2012 $15 Wood Duck
Issued: June 29, 2012
Artist: Joseph Hautman
The image for this Duck stamp comes from a painting of a male (drake) wood duck by Joseph Hautman. This is the fourth time the artist’s work was chosen for a Federal Duck stamp. His first win came in 1991, before Hautman became a full-time artist.
The wood duck inhabits wooded swamps, ponds, and marshes along the coasts of the U.S. and in western Mexico. Its iridescent green and chestnut brown plumage, red eyes, and white stripes set this bird apart from other species.
Federal Duck Stamp Program Conserves Waterfowl Habitat
Perhaps no stamps are as beautiful or as popular as the Hunting Permit Stamps, better known as the “Duck Stamps.” In March 1934, Congress authorized the Postal Department to issue receipts, in the form of attractive stamps, to licensed hunters. The profits from these stamps would then go to maintaining waterfowl life in the United States. J.N. Darling, a well-known cartoonist and artist, designed the first “duck” stamp - a $1.00 issue that pictured two mallards preparing to land. Its beauty and novelty immediately appealed to stamp collectors, and the desire to own one became widespread.
The government was adamant, however. The stamp was for hunters only, not for collectors. It had to be attached to a license, and the hunter had to keep it intact for one year. But the collectors would not give up, and fifteen days before the first stamps expired they were placed on sale for stamp enthusiasts.
Issued annually, the “duck” stamps are designed by some of America's finest artists. Initially, the artwork for these stamps was commissioned, but that changed in 1949 when designer Bob Hines (creator of the 1946-47 issue) suggested the idea for a contest. Today, well-known painters and designers from throughout the U.S. compete to have their work displayed on the desirable hunting permit stamps. In 1991, Nancy Howe became the first woman to win the annual competition.
These handsome stamps have featured a wide array of waterfowl, such as Emperor Geese, Wood Ducks, Canvasback Drakes, and Whistling Swans, to name a few. All issues are inscribed “Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp.” The first five read “Department of Agriculture,” while all following issues read “Department of the Interior.” From 1946 on, all stamps bear an inscription on the back that says: “It is unlawful to hunt waterfowl unless you sign your name in ink on the face of this stamp.”
Today, this revenue program raises approximately $20 million annually, and almost four million acres of wetlands have been purchased with these funds. Not only do these stamps bring beauty to your collection, but their purchase helps protect our nation’s waterfowl.
In 1998, the Department of the Interior issued the first self-adhesive duck stamp. Interestingly, we’ve heard that the new self-adhesive stamps were made dollar-bill size so they could fit securely in the cash drawers of Wal-Mart’s sporting goods departments.
On August 16, 1916, the US and Canada signed the first Migratory Bird Treaty to protect the birds that live in both nations.
In the early 1900s, the conservation movement was on the rise. At this time, several different bird species were in danger due to the commercial trade of birds and their feathers. Additionally, their habitats were in danger because of unregulated harvesting.
Then in 1914, the passenger pigeon, which once numbered three to five billion in North America, went extinct when the last bird died in a Cincinnati zoo. This led people in the US and Canada to call for greater protection of our birds. Representatives from both nations met and recognized the need to work together to protect the birds that crossed or lived along their shared borders.
On August 16, 1916, the US and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada) signed the first Migratory Bird Treaty. In Canada, it was known as a Convention. This was the first international agreement that protected wild birds and one of the first that protected wildlife species.
The treaty went into effect on December 6, 1916. It stated that “The United States of America and His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the seas, Emperor of India, being desirous of saving from indiscriminate slaughter and of insuring the preservation of such migratory birds as are either useful to man or are harmless, have resolved to adopt some uniform system of protection which shall effectively accomplish such objects…”
The treaty was a major stepping-stone to both nations taking notable actions to protect migratory birds. In 1917, Canada passed the Migratory Birds Convention Act, which includes regulations that protect migratory birds, their eggs, and nests from hunting and sale. It also requires a permit for any of these actions.
In the US, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 was passed to meet America’s portion of the agreement. The act makes it illegal to “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, or sell birds listed therein as migratory birds.” It also gives full protection to any part of the birds listed, including feathers, eggs, and nests. The entire list features over 800 species of migratory birds.
Over the years, the US and Canada have amended their respective acts to provide further protections. They have also entered into similar treaties with other nations including Mexico, Japan, and Russia. Over the century these treaties have been in effect, several species have been saved from extinction including the Snowy Egret, Wood Duck, and Sandhill Crane.
America’s Migratory Bird Hunting Stamps have also aided in protecting many of these species. You can learn more about that program and its stamps here.
Click here for lots more bird stamps.
Click here to discover more about these treaties and the birds they protect.