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Best and Worst – Annual Review of State Duck Stamps

by Bob Dumaine

Each year it is my pleasure to review all state stamps issued, my favorites and not-so favorite designs. I always qualify my remarks by noting to readers than I am definitely not an artist, and the opinions are mine alone.

In 2001, forty-three states issued duck stamps, same as in the previous year. Once again, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, and West Virginia were the no-shows. We have not yet received stamps from Kansas, New York, and Oregon, but understand stamps will be issued when the mood strikes.

Federal winning artists with state stamps in 2001 are Wil Goebel, Maryland; Adam Grimm, Washington; Bob Hautman, Minnesota and New Jersey; David Maass, Arkansas; Bruce Miller, New York; and Bob Steiner, California and Oregon.

The North Carolina and Rhode Island stamps depict lighthouses, and a dog is pictured on only one stamp, Illinois.

Of the states that have discontinued stamps, it is probably justified in all but Georgia, Missouri, and Nebraska. These three states are hotbeds of ducks hunting activity, and therefore potentially high duck stamp sales. Poorly executed programs that result in low stamp sales should be improved, not abolished.

It is a shame these state bigwigs have trashed the stamp programs in favor of point of sale receipts. These states therefore, merit an “award” for killing the golden goose of income-generating duck stamp sales.

The greatest state for producing great duck stamp artists is unquestionably Minnesota. Unfortunately, the execution of printing the stamp is as equally important as the artwork. The 2001 Minnesota duck stamp by two-time federal winner Bob Hautman was mauled during the printing process, and garners the 2001 Poor Printing Award.

The stamp is blurry, and the words at the bottom hardly readable. Apparently, a computer-generated image was used with improper detail registration. Shape up Minnesota; you are doing a disservice to great artwork with less than quality printing.

Illinois merits a runner up award in the poor printing category with its translation of a great picture by Jim Killen of a yellow lab and pintails.

The “Priceless” Stamp Award once again goes to Iowa for intentionally omitting the face value. The state sells the stamps for $5.50, so why not put it on the stamp?

Michigan gets the “So What” Award for printing “Not a Hunting License” on their stamp. Sure, it’s not a hunting license, nor is it a fishing stamp, or anything else but a duck stamp. It surprises me that they must tell their hunters what the duck stamp is not.

The annual and (not so) highly coveted Chamber of Commerce Award for displaying sightseeing objects on their stamp goes to Rhode Island. The stamp image depicts the Rose Island lighthouse, which also operates as a museum and guesthouse, Newport’s Pell Bridge in Narragansett Bay, and an assortment of fishing boats.

Perhaps they could add some lobster dishes and restaurant locations to next year’s stamp to complete the project. The mallard and two black ducks artwork is excellent, but too much clutter mars the background.

It was very difficult to pick what I felt was the “worst” duck stamp. Perhaps I should call it My Least-Favorite Stamp of 2001 instead. The award for 2001 goes to Louisiana and their $25 non-resident stamp. The artwork looks off-balance to me, and the drake shoveler out of proportion, and the hen too high afloat.

In addition, the Louisiana $25 non-resident stamp cost is the highest of any state; their resident stamps are only $5.50. I guess Louisiana doesn't want anybody but natives shooting their ducks. I hope the high price was not a factor in my selection. Kansas gets the permanent runner-up award in this category for using the same design since 1997.

My choice for the Best State Duck Stamp of 2001 goes to Arkansas and artist David Maass for his painting of canvasbacks landing. The rain-laden clouds in the background and slight ripple to the water are completely natural for the scene. The wind is pushing the big birds back, virtually suspended in their effort to land. Personally, I love this stamp!

Illinois is runner-up for Poor Printing and is the only dog stamp for 2001.
Rhode Island receives the 2001 “Chamber of Commerce” Award.
Michigan states the obvious and wins the “So What” Award
Iowa receives the Priceless Stamp Award.

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