The route to the duck stamp's creation was fraught with detours. During the early decades of the 1900s, sportsmen fought for legislation to outlaw market hunting and to limit hunting seasons and daily bag limits. With the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the federal government took jurisdiction over migratory birds after the states had failed to protect game birds and songbirds. But regulations alone, even if adequately enforced, could not preserve the continent's once abundant waterfowl.
"The sportsman's gun, the hawk and prowling house cat are hard on birds, but civilized doings are harder still," Sandy Griswold, Omaha World-Herald outdoor writer, wrote in March 7, 1909. "Enlightened farming, the making of productive and neatly shorn estates, the march of the plow, the ditching machine, the dredge, underground tiling, the patent reaper and mower and thresher . . . is what has driven the curlew and the golden plover away and what is doing the same with the chicken and the quail, and . . . in a few more years the hardier geese and ducks, now seemingly so plentiful, will be rare indeed . . ."
Griswold was one voice in a nationwide choir calling for Congress to protect the places waterfowl nested and reared their young, wintered and rested during migration. The U.S. Biological Survey, precursor to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), drafted the Public Shooting Ground - Game Refuge Bill for Congress in 1921 to create a refuge system with abutting areas for controlled hunting. The bill would have required waterfowl hunters to buy an annual, $1 federal hunting license to fund land acquisition. Despite wide public support, the
A VALUED SIGNATURE|
Relatively few duck stamps were sold before 1940 and few collectors were saving them. Consequently, early stamps, signed or unsigned by the artist, are more valuable than later ones to collectors today. One of the most valuable artist-signed stamps is the first issued in 1934. Even after the law was changed to allow it, Ding Darling resisted signing duck stamps for collectors for many years.
The interest in duck stamp collecting mushroomed after 1980 as did the number of stamps signed by artists. The difficulty of obtaining an artists signature increases both a signed stamps rarity and value. Some artists were notoriously reluctant celebrities. Roland Clark (1938) and Francis Lee Jaques (1940) were both well-established artists at the time they won and disliked signing stamps.
How long the winning artist lives after winning also influences the number of stamps they sign. Nebraskas Bud Pritchard, who won the 1968 federal stamp contest, suffered a heart attack in 1973 and died in 1975. Today his stamps if they are of a high-grade, in good condition and neatly signed can bring $2,500 or more on the stamp market, rivaling the value of Darlings 1934 stamp and other early, low-sale stamps. Because winning artists in recent years usually have signed large numbers of stamps, they have little more value than an unsigned one in similar condition.
Pritchard probably signed fewer than 50 stamps mailed to him by collectors, and casually signed a few others. He probably did not sign more than a hundred in all. The stamp shown below was signed by Pritchard for Nebraska Game and Parks Commission big game biologist Karl Menzel over an early morning breakfast at the Range Cafe in Bassett before the two went duck hunting in October 1968. A modest man by all measures, Pritchard told friends that he hated to ruin a perfectly good duck stamp by signing his name on it.
Funding for federal refuges was supposed to come from general funds, but only meager appropriations followed. At the same time the federal government spent large sums pressing more land into agriculture by destroying natural wetlands. Charged with protecting the nation's wildlife, the Biological Survey was a stepchild to the U.S. Department of Agriculture until 1939, when it was moved to the Department of the Interior.
As drought and the Depression settled over the Great Plains during the 1930s, conservationists noted land would never again be so cheap and urged the federal government to immediately acquire all wetlands possible for wildlife refuges. The American Game Association pressed for Congress to authorize $25 million in special bonds to fund waterfowl refuges. Holland called for dotting the country with refuges: "Give wild ducks and geese water sanctuary, and the gun will never hurt them." The slogan for the movement to provide funding for a grand system of waterfowl refuges and repay the bonds issued by Congress was "Ducks for a Dollar."
The Norbeck-Andresen Act, the Duck Stamp Bill, was introduced in Congress in 1932 to fund the 1929 Migratory Bird Conservation Act. It required all waterfowl hunters over the age of 16 to buy and possess a $1 federal duck stamp. In 1932 and 1933 the bill was lost in the push of New Deal legislation, but it emerged and passed as the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act and was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on March 16, 1934. The stamp was required for the 1934 hunting season, the same year North American waterfowl tumbled to an all-time low.Ding to the Rescue
Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling was a nationally syndicated, Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist at the Des Moines Register, and a leading conservationist. At the end of his first year in office in 1933, Roosevelt appointed Darling to a "duck committee" to draft a waterfowl recovery plan.
