Skip to content

The Maryland Big Game Stamps – Part Two

Today we shall begin to look at the Maryland Big Game Hunting Stamps. Since one of the primary goals for this particular series of posts (aside from being informative and educational) is to serve as a form of escapist entertainment – I shall attempt to construct a “show and tell” narrative that is loaded with visually appealing images.

As we go through the years, we shall see a mixture of unused singles, plate number singles, blocks, complete sheets and panes, used singles, used singles with various overprints, and many usages – both on hunting licenses and back tags.

The oversized, bicolor Maryland stamps were “Taylor-made” [sic] for this purpose, so on behalf of everyone at Waterfowl Stamps and More, please accept our invitation to leave the real world behind from time to time over the next few weeks and enjoy these posts as we continue to shelter in place together in 2020.



The 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamps

As was shown in the Maryland Hunters Guide in Figure 12 of the introductory post and first reported in the philatelic press by David Strock and Joseph Janousek (see The Maryland Big Game Stamps – Part One), Maryland first required hunters to purchase big game stamps for the 1960-61 season.

Two different big game stamps were issued: a $2.00 stamp required for those hunting with firearms and a $3.00 stamp for those hunting with a bow and arrow. Both had two printings. The first was perforated 12.5 and shall be referred to as as Type I; the second was rouletted 9.5 and shall be referred to as Type II. As reported by Applegate and verified by E.L. Vanderford, all of the stamps were very oversized (sometimes referred to as “jumbo”), measuring approximately 54 x 45mm. However, individual examples may vary somewhat in size.

In addition, they were printed using two colors of ink: one for the central deer image or vignette and the banner with the inscription Maryland Game and Inland Fish Commission at the bottom and another for the lettering and fee. They were printed on white paper. In philatelic terms, these stamps are known as bicolored (see Figure 1). Note that this pair of stamps has full original gum but each is overprinted “SEP  13  1960”. These were among the very first stamps sold, to Frank Applegate. They were later acquired by state revenue specialist Elbert Hubbard.



Figure 1. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Hunting Stamps for Firearms (left) and Archers (right). Ex Applegate, Hubbard.



There had been very few bicolor fish and game stamps issued prior to 1960. The first were the Kansas Quail Stamps (1937-1961). These were extremely popular with collectors, however, compared to the Maryland stamps they were quite small. The Maryland stamps were kind of similar to the first three Washington Supplemental Elk License Stamps, issued from 1947-1949 – but even larger, perforated and with better artwork. In other words, they were a collector’s dream come true (see Figures 2 and 3).



Figure 2. 1937-38 Kansas Quail.



Figure 3. 1947 Washington Elk.



In comparison to U.S. postage stamps, airmail stamps, etc. – the Maryland Big Game Stamps simply blew them away in every respect (see Figure 4). After the Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps was published (1973), many philatelists were exposed this kind of state revenue stamp for the first time – and the fanciful big game stamps helped to convert hundreds of them to our niche hobby.



Figure 4. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, flanked by a 4 cents regular issue postage stamp (left) and a 7 cents airmail stamp (right) that were both current at the time.



Show and Tell

I will now share and discuss a wide variety of examples from the first issue (1960-61) and this portion of the post embodies the common theme for this series, as we work our way through the eight seasons for which Maryland required Big Game Hunting Stamps (1960-61 through 1967-68).

The first example is an unused (full original gum) single of the firearms stamp, Type I, overprinted SEP  27  1960 in red ink with a rubber stamp. If you look very closely, you will see that this is the same stamp that was used to illustrate Vanderford’s original listings in the State Revenue Newsletter in 1969 and also his Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps in 1973 (see Figure 25 in Part One and Figures 5 and 6 below). It was purchased by Ken Pruess.



Figure 5. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type I, ex Pruess.


Figure 7. Vanderford’s introduction for his Firearms listings, which appeared in the SRN in January, 1969.



Next we have an unused top margin single of the firearms stamp, Type I, showing the sheet number. Vanderford stated “All issues 1960-61 through 1966-67 are from panes [my emphasis] of 10 ( 2 x 5) with perforated or rouletted selvage [on] all four sides” (see Figure 7 above). It turns out that Van was only partially correct and that all stamps from the first two years are from sheets of ten, rather than panes of ten.

The difference between a sheet and a pane is that sheets are not attached to each other and placed between covers with gum or staples to form a booklet – as are booklet panes. Starting with the 1962-63 seasons, the stamps were, in fact, issued in panes of ten (more on this later).

Printed in the margin (or selvage) above the stamp in the upper right of each sheet (position two) was the sheet number. It was printed in the same color ink as was used for the lettering and fee on the face of the stamps. Note the top edge of the relatively wide selvage shows no evidence of being gummed (see Figure 8). We will come back to this later on.

This stamp came from the collection of a former Maryland Department of Game and Inland Fish official that was also a hunter and a stamp collector. He sporadically purchased up to three sheets or panes of each of the big game stamps while they were current and put them away, rolled up inside cardboard tubes. I purchase most of his collection shortly after meeting him in 1992 and the balance a number of years later.



