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Welcome to Gallery Ten – Part Two

As the introductory post for Gallery Ten ended up being rather lengthy and included a large number of high resolution scans, we decided it would be best divided into two parts to facilitate loading on your device. In part two, we shall provide background information and discuss the stamps and licenses found in the remaining (four) individual galleries.

For the sake of those who are directed to this page from internet searches, we will repeat some of our website basics in the next few paragraphs. First, you can reach the new galleries by clicking on Galleries beneath the Home page banner, then clicking on “Gallery Ten”.

Once there, you will find an introduction for each series. After reading the introductions, click on the images above them to enter the individual galleries. Once inside the individual galleries, you have several options for viewing.

If you click on a thumbnail the image will expand in size. From there, you can navigate through the galleries by using the forward and back arrows located at the right and left sides of your screen; you may also choose to click on the slide show symbol located at the lower right of the image (it looks like a triangle facing right). Once the slide show is running, the symbol turns into a pause button.

You may also choose to enter full screen mode by clicking on the symbol located at the upper left of the image (it looks like four arrows extending out in different directions). To get back to the thumbs, click on the “x” at the upper right of the image or click on the page outside the image (see below).



Screenshot of a 1962-63 Botetourt Bear-Deer Damage Stamp from Gallery Ten, enlarged image showing the command functions located at the sides and in three corners.



Botetourt County Bear-Deer Damage Stamps &

Washington County Bear-Deer Damage Stamps

Starting in 1944, both resident and non resident sportsmen intending to hunt for big game in certain counties in Virginia were required to purchase a bear-deer damage stamp and affix it to their license. Proceeds from the sale of these stamps were used to reimburse farmers whose crops had suffered damage caused by the animals.

The following is an an updated (1981) version of the Code of Virginia:


29.1-352. Damage stamp program established; purpose; intent.

“There is hereby established a damage stamp program to provide for an available source of funds to be used to compensate damage to crops, fruit trees, commercially grown Christmas tree, nursery stock, livestock, colonies of bees, bee equipment and appliances as defined in 3.2-4400, or farm equipment that is caused by deer, elk or bear, or by big game hunters.

“It is the intent of the General Assembly that persons suffering loss or damage as the result of these activities should be realistically compensated for damages that occurred to their property as a result of the activity. A local governing body shall encourage to the maximum extent possible the utilization of the damage stamp (my emphasis) fund for payment of claims in keeping with the purposes of this article.”


These stamps have long been popular with fish and game collectors, including many of the pioneers such as Les Lebo, Ken Pruess and E.L. Vanderford. As Les lived in Tennessee, he was especially interested in these stamps – the vast majority of which were issued in the southwestern part of Virginia, in 15 different counties located relatively close to his home town of Knoxville.

These included Alleghany, Bland, Botetourt, Buchanan, Craig, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazwell, Washington, Wise and Wythe (see Figure 29).



Figure 29. 15 of the 20 counties that issued bear-deer damage stamps were located in the southwest part of Virginia, right above Tennessee.



In fact, Les exhibited portions of his comprehensive Virginia County Beer-Deer Damage Stamp collection at organized philatelic shows starting in the 1960s (see Figure 30).



Figure 30. Title Page for Les Lebo’s Virginia County Damage Stamp exhibit.



At the time Les showed his exhibit, 15 Virginia counties had issued Bear-Deer Damage Stamps. Eventually, five additional counties would also issue these stamps – making a total of 20 in all.

I have selected two counties to feature in Gallery 10, for different reasons. The first is Botetourt, located at the far right of the map shown in Figure 29. The early bear-deer damage stamps from this county have always intrigued collectors – for they hold a mystery that has gone unsolved by philatelists for over 60 years.