The committee recommended the federal government spend $25 million on wildlife restoration, purchase 12 million acres of marginal land, and assign another $25 million to the Public Works Administration to restore wetlands. Roosevelt took no action. Instead, he appointed Darling to be the chief of the Biological Survey, a move some saw as appeasing conservationists and a way to silence a nationally respected political cartoonist who had been critical of his administration. But Roosevelt's troubles with Darling were only beginning.
Because revenue from the sale of duck stamps would trickle in year after year, Darling and other conservationists called for immediate, significant acquisitions of wetlands by the federal government. Roosevelt promised Darling $1 million from the federal treasury for immediate purchase of wildlife lands, but when Darling pressed for the funds Roosevelt wrote him an IOU on a scrap of paper and sent him to federal agencies looking for the money.
Darling enlisted the aid of Senator Peter Norbeck of South Dakota, principal author of the 1929 Migratory Bird Conservation Act. Norbeck was nearing the end of his Senate career and was much admired by his colleagues, so when he requested $1 million for wetlands from the previous year's unused federal relief fund it was favorably received as something of a going-away gift. The request was attached as a rider to the omnibus bill for the Biological Survey. At the last minute Norbeck raised the request from $1 million to $6 million and rushed it to the congressional clerk just as the bill was about to come to a vote. Norbeck was asked to read his amendment. The senator spoke in a thick Scandinavian accent that many found difficult to understand.
Furthermore, Norbeck had just had his teeth extracted and was suffering with painful new dentures. Before reading his amendment, he put his dentures in his vest pocket. Darling later described Norbeck's reading of the amendment as "totally devoid of understandable articulation."
The amendment passed unanimously. The bill was carried by messenger to the White House, where Roosevelt hastily signed it before leaving for a fishing trip in the Caribbean the following morning. Roosevelt later wrote Darling that he was "the only man in history who got an appropriation through Congress, passed the budget and signed by the President without anybody realizing that the treasury had been raided."The First Stamp
Darling is best remembered, however, as the nation's first duck stamp artist. Only six months passed from the time Roosevelt signed the Duck Stamp Act into law until the time stamps were sold in post offices across the nation.
Humorous happenstance dogged Darling through life, and so it was with his art for the 1934 duck stamp. He later wrote, "I took six sheets of cardboard [cut from stiffeners on shirt hangers in his office] and made six experimental sketches of what I thought a Duck Stamp might look like." He then passed them on to an assistant. When Darling inquired about progress on the duck stamps two or three days later he was told one had been selected and the stamp's engraving was under way. "Every time I look at that proof design of the first Duck Stamp I still want to [re]do it," Darling wrote.
Darling was a cartoonist, not a wildlife painter. Engravers refined Darling's rough sketch of a pair of mallards landing in a marsh, but it remained remarkably true to the original, including the birds' somewhat cartoonish bills. That first year, 635,001 federal duck stamps were sold, and in 1984, the 50th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Hunting Act, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative reprint of Darling's 1934 stamp design.
A duck stamp design was first sketched in 1919 by George A. Lawyer, Chief U.S. Game Warden. Lawyer's design did not include artwork of waterfowl but left a window in the center apparently for just such a feature. A design by Belmore Browne in 1921 was more refined; it featured a rendering of a flying Canada goose in the center of the stamp, and is readily identifiable as the prototype of subsequent federal duck stamps. The duck stamp was produced twice the size of postage stamps of that time to avoid confusion.
Hunters were not required to sign their duck stamps the first year of issue. But since 1935 a signature has been required so the same stamp cannot be used by more than one hunter. In 1934 a hunter purchasing a duck stamp was required to answer a short questionnaire asking the number of days he hunted the previous season, in what states, the number of waterfowl he shot and whether or not the hunter was a member of a hunting club. It was the government's first attempt to gauge hunting pressure and estimate the nationwide waterfowl kill.
Hunters were required to affix the federal stamp to their state hunting licenses. If a state license was not required (as in states where landowners did not need a license to hunt on their own property) the federal stamp could be affixed to a light blue paper certificate called Form 3333. Revenue from the federal duck stamps went into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, 90 percent of which was earmarked for the acquisition and maintenance of "migratory bird sanctuaries." The remaining 10 percent was for enforcement and printing and for distributing the stamps.
