The Jeanette C. Rudy Duck Stamp Collection

Lecture Video

Assistant Curator Daniel Piazza's presentation at the U.S. Department of the Interior
June 2, 2010

Glorious Flight: The Jeannette C. Rudy Duck Stamp Collection presentation sreenshot
20-cent Preserving Wetlands stamp

The Migratory Bird Hunting Act of 1934 spawned the longest running series of stamps in American history. Duck Stamps have captivated countless collectors including Jeanette Cantrell Rudy, who donated her collection to Smithsonian's National Philatelic Collection in 2006. Assistant Curator Daniel Piazza presents duck stamps of Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration illustrated by images from the Rudy Collection.

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Assistant Curator Daniel Piazza:
Before I get in to the topic of the Duck Stamp collection at the National Postal Museum. I just wanted to say a few brief words about the museum itself. Where it is that I work and the sort of collections that the museum holds.

The National Postal Museum is one of 19 Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers. It's right here in Washington DC, on Massachusetts Avenue right next toward the Union Station. So, come and visit us. We're open every day except December 25th.

The museum was founded in 1990 and it opened to the public in 1993. But the philatelic collection that's held at the museum is much older than the museum itself. It began in 1886. It's been housed at several different Smithsonian Museums including the Old Arts and Industries Building on the Mall. And then it was at what's now the Museum of American History. Between 1990 and 1993 it was moved to its present home at the Postal Museum. So, the collection is actually much older than the museum itself.

In addition to being one of the oldest National Philatelic Collections in the world, The Smithsonian's National Philatelic Collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world. There are 5.9 million objects in the National Philatelic Collection. Most of them stamps, individuals, multiples, large sheets, and these sort of thing.

But even though they're small, as we said, 5.9 million of them can take up a lot of room. So, caring for these national treasure, giving public access to it, not just in our own display galleries, but through public events, and talks, and lectures like this, are really one of the main responsibilities of the NPM and its curators and staff.

The inspiration for this afternoon's talk really came from the exhibit that's on view now in the gallery floor called "Delivering Hope: FDR and Stamps of the Great Depression." As Diana mentioned, I co-curated that with the Chief Curator of Philately at the Museum, Cheryl Ganz. And this is actually your last opportunity to see that, it closes on Monday. So, this is the last weekend to go and see it.

And this exhibit is not necessarily about duck stamps. It's about stamps, postage stamps in general during FDR's first two terms and how he used stamps, the images on stamps, and the messages that they convey to communicate with the American people and promote his new deal programs.

I'll talk in a little bit about how the whole duck stamp program which FDR started in 1934 kind of tied into that program of messaging through stamps. But do see it if you haven't seen it yet.

When that exhibit closes in June, there'll be a couple of months where the galleries are empty and we're repainting and putting up our new exhibit which will open in early August, called "Collecting History: 125 Years of the National Philatelic Collection." I'm the curator of that exhibit as well. And that will be, I think, kind of a fun exhibit in that it'll be a bit of institutional history. Telling the story of the National Philatelic Collection since 1886. How it has grown, who the curators who've managed it since 1913 have been.

And one of the nice things about this exhibit as well would be for me anyway, is that most of the National Postal Museums exhibits are very heavily focused on U.S. stamps, and covers - envelopes that have gone through the mail. But this exhibit will actually have quite a lot of foreign material in it as well. So, if you're interested in the stamps of foreign countries, this will be a good exhibit to see when it opens in August.

So, getting back to the FDR exhibit, and there's a little bit of an intro to the whole Duck Stamp Program and how it came to be in 1934. We should mention the fact that a very few people outside of philately know which is that FDR was lifelong philatelist - stamp collector.

It's often mentioned in biographies of FDR that he took up stamp collecting after he contracted Polio, was confined to a wheelchair. Because this was something that he could do sitting down. And that's not quite right. He actually collected from childhood.

