The California condor has found its way on to beautiful postage stamps in recent years. Some of the condor images on these stamps are by prominent wildlife artists.
A quarter-century after the release of its first California condor postage stamp in 1971, the U.S. Post Office released a new condor stamp. The 1996 version shows a full-color close-up photograph of an adult condor’s head:
Many coin designs incorporate images of birds. Several of the US Mint’s state quarters feature birds, including the peregrine falcon for Idaho, scissor-tailed flycatcher for Oklahoma, and Caroline wren for South Carolina. More recently, quarter dollar coins honoring the El Yunque National Forest, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, and Everglades National Park have included the Puerto Rican parrot, great blue heron, great egret, anhinga, and roseate spoonbill.
Several South American countries feature the Andean condor on coins, some going back to at least the 19th century.
But I know of only one “real” coin with a California condor on it: the 2005 California state quarter.
On 12 June 1971, the U S Post Office issued an 8¢ first class postage stamp with an image of a California condor. The stamp, created by Stanley Galli, was part of a set titled “Wildlife Conservation”.
Until about 25 years ago, opportunities to see California condors were few. The wild population was limited both in numbers and habitat. Not many zoos exhibited California condors and, during the middle decades of the 1900s, it seems no zoo anywhere had condors. By today’s standards, the available photographs and movies were of low quality.
As a consequence, most people who saw condors saw them in museums, as stuffed and mounted specimens in dioramas. The way to remember seeing these dioramas or to share the experience with someone who didn’t visit the museum was to purchase a postcard of the diorama from the museum gift shop.
Here are 6 such postcards.