Production of the 1934 duck stamps was amazingly efficient, but there were problems getting them to hunters. Holland described the distribution in a 1935 editorial: ". . . the Post Office Department got out its rolls of red tape and wrapped and re-wrapped each stamp." Even in 1935 duck stamps were not available at all U.S. post offices, and some arrived late. Holland recounted instances of hunters waiting in line to buy stamps, and being told it was required they affixed the stamp to their hunting permits in the presence of a postmaster. Collectors who did not hunt were sometimes told they could not purchase stamps. When stamps were not available, would-be buyers were given an "Application for Migratory-Bird Hunting Stamp" to be filled out and mailed to Washington. Many duck hunters who were unable to purchase stamps hunted anyway, violating of the new federal law.Evolution of the Stamp
The federal duck stamp is produced by U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which also prints postage stamps and currency. Artists and engravers adapt the artist's design to stamp size and add the required lettering and border. Skilled engravers etched the design by hand onto a master steel plate, a process requiring as long as two months to complete.
During the early years, engravers often took liberties in refining or enhancing duck stamp designs, such as adding backgrounds to the artwork. For example, on Frank Benson's black-and-white wash of canvasbacks landing in a marsh for the 1935 stamp, engravers added a boat, blind and hunters. Until 1958, all stamps were printed on single-color flatbed presses, and each color printed required another run of the paper though the press. The engraving and printing process has evolved over 71 years with advances in technology. The most current reference on the history of the federal duck stamp, including the printing process, is The Duck Stamp Story by Eric Jay Dolin and Bob Dumaine, Krause Publications, 2000. The book is a helpful guide for collectors of duck stamps, prints and special issue items.
Administration of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act has also evolved over the years. In 1949 Congress allowed 25 percent of refuges purchased with duck stamp revenues to be opened to hunting when compatible with the purpose for which the refuge was established. In 1958 Congress increased the number to 40 percent.
The distribution of stamp revenues have changed too. The original legislation allowed duck stamp revenue to be used for land acquisition, maintenance of federal refuges, stamp production and enforcement of waterfowl hunting regulations. A 1958 amendment specified that stamp funds could only be used for land acquisition and costs associated with stamp sales. In the mid-1950s, about 85 percent of stamp revenue was used for administrative and maintenance costs. In recent years about 98 percent of stamp revenue has gone for acquisition of wetland habitat.Nebraska's First Winner
From 1934 through 2005, 71 federal duck stamps have been issued featuring the art of 55 different artists. Among the winners are the country's best-known wildlife artists of the 20th century - Richard Bishop, Roland Clark, Francis Lee Jaques, Walter Weber, Owen Gromme, Maynard Reece (winner of a record five stamp designs), Les Kouba and David Maass. Fifteen artists have won more than once, among them Neal Anderson, a Nebraska artist who won the competition in 1989 and again in 1994. But Anderson was not the first Nebraska artist to win.
Claremont G. "Bud" Pritchard was born in 1910 on a farm near Kenesaw, west of Hastings. During his youth, the Rainwater Basin was rich with shallow marshes and waterbirds, and the Platte River's Big Bend was only 10 miles north of the Pritchard farm. Hunting and drawing wildlife were Pritchard's passions at an early age. While working for an uncle in a grocery store during the 1930s, he took correspondence art courses and sketched and painted in every spare moment. Pritchard served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in India, North Africa, Italy and the Pacific during World War II. After the war, his wildlife drawings and paintings caught the eye of Paul Gilbert, director of the Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission. In November of 1948, Pritchard was hired as staff artist, a position he held until illness forced his retirement in August 1973.
Pritchard produced hundreds of illustrations for the Commission. His art graced the covers of many issues of NEBRASKAland Magazine and its precursor, Outdoor Nebraska, and he illustrated the monthly "Notes on Nebraska Fauna" series from 1949 through 1973. Additionally, he illustrated numerous technical publications, brochures, maps and exhibits as well as several books. He was an avid birder and life-member of the Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. In a time before quality color photographs of birds were readily available for reference, he painted from his field sketches and mounted specimens. Pritchard was no novice designing wildlife stamp art. He illustrated and designed every Nebraska Upland Game Bird Stamp except the last, from its beginning in 1955 through 1974. Pritchard began entering the federal duck stamp competition the same year he joined the Commission and entered most years into the early 1970s. He placed second in 1952 and 1956. During that time only the top three entries were announced.
