Duck Stamp Story

The Duck Stamp Story 

Famed wildlife artist and conservationist J.N. "Ding" Darling, who was then director of what would later become the Fish and Wildlife Service, created the image for the first Federal Duck Stamp in 1934. In doing so, Darling began what would become an annual tradition of featuring the work of some of the nation's finest wildlife artists on the stamp. For the first 15 years of the stamp's existence, the Service commissioned an artist to design the stamp. Soon, artists began submitting their artwork unsolicited for possible inclusion on the stamp.


The Hon. Clark W. Thompson (left), Albert Day (center) and Senator A. Willis Robertson (right) review some of the artist's submissions during the Duck Stamp competition in Washington, D.C. in 1951.

In 1949, the first Federal Duck Stamp Art Competition was held at the Interior Department in Washington, with a panel of judges selecting an image of two trumpeter swans by Walter Weber to become the 1950-51 stamp from among 88 entries. The competition is now an annual tradition, with hundreds of artists from around the nation competing for the honor of being the next Federal Duck Stamp Artist. Winning the competition is a significant boost for each winning artist, increasing the value of their work and enabling them to sell products with images of the Duck Stamp art.


The public views submissions to the 1951 Federal Duck Stamp Art Competition.