Rotary's work commemorated in stamps

Postcard featuring the U.S. commemorative stamp for Rotary's 50th anniversary -- the only Rotary stamp ever issued by the United States.
Left: Stamp issued by Australia in 1955 in honor of Rotary’s 50th anniversary. Right: One of five stamps issued by Austria in 1931 in honor of the Rotary convention held there that year.
Members and guests of the Rotary Club of Havana, Cuba, at the printing of the commemorative stamp issued by Cuba for the 1940 Rotary convention in Havana.
Postcard and stamp issued by Monaco in honor of Rotary's 50th anniversary. The stamp appeared in the 1963 movie Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
Left: Stamps issued by the Cook Islands in 1980 for Rotary's 75th anniversary. Right: Stamp issued by Belize to honor Rotary’s 75th anniversary.
Stamp issued by India in 1987 to commemorate the Asian Regional RI Conference in New Delhi and promote polio immunization.
Left: Stamp issued by Brazil on the occasion of the 1948 Rotary convention in Rio de Janeiro. Right: Stamp issued by Japan in honor of the 1961 Rotary convention in Tokyo.

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.

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 honored 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 honors 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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