The phone call from the USFWS to inform Pritchard that his art of a pair of hooded mergansers had been selected for the 1968 federal stamp mistakenly went to his wife, Mary Lou Hanson Pritchard, then an assistant professor of zoology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She gave the caller her husband's office number. The next day the Pritchards went out for dinner with friends to celebrate. It was a prestigious honor to win the federal duck stamp competition in 1968, but there was little fanfare.
Pritchard's original painting, a black-and-white wash, was done on seven-inch-by-nine-inch illustration board. Then, as today, the size of the original is dictated by the rules of the competition. The original art was sold to Pritchard's long-time
Pritchard selected a print maker in New York to produce lithograph prints from an imaged etched in stone. Only one edition of 750 prints, two artist's proofs and 10 printer's proofs, were pulled before the engraving stone was destroyed. Pritchard did not remarque any of his prints, but after consulting with friends at Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, he decided to number the prints, one through 750. Before that time, only three other stamp artists had numbered their prints, and none had numbered all of them.
Pritchard privately sold the first 200 prints for $55 each. Most of the prints with higher numbers were marketed through dealers such as Abercrombie & Fitch and sold for $45. Because so few Pritchard prints were pulled, the quality remained high throughout the entire printing. Today, Pritchard's prints are listed at auction with estimated values of $1,000 to $1,200. At the request of the Commission, Pritchard recreated his winning design in colored pastels. The original pastel was sold to Pioneer Village in Minden, where it remains on display. Unnumbered prints were made from that art and sold.
DUCK STAMP TIMELINE|
March 16, 1934 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act into law authorizing the first federal duck stamp.
1935 Hunters were required to sign their duck stamps for the first time. The 1935 stamp is the rarest of all stamps because only 448,204 were sold.
1938 Duck stamp sales exceeded 1 million for the first time.
1940 Before this year, the law required the U.S. Postal Service to destroy all stamps not sold during the year of their issue. Hence, fewer stamps from the 1930s exist than from later years.
1946 The words it is unlawful to hunt waterfowl unless you sign your name in ink across the face of the stamp first appeared on the back of the stamp. Duck stamp sales exceeded 2 million for the first time.
1948 This was the first year that unsolicited art submissions were allowed along with those of invited artists. Previously, only invited artists submitted entries.
1950 First year of open competition without invited artists. Trumpeter swans were the first protected species to appear on the federal duck stamp.
1952 First year that the name of the species was on the stamp.
1957 The first year that competition rules banned entry any species used on a stamp in the previous five years.
1958 This was the last year that stamps were printed on a flat-bed press and the first year that a species, the Canada goose, repeated on a duck stamp. Public law was changed to permit duck stamps to be reproduced as illustrations but only in black-and-white; color reproductions, with size restrictions, were allowed under a 1984 law.
1959 Stamp cost was increased to $3. First year stamps were issued in 30-stamp panes rather than 28; first multicolored stamp was printed on a rotary press; first stamp with a subject other than waterfowl (a Labrador retriever holding a mallard in its mouth) and to carry a conservation inscription Retrievers Save Game; first of three consecutive stamps bearing a conservation message; first year a souvenir card was offered on which the stamp could be mounted.
1968 Nebraska artist Claremont G. Bud Pritchard won art competition with hooded merganser pair.
1972 Stamp cost was increased to $5.
1973 Lee LeBlanc, the animator of cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, won the stamp competition.
1975 Only stamp to depict a duck decoy. Rules subsequently changed to require living waterfowl be featured.
1977 Name changed from Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp to Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp to encourage nonhunters to contribute to waterfowl habitat acquisition and maintenance.
1979 Stamp cost was increased to $7.50.
1982 A record 2,099 art entries, a number never exceeded. In 1983 a $20 contest entry fee was initiated and the number of artists submitting work dropped to 1,564.
1984 50th anniversary stamp. A record 33,940 prints were published.
1987 Stamp cost was increased to $10.
1988 First year art that was created using an airbrush won. Last year artists were allowed to submit any species.
1991 Stamp cost was increased to $15. First and only woman winner.
1994 Nebraska artist Neal Anderson won art competition a second time, with red-breasted merganser pair.
1997 Change in law allowed stamps to be sold by entities other than the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
1998 First self-adhesive stamps were sold in addition to traditional gummed version.
When Neal Anderson's painting of a lesser scaup pair was selected the best of 681 entries for the 1989 duck stamp design, it was a different world. Interest in the federal stamp increased in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Artists, collectors, wildlife art dealers and the USFWS all played roles. Over the years, first-day sales celebrations grew larger and more elaborate. The USFWS began to sell special cancellation items, certificates, programs and souvenir cards and eventually even the rights to reproduce the federal duck stamp on commercial items. The hoopla surrounding the duck stamp probably peaked in 1984, the 50th anniversary of the program.