His mother in fact gave him his grandfather's stamp collection which he continued building as a child. Now his contracting polio and being confined to a wheelchair probably intensified his collecting activities tremendously. Because a lot of the other activities that he enjoyed became very difficult for him. Swimming - he was a champion swimmer and this sort of thing. Those activities became difficult, so this was something he could do sitting down. So, philately wasn't something he came to late in life. It was really a lifelong passion for FDR.

On the left face is what stamp collectors call 'Cinderellas'. I guess they're Cinderellas because they're not quite princesses, but they're invited to the ball or something like that, I don't know. But, Cinderellas are labels that are perforated and gummed to look like postage stamps, but they're not. They're often put out by stamp clubs, philatelic organizations, and stamp collectors to promote events or causes. And here is one that was done by a philatelic publisher in Ohio during the 1932 presidential campaign saying, "Elect the Stamp Collector for President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Member of the American Philatelic Society." Which he was, a life member of the American Philatelic Society.

So, stamps and stamp collecting, looking at stamps, working on stamps, one inflexible rule in FDRs life was that everyday no matter where he was in the world or what he was working on, for at least a half hour every day, he worked on his stamp collection. Usually before going to bed, often in bed he would work on his collection. And one of the things you'll see in the exhibit is a box that he would pack before going on any trip that you can name. Think of all the famous trips that FDR took during the 1930s and then during the war years. Say, out to the Atlantic Charter Conference or things like this. Every time you read or hear that FDR took a trip here or there, to these conference or that. Know in the back of your mind that he always packed a few albums of stamps, few packets of stamps that he was working on to bring with him no matter where he was in the world, these box of stamps accompanied him. So, it really was an integral part of his life.

One of the things that FDR came to learn about stamps through his exposure to them at an early age is that stamps can be extraordinarily useful vehicles for messaging to the public - propaganda. Not necessarily in somewhat negative connotation the word is taking on, but in the simple sense of conveying messages easily and simply to large numbers of people.

Stamps are a very good medium for these, and there were few reasons for that. I've tried to kind of think about and state very simply. One is that stamps are incredibly visual by their very nature. All that the stamp does is prove to the post office that you've paid postage on a letter or a parcel. So, when you think about it, the stamp really doesn't need to have anything more on it than the value of the stamp to show whether you've paid the correct rate for your letter or parcel. So, why put all these elaborate pictures and images, portraits of statesman, pictures of national monuments?

It's because you're trying to convey some messages with these stamps. They're inexpensive, the first class postage rate today 44 cents, and I have to put 44 cents on a letter to mail it. And during FDR's administration, the first class postage rate, the equivalent of 44 cents, was 3 cents. So, they were relatively inexpensive. They were widely disseminated much more so probably than they are now. Most of our mail comes to us at home now without stamps on it, but that wasn't the case in the 1930's and 40s. Almost all mail in the mail stream had stamps. Very few pieces with this sort of meter marking or permit paid or imprints, things like that. Most of the mail bore stamps. So, they were very widely disseminated.

They can be targeted to an audience to a certain point. And one of the ways that this is done is through the denomination of the stamp. What denomination does this stamp pay? To what destination? So, who's intended to be the recipient of this stamp? Is it a 3 cent first class stamp, that is it's mostly going to be sent to destinations in the United States? Is your audience other Americans? Is it say, in this period of 5 cents stamp which would be the surface rate for mail going by ship to foreign countries? So, is it meant to be people outside the country who were seeing the stamp, that's one clue to who the intended audience of the stamp is. And as we'll see duck stamps are very specifically targeted to a particular audience.

The whole process, the whole life cycle of a postage stamp from design to production, and sale, and then ultimate usage is controlled by the state. So, the state decides what images, what messages go on stamps. When they get sold? Where they get sold? For how much? And how they can be used? That's an important, I think, element of using stamps as visual propaganda.

And then stamps have this added bonus of this enormous cadre of stamp collectors. Today there are something like 40,000 members of the American Philatelic Society in the United States. And those are just a small fraction of the collectors who choose to join the stamp organization or club. Most stamp collectors in fact are probably lone wolves doing it on their own without belonging to what we call organized philately, like organized religion, or organized crime take your pick; whichever it is. So, you've got hundreds of thousands of collectors who will willingly buy the stamps, collect them, right about them, share them, propagate and amplify the message that the stamps are intended to convey to a much wider audience. Really some ideal conditions for using stamps as a messaging technique.

