There’s More to Ducks Than Pretty Pictures

Collecting State & Local Ducks

These strictly utilitarian duck stamps were issued without regard to collectors. Eventually, some Jurisdictions added a pictorial element The stamps constitute a highly challenging and exclusive collecting field.

Inevitably, authorities caught on that there was money to be made off collectors. Ingenuity and production went into high gear. The first state pictorial design was issued by California to 1971, followed by Maryland and Massachusetts to 1974.

Nothing breeds success like success, and thirteen more states climbed aboard the pictorial bandwagon between 1976 and 1980. By now, almost half of the fifty states have added a further wrinkle by producing their wildlife stamps to two formats: one, usually to booklet form, to be sold for use on licenses; the other, In sheets for sale to collectors and investors.

In 1989, the Crow Creek Sioux were the first tribal government to issue pictorial duck stamps—not to cater to collectors, but to meet prescribed state standards. Distinctive stamps in very small quantities were issued to meet license needs of reservation residents, other South Dakotans, and out-of-staters, respectively (see Figure 15). Other Indian tribal authorities have issued stamps more easily obtained by collectors.



Figure 15. In 1989, the Crow Creek Sioux were the first tribal government to issue pictorial duck stamps.



Needless to say, this collecting field is complex and covers a wide area. I was fortunate to walk through the exhibit with David Torre and Jim O’Donnell, who provided me with useful comments and much of the above background. Torre has been collecting since the age of 6, having observed his father who was an enthusiastic stamp collector. His collection is contained in some 125 albums and has won many honors. This includes 16 gold medals from U.S. competitions and the first international gold medal In this collecting area, awarded in New Delhi in December 1997. Torre has also received five APS awards for outstanding research. He is also a dealer in non-federal wildlife stamps and has published a catalog of which the third edition is expected shortly.


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