10% off on
web orders over $100

Bob Dumaine's 1999 State Duck Stamp Awards

In what has become a tradition, at the beginning of each new year, I enjoy taking a poke at some of the state duck stamps issued, and throw some rose petals at those I feel deserving. Remember, I am not an artist, but an art lover, and only offer my personal opinions on the stamps.

In 1999, 44 states issued duck stamps, the same as 1998. Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, and West Virginia did not participate in 1999, but Tennessee rejoined the program after their absence from 1996-98.

Three artists had multiple state stamp designs. Sherrie Russell Meline (Alaska, Arizona, and Nevada); Richard Clifton (New Jersey and New York); and Robert Steiner (California, Oregon, and Washington). Previous Federal Duck Stamp Contest winners had five stamps to their credit, Jim Hautman, Arkansas; Bob Hautman, Texas; and Robert Steiner with the three previously mentioned states.

Illinois issued the only stamp featuring a dog in 1999, and four stamps depicted lighthouses; Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Non-waterfowl game were on the stamps of Hawaii, a ring-necked pheasant; and Wyoming, with a brown trout.

The species most frequently depicted on the 1999 stamps was a tie between canvasbacks and mallards, each gracing four stamps.

Tennessee garners the "Welcome Back" award after dropping their stamp from 1996 through 1998. Tennessee abandoned their stamp in 1996 in favor of electronic point of sale terminals. Late last year, the legislature passed a law requiring the wildlife agency to issue at least one duck stamp a year.

An added plus is that the stamp uses the art of the state Junior Federal Duck Stamp Contest winner, in this case Bethany Carter. I certainly approve of the use of such art on the state stamps, and more states should follow Tennessee’s example. The new stamp is Tennessee’s first to be perforated, and sold in panes of 30 with control numbers in all four corners. Previous issues were on card, and of the peelable type. The face value is $10, and the stamp is not required for hunting.

The "Mystery Stamp" award goes to Iowa this year. The stamp has only the 1999 date, and Department of Natural Resources. There is no state name or face value, and will certainly confuse collectors in years to come. The state informed me that the missing name was a simple mistake, but since it was not required for hunting, the $5.50 face value was an intentional omission.

The "Most Unnecessary and Abusive to Collectors" award is a back-to-back "victory" for California. At $10.50, their stamp has the highest face value of any issuing state’s resident stamp. To compound the injury, the stamp is issued in a se-tenant pair, costing collectors a hefty $21 to obtain a "complete" picture as done by the artist.

Since hunters need only one stamp, the extra stamp is sort of an extortion attempt aimed at collectors. Of course the stamp sales raise extra funds for the ducks, but why should collectors shoulder this responsibility when most do not even hunt or kill California ducks? Once again, collectors are the subjects of abuse from an issuing entity, a plot that has taken its toll on collectors and will continue to do so.

Kansas gets the "No-Stamp" award for not allowing collectors to buy their stamps until the hunting season is over. Perhaps they do not care to be bothered by collectors during their busy period, or maybe they’re worried about not having enough stamps. Whatever the case, this is the first time for such a brilliant idea, and they are the only state that has such a policy. Sorry, no photo available.

Nevada’s stamp wins the "Copy Cat" award; in this case, most like their own stamp of 1979. Granted the design is a good one, but mimics the first stamp design of Nevada. The Northern Paiute Indians made and used the featured Tule Canvasback decoy nearly 1,000 years ago, and it is an incredible part of waterfowl and Native American history. If they had to resort to repeating a design, this subject was a great one, and certainly complimented by superb artwork.

North Carolina has been a past winner of "Chamber of Commerce" awards for depicting great scenes with miniscule ducks. This year they have outdone themselves by camouflaging a pair of teeny green-winged teal against a similarly covered bridge and foliage. Nice picture, but where are the ducks?

Since 1996, Texas has issued eight different stamps on one booklet pane; the duck stamp being one of them. A purchaser must buy the entire pane of eight, face value of $24, to get the one duck stamp. They offer discounts for quantity purchases for the ‘not required for hunting’ stamp, but will not sell just the duck stamp.

A couple of things make them the "Dumb Stamp" award winner. First, the face value is only $3, less than the $7.50 hunting fee required. Next, the burden of having to buy all of the stamps is unnecessary. Collectors and dealers are up to their armpits in the other seven issues; wasteful if nothing else.

The really hard part of this job is selecting a stamp that is the most unattractive, to me anyway. Please remember that my opinions are not intended to offend anyone. Rather, I offer what I feel are suggestions, some perhaps a bit tongue in cheek, with my goal being to improve the quality and collector friendliness of state duck stamps.

And now for the dreadful moment of truth. Again this year, the gorgeous state of Hawaii has won the "Drab Stamp" award. It pictures ring-necked pheasants, because it is mostly a game stamp, but like last years that depicted turkeys, the picture just doesn’t have any life. Hawaii has been in the running or won this category since their first stamp was issued in 1996, and should work to improve their designs. The runner up in this category was North Dakota’s stamp, another example of blurred and indistinct artwork.

The design I chose for the Best State Duck Stamp Design of 1999 was Maryland’s wood ducks by artist Wally Makuchal. It is a striking picture that makes you gaze at it longer than you realize. Congratulations to the artist and Maryland for an outstanding job!

The runner-up for the best stamp artwork goes to artist Robert Steiner and California for the oversized and overpriced se-tenant design of wood ducks, in itself an outstanding work of art. Either could be my choice, but the edge went to Maryland whose stamp is a collector-friendly $6, and uses a conventional design and format.

Back | News Page