These are two objects from the exhibit that are kind of fun and they showed too that not only stamps, but also postmarks in some cases can be used to convey message. These are just fun little items that were created by Roosevelt's first postmaster general James A. Farley who had been his campaign manager when he ran for governor of New York in 1928. And then he also managed FDRs 1932 and '36 presidential campaigns. And it was not uncommon in this period for the Postmaster General to be the sitting president's former campaign manager. The reason for these is that the post office department in the 1930s before it was reorganized in '70 and '71 into the United States Postal Service which it is now, the post office department was a much more sort of political department of the government and jobs within the post office department depended heavily on patronage. And so, the sitting president would put his former campaign manager and his postmaster general. Because now that gives him the ability to hand out hundreds of thousands of good paying postal jobs all over the country as letter carriers, window clerks, railway mail clerks, sorters, transporters of the mail.

And so, if your party stayed in power for a while, you could make a good living in the post office department. But very often if you are a registered member of the wrong party that meant once a new administration came in, even your mail clerk and your letter carrier could be out the door. An interesting fact is that then and now, the post office is the single largest civilian employer in the United States.

Larger even than Walmart if you discount Walmart's overseas employees. If you just count their U.S. employees, the postal service has more jobs even than Walmart. And particularly in the midst of a great depression, that's tremendous source of political power. To be able to hand out that many good federal jobs. And Farley being postmaster General as Roosevelt's campaign manager.

And one of the things that he did was create these two sort of fun covers that covers that's stamp collectors' speak for envelopes that are used in these way with stamps and postmarks. These are on Farley's personal letterhead; they say the postmaster General, Washington DC. The stamp on this particular envelope is 3 cents stamp showing the signing of the declaration of independence. And the postmarks spells out leader James Farley, Democrat National Headquarters.

And the cover he made for his boss have 3 cents stamp showing King Kamehameha. So this is for FDR, he's the king. The head honcho there. And the postmark spells out, Franklin Delano Roosevelt New Deal president. From towns with those names all over the country.

So, they were just fun little souvenir items, sort of gag gifts that Farley created for himself and his boss. But at the same time they do convey a certain truth which was that these men understood that stamps and mail can convey very powerful messages. And it wasn't just the president and the postmaster general who understood this. Collector's understood it. The general public understood it.

These is an article titled, "Postage Stamp as Propaganda", from Mechanix Illustrated which was a magazine had very wide circulation. This is the October 1938 issue. And this article discusses in some length how countries around the world are using postage stamps to promote their industry, their tourism, their culture, and these sorts of things.

And one of the conclusions of the article actually is that the masters of this in the Philatelic world of the 1930s are the Italians. Mussolini in the Fascists. They're putting out these beautifully engraved postage stamps conveying the message that the modern Fascist state of Italy is the intellectual and cultural heir to the ancient Roman Empire.

So, a lot of people understood that this sort of messaging was going on back and forth through postage stamp design. This is one of the earliest postage stamps issued during the Roosevelt administration. Roosevelt was inaugurated in March of 1933. I think it's in his third term that inauguration day moves to January. His first two inaugurations were both in March.

This stamp was issued in August, so we're less than six months after his inauguration. And it promotes his national recovery administration. And this was actually a quite controversial stamp when it came out in 1933 for a variety of reasons. Actually the first design of this stamp as it was presented to Roosevelt, you see the businessman second from the left there in the stamp. In the original design it was Roosevelt himself leading the people into the sun and into recovery. Roosevelt understood that these would have been breaking with all American tradition to put a living president on a U.S. stamp.

