State and Federal Duck Stamps

Though we often associate stamps purely with mail delivery, they continue to play a number of other, less prominent roles in our society. Revenue stamps have been used to collect taxes on alcohol and tobacco, as well as to pay for certain legal and documentation fees. While many of these uses have long ago ceased, to this day, revenue stamps are still used at the state and federal levels to pay for hunting permits for duck, geese and other fowl.

Since the issuance of the first duck stamps, great care has been taken to produce attractive designs that would appeal to hunters and collectors alike. The inaugural 1934 federal issues were designed by Jay Norwood Darling, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and lifelong conservationist. Starting in 1949, designs have been chosen by an open competition that any artist can enter.

Many jurisdictions issue duck stamps specifically for the collectable market, with funds raised being put towards habitat conservation initiatives. Duck stamps also grant the purchaser free access to National Wildlife Refuges.

History of the Duck Stamp Program

The Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act was passed by Congress in 1934 as a means of securing a permanent source of funding for the preservation of the wetlands. Duck stamps are issued at both the federal and state — or territory — levels. In most parts of the county, both are required to hunt legally.

Duck stamps are issued annually and generally become available in the weeks or months leading up to hunting season. The first federal duck stamps had a face value of $1, and prices have risen consistently over the years. In 2015, the price of a federal duck stamp was $25, of which 98% went towards conservation efforts. State duck stamp prices vary, and 10 states produce issues specifically for the collectors’ market.

Junior Duck Stamps

To encourage wetlands and waterfowl conservation among young people, the Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) program was created in 1989. State-level art competitions give students a chance to submit a stamp design, with a single winner chosen out of entries from across the country. Junior Duck Stamps, which are purely collectible, are sold at all post offices for $5. 100% of the proceeds go towards supporting conservation education programs.

Collecting Duck Stamps

Collecting duck stamps is a popular hobby among philatelists, wildlife lovers, birders and anyone else with an interest in conservation. A combination of attractive artwork and the relatively small number of issues makes collecting duck stamps an interesting and accessible hobby.

Many duck stamp collectors specialize in mint issues, while others focus on cancelled stamps, autographed stamps, first-day covers or other specific types. On the National Duck Stamp Collectors Society website, you can find a number of articles with useful tips for starting or improving a collection.

If you’re looking to buy duck stamps to increase your collection, Apfelbaum, Inc. can help. Our Buy-It-Now sales and Stamp Store oftentimes have duck stamps available for purchase. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact our team directly for assistance.

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