In todays post, I will focus on highlights from the state fish and game portions of the Morton Dean Joyce revenue stamp collection. It is fair to say that Mort never met a revenue stamp he did not like. He not only collected all revenue stamps but collateral material as well and he amassed copious documentation that was used in writing up his album and exhibit pages.
Mort saw state fish and game license stamps, like virtually all collectors of his generation, as a fundamental part of his state revenue collection. As he aggressively pursued all state revenues, he likewise aggressively pursued fish and game stamps, starting in 1937, when Kansas issued the first license stamps required to hunt quail.
Mort acquired his fish and game stamps in the same way he acquired the rest of his collections – using any and all means possible. These included purchasing stamps at auction, stamp shows, from stamp dealers and via philatelic agents, from ads he placed in various philatelic publications and directly from other collectors in purchase or trade.
With state fish and game stamps, there was another productive avenue to utilize and that was through the agencies that sold and distributed the stamps. In other words, the primary sources.
Prior to Joseph Janousek starting to list all of the state fish and game stamps that were being issued (his regular column first appeared in The American Revenuer in April of 1959), there was sporadic information published in the philatelic press and it was essentially up to each collector to keep up a correspondence with the agencies in order to learn of new issues (see Figure 1).
That was the first step. The second step was, after learning of a new stamp, to succeed in getting the agency to sell you the stamps as a non vendor. This second part was a challenge for many collectors. For Mort, both of these steps were a normal part of his weekly, if not daily, routine and he became very accomplished in learning about new issues and subsequently acquiring them.
Morton Dean Joyce was an educated man of considerable means, held a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and was a partner or member in many firms, including Pulleyn & Co., William B. Joyce and Sons and Pyne, Kendall & Hollister before he opened his own office. In other words, Morton Dean Joyce had pull.
The Kansas Quail Stamps
Upland game bird hunting is a time-honored tradition in the State of Kansas. In the late 1930s, there existed a great demand for quail in the state. At this time, it was believed that quail could be raised on state-run farms, then released into the wild to keep populations in equilibrium.
According to Kansas quail stamp specialist David R. 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”.
Two quail farms were operated by the state, at Calista and Pittsburg. At their peak, 40,000 quail were hatched and released in 1949. Over time, data showed that few of release birds survived and the farms came under scrutiny. By the 1960s, the farms were closed and the first fish and game stamp series in the U.S. was discontinued. The final stamp in the series, 1961-62, was printed but not issued as the quail farms had already closed.
At this time, the emphasis on Kansas game management switched to upland game birds in general, which included pheasant and prairie chicken and a new series of upland game bird stamps superseded the quail stamps.
The bi-colored quail stamps that were issued to fund the quail farms from 1937-38 through 1961-62 have always been popular with collectors. There are many constant printing varieties to study and for some, like David Lucas, an entire specialized collection can built around this one series.
The first two years, the stamps were printed and issued in panes of 50. Starting in 1939-40 and continuing through 1946-47, the stamps were printed and issued in single stamp booklet panes with a tab at the left side (see Figure 2). During this same eight year period, the printer sent proofs to the License Supervisor in Pratt in panes of ten (2 x 5), with straight edges on all four sides.
Occasionally, when supplies of the regular booklet type quail stamps ran low or ran out completely, the License Supervisor would release some of the proofs to clerks to sell hunters as a stop gap measure. In a few instances used examples entered the collector market and they became known. Unused proofs were not sold to stamp collectors, however, except to Morton Dean Joyce.
Mort was able to acquire at least two partial panes of unused proofs for the 1939-40 stamp, including a white feather variety, which he broke up to trade collector friends like George D. Cabot and fellow Fish and Game Hall of Famers Frank Applegate, Charles Hermann, Bert Hubbard and E.L. Vanderford (see Figures 3 and 4).
For 1945-46, Mort acquired several complete unused panes (see Figure 5) and for 1946-47, a few unused singles including one with the white feather variety (see Figures 6 and 7).
In addition to the unused 1946-47 proofs, Mort had a rare used single in his collection, showing the constant broken frame-line variety along the right side (see Figure 8).
1n 1903 the Tennessee general assembly declared all game animals and fish the property of the state and named Joseph Acklen as the first game warden. Two years later, the general assembly established the Game, Fish and Forestry Department and in 1907, set the first hunting license fees, with payment optional.
In 1915 the legislature reorganized the agency and created the Department of Game and Fish, governed by a Game and Fish Commission.
In 1937, several changes took place. First, a new Department of Conservation was created and the Game and Fish Commission was abolished (for two years). A Division of Game and Fish was established within the Department of Conservation to manage the state’s wildlife resources.
Further, Senate Bill 401, Chapter 84, created three unusual series of fish and game stamps that are of great interest to advanced collectors today, the Tennessee Shell Tax stamps of 1937 and 1938 and the Tennessee Fur Tax stamps of 1939.
