The Migratory Bird Hunting Act, shepherded through Congress by Jay N. “Ding” Darling and passed in 1934, has spawned the longest running series of stamps in American history, fondly referred to as “duck stamps.” Funds raised by the sale of these revenue stamps have secured incalculable benefits for migratory birds, wildlife, sportspersons, and all those who struggle to safeguard the nation’s vanishing natural landscape. The stamps are among the most beautiful ever printed and, thanks to the annual Duck Stamp Contest, have engaged the public’s imagination and anticipation far beyond that of any other issue.
The lovely, alluring duck stamps have captivated many collectors, including Jeanette Cantrell Rudy. The indomitable Mrs. Rudy, however, occupies a niche all her own. Over a fifty-year span, she assembled the hobby’s foremost collection. Further, as a philanthropist, businesswoman, conservationist, lifelong collector, and hunter, she has transcended stereotypes in each category, claiming distinction as a woman in domains dominated by men. Thanks to her foresight and generosity, for over a decade rotating displays at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum offered visitors the opportunity to view the unique and often extremely rare items from her collection.
A donation from the S. D. Bechtel Foundation has made the Rudy collection accessible to viewers worldwide as an Arago,�¢ Featured Coolection, “Glorious Flight: The Jeanette C. Rudy Duck Stamp Collection.” The display features a sampling of the collection’s premier items, including the first duck stamp ever sold, errors, artist-signed issues, and remarques. Visitors may view the entire collection on the Arago�¢ site.