp art which is found throughout this website. Today, in a rare treat (thanks to his comments in Wildlife Drawings), we get to learn more about the 1979 Missouri waterfowl stamp in Charles’ own words:

“Though I made quite a few preliminary sketches, they were all pretty much alike. All of them show geese landing, and all of them show the same location – the partially flooded wheat field in central Missouri, with the bluffs and the pecan trees and the cottonwoods in the background.”

“I chose just the three geese in order to keep the design simple. The figures need to be large for a stamp; otherwise, by the time it’s reduced to actual stamp size, you lose all the detail. Stamp designs need to be simple and bold – always, of course, keeping in mind that there has to be room for lettering and such, too.’

“What’s interesting to me in this are the postures of the geese. They’re just braking their descent, starting to back-peddle. They’ve lowered their feet, spread their tailfeathers and cupped them in – all of which helps them slow their glide. Each one has picked out the spot where it wants to land; you can see that in the position of their heads. They’ll settle down shortly.”


The stamp was put on sale in October of 1979. At that time, Missouri joined four other states (Alabama, Florida, Nevada and Tennessee) in issuing their first pictorial waterfowl stamps, bringing the total number of participating states to 17 and helping to create a new philatelic niche – initially serviced by fledgling stamp dealers Barry Porter, David Curtis and Richard Houk (As I write this, in 2021, Rich is still an active “duck stamp” dealer).

The stamps were printed in panes of five (1 x 5) with a tab at the left, similar to the Missouri trout stamps printed from 1981 – 1996. Two panes were stapled between covers to form a booklet. It should be noted that the 1979 stamps were produced in at least two separate printings, easily distinguished by their color or “hue.”

Stamps numbered 1 – 1,000 have soft, “muted” colors, consistent with Charles’ original art. According to Richard Houk, these were given to those working for the Conservation Commission, the MDOC and those with people with government connections who would get a stamp with the same number every year.

Stamps numbered 1,000 – 3,000 were sold with prints (stamp #1001 went with print #1 and so on). On these stamps the colors are more saturated and the stamps have a distinct violet hue.

Stamps numbered over 3,000 were sold to hunters and they appear very similar (if not the same) as those numbered under 1,000 (see Figures 21 – 25).



Figure 21. 1979 Missouri Waterfowl Stamp (under 1000).



Figure 22. 1979 Missouri Waterfowl Stamp (1,000 – 3,000).



Figure 23. 1979 Missouri Waterfowl Stamp pane of five with tabs at the left (over 3,000). Courtesy of Michael Jaffe.



Figure 24. 1979 Missouri waterfowl stamp (#19,367) used on the front of a Resident Hunting & Fishing Permit. Note the MDOC logo (designed by Charles Schwartz) in the background.



Figure 25. 1979 Missouri Waterfowl Stamp (#113,993) used in combination with a 1979-80 federal waterfowl stamp on the reverse of a Non-Resident Small Game Hunting Permit.



Charles contracted with Countryside Studio in Cottontown, Tennessee to publish a “limited edition” (2,000) print of his 1979 waterfowl stamp art. Charles also signed and numbered a separate edition labeled “Artist Copy.” There were only 65 prints in this edition and they are analogous to artist proofs. It should be noted that the stamps he furnished with prints from this smaller edition were from those numbered under 1,000 provided to him by the MDOC.

At this point in time the collecting of duck stamps and duck stamp prints was in its heyday and Charles’ 1979 print was welcomed by collectors and wildlife art enthusiasts who seemingly could “not get enough” to satisfy their passion (see Figures 26 and 27).



Figure 26. The folder for Charles’ 1979 print included a nice biography (click to enlarge).



Figure 27. 1979 Missouri waterfowl stamp print, artwork by Charles W. Schwartz.



Unlike Charles’ trout stamps, the 1979 Missouri waterfowl stamp remainders were not heavily discounted for collectors. However, the 40 cent agent’s service fee was waived when ordering stamps directly from the Department’s fiscal section (see Figure 28).



Figure 28. This article appeared in the December, 1979 issue of the Eldon Advertiser.



This helps to explain why (in addition to Charles’ compelling art) after the number of states issuing pictorial waterfowl stamps doubled in the next seven years and collectors, dealers and print publishers combined to turn the niche hobby into a veritable feeding frenzy during the late 1980s – the 1979 Missouri waterfowl stamp was one of the most sought after and most difficult to acquire.

Creating the artwork for a “first-of-state” waterfowl stamp and print marked another significant milestone in Charles’ venerable career. From his perspective, it was (no doubt) simply part and parcel of a job he loved – one which allowed him to make continuous contributions toward facilitating our connection with the natural world.

For those who were interested in duck stamp and prints, however, this contribution was especially meaningful – for it enhanced the journey.



Continue to Part Six








  1. carl freiling on May 5, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    I want to take the opportunity to thank you for the really quite excellent work you have done highlighting the lives and accomplishments of these two wonderful people. I spend a considerable amount of time with Charlie and Libby, from either 68 or 69 until Charlie’s death. And knew many of the other early Conservationists referenced, to far lesser degree. I followed turtles, sat in blinds, watched them edit and develop film, watched Charlie draw and paint countless times, canoed, travelled, shot ducks, shared many wonderful times. But I was raised never to pry, and they never carried on about past glories or awards—it was always what we are doing now and what’s next after that. So I learned a great deal that was fun from your research and writing, and tied many of my memories and bits and pieces of their earlier years together. I truly appreciate it. Their son John had shared this with me.

    Charlie was a remarkable talent, a lion of personality, tremendous fun when that was the thing happening. And Libby kept that talent focused, and used her own exceptional abilities to direct the creation of many of their most lauded works. She was the best human being, all things taken together, that I have ever known. I have had a lifetime of commitment to a number of conservation efforts in a variety of ways, but have always felt like a Piker by comparison to their influence and achievements.

    Again, many thanks. Carl

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