Rotarians in Germany fight polio one stamp at a time
Top: The commemorative stamp designed for the Rotary Club of Essen. Bottom: A commemorative stamp in honor of the 1931 RI Convention in Vienna.
For more than 80 years, countries around the world have honored 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 honor of the RI Convention in Vienna.
For Rotary’s 50th anniversary in 1955, 27 nations issued stamps. The stamp issued by Monaco in honor of Rotary's 50th anniversary appeared in the 1963 movie Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
In 2011, members of the Rotary Club of Essen, Germany developed the idea to support the PolioPlus campaign with a commemorative postal stamp.
"We wanted to do something for the Polio campaign," says Frank Schmid, the project initiator and a member of the Rotary Club of Essen. "Of course, the first purpose is to collect money. At the same time, we wanted to create something memorable, and something people would like as a collector’s item."
After a test phase in which 10,000 charity stamps were issued (and sold quickly among Rotarians and friends), a new issue of 100,000 stamps was planned. Approvals from Rotary’s licensing department and the German postal service were obtained in 2012, and the club is now ready to distribute the stamps. With each stamp sale of €1.10 (US$1.49), at least 37 cents (US$0.50) will go towards PolioPlus– enough to pay for one dose of the polio vaccine.
Anyone interested in purchasing the stamps can contact the RC of Essen at Info@poliobriefmarke.de. The minimum order is 1,000 stamps per club or 100 stamps per person (five sheets).
This initiative fulfills two purposes for Rotary: financial support for the fight against polio and creating awareness for Rotary’s ongoing campaign against the disease. This project also serves as yet another piece of Rotary history.