The USFWS call to Anderson on selection day in 1988 was broadcasted live to a large audience in an auditorium at the Interior Department in Washington, where the judging was held. Anderson was doing remarques on wildlife prints in his home studio when the call came from Frank Dunkle, director of the USFWS.
After receiving Dunkle's congratulations, Anderson talked with each judge and the USFWS staff gathered biographical information from him for a press release and explained his obligations. Anderson's phone never ceased ringing that day, with calls of congratulations, requests for interviews from newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, and pitches from wildlife print dealers. Two days later Anderson was in Maryland for the annual Easton Waterfowl Festival Art Show, where the top 20 entries in the federal stamp competition were displayed. The next weekend he was in California for the San Bernadino Wildlife Art Festival.
It was only the beginning of a seemingly endless flurry of events across the country, including a trip to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing to see the first stamps roll off the press. Then came the "First Day of Sales" ceremonies at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and a flight back to Lincoln for the nationwide "First Day of Sales" ceremonies the next day.
Winning the duck stamp competition produces no direct income, but ancillary sales of the image, especially the prints, can be significant. Ted Williams, in a July 1990 Audubon magazine article, wrote that at that time the USFWS claimed winning the federal earned artists about $1 million. In browsing through the duck-stamp office files, though, he found memos stating that the previous two winners had earned between $1.5 and $2 million, and that the 1984 stamp designer, the year of the program's 50th anniversary, had earned over $3 million from sales associated with his art design.
Anderson discounted such claims. "We never made that," he said. "The heck of it is, the money you made was a gross figure anyway. The first thing a publisher does, when you do pick a publisher, is they give you a living wage for a year, so you don't have to do other things and scramble around. That initial payment they give you is usually gone within six months. You're doing stuff that's costing you money before you have the money, because you're the last guy to get paid."
Anderson signed and numbered 20,000 duck stamp prints, 2½ months, 8 hours a day, "doing nothing but signing my name," he said. And there were remarques, unique pencil drawings on the corner of the print, 786 in all. That took five months; six or seven different scaup poses, turned different ways with different backgrounds. Compounding the winning artist's dilemma is that he or she is so occupied with promoting the stamp for the government and the prints for the publisher, there is no time to paint. "You wish you could be two people because that's the time that you're hot potatoes," Anderson said, "and everybody would like to have something from you, and you don't have time to do it. And suddenly it is over. Things kind of go off the bloom." As soon as the next stamp winner is selected "then he jumps on the rat's treadmill and starts going to all those art shows, and so you are old potatoes," Anderson said.
A Lincoln native, Anderson was an experienced commercial artist in the 1970s when he became interested in wildlife art. From 1975 until winning the 1989 federal stamp competition, he illustrated the NEBRASKAland Magazine "Notes on Nebraska Fauna" series previously done by Pritchard. When Anderson won his second federal competition in 1994, he was well aware of the design requirements for stamp art. He was the commissioned artist for Nebraska's voluntary state duck stamps from 1991 through 1995, had won other state waterfowl stamp competitions, had been the commissioned artist for other conservation stamps and produced wildlife print editions that he sold privately and through wildlife art dealers.
Anderson's painting of red-breasted mergansers was selected for the 1994 stamp, the program's diamond jubilee. By the mid-1990s, interest in wildlife print sales were declining in all venues. The market was saturated with wildlife prints sold through conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited, commercial sales through wildlife print
Anderson sold about 17,000 prints of his 1989 lesser scaup art. Print sales crashed to about 3,500 for the 1990 duck stamp art, which featured a the black-bellied whistling duck, a species with which few collectors were familiar. Anderson sold about 7,700 prints of his stamp art featuring red-breasted mergansers. In recent years, an average of about 3,500 have been sold. Anderson said a core of about 3,000 collectors buy prints of federal stamps regardless of the species, but sales above that fluctuate with the popularity of the species illustrated.
