Rotary's Work Commemorated in Stamps

For more than 80 years, countries around the world have honoured the work of Rotary with commemorative stamps.

The first appeared in 1931, when Austria created an overprint -- a later printing over an officially issued stamp -- in honour of the RI Convention in Vienna.

Other RI conventions have been commemorated with stamps, including those held in 1940, in Havana, Cuba; 1961 and 1978, in Tokyo; 1981, in São Paulo, Brazil; and 1987, in Munich, Germany.

For Rotary's 50th anniversary in 1955, 27 nations issued commemorative stamps. Many featured familiar Rotary imagery such as the gearwheel, which a Greek stamp incorporated along with the number 50. Images of Paul Harris and common scenes from the issuing country also were popular.

Rotary's 75th anniversary was honoured with commemorative stamps from Benin, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominica, Ghana, Iran, and others. The postal service of the Netherlands Antilles issued several postcards and stamps as well as a postage cancellation stamp in the shape of the Rotary emblem. The Maldives issued a series of stamps based on Health, Hunger and Humanity Grants.

In 2005, Rotary's centennial inspired stamps from nations including France, Ghana, Peru, and Togo.

Stamps have also marked the anniversary of Rotary in individual countries and depicted projects and humanitarian activities. A 1960 Bolivian stamp bears the Rotary emblem and commemorates a children's hospital sponsored by the Rotary Club of La Paz. A 1976 stamp honours 40 years of Rotary in Fiji by highlighting a club project that raised money to purchase an ambulance.

Many Rotarians collect commemorative Rotary stamps. Since 1955, a group now known as the International Fellowship of Rotary on Stamps has collected and researched Rotary-related philatelic material.

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