Botetourt started issuing damage stamps for the 1952-53 season. The early stamps were printed in two different formats by two different printers:

Printer A. According to Vanderford’s Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps, the first ten stamps, 1952-53 through 1961-62, were “believed to be from panes of 6 (2 x 3) perforated between the stamps and at left selvage.” Although the majority of these early stamps are scarce to rare, I have seen more than my share and can tell you this very unlikely.

According to Vanderford’s description, only one out of every six stamps would be perforated all the way around (see Figure 31) and the remaining five would have a straight edge on one or two sides. The examples that have been recorded do not support this small ratio, so the pane format must have been larger.



Figure 31. 1952-53 Botetourt County, Virginia Bear-Deer Damage Stamp.



If I had to guess, they were produced in panes of 15 (3 x 5), which would be consistent with the Virginia Big Game and National Forest stamps from the same time period – and also account for a higher ratio of stamps with perforations all around (see Figure 32). The pane size, however, is not really the big mystery with these stamps.



Figure 32. 1960-61 Virginia National Forest, complete pane (missing the left side selvage).



Printer B. This is where it gets interesting. Starting with the third issue, 1954-55, and continuing through 1959-60 – there was a second type of Botetourt Bear-Deer Damage stamp printed. The stamps were printed in horizontal booklet panes of two (2 x 1) with a tab at the left. Single stamps have the appearance of having been issued in coil rolls, as they are rouletted or perforated on the sides and have a straight edged at the top and bottom (see Figures 33 and 34).



Figure 33. Type II 1954-55 Botetourt County, Virginia Bear-Deer Damage Stamp.



Figure 34. Type II 1957-58 Botetourt County, Virginia Bear-Deer Damage pair with tab at the left.



In his handbook, Vanderford states: “The true facts concerning the existence of these [Type II] stamps may never be known.” He then goes on to provide conflicting information. He refers to them as “unauthorized” and “spurious” but also says he has seen them used on license.

While I have never seen a Type II Botetourt damage stamp on license, I do have an early Type I in my collection (see Figure 35).



Figure 35. Type II 1956-57 Botetourt County Bear-Deer Damage Stamp used on license with 1956-57 Virginia Big Game Stamp.



These stamps have always fascinated me. I cannot help but wonder why, if the stamps really were spurious (fake), county officials allowed this illegal activity to go on for six straight years.

In one of his exhibits, Ken Pruess offered a clue: “Due to a long-term dispute over printing contracts, for several years two printers each prepared stamps.” (see Figure 36).



Figure 36. A page from one of Ken’s exhibits.



Ken also refers to the stamps as “spurious” and states the Type II stamps “were sold to the few collectors who were interested in these stamps [and] none of these are known in used condition (Vanderford contradicts the latter in his handbook).”

The implication is that the stamps were printed to sell only to collectors. I find this hard to believe. After all, it was the 1950s and Pruess is right about there being relatively few fish and game collectors that would be interested at that time – and they would be scattered across the country. How could he even reach them?

To me, this begs the larger question – why would a printer go to all the trouble and expense to produce these Type II stamps for six straight years, if he was only selling them to a few collectors?

Applegate’s Catalogue of State and Territorial Game and Fishing License Stamps offers additional insights. He lists the Type II stamps as “Special Prints” (sic) and goes on state: “Not authorized until after [they were] put into use”.

This is revealing on several counts. First, he does not refer to them as “spurious” and actually lists them in a separate section following the Type I stamps. Second, he indicates they were, in fact, authorized at some point and, third, he indicates the stamps were actually issued or “put into use” (see Figure 37).



Figure 37. Botetourt County listings in Applegate’s Catalogue of State and Territorial Game and Fishing License Stamps.



This all happened before my time and I have no first-hand experience with this mystery (which is the reason I find it so interesting). However, based on all the facts outlined above, my guess is that the Botetourt stamps became embroiled in a prolonged power struggle involving local officials.

It is possible that at least one or more of these officials were sympathetic to Printer B and that, from time to time, these stamps may have actually been sold by the county clerk to hunters and used for the purpose they were intended (In his handbook, Vanderford stated that copies of all the Type II stamps were in the possession of the current county clerk he was corresponding with).

