Everson Museum of Art
The John F. Marsellus Collection of Federal Duck Stamp Prints and Duck Stamps
An exhibition of the collection of U. S. federal duck stamps and their matching prints, donated to the Everson Museum of Art by John F. Marsellus, will be on view from April 7 through October 15, 2000. Titled The John F. Marsellus Collection of Federal Duck Stamp Prints and Duck Stamps, the display will be installed to include the entire collection including James Hautman's 1999-2000 Federal Duck Stamp of the Greater Scaups. (left: photo © Hugh Tifft)
This collection is especially significant as an historical document as it is one of the few collections to include every design created in the 66 years of the program's existence. The designs for the stamps are naturalistic renderings of various species of ducks in their wetland habitats, including mallards, canvas backs, black ducks, green-winged tails and emperor geese. Stamps issued before 1941 are exceedingly rare since the law originally specified that unsold stamps were to be destroyed the following year.
The first Federal Duck Stamp - designed at President Roosevelt's request by Jay "Ding" Darling, a nationally known political cartoonist for the Des Moines Register and a noted hunter and wildlife conservationist - depicts two mallards about to land on a marsh pond. In subsequent years, noted wildlife artists were asked to submit designs until 1949 when the first contest was opened to any U.S. artist who wished to enter. To select each year's design, a panel of noted art, waterfowl, and philatelic authorities are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. Winners receive no compensation for the work except a pane of their stamps, but are allowed to sell prints of their designs, which are eagerly sought by hunters, conservationists, and art collectors.
The exhibition highlights the nation's efforts in environmental preservation. The duck stamp program was launched in 1934 to raise funds for wetland conservation. Revenues collected from stamp sales go into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which purchases wetlands for the National Wildlife Refuge System. As of 1995, Federal Duck Stamps generated $501 million that has been used to preserve 4,389,792.86 acres of waterfowl habitat m the United States. Many of the more than 510 national Wildlife refuges have been paid for all or in part by Duck Stamp money.
Marsellus donated his collection to the Everson in 1991 and continues to add a new stamp and matching print each year as they are produced. Sandra Trop, director of the Everson Museum of Art, says, "John Marsellus has been a true friend and generous supporter of the museum and its mission to collect and display American art." More information on the history of the Federal Duck Stamps can be found on the world wide web at http://duckstamps.fws.gov/.
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