And he said, "No. No. No. We can't do that. That would touch too many sore points. So, take me out and make that a businessman." But, we have a farmer, we have a factory worker, and a housewife. But one thing that a lot of people zeroed in on immediately is in 1933, the presence of a hammer and sickle on the United States postage stamp. The farmer's carrying a sickle and the industrial worker there, second from the right is carrying a hammer. And this was evidence to many people that the Roosevelt administration was using stamps in this way and convey certain subtle messages.

This is a letter that went out to subscribers. You could subscribe to receive new issues put out by the postal service. But also to political friends of the president and the postmaster general would often and prominent philatelist too would find themselves on this mailing list. Where each time a new stamp came out, they'd get a copy of it, used on the first day of issue on official piece of Post Office Department stationary, often with a letter inside signed by the postmaster general or another postal official explaining the purpose of the stamp. And right here the post office department tells us these specialist issue of national recovery stamps is to mark the drive of the Roosevelt administration to restore prosperity throughout the nation. So, they're telling us directly that there is a purpose to these stamps.

Farley - we've already talked about there on the left. Even less well known and the fact that FDR was a stamp collector. Is that Ickes was a stamp collector. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes. He was actually probably a better stamp collector than Franklin Roosevelt. In terms of the quality of material that he collected, his involvement in organized philately. He was often seen at shows in the Washington, DC area buying stamps, looking at exhibits. FDR almost never went to shows or exhibits especially after he was elected president.

And Ickes' collection was sold at auction around the same time that Roosevelt's collection was sold at auction in the late 1940s. And by comparing the lot descriptions in the two auction catalogs, we can see that Roosevelt had a much larger collection, but it was much more sort of general in nature. And Ickes was really very specialized collector.

Anyway, in 1934 Ickes and Farley, and Roosevelt got together and one of the things they were trying to decide was how to promote National Park's Week which was being held that year. And the idea that they came up with was a series of postage stamps commemorating 10 national parks, all denominated one through 10 cents, 10 different stamps. And to collectors these is actually a very famous set of stamps, you may have seen them as well. And actually this is Farley and Ickes set the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in late 1934 looking at the first sheets of those stamps to come off the press.

This is the one-cent value in the series. On the left is what stamp collectors call a photo model. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing before they actually went to the trouble of engraving a stamp design - because that takes a lot of time, a lot of work. They would do these pen and ink drawings and reduced them photographically to stamp size. And that's what they would send to postal officials and to the president for his approval.

It's kind of an interesting thought isn't it actually that the president of the United States being personally involved in stamp design. Something that didn't happened before Roosevelt and hasn't really happened since. Occasionally presidents will take an interest in a particular set of stamps or a series of stamps because it's related to their home states, or one of their personal interests. But during the Roosevelt administration, every stamp issued was brought to him for his review, his comment, and he often marked them up quite a bit. Sometimes he would decide that the design was totally wrong, pull out a piece of paper and sketch a whole new design for his stamp with instructions. And if you go to see the FDR exhibit, you'll see six of those in the exhibit drawings done by FDR in his own hand writing and with his own notation as to what various stamps should look like. The National Park series was no different; the photo model was brought to him. Actually you can see that Farley had signed off on it as being approved in the bottom. And I guess he brought it to see Roosevelt, Roosevelt said, "Oh, no no no." And Farley signature was scratched out and then the markings on the right in Roosevelt's handwriting say, “This is best." He was shown several different designs saying, "This is best, but try a flatter arch above the word Yosemite." So, really in painstaking detail including the angles of arches in the stamp design. So, photo model on the left and then a poof of the final engrave stamp on the right.

Another one of those Farley envelopes from postal headquarters mailed to collectors, and friends of the president and the postmaster general. Postmarked at, there was actually a post office; I don't know if there still is. There was a post office inside Yosemite National Park, and that's where the stamps were issued. Farley went and attended the ceremony and the envelopes were canceled there and mailed out to collectors. And then a photograph of FDR looking at almost the same scene that's shown in the stamp there in Yosemite.