Winning the federal duck stamp competition is still a prestigious achievement for a wildlife artist, even if the financial payoff is not what it was 20 years ago. The number of entries has declined over the years, in large part the result of an initiation fee first introduced in 1983 to weed out frivolous and unqualified entries. Today it costs artists $100 to enter the competition.
In recent years, in an effort to have had all North American species represented, the USFWS has dictated the species allowed to be entered, further contributing to declining interest in both the stamps and prints to collectors. Most years there are about 300 to 500 entries, significantly down from years such as 1981 when 2,099 artists competed. The record low number of entries, 200, was for the 2002 stamp, when the USFWS required the entries to be of a black scoter, the only North American waterfowl species never featured on a duck stamp. In 2005, for the first time in the program's history, the judging was held outside of Washington, in Memphis, Tennessee, and co-hosted by Ducks Unlimited and the Greater Memphis Arts Council in an apparent attempt to rekindle the interest in the wildlife art competition.A Beauty Contest?
The federal duck stamp program has never lacked critics. Some suggest the USFWS should retain ownership of the winning art, award the winner a substantial cash prize, and market the art in all ways possible to raise even more funds for waterfowl habitat acquisition. Considering the huge demands on the winning artist, and declining print sales in recent years, many artists might consider that option preferable. Some are critical of the blatant commercialization of a conservation program, that the USFWS sells reproduction rights to private industry to put images of the duck stamp on everything from gun cases to whiskey glasses.
Ding Darling would be amazed at the hoopla surrounding the duck stamp today, and impressed with the number of dollars raised and acres of wetlands protected. Perhaps he would regret that the program has become so commercial, or he might just say: "Bully. More bucks for the ducks."
Criticism of the program, though, pales in comparison to complaints registered against the art competition, particularly the process of selecting the winner. Art, what is good and what is not, will always be a subjective matter, but over the years the qualifications of the judges and their selections for winning designs have been inconsistent at best.
Today, the USFWS, according to its web site (www.fws.gov/duckstamps), selects "a panel of noted art, waterfowl, and philatelic authorities" to judge submissions and select a winner. Judges of recent years have been better qualified than in the days of celebrity judges who did not know the difference between a mud hen and a helldiver, much less the number of primaries on a bufflehead's wing.
Other critics rail that winners of the competition do not represent the best of the country's waterfowl artists. But they ignore a practical consideration - the art will be reduced to stamp size. Francis Lee Jaques was a grand painter of waterfowl scenes (including the background for the waterfowl habitat diorama at Morrill Hall in Lincoln), but few of his paintings would have been appealing, or even recognizable, at postage-stamp size.
Still, criticism persists that the duck stamp competition in recent times has been dominated by commercial artists. But who better to create an image to fit on a stamp than a commercial artist? During the contest's middle years, masters of large paintings of grand waterfowl scenes, painters like Maynard Reece and David Maass, were repeat winners. Were those painters simply able to adapt and paint what was needed to win?
A legitimate complaint against some winning commercial artists might be that they have been so unfamiliar with their subjects that they failed to render them accurately. Sticklers for artistic detail detected ducks on the 1937 and 1938 stamps were either taking off or landing with, rather than against, the wind. In later years there were all too frequent examples of competent artists committing significant anatomical faux pas - ducklings without wings, pinion birds and birds with the incorrect number of wing primaries. Perhaps the greatest oversight occurred with the 50th anniversary stamp featuring a pair of wigeon. The winning art depicted a bird without primary feathers and a red rather than a brown eye. The inaccuracies were corrected and the artist commented: "There's no rule says you can't paint a pinioned bird."
The quibbling should not obscure the accomplishments of the program. It is a plan to ensure that waterfowl in all its variety will always be abundant. In addition to the hunted waterfowl species, other wild creatures that depend on the same wetland habitats have benefited from the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act. While waterfowl hunters have contributed the most money to program, others who care about the nation's wildlife can make a trip to the post office each year to purchase a duck stamp. Ding Darling knew that in 1934 when he said: "No one is under any obligation to kill a duck just because he owns a federal hunting stamp, nor is there any rule to prevent a man who wants to help restore the migratory waterfowl from purchasing several of these duck-saving stamps."An exhibit featuring C.G. "Bud" Pritchard's duck stamp art and illustrations he did for the Outdoor Nebraska and NEBRASKAland Magazine "Notes on Nebraska Fauna" series will be at the Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, beginning in February, 2006. The exhibit will be in place for several months.