Stamps of the Decades

This Week in NWF History

Since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has worked to conserve the nation’s wildlife and wild places. As part of our 80th anniversary celebration, we are recognizing important moments in our history that continue to make an impact today.

On August 14, 1934, the National Wildlife Federation’s first president (and a skilled artist), Jay N. “Ding” Darling, finalized the artwork for his first stamp, the Duck Stamp. In the years following, Darling built an impressive collection of stamp artwork, creating the first 16 wildlife stamps featuring bison, grouse, elk, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife in need of our help.

Throughout the 1900s, the National Wildlife Federation created a variety of postage stamps, including special stamps that were made for National Wildlife Week, our conservation programs, and the NWF membership. Over the decades, the Federation continued to distribute wildlife stamps to help bring home our conservation message and showcase the work we do to protect wildlife.

1946 Wildlife Stamps
The 1946 collection of National Wildlife Conservation Stamps

Darling’s Duck Stamp, which has become NWF’s most famous and well-known stamp, continues to be used to support wildlife conservation today. While each waterfowl hunter in the U.S. is required to purchase these stamps to grant them access to hunting lands, all wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts, including birdwatchers and sportsman, can purchase these stamps to make their conservation contribution. Duck Stamps enable Americans to show their support for wildlife and wildlife refuges as well as their desire to keep our public lands accessible to all, and nearly 98 percent of the Duck Stamp profits goes to acquire and conserve wetlands and other wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Flyer representing 6 decades of wildlife stamp artwork.

The tradition of using wildlife imagery to connect Americans to the natural heritage we strive to protect continues today. We work collaboratively with wildlife photographers across the globe and everyday photographers and entrants of the annual National Wildlife Photo Contest to share images that represent the beauty of our wildlife and wild places, and remind us all of what we are working to protect. Though we no longer produce wildlife stamps, we find many ways to share a tangible reminder of the wildlife we cherish, including our symbolic animal adoptions.

Adopt NowSymbolically adopt an animal today to help support NWF’s conservation legacy.