Kind of fun about, six to eight weeks ago Roosevelt's eldest living grandson, Curtis Roosevelt was in Washington, DC on a book tours. He recently had written a book about his reminiscences growing up with his grandmother and grandfather. His parents divorced either right before FDR became president or very early in his presidency. And so, he and his mother went to love with his grandparents who happened to live in the White House. So, he spent his childhood in the White House with Franklin and Eleanor. Had a lot of reminiscences of them and has recently written a book, and he heard about this exhibit and wanted to come and have a tour of it. And he saw this photograph in the gallery, and he stood there for a long time looking at it. I figured he was admiring his grandfather or having memories thinking about his grandfather. And finally I said to him, "What are you looking at?" And he pointed at the driver in the car; he said "That's Monty. That's Monty. I haven't seen a picture of Monty in years." He was Roosevelt's sort of body guard and personal driver. Here I am thinking he's having all of these emotional memories of his grandfather. No, he was looking at Monty the driver.

So, this was part of the publicity campaign for an event, it's not just releasing presidential photographs like these one, but it's issuing stamps in these period.

Same thing with the Boulder Dam commemorative. This may be one of the few Interior Department Publications that stamp collectors salivate over. There was a publication called the Reclamation Era. I don't know if anyone knows anything more about it. But one of the things that stamp collectors like to collect is stamps used on the first day of issue and often as a ceremony accompanying the issuance of the stamp and a program that's given out at the ceremony. And there are people who collect the ceremony programs. And when there is no ceremony program, sometimes there's an accompanying pamphlet or something like this that since there's no official program, stamp collectors decide this is the program as close as you're going to come. And stamp collectors have decided that this October 1935 issue of the Reclamation Era is the ceremony program for the issuance of the Boulder Dam stamp in 1935. Because it has a picture of FDR on the cover addressing the crowd and releasing the stamp. The only stamp issuing ceremony that FDR ever actually attended personally. So, if any of you has a box of these things sitting in your office somewhere here, you could make a lot of money selling it to stamp collectors.

So, the point of the preceding slides really I think is just to show that not only was there an overall program of disseminating political messages through the medium of stamps, but that it even been done before with Interior Department programs and construction projects. So, it's kind of the environment out of which we get the federal duck stamp program in 1934.

So, little background on the federal duck stamp program is that - and I'm sure there are people in the audience who know this history much better than I do. Some of this legislative history. In 1929 during the Hoover administration Congress pass the Migratory Bird Conservation Act which authorized the Agriculture Department to buy up and preserve wetlands as federal wetlands. But there was no mechanism in this legislation for actually raising the money to buy the land.

This was not meant to be an imminent domain type of an acquisition. The idea was that the federal government could purchase land and then make it federal, and make it protected wetlands. But there was no mechanism for raising money to do this in the original legislation, it's what we would call I guess an unfunded mandate or something like this.

So, in 1934 early in the Roosevelt administration, one of the questions that he is thinking about is how do we raise the money to actually be able to do this. And what came to his attention was a cartoonist for, I think it was the Des Moines Register, named Jay Norwood Darling - often signed things and called himself "Ding," Ding Darling.

And he had been doing a number of political cartoons for several years about the need for wetlands. He was himself a hunter, but also was afraid of the effects of over hunting and was really looking at these problem of how do we tie hunting with conservation and use hunting to generate some money that can be used, put them towards conservation.

And the solution that Darling came up with - other people had come up with it before him, but Darling just happened to be talking about it at the same time Roosevelt was thinking about it. And so, he came to Roosevelt's attention, was the sale of these federal duck stamps.

Other people had proposed this, but that there could be a fee, we don't call it a tax. Fee collected from hunters that would be required of every hunter 16 years or older, who's hunting migratory water fowl. And this fee would be needed for their hunting license. And then the revenue from the fee would go in to this fund that would be used to buy up wetlands for conservation purposes. And this program came to FDR's attention and he liked it for a variety of reasons. One, Ding Darling was a very likeable figure. He was very strong character, but rather personable and actually a fun guy. A man's man as they would say. And Roosevelt really responded very strongly to that type of a personality. But also the medium was stamps, what could be more perfect. That's probably why it really caught FDR's attention.