The Tennessee Shell Tax Stamps
In his Handbook of Fish of Fish and Game Stamps, E. L. Vanderford stated, “Although in no sense license stamps, many collectors have included them in their collections”. This statement is correct on both accounts.
There are two good reasons why collectors get excited by these stamps. First, while it is true the stamps were not required to be affixed to the hunter’s license – they were required to be affixed to the boxes of ammunition the hunter used. In other words, the shell tax stamps were required to hunt in the State of Tennessee. Second, they have incredible eye appeal!
The stamps were issued during the same time as the legendary Pymatuning hunting and fishing license stamps (both series started in 1937), were the same size and shape as the Pymatuning stamps – but were engraved with a hunting scene, complete with a hunter shooting ducks over a marsh with a pointer at his side, eager to jump in (see Figure 9). In addition, they were printed in a range of striking colors. What is not to like?
The Division of Game and Fish had an unwritten policy of not selling their shell tax stamps to collectors in 1937 and 1938, except to Morton Dean Joyce. At this point, no one really knows how Mort accomplished this but he was able to acquire a number of mint stamps which he then traded to collector friends.
If a collector was not a friend of Mort’s, they were left to scrape or soak used stamps from boxes. For this reason, most of the 1937 and 1938 Tennessee shell tax stamps in collections today are not only used but often thinned as well.
There were eight different stamps issued in 1937, with face values ranging from one mill to 3 cents. Having said that, you can see the difficulty in selling stamps to collectors. How do you collect a few mill from someone, especially out of state?
Mort had an unused set of blocks for all values of the first (1937) series, except the rare 2 cents blue (see Figures 10 through 16) and a complete set of blocks of all values of the second series (1938), except the 3 cents red. This is a good indication of the difficulty in acquiring these two stamps – now and then.
While Mort did not have a block of the rare 1937 2 cent value in his collection, he did have the finest single recorded (see Figure 17).
For 1938, Tennessee reduced the size of the stamps and added seven new values (see Figures 18 through 24). To view the entire second series in blocks of four (except the 3 cent), visit Gallery Two.
Once again, while Mort did not have a block of the elusive 1938 3 cent value, he did have an exceptional unused single (see Figure 25).
Aside from Mort’s, the only other collection I have encountered with unused multiples of the Tennessee shell tax stamps was that of ARA co-founder Elbert Hubbard.
Included in Bert’s state revenue collection were: vertical pairs of the first series 1-4 mills and 1 cent; a vertical pair of the second series 3 cent (see Figure 27); vertical strips of three of most of the other second series values; blocks of four, eight and twelve of the second series 1 mill (see Figure 26) and blocks of four of the second series 4 1/2 and 5 cent values.
Bert told me he purchased the multiples from the distinguished revenue collector George D. Cabot, a close personal friend of Mort’s. I have always assumed Cabot acquired them from Mort in a trade.
The Tennessee Fur Tax Stamps
In 1937 the same Senate Bill (401, Chapter 84) that created the requirement for the shell tax stamps created an even more interesting and unique set of fish and game stamps. The stamps, referred to by Bert Hubbard as “the rarest U.S./state hunt/fish stamps” are – physically – transportation tags, complete with felt patches surrounding punched holes to affix to a hide, fur or pelt.
What makes them so intriguing to collectors is that not only does the law enacting them refer to them as “stamps” in no less than ten places (see Figure 28) but does the same on the stamps themselves (see Figure 29). It makes you think you are not seeing straight – crazy and fun!
Clearly the State of Tennessee viewed these tags as transportation stamps that were required to to be affixed to the “hides, furs and pelts” of animals that were hunted and killed before they were shipped out of the state. Who are we to argue?
Before we take a look at the stamps themselves, a few comments are in order. First, although the law was enacted in 1937, all recorded used examples (an admittedly small sampling – less than 20 total) are dated 1939 (see Figures 30 and 31). For this reason, the recently expanded and updated State Revenue Catalog lists them as being issued in 1939.
Second, nine separate stamps are listed in Figure 28, including one for otter. To my knowledge, the otter stamp has not been recorded and was probably never issued. In addition to the 15-20 various used examples, I have seen two “complete” unused sets, one came in Mort’s collection and one in the Bert Hubbard collection. I know of one other collector that has a set. All of the sets consist of eight stamps, with no otter.
I have also bought and sold two or three unused singles over the years and this leads me to believe that, somewhere along the way, a set was broken up – but still no otter. The eight Joyce Tennessee Fur Tax stamps include opossum, weasel, muskrat, skunk, gray fox, raccoon, mink and red fox (see Figure 32).
As with the shell tax stamps, I have traced every unused fur tax stamp back to Morton Dean Joyce. He was apparently the only collector who both learned of their existence in the late 1930s and was able to purchase them from the State of Tennessee.