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Rare Ohio Pymatuning stamp discovered in on-line auction

by Bob Dumaine

In April 2002, a very remarkable and coveted stamp was offered on eBay, the on line auction site.

The stamp surfaced was a 1945 Pymatuning Hunting License, the last of an issue that began in 1937. Even the 1937 date is suspect, as the first year of a dated stamp is 1938, but some specialist feel an undated stamp was issued in 1937.

Scott catalog currently lists the 1938 as the first issue, and 1939 being the year of the undated example. In either case, the 1937 or 1938 stamp is the first state duck stamp ever issued.

Lake Pymatuning is a border lake between Ohio and Pennsylvania. According to E.L. Vanderford’s Fish and Game stamps catalogue, Ohio passed HB668, granting reciprocal waterfowl hunting privileges to Pennsylvania hunters and fisherman holding valid licenses. The act was repealed on May 2, 1945, and it is assumed Pennsylvania passed a similar act for Ohio license holders.

The 1945 example in the photo is listed as black on buff in David Torre’s 1999 Specialized Catalog of U.S. Non-pictorial Waterfowl Stamps. The actual example is closer to ivory, although very mild toning could be a factor. Torre also states that an example of the 1945 issue was recorded in the early 1970s, but its whereabouts were unknown as of the issuance of his 1999 catalog.

These stamps are extremely low-profile issues which can easily go undetected in a box lot or collection. These stamps are the sort collectors would examine, but could not find in early catalogs, and put away for a future “rainy-day” investigation.

Very few examples have been discovered of any year, and certainly not many survivors exist. For treasure hunters,

Torre’s catalog list the colors as follows:

  • 1938 Black on light yellow
  • 1939 Black on white (undated)
  • 1940 Black on blue
  • 1941 Black on pink
  • 1942 Black on green
  • 1943 Black on white
  • 1944 Black on manila
  • 1945 Black on buff

    The value of these stamps is as elusive as the stamps themselves. Neither Scott nor Torre places a value on any issue, a common practice for sparsely traded stamps. Obviously, what a dealer or collector will pay is what the value is on that day, but such information is rarely exchanged among buyers and sellers. Condition is also a factor, but on such rare items it becomes a bit secondary. Stamps that remain on a hunting license bear a large premium, as well as mint examples of which none are known.

    If I were pressed to estimate a value, it would be in four figures for some; five figures for others. Sam Houston Duck Co. is always interested in buying these items. should you come across one in a collection.

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