Figure 8. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type I, top sheet number single.



After learning of the Maryland Big Game Stamps, collectors were often frustrated to discover the alluring stamps were not easy to obtain. The Department of Game and Inland Fish License Section in Annapolis would not sell stamps to collectors. The pioneer fish and game collectors of the day had to scramble around during the season, write numerous letters and make costly long distance phone calls before they finally found a sympathetic county clerk who was willing to sell the stamps to them (see Figures 9 and 10).



Figure 9. Partial listing of State Conservation Department addresses where collectors could purchase stamps, compiled by Ken Pruess and E.L. Vanderford and published in the SRN in 1968 .


Figure 10. Highlighted Maryland information from the source above.



Then, the unused stamps collectors received in the mail, while having full original gum, would often have the date of sale overprinted with a rubber stamp (see Figures 1 and 5) or written on the stamp with a ballpoint pen. The unused stamp below has full original gum. Alas, the clerk wrote “12/1/60” and “Customer” on the the stamp and the collector’s name on the side selvage (see Figure 11).



Figure 11. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type I.



This helps to explain the scarcity of unused Maryland Big Game Stamps in unaltered or “mint” condition. I am fairly certain that (for about a third of the different stamps) the majority of true mint examples in collectors hands today were originally obtained by me from the official in the 1990s. When there was more than one complete sheet, I often broke up the extra(s) and was then able to sell or trade mint singles and blocks to friends and clients.

Next we have a 1960-61 single of the firearms stamp, Type I, used on the back of a Maryland Statewide Resident Hunting License, issued on November 11, 1960. From the date on the stamp, you can see it was sold on December 2, 1960. Both the stamp and the license are overprinted “ANTLERLESS DEER – SOMERSET COUNTY” (see Figure 13).

According to the 1960 Maryland Synopsis of Game Laws, antlerless deer were only allowed to be hunted during a special season lasting three days “December 29, 30 and 31, 1960, sunrise to sunset in Talbot, Kent, Wicomico, Worcester Somerset and Dorchester Counties by Special Permit Only.” (see Figure 12).



Figure 12. Excerpt from 1960 Maryland Synopsis of Game Laws.



Figure 13. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type I, used on license. Ex Vanderford.



Next we have another 1960-61 single of the firearms stamp, Type I, used on a Maryland Statewide Resident back tag – a little rough but pretty difficult to come by (see Figure 14).



Figure 14. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type I, used on back tag.



Firearms – Second Printing

As reported by Applegate and verified by Vanderford, there were two printings of the firearms stamp, as well as the one for archers. In both cases, the second printing was much smaller. The first printing (perforated 12.5) for the firearms stamp was 60,000; the second printing (rouletted 9.5) was 13,000.

The empirical data for used stamps in collections (the number of examples recorded) corresponds well with this printing disparity. While I have recorded numerous used examples of Type I stamps, I have only recorded two used examples of Type II.

When it comes to unused examples, it is a little more complicated. If you recall from Part One, the first philatelist to report that the stamps had been issued was David Strock in the February 1961 issue of the SRN. At that time he was unaware there had been two printings and made a blanket statement that the firearms stamps were rouletted and the archers stamps were perforated. For the firearms stamp, he pictured an unused rouletted example (see Figure 15).



Figure 15. Strock stated the 1960-61 firearms stamps were rouletted and showed a rouletted example.



This suggests that by the time Strock and many other collectors found a way to purchase firearms stamps from county clerks –  supplies of Type I stamps had already been exhausted by at least some clerks and they were filling orders with stamps form the second printing (Type II).

In addition, when I purchased the stamps from the Maryland official in the 1990s, he only had three Type I stamps but three complete sheets of Type II stamps. Therefore, for the 1960-61 firearms stamp in unused condition – despite the lower number printed – there are more total Type II stamps in collections today.

On the other hand, I have kept two large Type II multiples intact, including one complete sheet. So, when you break it down even further – to the total number of pieces in unused condition – there are more Type I.

I now have three pieces to share: an unused single, top single with sheet number and the complete sheet obtained from the official (see Figures 16, 17 and 18). In the case of the sheet number single and the complete sheet, again note the top edges show no evidence of being gummed.



Figure 16. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type II.



Figure 17. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type II, top sheet number single. Ex Joyce.



Figure 18. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type II, complete sheet.



Next we have a used Type II stamp. This example is of interest for two reasons. First, notice the date of issue: Nov 21 1960 (kind of smeared). The Type I stamps shown earlier in Figures 11 and 12 were issued on December 1 and 2, respectively.

This means that late in the year, both the perforated and rouletted stamps (Types I and II) were being used concurrently. We now know that, for a period of time, Maryland County Clerks in some of the 23 counties were still selling Type I big game stamps to hunters – and an occasional collector – while clerks in the other counties were selling Type II stamps.

Second, a control number has been applied to the face. This was once a common book-keeping practice on the part of county clerks in states such as Indiana and Kansas (see Figures 19 and 20), however, I cannot recall ever seeing another Maryland stamp from the 1960s with a control number on either the front or the back – something to keep an eye out for (see Figure 21).