So, in 1934 by executive order, he created the U.S. Biological Survey and named Ding Darling as its first director. And one of the first programs of the Biological Survey under Director Darling was to conceive of, and come up with an implement the stock stamp program which they did in 1934. The whole thing was done very hastily and Darling designed the first federal duck stamp. And this is the sketch that he did for it. Although later on he always said he was never particularly proud of this pillar image. He had done it hastily for the purposes of getting the stamp out and getting it issued and starting to raise money.

And for the rest of his life he would kind of re-draw and re-issue this drawing in numerous artist proofs always improving on it, thinking that the original drawing he had done was kind of substandard, but it was pressures of time and money and these sort of thing.

But regardless of all that, this is in the duck stamp collection at the National Postal Museum, Ding Darling's artwork for the first Federal Duck stamp signed by him in the lower right hand corner and numbered as trial proof number one. The title of the piece is, "Mallards Alighting."

So, in the stamp design process you have a designer who does a sketch or a design of what the stamp will look like. And this goes to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where there are people called modelers. And what the modelers do is take the artist's conception and translate it to stamp size and put it in the format that would be needed for an engraver to then take the image and begin working on the engraving. And often the modeler will make several models of the stamp from which postal officials or the president, or various people will pick the one that they liked the best. The modeler for this particular issue was actually a famous bureau artist named Alvin Meissner. He took Darling's "Mallards Alighting", drawing and made several varieties of it. This is a variety that was actually rejected, but it's one of the original BEP photographs of the rejected essay. Stamp collectors call these trial design essays, that would have been circulated around for approval for the Post Office Department. And because the Post Office Department actually sold the stamps and for the agriculture you can see across the top U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Agriculture Department to approve the stamp design.

This is a signed proof of the final engraving dye 1934. You see one of the big differences between the rejected model that you just saw and the approved proof is actually the denomination and the position of the denomination. In the rejected design it was in the middle and approved design it was repeated twice in the corners. And it's signed by the letter engraver.

This is another interesting facet of stamp design and engraving, is that even within the craft of engraving there are very highly specialized functions. So the vignette, the central design is engraved by one person. The lettering will be engraved by another person. The frame will be engraved by a third person. Each of whom specialized in these very different types of engraving. So, this signed proof is by George Payne who was the engraver of the lettering. There would be other engravers who did the central design in the frame.

And this is a plate number block of six of the first duck stamp. They were printed in sheets of 28 stamps. And these are actually fairly scarce items because mint duck stamps technically in this period anyway, technically are not really supposed to exist. And especially large multiples of them are not supposed to exists. The Agriculture Department didn't actually handle most of the sales of these stamps to the public. It was done through the Post Office Department because every town had a post office. And so the post office handled the sales.

And according to regulations, the postmaster was only supposed to sell one copy and the purchaser was supposed to sign it in order to cancel it right in front of the postmaster. Wasn't supposed to sell them large multiples and let them walk out with uncanceled stamps. But there are number of ways that a patron could have gotten a block like this. One is simply the postmaster was a friend of theirs who sold to them quietly and said, "Okay, I'll let you buy a block of six of them just don't show it around," something like that, particularly in a small town where someone might know the postmaster very well. But then also after the stamp was no longer valid, it was permissible to sell mint copies to collectors because it could no longer be used to defraud inspectors.

Because one of the provisions of the Duck Stamp was that, they said 16 or older intending to hunt water fowl, you had to buy one of these stamps and any game inspector could ask to see your signed duck stamp. And you had to be able to produce it while you were haunting. But once it was out of the period of the validity of the stamp it was not needed to show as proof that you had paid the federal fee for duck hunting. And so, then it became permissible to sell mint copies. It's possible that that's how it is, this particular block was sold.

This is a strip of three that somehow got out of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing without being perforated. Again, there are two ways these could have happened. It could have been a genuine error that escaped detection at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and was actually shipped out to post office and sold over the counter of a post office. It's more likely in fact that this was sold out the backdoor of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing by an unscrupulous worker there.

