In today’s finale to our show and tell series on the Maryland Big Game Stamps, we shall look at those issued for the 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons. Once again, I have grouped these together because they shared a common (revised) design. While it is basically quite similar to the eye-catching one John debuted in 1965, it lacks the visual punch and, therefore, some of it’s allure.
This helps to explain why these stamps are among the most difficult in the series to acquire today. First, I will introduce a possible motivation for John’s design revision and later, within this context, one last error provides an apropos ending for the big game stamp series.
The Maryland Big Game Stamp series was superseded by two others others with a similar purpose, Deer & Turkey (1968 – 1980) and Deer (1981 – 1997) and we will touch upon those as we conclude our survey of John’s contributions to the fish and game hobby.
The Minimalism Art Movement
More so than ever before, artists in the 1960s experimented. This extensive experimentation resulted in such prevailing art movements as pop art, conceptual art and minimalism. In this series we have seen that John Taylor was not adverse to experimenting with his big game stamp designs. As a graduate of the Corcoran School of Arts & Design (George Washington University) and a young American artist in the mid 1960s, he could not help but be aware of the major art movements and, very likely, be influenced by them.
Before we see the revisions John made for the 1966-67 Maryland Big Game Stamps, one of these major art movements, known as minimalism, offers some possible insights into John’s motivation. Along the east coast in the last half of the 1960s, minimalism was all the rage. Robert Morris (1965) stated “With minimalism, the artist wants the viewer to respond only to what is in front of them… minimalist art offers a highly purified form of beauty.” One of the primary qualities emphasized by Morris and other advocates of minimalism was simplicity.
According to an essay on Minimal Art by John Perreault in the Village Voice (1967), the means used to achieve this quality is “a reduction [my emphasis], including the situation where it is placed – the environment is [then] treated as a neutral place for framing the work.”
At some point in 1966, John Taylor appears to have made a conscious decision to apply this stylish reduction technique to his recent big game stamp design.
The 1966-67 Big Game Stamps
Vanderford was the first to describe the 1966-67 Big Game Stamps, in his listings published in the SRN in 1969. Van reported the firearms stamp was printed in black ink on white paper and the archers stamp was printed in black ink on light yellow paper. He stated “Design [was the same] as 1965-66 but printed text altered. Perf 11 3/4. Black serial number.”
This was not entirely accurate. The stamp for firearms was still bicolor and was printed in black and dark blue inks on white paper. To be fair, the bicolor effect is subtle and could easily be missed. The fact that Van, the fish and game guru of the day, could not readily detect the blue ink may have pleased John – for this was likely one of his goals when applying the reduction technique to his 1965-66 design:
Gone was the bold use of color that first served to catch the eye and then draw the viewer in; gone was the solid color triangle in the upper left that helped to frame the vignette (the buck) and provide a guide for hunter’s signatures; gone was the colored line extending up along the right side from the banner, which additionally helped to frame the vignette and provide a guide for printing the serial numbers and gone was the solid color banner, itself, which had served double duty as a pedestal for the standing buck and, in so doing, additionally served to frame the vignette.
What remained was a cleaner, simpler, more contemporary stamp design – featuring, in the words of John Perreault, “a neutral environment for framing the work” (see Figures 1 and 2).
Was John’s revised design successful? You be the judge. While I never had anyone tell me they liked it better than the 1965 original – I know there are many out there who would say otherwise. That is why they say this about art: “Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder”. In other words, everyone is different and has different tastes and that is what makes the world go round.
However, I do not believe that the revision was especially popular with the fish and game collectors of the day and this fact, combined with the uncooperative attitude that persisted on the part of the Maryland Game and Inland Fish Commission with regard to selling big game stamps to collectors, resulted in fewer unused or mint examples being purchased by collectors in 1966-67 and 1967-68.
While Eugene Boward purchased a complete pane of the 1966-67 firearms stamp, this would be the last Maryland Big Game Stamp that he would put away in his closet for posterity (see Figure 3).
Next, I have four used examples to share: one neatly signed by the hunter; one overprinted “DEER” in red ink; one used on the back of a state-wide hunting license and one used on a Non-Resident back tag which has been overprinted “DEER”” in black ink (see Figures 4-7).
