Bureau designers created many different versions of a stamp design before the Post Office Department selected a final form. Unaccepted models are called either "rejects" or "essays."
Selecting a color for the stamp is one step in the process. Once Donald R. McLeod completed his engraving of the frame, letters, and numerals for the 1936 duck stamp issue, printers made a color test, the possible colors being red, purple, and two shades of green. This essay was a test of the purple ink. The ink finally selected was rose lake red.
The 1935-1936 duck stamp issue, the rarest in the series in that the fewest were sold, features three Canvasbacks and is based on a watercolor wash done by Frank Weston Benson. Donald R. McLeod engraved the frame, lettering, and numerals, and Carl R. Arlt engraved the vignette. Printed on an intaglio press, the essay's colors are crisp and highly detailed.