This would explain why Printer B continued to produce the stamps for so long. Perhaps Pruess and Vanderford were only repeating the negative comments they heard from the officials sympathetic to Printer A? Like Van said, the true facts may never be known – that is what makes it so much fun!


The second county I have selected to feature is Washington. If you look at the map in figure 29, you will see that Washington County is right across the border from Tennessee. Not only did Les enjoy collecting stamps from this county, he frequently hunted there as well.

I picked Washington County because they offer a wide variety of different stamps (some pictorial and some non pictorial), including printing varieties, provisionals and at least one incredible error – something for all collector tastes in one neat package. As a result, this gallery provides an excellent framework for understanding the attraction the Virginia County stamps have long held for collectors.

However, after spending so much time on Botetourt County in this introductory blog, I am only going to show you a couple of highlights and then refer you to the more detailed gallery introduction and the gallery, itself, for the rest of the story.

One of the fascinating things about many of the Virginia counties is that they sometimes had generic stamps printed with no year date (or validity period). They would keep these on hand for times when the regular stamps did not arrive from the printer prior to the start of the season or – as is more frequently the case – the regular stamps were exhausted prior to the end of the season.

In these cases, the county clerk would take a generic stamp and write in the current validity period with a pen. Often, the same generic stamp was used for parts of many different seasons. This was true with a Washington County stamp first used during the 1969-70 season.

This same generic stamp was used during parts of five different seasons, which is interesting in itself (see the gallery for details). However, what is really cool is that generic stamp #3 was issued to Les during the summer of 1969 (before the regular stamps were received by the clerk), used by him to go hunting in Washington County during the fall and then, finally, soaked off his license and included in his exhibit of Virginia County Bear-Deer Damage Stamps (see Figure 37).



Figure 37. 1969-70 Washington County, Virginia Bear-Deer Damage Stamp, used by Les Lebo.



The 1970-71 stamp is a favorite of many fish and game collectors, especially those who are also hunters or who have spent time hunting in the past. It features a big buck in black ink against a bright red background and has “WASHINGTON” printed across the face in large forest green letters. It is a real stunner (see Figure 38).



Figure 38. 1970-71 Washington County, Virginia Bear-Deer Damage Stamp. (Enlarged)



The last Washington County piece I would like to share with you today is one of our hobby’s most dramatic errors – a 1981-82 stamp with the red printing missing. This stamp has been used and is still affixed to a portion of the hunter’s license. It was the cornerstone of Les Lebo’s Virginia County collection and one of his most prized possessions (see Figures 39 and 40).



Figure 39. 1981-82 Washington County, Virginia Bear-Deer Damage Stamp.



Figure 40. 1981-82 Error Washington County, Virginia Bear-Deer Damage Stamp used on partial license – red color missing, ex Lebo.



Washington  Archery & Muzzle Loading Stamps

The State of Washington started issuing combination Archery & Muzzle Loading Rifle Stamps, along with Upland Bird Stamps, in 1971. Washington established special early seasons  for sportsmen to hunt with either a bow and arrow or muzzleloading rifle (see Figure 41).



Figure 41. Unused 1971 Washington Archery or Muzzle Loading Rifle Stamp  ex Vanderford.



Both series consisted of oversized, semi pictorial stamps through 1977-78. In 1978 the stamps were reduced in size and the image was removed (see Figure 42). As a result, 1971-72 through 1977-78 is considered to be the classic period for this series and only those are included in this gallery.



Figure 42. 1978 Washington Archery or Muzzle Loading Rifle Stamp.



There is not a real lot to say about these stamps (see the gallery introduction for more information) other than they are very difficult to acquire – especially in unused condition. Relatively few were sold to hunters as compared to the Upland Bird Stamps and, for the first couple of years (until after his handbook was published in 1973), E.L Vanderford was one of a very few collectors who knew of their existence. The set of unused stamps that Van collected is featured in this gallery.