Stamps for Archers Only
Once again, more total archers stamps were sold than in any previous year (11,555). Paradoxically, this is the most difficult stamp in the series for today’s collector to acquire in unused condition. For the reasons outlined above, the number of stamps sold to collectors can be counted on one hand.
This is the example that was purchased by Vanderford and used to illustrate his listings in the SRN and the Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps. Then we see a used single (see Figures 8-10).
The 1967-68 Big Game Stamps
And yet again, Vanderford was the first to describe the 1966-67 Maryland Big Game Stamps in his listings published in the SRN in 1969. Van reported the firearms stamp was printed in black ink on deep yellow paper and the archers stamp was printed in black ink on pink paper. He also added “Otherwise [the] same as 1966-67 except from panes of 10 having one or more imperforate sides.”
This would be the first time since the series began in 1960 that neither the firearms nor the archers stamp was bicolor. Although John’s designs remained unchanged from the year before, both stamps were printed on colored paper to add more visual appeal (see Figure 11). John had previously done this with three of the four 1964-65 issues (see Part Five).
As stated by Vanderford, the format underwent a change for 1967-68. However, I believe this was from panes of ten with perforated selvage on all four sides to sheets of ten with straight edges on all four sides and no selvage except for along the top.
Relatively few big game stamps were sold to collectors in 1967-68 and, to my knowledge, only one piece has been recorded with the top selvage intact. It is another major error that I obtained in the official’s collection (see Part Two).
In this case one sheet of firearms stamps temporarily adhered to the one above it while being fed through the serial numbering device. Subsequently, the sheet was delivered to the License Section with the black serial numbers missing. Here is the ultimate in design reduction (see Figure 12).
The line across the bottom of the selvage was caused by the clear mount on my exhibit page. Please note the top edge shows no signs of having been gummed. A possible explanation is that it was still adhered to the pane above in such a way (aligned slightly away from the edge of the pad) as to miss being gummed.
However, there is other evidence that points to the 1967-68 stamps not being gummed as part of a booklet. While Eugene Boward did not purchase any big game stamps in 1967 – he did purchase two complete sheets of trout stamps. The format is identical to the big game stamps, with straight-edged sides and selvage only at the top. Neither sheet shows evidence of having been gummed (see Figure 13).
Next I have two used singles to share: one is neatly signed and one is used on the back of an Allegany County Resident Hunting License (see Figures 14 and 15).
Stamps for Archers Only
The last year for the Maryland Big Game Stamp for Archers Only saw another record number sold (12,083). And once again, very few unused examples are in collector’s hands today. The stamp below was purchased by E.L. Vanderford (see Figure 16).
Next we have both 1967-68 big game stamps used in combination on the back of a state-wide hunting license (see Figure 17).
To conclude this section on the last Maryland Big Game Stamps, I would like to share two pages from my second exhibit, U.S. Fish and Game Stamps: 1960 – 1979. The first includes a 1967 trout top sheet number single – which also shows no evidence of having been gummed – and introduces the 1967 big game stamp for firearms error. The second features the firearms and archers examples included in this post, as well as the error sheet (see Figures 18 and 19).
Deer & Turkey Stamps Issued
Starting in 1968, Maryland required deer and turkey hunters to purchase a stamp. According to Vanderford, a new Deer & Turkey Stamp was “First issued for the 1968-69 season and supersedes individual stamps formerly issued for Gig Game (Firearms Only) or Big Game (Archery Only) [sic].” In Maryland’s Conservation Laws, License, and Enforcement Officers, Paul Hanyok wrote: “It was a combination stamp that included firearms hunting and bow and arrow hunting for deer and turkey.”
Not only were the Deer & Turkey stamps not bicolor – they were not even pictorial. John Taylor’s eye-catching designs, which relied on a prominent central vignette, would no longer be found on Maryland’s big game stamps. Instead, the new stamps had a small bust of a white-tailed deer in the upper left corner and a small image of a wild turkey in the upper right. As such, they may be liberally described as “semi-pictorial”. The bust was actually a cropped version of the buck John used on the last three year’s firearms stamps, a consensus favorite.
The 1968-69 Deer & Turkey Stamp was the last of the Maryland listings to be included in the January, 1969 issue of the State Revenue Newsletter. Van was the first to describe the stamp: “$5.50 green on white paper, whitetailed buck deer’ head and Wild Turkey. Black serial number. [Rouletted] 12 1/4 x 8 3/4. Overall size is 58 x 47 mm.” It should be noted that a signature line was now printed on the stamps (see Figures 20-23).
