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A LITTLE HISTORY ON THE 27TH (1960-61) DUCK STAMP ARTIST
John A. Ruthven was born in 1927 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received his education from the Cincinnati Art Academy and the Jack Storey Central Academy of Commercial Art. By the time he was 40, he had already achieved national respect as a naturalist and as an animal and bird artist.
Mr. Ruthven collaborated with William Zimmerman, another Cincinnati artist, for one of the finest accomplishments in his young career. Together, they produced Top Flight, a unique speed index and field guide to the waterfowl of North America. In the book are over 263 full color reproductions that represent hundreds of hours of work. While they were preparing the book, the authors received their full cooperation of the ornithology departments of the University of Cincinnati, Cornell University, the Chicago Natural History Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Of course, Mr. Ruthven's winning Duck Stamp was another major accomplishment for the young man. He did the original of this design in black and white, according to the rules set down by the Duck Stamp contest. For reference material, Mr. Ruthven used duck skins from the collection of the University of Cincinnati. The extremely skillful artist at the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Robert Hines, turned the design into a larger painting after it was chosen as the 1960-61 Duck Stamp design. This was used as a color guide for the bureau of Engraving. This painting can be seen and admired by visitors where it now hangs, in the offices of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife in Washington.
In addition to his victory in the Duck Stamp contest, Mr. Ruthven has won the Lithographer's Association Award for his design of the Famous Figureheads series, which was placed in the National Mariners Museum in Washington. Duck Unlimited also chose him to create the Certificate of Merit for 1967 on which was featured a pair of pintails in flight.
Mr. Ruthven's magnificent American Bald Eagle painting was featured at a recent one-man exhibit at Clossen's in Cincinnati where some 40 of his original paintings were shown. He also worked with television as a member of a Cincinnati Zoo expedition to the Yucatan in Mexico. There he collected and painted birds. Movies of this expedition were shown during 1967 on the Cincinnati Zoo television program.
As can be seen by the list of organizations that he is affiliated with, his interests are diverse. He is a member of the Cincinnati Bird Club, the National Audubon Society, the American Ornithological Union, and the Outdoor Writer's Association. He is the past president of the Cincinnati Artist's Guild. He is a past member of the Cincinnati Art Club and the Art Director's Club. The exclusive Society of Animal Artists in New York City selected him for membership in 1966.
Redheads was painted in gouache. The artist hand painted the design on a grained zinc plate. Prints were produced on a hand operated proof press in black in k on white paper. Prints were signed in pencil but not numbered. The image size of the print is 6 3/4" x 9 1/4".
Redheads...Engraved by the Federal Bureau of Engraving from the original artwork. Printed in burnished gold, crimson brown, and bonnie blue ink. The stamp sold for three dollars. Postal records show 1,727,534 stamps sold. First day of sale was July 1, 1960.
Most of the information contained above is from the book Federal Duck Stamp Story, Fifty Years of Excellence, by Laurence F. Jonson; Alexander & Co. It is used here with permission from the author. For more information on this book, please click here.