With the line of people behind him growing longer by the minute, Joseph Matt licked the back of his stamps and carefully positioned them on the sheet of cardboard. He wiped the surface with his white handkerchief before sliding it toward the man with the rubber stamp.
Hanover Postmaster Stanley Newsome III administered the official "first day" seal of approval, creating an instant collector's item for Matt, a Harwood resident who has 20 years' worth of Federal Duck Stamps.
Yesterday, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials unveiled the 2008-09 stamp at Bass Pro Shop Outdoors World at Arundel Mills, only the second time in 75 years the agency has ventured beyond Washington for the ceremony.
Hunters, conservationists and art collectors stood patiently through the morning and past lunchtime to buy the $15 stamp, have it canceled and signed by the artist, Joe Hautman.
Martin MacDonald, an official with the outdoors retailer, called the stamp "a conservation icon."
The Federal Duck Stamp is required of waterfowl hunters over 16. Proceeds go to buying and protecting wetlands -- more than 5.2 million acres since President Franklin Roosevelt signed the bill creating the stamp program.
Jay "Ding" Darling, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, was Roosevelt's choice to head the U.S. Biological Survey, which became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Darling drew the first stamp, a pencil sketch of mallard ducks, which sold for $1 and raised $635,001.
Nancy Martinez of Owings Mills was the first in line yesterday to buy stamps for her father and her husband.
"I grew up in Maine, and my father was a duck hunter," she said. "I'm not a hunter, but my husband and I are conservationists, and we enjoy the artwork, too."