With regard to deer hunting, the new stamps were used in much the same manner as the big game stamps. Next, I have four used examples to share: one signed, one signed and overprinted “DEER” and two used on license (see Figures 24-26).
The same design was used in 1969. In 1970, the deer and turkey images were replaced with similar ones and a new format was adopted: the stamp was now attached to one deer and one turkey tag (the season limit). The new artwork was likely created by John Taylor (see Figures 27 and 28).
In 1972, a second Deer & Turkey Stamp was added for Maryland RESIDENTS 65 YRS. & OLDER. It was non pictorial (see Figure 29). By 1975, the stamps were issued with two deer tags (firearms and bow and arrow) and two turkey tags (Fall and Bearded). Deer & Turkey Stamps were used through the 1979-80 seasons. To see all of the Maryland Deer & Turkey stamps in one photo gallery, click here.
Deer Stamps Issued
Starting in 1980, turkey hunters were no longer required to purchase a stamp. New Deer Stamps were issued through 1982-83 with two tags attached, one for firearms and one for bow and arrow. The resident stamp featured a small image of a buck and the resident senior stamp was non pictorial (see Figures 30 and 31).
Starting with the 1983-84 seasons, a total of six different Deer Stamps were issued for: Firearms, Senior Firearms, Black Powder, Senior Black Powder, Bow & Arrow and Senior Bow & Arrow. Several format changes were made over the course of the series until it was finally discontinued following the 1997-98 season. To see all of the Maryland Deer Stamps in one gallery, click here.
This brought to an end a near forty year period when sportsmen were to purchase a stamp and affix it to their license prior to hunting for deer. It all started when the citizens of Maryland – guided by state wildlife officials and law enforcement officers – were able to rectify a near tragic wrongdoing.
They brought back a population of white-tailed deer that was on the brink of being extinguished – facilitated by inadequate laws and old-school wildlife management practices that had allowed for decades of harmful activities, including over-harvesting and market hunting.
Effective enforcement of sensible laws and modern game management, funded by proceeds from state hunting license sales (1918) and the Pittman-Robertson Act (1937), slowly and methodically allowed the deer population to increase to the point where hunting was again allowed in virtually every county in the state by 1960.
In order to generate additional funding for game management and help law enforcement regulate the deer harvest, the Game and Inland Fish Commission decided to introduce a pair of big game stamps in 1960 – one for firearms and one for archers. They assigned the assistant editor and artist for the Maryland Conservationist, John W. Taylor (JWT) the task of designing these stamps.
John’s first design, featuring a leaping white-tailed buck was an instant classic and helped attract many new collectors to the hobby of fish and game stamps. Through the first half of the 1960s, he continued to experiment with layouts, vignettes and combinations of colored ink and paper.
In 1965, John caught lightning in a bottle with his designs for both the firearms and archers stamps. They rank in the top ten of best designed fish and game stamps from the early (pre multicolored art) period and many collectors feel that one – the 1965-66 Maryland Stamp for Archers Only – is as good as it gets.
Thanks to the efforts of what is now the Wildlife Division of the Department of Natural Resources – and helped in no small part by the stamps, themselves – the Maryland white-tailed deer saga has been an amazing success story.
Their population has continued to thrive and exceed all expectations – to the point where more and more deer must be harvested on an annual basis to prevent excessive depredations to crops and residential landscaping.
The yearly deer harvest had reached an all time high of 5,000 just prior to when the stamps were introduced in 1960. According to the Department of Natural Resources Website, Maryland hunters harvested nearly 80,000 deer during the 2019-2020 season.
I hope you have enjoyed spending time learning about and seeing the exquisite Maryland Big Game Stamps. I started to research and make the many scans needed for this project just after the shelter in place orders were delivered on March 18. Two weeks later Part One was on the website and it has now been exactly two months. The time seems to have passed pretty quickly – we are truly fortunate to share such an ameliorative hobby.
Many of you have told me this series of posts has been of help during this uncertain time and for this I am grateful. I would like to thank my old friend, Paul Hanyok, for his assistance and my family for their considerable patience. Paul and I first started talking about what an fascinating story this would make over 20 years ago. I feel good that I procrastinated so long and was able to publish this now, as we go through this adversity together in 2020.