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Rotary on Stamps
history of Rotary is illustrated in stamps – around 4,000 of them, enough to
fill 14 albums, as the collectors in the International Fellowship of
Rotary-on-Stamps have discovered. Take conventions. Both the oldest and one of
the most recent Rotary stamps commemorate RI conventions: the 1931 convention
in Vienna (see below), and the 2012 convention in Bangkok. Countries have honored
many RI anniversaries with stamps – even those without Rotary clubs, such as
Maldives, which in 1980 issued four stamps paying tribute to Rotarians’ work to
fight hunger on the islands. And with the advent of personalized postage
stamps, Rotary clubs have issued stamps to raise money for projects such as
literacy and polio eradication and to celebrate their own anniversaries. More
than 200 people belong to the Rotary-on-Stamps fellowship, which publishes an
encyclopedia and newsletter and maintains a website to keep philatelists
abreast of the latest Rotary stamp finds. The fellowship’s Bulletin editor,
Emmanuel Serrière – who is 40 stamps away from a complete collection – will walk
us here through some highlights.
Club of Tampere - Kaleva , Finland, issued a personalized postage stamp in
February 2010 and 2012 to raise money to help children with dyslexia. Translated
from Finnish, it reads: “Hi. You got good grades?” “Yep, don’t have dyslexia
valuable Rotary stamp was on sale for only two hours. In March 1981, Great
Britain and Guatemala agreed to a plan to grant independence to the Central
American colony of Belize. That spring, Belizeans staged violent protests over
the terms of the agreement, which they believed gave too many concessions to
Guatemala. In the midst of the political unrest, on March 30th, Belize issued a
set of eight stamps to commemorate Rotary’s 75th anniversary. But one of them,
showing a map of Belize along with the anniversary logo and three Rotary
emblems, appeared to give the Belizean district of Cayo to Guatemala, owing to
the similar colors that delineated them. The postal service withdrew the entire
series and destroyed the map stamp. “Today, it’s worth US $1,200 – if you can
find it,” Serrière says. The rest of the stamps in the series were reissued in
May 1981, and again in September, this time overprinted with the date of
one of the 98 countries to issue stamps commemorating Rotary’s 100th anniversary.
Anniversaries are a common theme in Rotary stamps. In fact, it was the myriad
stamps marking the organization’s golden anniversary in 1955 – among them, the
only Rotary stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service – that prompted the
formation of the Rotary-on-Stamps fellowship. Lauren Januz, of Illinois, who
was not a Rotarian, suggested to the American Topical Association that it
launch a “study unit” for the commemoratives. Dan Lincoln, of Jamestown, N.Y.,
was the first Rotarian to join.
marked Rotary’s 100th anniversary by issuing a stamp that highlighted the
organization’s polio eradication efforts. The stamp bears a photograph by
Jean-Marc Giboux (whose work has been featured in The Rotarian), showing
children holding up their pinkies, colored purple to indicate they had received
the polio vaccine. An illustration of the photograph was used as a special
cancellation on the stamp’s first day of issue. Several Rotary clubs have
issued personalized stamps to raise awareness of the campaign to wipe out
polio. In the Netherlands – see further down - Rotarians have raised $120,000
for Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge through the sale of a 44-euro- cent End
Polio Now stamp. Designed by Anthony van Vliet, a past governor of District
1600, the stamp has been sold since January 2009.
stamps figure into the plot of the 1963 movie Charade, starring Cary Grant and
Audrey Hepburn, and a Rotary stamp from Monaco makes a cameo appearance. (Watch
for the scene in the outdoor market about an hour and a half into the movie.)
Monaco issued the stamp in June 1955 in honor of Rotary’s 50th anniversary. B.
Minne, the designer, also created a souvenir card for the occasion.
Even an imaginary country put its
stamp on Rotary’s 75th anniversary. Redonda is little more than a rock covered in bird
droppings that belongs to the real country Antigua and Barbuda, but at least
three people claim to be king of the uninhabited island, a title passed down
since a mariner landed there in 1865. In trying to find out more about the
history of the stamps, Serrière found the e-mail address of one of the three,
Robert the Bald, who said: “I have never seen these stamps before now. So, in
ignorance and from what I was told by this government, I don’t know how they
came into existence!” (He also said that if Serrière owned a boat, he could
register it as part of the island’s naval fleet for $50.)
Another of Redonda’s would-be monarchs, King Leo, has a website on the island’s
eccentric tradition – www.redonda.org. During a very long postal worker
strikes on Corsica in 1988 and 1989, members of the French island’s chamber of
commerce decided they wanted a way to keep mail moving to the mainland. One of
the chamber’s key members was a district governor, and he made sure that Rotary
had a prominent place on the resulting temporary stamp.
following text was added by Rotarian Emmanuel and was not part of the
It all started at the
1931 International convention in Vienna. They didn’t issue a rotary stamp, they
used an existing series of stamp, ran it through the press one more time adding
a rotary wheel of various colors, and selling it at twice the original price to
raise money for the foundation.
“Excuse me, don’t
you have to be dead to be on a stamp?” asked Rick King, Past Rotary
International President when he and his wife Cherry were invited to a special
presentation of their face on a stamp at the International Convention in Salt
Lake City. Well, yes, but only if issued
by the US Postal Services. Nowadays,
anyone in the USA and many countries like the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, France
and more can create a stamp with a design of their choosing. Rick King has been featured on two official
governmental issued stamps one from Grenada and one with his wife from
Uruguay. He is not the only RI president
on stamp with a rotary wheel on it!
since anyone can create his or her own stamps in many countries, we will see
plenty more of great men and women and actions and projects. Polio PLUS, water, Interact, International
projects, they all now appear on stamps.
It is a matter of sharing what we do.
Rotary achievements are the least publicized of success and the
best-kept secret in the world until… members discover the power of the stamp as
a publicity medium. Look at the numerous
celebrations envelops from India, the District Governor in France issuing his
own stamp to advertise his year, his achievements, to increase the rotary
awareness in his country, the Rotary on Stamps fellowship creating and using
their own issues at every convention, the Netherlands promoting Polio PLUS and
raising $120,000 with it.
Rotary on stamps is a
fellowship comprised of over 300 members worldwide collecting the over 4000
stamps with the Rotary Wheel on them, as well as collecting cancellations and
cachets on pieces of mail. Rotary
Fellowships are groups of Rotarians, Rotarian spouses, Inner wheels and
Rotaractors who join together to share a common interest in worthwhile
recreational activities (sports, hobbies, etc.), to further their vocational
development through acquaintance with others of the same profession, to make
new friends around the world, to explore new opportunities for service and to
have fun and enhance their experience in Rotary.
more information and for help on rules and how to create your own Rotary Stamp please
visit www.rotaryos.com (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for
temporary access) and www.rotaryonstamps.org.
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