Title: Design for First Federal Duck Stamp
Medium: Photoetching on paper
Dimensions: 5 3/4 x 8 1/2 in. (14.6 x 21.6 cm)
Signed: J.N. Darling in pencil, lower right
Inscription: "Design for the First Federal Duck Stamp-1934" in pencil, lower margin
Classification: Prints and Printing Plates
Credit Line: Gift of the J. N. "Ding" Darling Foundation. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
The small text on the stamp reads “Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp. One Dollar. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Void After June 30, 1935.”
In 1929 Congressed passed the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, authorizing the purchase of lands for waterfowl refuges. The Act, however, did not provide a source of funding for these purchases. On March 16, 1934, the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act was passed. The Stamp Act required all hunters of waterfowl over 16 years of age to purchase and carry a signed duck stamp. 635,000 of the stamps were sold at $1 each and supplied funds to purchase land.
1930 he was appointed to the Iowa State Fish and Game commission, a forerunner of the Iowa Conservation Commission. His conservation activities in Iowa led to his appointment as Chief of the U.S. Biological Survey in 1934.
Darling recognized that migratory birds needed resting places along the nation’s flyways in order to survive. During his tenure as Chief of the U.S. Biological Survey, he laid the practical foundation for building a coherent system of National Wildlife Refuges. Today that system incorporates more than 500 National Wildlife Refuges, many of which lie along major migratory routes.
However, not all federal legislation supported the nation’s natural resources. By the end of his assignment as Chief of the U.S. Biological Survey in 1936, Darling had formed a good idea of why wildlife was suffering at the hands of politicians: wildlife had not votes to cast. Although the title of the bottom photo etching implies that it was created before the stamp, it was actually done afterwards, in commemoration of the stamp.