No one really knows, but these imperforate errors, we hear about error postage stamps, but postage stamps are produced in the millions, and today, in the billions of copies, and it's impossible to visually inspect every one. And so, errors do escape from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and get into the mail stream and are sold by post offices. But these - especially these early duck stamps were produced in such a small quantities, that it's really unlikely that an error like this would escape detection. So, this probably came into the Philatelic marketplace through some other means.

One of the areas of duck stamp collecting that's very popular nowadays is what is called remarks. And duck stamp collectors will buy a duck stamp and they will have an artist - and it is especially desirable if you have the same artist who designed the stamp itself - do an additional design in the margin which collectors call the selvage of the stamp.

I'm not aware, although there may be, I'm not aware of any actual Ding Darling remarks in the margins of his own stamp. But this is one in the Jeannette Rudy Collection at the National Postal Museum done by Maynard Reece who himself was very famous as the only person to have designed five Federal of Duck stamps in various years.

Again also himself a hunter, and to some extent a protégé of Darling with whom he discussed duck paintings and artwork. And this is his tribute to Ding, it says in the margin. And a little add on piece that he did on the first duck stamp.

Another thing that collectors collect which seems kind of odd, but there are people who collect these things, and they appreciate them very much are not just the stamps themselves, but the forms and paperwork that went along with them. This being a federal program, there were a lot of forms and paperwork. Form 3332 was a form that you would fill out to apply for a duck stamp. And it seems kind of odd you would think that there were lots and lots of these things around, but in fact as of the late '90s there were only six copies of form 3332 that were still known to exist in collector's hands. And one of them is at the National Postal Museum. So, when you filled out form 3332, what you got in return was form 3333. And form 3333 was a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting certificate.

And this was meant to be used either in states that didn't issue their own hunting licenses. What you were supposed to do was take the federal duck stamp and affix it to your state hunting license to show that your had paid the Migratory Bird Hunting fee. But there were some states that didn't issue hunting licenses. And there were some states also where if you were hunting on your own land, you were except from needing a hunting license.

And so in both of those cases what you would do was affix it to a form 3333 which you also got from the post office. And this is a particularly nice example because it's from the first day of issue of this particular stamp. August 22nd, 1934. It was issued here in Washington, DC, so it's a legitimate usage of form 3333 because the District of Columbia did not issue hunting licenses. But also the purchaser of this stamp and the cancellation signature across the front of the stamp is that of Ding Darling himself.

And the postmaster would also countersign the license to show that it had been validly purchased and it's signed by W. M. Mooney who was the postmaster of Washington, DC at that time. So, this is really what actually one of the gems of the Rudy Collection of the first issue of duck stamps.

This is also really neat. Duck stamps were not valid for postage, but collectors are famous for trying to slip things through and try and create these things. And so one collector franked a number of covers with duck stamps and tried to get them on a 10,000 mile around the world flight of the Graph Zeppelin. And most of them came back to him rejected because there was no postage - duck stamps weren't valid for postage. But this one slipped through. And I always have to look this up, I never remembered this. So, this is from September 1934, the cover left New York on board the German ship Europa. Dispatched from the U.S. sea post office on board. September 23rd, out in the Atlantic it was dispatched from the ship by a catapult plane rocketed off the back of the ship that carried the cover from the Atlantic Ocean into South Hampton, England, then it went over land to Croydon. From Croydon it went to Cologne and Hanover. And then to Berlin, Tempelhof Airfield, where it was placed on board a train from, Berlin to Friedrichshafen. And then at Friedrichshafen it was put on board the Graph Zeppelin which was preparing for its South American flight of 1934. It was carried on board the Graph Zeppelin. Then from Friedrichshafen, Germany into Brazil, and then transferred by a condor airmail flight within Brazil to Rio de Janeiro. So, this particular cover had a really extraordinary journey. All of it without any postage because duck stamps were invalid for postage. And this is also considered to be one of the real gems of the first duck stamp issue.