CRST Hunting & Fishing Stamps

The Cheyenne River Reservation is located in northwest South Dakota. It is bordered by the Standing Rock Reservation to the north and the Missouri River to the east. It was established by Congress in 1889, when the Great Sioux Reservation was broken up and divided into seven smaller ones (see Figure 43).


Figure 43. The seven major Indian Reservations located in South Dakota.



The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) started to issue their fish and game stamps in the 1980s. I suppose I was the first philatelist to discover these stamps and bring them into the collector market. It was in the summer of 1992. Before I get into this, allow me to back up a bit and provide a little context.

In 1959 the Rosebud Sioux became the first tribal government located within the U.S. to issue their own fish and game stamps. Three different stamps were issued; one for big game, one for fishing and one for game birds – including waterfowl (see Figure 44).



Figure 44. 1959 Rosebud Tribal Game Bird Stamp.



As we have just seen above, there were relatively few fish and game stamp collectors at the time. However, some of these were very much “into it” and so, in 1959, when the Rosebud Sioux issued those historic stamps, three of these collectors (Mrs Powell, David Strock and E.L. Vanderford) wrote to the tribe and purchased an unused copy of each stamp, through the mail.

The Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux soon followed with stamps of their own, in 1961 and 1962, respectively (see Figures 45 – 47). These three tribes continued to issue various stamps throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s – largely to regulate non member (white) hunters on their land – and the pioneer fish and game collectors continued to enjoy collecting them through the mail.



Figure 45. Crow Creek page from Mrs Powell’s exhibit, featuring her own artwork.



Figure 46. 1964 Crow Creek Big Game Stamp, printed in 1961 and changed with a pen.



Figure 47. 1962 Lower Brule Waterfowl Stamp.



To see all the early Rosebud Sioux Tribe fish and game stamps that have been recorded, click here.

To see the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Stamps issued through 1972, click here.


Then, in February of 1973, it all came to a sudden and jarring halt. About 200 followers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota – on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Very sadly, the incident culminated in bloodshed. A U.S. Marshal was shot and and paralyzed in March; a Cherokee and an Oglala Lakota were shot and killed in April and a fourth man, civil rights activist Ray Robinson, disappeared and is believed to have been murdered.

As a result, all of the tribal governments located within South Dakota discontinued their stamp programs (the State of South Dakota continued to print some stamps for use on the Lower Brule and Pine Ridge Reservations). During this uncertain period in the mid to late 1970s – the tribes did not welcome whites with guns onto their land and, likewise, whites with guns did not want to go there (see Figure 48).



Figure 48. 1970s denim jacket with an AIM patch sewn on. Jacket shown courtesy of the National Civil Rights Museum, located in Memphis, Tennessee.



Year after year, Powell and Vanderford wrote to the Rosebud, Crow Creek and Lower Brule tribes, but to no avail. Over time, the pioneer fish and game collectors forgot about “Indian Reservation” stamps. They did not know that the Assinboine and Nakota tribes living on the isolated Fort Peck Reservation in the northeastern corner of Montana issued some of their own stamps in the 1970s.

When I first visited E.L Vanderford in his home, in 1985, and he showed me the early Indian Reservation Stamps, I was very excited – they were cool! My enjoyment was short-lived, however, when he informed me that all the tribal governments had discontinued their stamps following the (second) incident at Wounded Knee.

Imagine my surprise when, in the Spring of 1991, a collector in South Dakota sent me a bunch of hunting and fishing licenses in response to one of my ads in Linn’s Stamp News. For, at the bottom of the pile (isn’t it always the case?), I was shocked to find the license shown in Figure 49).



Figure 49. 1990 Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Hunting License with a pictorial non resident waterfowl stamp affixed.



