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2000 State Duck Stamp Review

by Bob Dumaine

Each year I offer a “best and worst” look at the prior year state duck stamps. A fun article for me to write, and over the years, an enjoyable one for collectors to read. Keep in mind that the opinions offered are mine alone, and I’m not an artist, just a devoted fan of duck stamp art.

The first award is for the Tardiest State to issue stamps, namely Virginia. Virginia Ducks Unlimited has taken over distribution of the stamps for the state, perhaps that caused the delay, but February is pretty late to receive the stamps.

Kansas gets the Dumb-Bureaucracy Award for the second year, in that their stamp has been issued, but sold to in-state purchasers only. Others must wait until March 2001 to buy the 2000 issue, if they have any remaining. It is hard for me to rationalize them not selling stamps to out of state non-hunters, when raising money for wetlands is the purpose of selling stamps in the first place. Collectors do not destroy wetlands, nor reduce waterfowl populations, so it would seem the state should be overjoyed to sell to collectors.

Alabama garners the Hodge-Podge Award for issuing the most confusing picture on a waterfowl stamp. The pair of buffleheads, a very small duck, are coming in for an attempted landing with a stiff wind to their backs. These little ducks can hardly fly straight in a zero-wind condition, and landing with the wind will cause an out of control situation. While the design is accurate under these conditions, the resultant pile of wings and bodies disguises the shape of the birds. A mess of a picture, but intriguing.

Montana wins the “Huh?” Duck Stamp Award, hands down. The design features a chocolate Labrador puppy playfully resting atop a mallard decoy. The ominous hunter’s gun, shell belt and duck call loom in the background, letting you know the owners are anything but playful. Cute, but ineffective.

Colorado receives The Most Questionable Use of Color Award, by selecting a dark reddish-orange border, and has managed to distract the viewer from the ducks. Colorado should consider sticking with their traditional earth tones, while repetitive, they worked a lot better than the unrealistic red color used. The color diminishes the artwork.

Iowa gets the Priceless Stamp Award. Again this year, they have printed a naked-appearing stamp, devoid of a face value. The hooded merganser design is attractive, but loses effectiveness because of the excessive stark white border. Perhaps making the stamp design larger would have solved that problem, and they should add the $5.50 face value while at it.

Unfortunately, I must bestow my Least-Favorite Design of 2000 award to the stamp of a great state, South Carolina. The picture is a contrived-appearing jumble of palm trees, a Boynkin spaniel head, and a pair of motionless wood ducks. The idea was a good one, but not well presented in the stamp design; it just doesn’t work.

My Most Favorite Stamp Design for 2000 was Alaska’s common eiders by federal winner Adam Grimm. Still a youngster, Grimm managed to paint a state design with depth, detail, and beauty. The eiders are coasting atop a frigid wave, against a threatening dark sky, and a snow-capped mountain background. The design is alive, and you can get a chill looking at it. The design is so good it could have placed high in a federal contest. Good work Adam Grimm!

Overall, 2000 was a good year for state waterfowl stamps and I congratulate all the artists who work so hard to produce the lovely images we all collect.

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