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The Honey Lake Waterfowl Stamps

Stamps Run Out


In the 1960s, the HLWMA became a very popular place to hunt. According to former Area Manager Bob Weld, this can be attributed to the great success hunters enjoyed there during this time period (Weld, 1994). The number of hunters using the area increased for five straight years, from 1,610 during the 1961-62 season to 4,130 during 1966-67 (Resources Agency Memorandum dated January 16,1985).

From Table II it can be seen that the number of seasonal permit stamps sold during this time increased proportionately, It is also evident that a cost-conscious DFG cut it very close when ordering stamps during this period. For the 1963-64 season 450 stamps were printed and of these, 435 were sold. For the 1964-65 season 550 stamps were printed and 518 were sold. For the 1965-66 season 600 stamps were printed and 563 were sold. Finally, during the 1966-67 season, the DFG got caught short.

The imprint on 1966—67 Type I stamps indicates that 700 were printed. They were printed in black ink on yellow paper and measure approximately 50 x 34 mm. DFG License Section records show that 793 seasonal permit stamps were sold during that season. The 1966-67 Type II stamps listed in the Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps obviously were necessitated by the HLWMA exhausting their supply of seasonal permits prior to the end of the season. The records indicate that 93 stamps were sold from what was likely a hasty second printing. Of these, less than five can be accounted for in collections today.

The Type II stamps are similar to Type I with several exceptions (see Figure 2). First, they are printed on a slightly darker yellow paper. Second, they differ slightly in size, measuring approximately 49 x 35 mm. Third, whereas the word “during” on Type I stamps is set with a small “d,” Type II stamps have “During” set with a capital “D.” Most significantly, the Type II stamps lack the printer’s imprint. Never again did the imprint indicating how many stamps were ordered and printed appear on a Honey Lake stamp (see Figure 24).



Figure 24. 1966-67 Honey Lake stamp used on license. Note the printer’s information is no longer included at the lower right.



I have been relatively unsuccessful at finding out the number of stamps which were printed each year after 1966-67. Records found at the Fleming Unit office show that 950 stamps were delivered for 1984-85 and 1,000 for 1985-86. Since DFG License Section records show that sales of the seasonal permits never exceeded the 793 recorded for 1966-67, it is possible that 1,000 stamps were printed each year thereafter. The number of stamps sold to hunters each year from 1967-68 through 1985-86 is shown in Table III. It is important to note that the figures do not include the number of stamps sold to collectors as remainders were made available starting with the 1974-75 issue.





The two largest accumulations of pre-remainder era Honey Lake stamps were formed by a sporting goods dealer in Susanville named Jack Roberts (Vanderford, 1994) and by state fish and game dealer Art J. Soderling. According to Vanderford, Roberts unintentionally accumulated 20-40 Honey Lake stamps for each year on expired licenses. It seems that he was really after the attractive federal duck stamps which were also affixed to the licenses. One day prior to proposing some kind of trade, Vanderford was dismayed to learn that Roberts had recently soaked the federal stamps off of the licenses — and had thrown all the Honey Lake stamps away!

Art Soderling was actively dealing in fish and game stamps during the 1960s. He had many sources for stamps across the country including several in California. There is no way to know how large Solderling’s stock of Honey Lake stamps was during its prime. Toward the end of his career, Soderling offered his remaining inventory for sale to several of his major clients.

In a letter to E. L. Vanderford dated July 14, 1973, Solderling wrote: “Dear Van…I would like to dispose as many stamps as I can…I [still] have a fairly nice stock of fishing and hunting stamps…[of] Calif. Honey Lake [I have] at least 40…” The lot of Honey Lake stamps was eventually purchased by state revenue specialist Dr. Kenneth Pruess, who has an affinity for all stamps related to “bees and honey” (Pruess, 1990). By the time the author saw the accumulation, it had provided Pruess with “swapping material” for many more years. It still numbered over 50 stamps in total.

In 1972 the name of the HLWMA was changed. Once developed exclusively for waterfowl, the area was renamed the Honey Lake Wildlife Area (Regulations for Hunting on State and Federal Areas, 1972) in order to reflect the diversity of the wildlife now found there. For reasons I cannot determine, relatively few stamp were sold for 1972-73 and 1973-74. The numbers sold, 278 and 261 respectively, are comparable to the numbers sold in the 1950s and these stamps have proved to be very difficult for collectors to obtain (see Figure 25).



Figure 25. Relatively few stamps were sold to hunters in 1972-73 and 1973-74.



Bob weld’s stamp for 1973-74 is shown in figure 26. In addition to very carefully signing his name, Weld carried the stamp loose from his license. Therefore, it is the only recorded example from this year with full original gum.



Figure 26. Bob Weld’s stamp for 1973-74.



Starting with the 1974-75 issue, the DFG License Section made remainders of the Honey Lake stamps available to collectors following the end of the hunting season. There were no records kept of the number of stamps put on sale or the number sold to collectors (Raglen, 1993). If it is true that approximately 1,000 stamps were printed each year, then according to Table III there should have been between 524 and 749 remainders of each stamp made available. Vanderford says this simply was not the case.

For some issues, Vanderford recalls that only a single book of 50 stamps was saved by the License Section for collectors. It is unlikely that more than 200 to 250 stamps for any one issue were sold to collectors (Vanderford, 1994). For every year after the remainders were put on sale, either fish and game dealer Barry Porter or David Curtis bought a full booklet of 50 stamps (some years both did).

Therefore, unused stamps exist with full tabs for all Honey Lake stamps from 1974-75 until the series was discontinued (see Figure 27). The lone exception is for stamps from 1981-82. If a collector purchased less than a full booklet, the stamps were torn out and the tabs stayed with the booklet. For this reason, a number of stamps from the remainder period also can be found without tabs.



Figure 27. Starting with the 1974-75 issue, unused remainders of Honey Lake stamps were made available to the public.



The 1980-81 stamps are interesting in that they all contain a typesetting error. The stamps have “Fee $15.00” printed on them when the fee charged to hunters was actually $20.00 (1980 California regulations for Hunting on State and Federal Areas). The few used examples I have seen all have the incorrect fee crossed out and the correct fee manually written in with a ball point pen (see Figure 28).



Figure 28. All 1980-81 stamps were printed with a major typesetting error (left). The correct fee was $20.00 and the stamps that were sold to hunters have the fee corrected manually (right).



Following the 1981-82 season, all of that season’s remainders were accidentally destroyed by a license clerk (Vanderford, 1991). Less than ten examples of the 1981-82 Honey Lake stamp have been recorded, all of them in used condition. Once again, Bob Weld did not affix his stamp to his license so it retains full original gum. The stamps were printed in black ink on light yellow-brown paper. They measure approximately 48 x 38 mm with the tab removed (see Figure 29).



Figure 29. All of the remainders for the 1981-82 were accidentally destroyed. Bob Weld’s stamp (left) was never affixed to his license and still has full original gum.




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