Figure 19. 1956 Indiana Trout Stamp with control number on back.



Figure 20. 1959-60 Kansas Quail Stamp with two control numbers on the back – one for the pane and one for the individual stamp.



Figure 21. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Firearms, Type II, used. Note control number.



Stamps For Archers Only

As reported by Strock et al., when Maryland began requiring firearms hunters to purchase a big game stamp in 1960 – they also offered a separate stamp to archers only for $3.00. So what did archers get for their extra dollar? In addition to the regular deer hunting season (December 3-10), they were allowed to participate in a special early deer hunting season. This early bow and arrow season lasted from October 20 – November 12 in all counties except Allegany, Garrett and Washington. In these counties it was shortened to November 1-12 (see Figure 22).



Figure 22. 1960-61 Maryland early deer hunting seasons for archers only.



According to former Maryland Game Warden Paul Hanyok (personal communication), the purchase of the archers stamp would allow these hunters “more days and a chance at harvesting the best antlered deer before the firearms hunters.”

Despite these benefits, relatively few Maryland Big Game Stamps for hunting with a bow and arrow were sold as compared to the number sold for hunting with firearms. According to data provided in Maryland’s Conservation Laws, Licenses, and Enforcement Officers (Hanyok, 1996), a total of 5,395 archers stamps were sold during the 1960-61 seasons – as compared to 58,671 firearms stamps.

Very few stamp collectors purchased unused examples of the archers stamp from county clerks. There were two reasons for this: As the number of archers stamps that was was distributed to county clerks amounted to only 13% of the number of stamps for firearms (8,000 vs 60,000) and we know that it was difficult for the pioneer fish and game collectors to obtain any Maryland Big Game Stamps – we can assume it was very difficult for the average stamp collector to obtain the archers stamps.

In addition to the difficulty of acquisition factor, there was also the opportunity cost factor; that extra dollar had a lot more buying power in the 1960s than it does today – even accounting for inflation – and all but the most avid of stamp collectors would probably have been happy just owning an example of the firearms stamp (even though that superimposed bow and arrow is pretty cool).

According to various sources, $1.00 dollar in 1960 is equivalent to $8.72 – 8.75 today. I can tell you there is something is wrong with this math. As a young stamp collector is the 1960s this is what the extra dollar (the opportunity cost for buying the archers stamp) meant to me…

For one dollar I could buy a ticket and see a movie (50 cents), buy an Orange Slush (10 cents), buy two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (five cents each, which I used to dip in the Orange Slush – but that is another story), then, on the way home, stop and buy two packs of baseball cards (ten cents each) and a comic book (ten cents). In other words, when the Maryland Big Game Stamps were issued – you really did get a lot of “bang for your buck” (see Figure 23). Buying both stamps was reserved for the dedicated fish and game specialist.


Figure 23. Ad for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, circa 1960s – Yum!



Obviously the Maryland Game and Inland Fish Commission understood these economics as they had far fewer archers stamps printed: only 8,000 in the first printing and a scant 2,000 in the second. For the first printing, I now have two more pieces to share (additional to the one shown in Figure 1): an unused single and a complete sheet from the official’s collection (see Figures 24 and 25).



Figure 24. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Archers, Type I.



Figure 25. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Archers, Type I, complete sheet.



Archers – Second Printing

If we compare the number of stamps printed vs the number actually sold, we find that for 1960-61, 60,000 firearms stamps were initially printed and 58,671 total stamps were sold  – or 98% of the number of stamps distributed to clerks before the season began. Therefore, we can assume that, toward the end of the year, county clerks were running out of firearms stamps all over the state – likely necessitating a hasty second printing.

With the archers stamps, 8,000 were initially printed and 5,495 told stamps were sold  – or 68% of the number originally distributed. Presented with this kind of data, I believe the Commissioners would not have felt a need for additional archers stamps and the only reason they had them printed was because they were already placing an order for the firearms stamps – better safe than sorry.

Further, if this was the case, perhaps only a very small fraction of the archers second printing was actually distributed – for the majority of clerks would not need to be resupplied. This would explain why Strock received a firearms stamp from the second printing and an archers stamp from the first – and subsequently described the 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamps for Firearms and Archers as being rouletted and perforated, respectively (see Figure 15).

For the second printing, I have three pieces to share: an unused single, a single with the left selvage attached and a top sheet number single (see Figures 26-28).



Figure 26. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Archers, Type II. Ex Vanderford.



Figure 27. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Archers, Type II. Ex Applegate, Hubbard.



Figure 28. 1960-61 Maryland Big Game Stamp for Archers, Top sheet number single. Ex Joyce.



To conclude part two of our series on the Maryland Big Game Stamps, I will show a page from my second exhibit, U.S. Fish & Game Stamps; 1960 – 1979, which included some of the items shown in this post, plus a top sheet number block of the Type I archers stamp (see Figure 28).



Figure 28. A page from my second exhibit, introducing the Maryland Big Game Stamps.




Continue to Part Three


Leave a Comment

Scroll To Top
Verified by ExactMetrics