Madeline Plains Stamp Not A Myth
Although reported by Applegate (in the early 1960s) and Vanderford (1973) as having been issued for 1956-57, no Madeline Plains seasonal permit stamp has ever been recorded. Vanderford obtained a description of the stamp from a license clerk at DFG Headquarters in Sacramento. This information led to the following listing in the Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps: “1956-57 $5.00 black on deep yellow, 49 x 37 mm. Serial numbers 1M to 250M. (250 to printed—119 sold).”
Beneath the listing Vanderford made a request for verification of the stamp actually being issued. As not one of the 119 stamps ever turned up, Vanderford became convinced that the information provided to him was in error and that the Madeline Plains stamp was never issued. For this reason he deleted the stamp’s description from his Checklist of State and Locally Issued Migratory Waterfowl Stamps published in 1977.
Thirty years after Applegate’s catalog was published, I finally confirmed that stamps were printed and used at Madeline Plains during the 1956-57 season. Also dated October 2, 1956, a second DFG Report of Licenses Delivered shows that 150 Madeline Plains seasonal permit stamps, numbered 1M to 150M, were delivered to Mac Foster (see Figure 12).
Foster also served as manager for Madeline Plains at the time. Not all of the information given to Vanderford by the license clerk was correct, however. Monthly sales and inventory records for Madeline Plains were also recently discovered at the Fleming Unit office. The records show that for 1956-57, only 18 Madeline Plains seasonal permit stamps were sold. Stamps numbered 19M to 150M were returned to the DFG Accounting Office in Sacramento by Mac Foster (see Figure 16).
In sharp contrast to the renewed interest shown by hunters for the HLWMA during 1956-57, the number of hunters using Madeline Plains decreased to 173. Of this total, 130 were checked in on the opening week end of the season (DFG Press Release, October 26, 1956; 44th Biennial Report for the Years 1954-56). Madeline Plains was now seen as a total failure by the DFG. First, the area could not produce cereal grain crops in quantities sufficient to aid in controlling waterfowl depredations. Now it was a bust with the local hunters as well. There would be no stamps issued for Madeline Plains after 1956-57.
According to an excerpt from the 45th Biennial Report, issued by the DFG for the years 1956-58: “Upon the recommendations of the department, the Madeline Plains Waterfowl Management Area was declared surplus property by the 1957 Legislature. Disposal of this land is now under way by the Lands Acquisition Division of the Department of Finance. Madeline Plains had failed to come up to expectations. A rigorous climate and lack of adequate water supplies doomed its development into an efficient management area.”
To this day, the 1956 Madeline Plains stamp remains the most elusive of all the legendary U.S. fish and game stamps, with no examples recorded. None of the the foremost collectors of the pioneer era, Burt Hubbard, Joseph Janousek, Morton Dean Joyce, Mrs. Powell or E. L. Vanderford nor contemporary collectors such the Csaplars, Jeannette Rudy or myself have ever been able to acquire the stamp.
Mrs Powell was a successful attorney and money was no object in her pursuit. After forming the best collection of fish and game stamps through the 1960s, she became interested in exhibiting. Contemporaries Joseph Janousek of Arizona and Les Lebo of Tennessee probably had the second and third best collections at the time (later, Vanderford acquired the Janousek and Powell collections, thereby becoming the leading fish and game collector by the mid 1970s).
While Janousek and Lebo were continually frustrated with their low level of awards in organized philatelic exhibiting, Powell’s exhibit was recognized as being extremely powerful and she became the first fish and game collector to achieve success (see Figure 17).