The Honey Lake Waterfowl Stamps

by David R. Torre, ARA




Following the federal waterfowl stamps, the two most popular series of waterfowl stamps among longtime collectors are undoubtedly those issued by California for Honey Lake and the Illinois Daily Usage stamps. The Honey Lake stamps are non-pictorial, while the Daily Usage stamps may be liberally described as semi-pictorial. Their appeal results less from their aesthetic qualities than from their usages, related history (both social and philatelic) and longevity.

Their usages differ in a strict philatelic sense. The Honey Lake stamps were required to be affixed to state hunting licenses which they validated for an entire season. The Daily Usage stamps were affixed to permits, distinct from the holder’s state hunting license, which they validated for a single day. In a broader sense their usages were alike. Both series of stamps conveyed the right to hunt on public shooting grounds located on state waterfowl management areas. Such areas were widely developed in the 1940s and 1950s to meet a triad of pressing social needs; that is, to preserve the waterfowl of North America for the benefit of current and future generations, to reduce and control waterfowl depredations on agricultural crops and to provide regulated waterfowl hunting for sportsmen who could not afford to belong to private clubs.

Both series trace their origins to the 1950s, placing them among the earliest state issues required to hunt waterfowl. The Honey Lake stamps are the longest consecutively issued series of waterfowl stamps by any state government in the twentieth century (1956 to 1986). The Daily Usage stamps have been issued over an even longer period of time, although not consecutively (1951 to the present). The stamps were first discovered by pioneer fish and game collectors in the early 1960s and have been avidly collected since. Recently they have enjoyed a surge in popularity, prompted by the large number of collectors now specializing in state-issued waterfowl stamps.

One of the difficulties encountered by collectors of all types of fish and game stamps is a scarcity of published information. The primary purpose of this article and a second to follow in the April [1994] issue of The American Revenuer is to tell the stories of the two stamp programs. In addition, the need for state waterfowl management areas will be chronicled. Related waterfowl legislation will be included and the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 will be discussed at some length. It is hoped that this knowledge will expand the frame of reference collectors have for fish and game stamps thereby allowing the hobby to be more enjoyable and rewarding.

The following is a brief literature review for the California stamps. A separate review for the Illinois stamps will appear as part of the next issue’s article. Information about the Honey Lake stamps was first published in [Frank L.] Applegate’s Catalogue of State and Territorial Game and Fishing License Stamps in the early 1960s. Applegate provided a description of the first five “Seasonal Permit” stamps, which he reported as first being issued for the 1956-57 season (see Figure 1). 



Figure 1. In the early 1960s, Applegate was the first to publish information about the Honey Lake stamps. This example was in the Vanderford collection for many years.



The number of stamps sold for the first four issues was included and it ranged from 236 to 306. Applegate also published a description of a “Madeline Plains Seasonal Permit” stamp that he reported as being issued for 1956-57 only. Applegate stated that both the Honey Lake and Madeline Plains stamps were printed by the California State Printing Office and that “all remainders had been destroyed by the state”.

Starting in the mid 1960s, E. L. Vanderford wrote a series of articles reporting on state and local fish and game stamps for the State Revenue Newsletter. When Vanderford had finished covering all of the states that had issued stamps up until that time, the articles were updated and compiled into Vanderford’s Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps. The State Revenue Society (SRS) published the landmark reference in 1973. In the handbook Vanderford provided descriptions of the Honey Lake stamps that had been issued through 1971-72. For 1966-67 there were two types listed. Type I stamps to were numbered from 1 to 700 and bear an imprint in the lower right corner. Type II stamps were numbered 701 to ? and lack the imprint (see Figure 2).



Figure 2. E. L. Vanderford’s Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps listed two typed of 1966-67 stamps. Type II lacks the printer’s imprint in the lower right.



Vanderford provided additional information about the Madeline Plains stamp. He stated that Madeline Plains was also a state-owned and operated area north of Honey lake but had been abandoned “primarily due to the inaccessibility of the area.” The California Department of Fish and Game had informed Vanderford that seasonal permit stamps, similar to those used at Honey Lake, and been issued for 1956-57 and that 119 were sold. As Vanderford was previously unaware of a Madeline Plains stamp, he stated “Verification by actual inspection of [a] stamp is desired.”

In 1977 the SRS published Vanderford’s Check List of State and Locally Issued Migratory Waterfowl License Stamps. The checklist included descriptions of Honey Lake stamps used from 1972-73 through 1975-76. By this time Vanderford had come to believe that he was given erroneous information concerning the Madeline Plains stamp and that it was ,in fact, a myth. Therefore, the stamp’s description was deleted from the checklist and in its place was the statement “Information needed—none now known to exist.”

In 1991 Scott Publishing Company published a Federal and State Duck Stamp Catalogue. The catalog pictured all of the Honey Lake stamps issued through 1985-86 and provided a brief description for each. No mention was made of the Madeline Plains stamp.



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