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How well do you know your ducks?

by Bob Dumaine

Duck stamps allow collectors a wide variety of choices in determining what they want to collect. A fine collection can be created using artist signed stamps, plate blocks, mint singles; other options include dogs, lighthouses or just your favorite type of duck. The collection can be customized to fit the personality of the collector.

As an example, I would like to illustrate what can be done with some thought, planning, and cooperation from a friendly artist.

The 1964 federal duck stamp contest was won by Ron Jenkins. His design is far from the airbrushed tones and hues of today's images, but offers a striking view of canvasbacks in flight. The stamp is one of my personal favorites due to the reality of the scene. It seems "32" was a lucky number for Jenkins. At the time of his winning entry, he was 32 years old, born in 1932; the stamp was the 32nd duck stamp, and won in 1964, two times 32!

When Ron Jenkins won the contest at the young age of 32, he was the youngest winner until Jim Hautman won in 1990. Jenkins has illustrated many stories in wildlife magazines, including National Geographic. Since his win, Ron has periodically entered the federal contest, but is still hoping for his second win.

During a conversation with the artist several months ago, I asked if he could add a duck or two to an actual stamp in full color, often termed a remarque (pronounced "re-mark") by artists. Since Ron is one of the more cooperative artists, he agreed, for a fee of course, since artists do not work for free.

I got a great deal more than I hoped for, and I'm sure Ron's eyesight dropped a notch or two drawing the super-mini ducks. The result was the group of nine stamps pictured. He added some ducks, subtracted some, and moved a few around and basically created a new look on the stamps. How well do you know your stamps? Can you identify the original stamp in the group without using a reference? Answer at end of this story.

In 1969, Ron and his family moved to Montana where he now lives on 80 acres in the wide-open spaces with his wife, three of his five sons, and a dog. This man is a true sportsman, body and soul.

When I asked him what effect winning the federal contest had on his life, he said: "Winning was a real ego trip, and drew me to paint more ducks. The newsprint, TV appearances, and publicity were all a surprise and I gained some recognition. The downside is that I was typecast as mainly a duck artist." Since then, Ron has expanded his horizons, and paints other wildlife, where he has also achieved much success. He now considers himself the "second or third best fly fisherman in the world," but we all know about fish stories.

If you wish to communicate with Ron, or have him doctor up your RW32, his address is Ron Jenkins, 39696 U.S. Hwy 93, Charlo, MT 59824. Any fees for his work are directly negotiable with him.

The original RW32 is position H. Give yourself a pat on the back if you got it right!

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