I immediately got on the phone and confirmed that the tribe had, in fact, resumed issuing stamps. I subsequently caught the next flight out of SFO and made my way to Chamberlain, South Dakota, the closest town to the Crow Creek Department of Natural Resources, where the stamps were kept – but that is another story. For more on this see Fish and Game Stamps of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and Crow Creek Resumes Stamp Program.

I not only learned that some tribes had resumed their stamp programs – but that they had done so starting with the Rosebud in 1979, only a year or two after Mrs Powell and Vanderford had given up!

And so began one of my greatest philatelic treasure hunts. I spent much of my time over the next ten years contacting just about every tribe in the country, to see if they issued their own fish and game stamps. If they did, I went there (often many times). At this time, I changed my “WANTED to BUY” advertising in philatelic publications to emphasize my new passion (see Figure 50).



Figure 50. One of the many ads I ran in philatelic publications in the 1990s – wanting to buy Indian Reservation Stamps.



Late in the summer of 1992, I contacted the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) and asked a secretary in their Game Fish and Parks Department. She said, yes they did issue their own stamps and agreed to send me some samples.

Note the license clerk confused my name; she must have understood my first name to be “Torre” but was uncertain how to spell it. Fortunately the secretary spelled my name and address correctly and the page arrived safely. An interesting side note: this sample page of stapled stamps includes the only example recorded of the CRST Non Member Antelope Stamp on coated paper (see Figure 51).



Figure 51. Samples of fish and game stamps the CRST was using in 1992.



On my next trip to the midwest, I visited the CRST and stayed in Eagle Butte, where their Game, Fish and Parks Department was located. I struck up a rapport with the License Supervisor and was allowed to go through boxes of license and stamp remainders and purchase various quantities of each stamp (they were still using most of the different stamps – for more on this, see the introduction to the gallery).

Among the items I acquired on this and subsequent trips were a complete pane of the Non Member Birds & Small Game Stamp first issued in the early 1980s and the Department’s two sets of proof sheets for all of the stamps issued from 1989 through 1997 (see Figures 52 and 53).



Figure 52. CRST Non Member Birds & Small Game Stamp used from 1984 through 1991, complete pane.



Figure 53. Proof Sheet for CRST Non Member Birds & Small Game Stamps first used in 1989, printed on matte paper.



Along with the proof sheets came a copy of a memorandum which reveals the (typical) small quantities of fish and game stamps that were printed for tribal governments during this time period, relative to state issues. As this memo is dated December 14, 1992, the numbers would correspond to the stamps that were printed on matte paper and perforated vertically (see Figure 54, 55 and 56).



Figure 54. Memorandum indicating 500 – 2000 of each stamp were printed for the CRST in late 1992 – early 1993.



I also was provided with the names of some people living on the reservation who purchased licenses and stamps on a regular basis. From these sources I was able to acquire some interesting usages (see Figure 55 and 56).



Figure 55. Pair of CRST Member Deer Stamps on license, overprinted “DOE ONLY” in 1993.



Figure 56. Multiple CRST stamps used on a license issued in 1993.



The memo shown in Figure 53 represents the last time stamps were ordered for all the species the CRST allowed to be harvested on their reservation. Starting in 1994, the Tribe began to discontinue using adhesive stamps and started to use a rubber stamp in their place (see Figures 57, 58 and 59).



Figure 57. The CRST discontinued Member and Non Member Antelope and Deer Stamps after 1993. License agents started applying a rubber stamp to licenses in their place.



Figure 58. 1994 CRST Member Antelope and Deer rubber stamps used on license.



Figure 59. 1994 CRST Non Member Antelope rubber stamp used with a 1993 – 1994 Non Member Furbearer Stamp.



Collecting stamps from this tribe is fun because you will find there are many different printings and varieties – most of which can be had without parting with an arm or leg. For detailed information on all of the stamps the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has issued over the years, see the introduction to the gallery and the gallery, itself.

To be taken to Gallery Ten, click here.



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