1935 these is the second issue, these is a color trial proof. One of the things that they do at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing once they've done the engraving, is they often print it in various colors, postage stamps and duck stamps, to see what color works best with the design and the engraving. And this is a color trial for the 1935 issue.

This is another one of those duck stamps used on cover. This is from 1936, a little more legitimate. It actually does have three cents posted in the upper right. And then also a duck stamp added next to it so, that it would get the postmark and be affixed to the cover. The sender and the receiver, A.C. Roessler was a famous philatelist in the 1930s and 40s. He did lots of stuff like this, testing the limits of the postal service to see what he could get through the mail. And eventually if you throw enough of these things in mailboxes all over the place, one or two of them will get through and they become highly sought after by collectors.

This is at form 3333 which was only issued in 1934. It was only meant to be used with the first duck stamps. And so one of the things that collectors in these particular fields looked for is late usages of form 3333. That is anything after 1934 -'35 which is the period of validity of the stamp. So, this is a usage from 1937 in the Alaska Territory. This is pre-statehood, Seldovia, Alaska, of the 1937 duck stamp. The latest known usage of this form 3333 interestingly is from 1955, 21 years after it was meant to be used. That's not in the collection, but this particular piece is.

This is simply an illustration of a federal duck stamp in the way that it was meant to be used. So, here's a duck stamp signed to cancel it and then placed on a state duck hunting license. This happens to be from the state of Washington Department of Game.

And then just a few sort of key dates in the history of federal duck stamps. The 1928, the Conservation Act, 1934 the Bird Hunting Stamp Act which provides some of the money that actually put the Migratory Bird Conservation Act into effect. The Biological Surveys created we get the first federal duck stamp.

So, all of these duck stamps that you've seen, say Department of Agriculture how these has become an Interior Department program? It happens in 1939 when the Biological Survey by executive order is transferred from the Agricultural Department to the Interior Department. And the duck stamp program goes with it. And then the following year, the Fish and Wildlife Service has created again, I think by executive order. And it absorbs both the Biological Survey and the duck stamp program. And it's the Fish and Wildlife Service that today still administers the duck stamp program.

All of these duck stamps that you've seen were done by commissioned artists. The duck stamp competition which you might be familiar with doesn't come about until 1949. It's the first time it’s opened up to a competition. And all the stamps are printed in single color like the ones that you've seen until 1959 when the Bureau of Engraving and Printing gets a new Giori press that's capable of printing three colors at one time. So, we get the first multi-color issue. In 1970 we got the first full color issue that's done in the combination of engraving and offset printing.

1984 is an important date, it's the 50th anniversary of the duck stamp program but also the beginning of the licensing program which adds to the money that the Fish and Wildlife Service is able to use to purchase these wetlands. The Fish and Wildlife Service doesn't actually sell these license materials, but the royalties from licensing fees, from places that sell hats, and shirts, and mugs, mouse pads with duck stamps on them increases the revenue.

1989 begins the Junior Duck Stamp program. And then in 1995 they reached the half billion dollar mark in terms of revenue raise through the sale of the stamp to purchase wetlands.

I don't think that they've reached the billion dollar mark yet, I think it's about just recently I think it was three quarters of a billion. I think they hit the 750 million dollar mark in terms of money raised from the sale of these stamps. The first stamp you've seen cost a dollar, today they cost $15.

And these are just some resources if you're interested in seeing or learning more about duck stamps. That website at the Postal Museum is kind of a landing page that will take you to three or four other sites that talked about duck stamps. There is a National Duck Stamp Collector's Society that publishes a journal. There was a very good history of duck stamps published in 2000. And that's the title of the book is "The Duck Stamp Story." And then there's the companion catalog to the FDR exhibit at the Postal Museum which doesn't get into great detail about duck stamps specifically, but has a lot of background information about FDR and his interest in stamps and his stamp collecting activities during his administration.

This is my contact information if you have questions as you can ask them now, but also if you want to get in touch with me later to ask any questions about the collection at the Postal Museum - not just duck stamps, but stamps in general - I encourage you to do that.