August-September 2023 | Features

How philately will get you everywhere!

How philately will get you everywhere!

The story of Rotary on Stamps and how their influence has spread all over the Rotary world over decades of collecting.

Did you, like me, collect stamps as a child, and then give up during teenage years?

It was always a fine way to learn about geography and the countries of the world. My late father collected stamps throughout his life, so it was natural to pick up a renewed interest when he passed away.

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My interest then became themes which interested me. Having been a Rotaractor from the 1970s, this naturally included Rotary.

Attendance at Rotary International Conventions meant that I quickly discovered the Rotary on Stamps booth in the House of Friendship, from where I was able to start up a collection, ably supported by other members of the Fellowship.

Rotary on Stamps started in the USA, around the time of the 50th Anniversary of Rotary International. A group of collectors joined together and organised a study unit named ‘Rotary on Stamps’ (RoS) under the leadership of the American Topical Association.

In 1955, 27 nations issued 80 stamps to commemorate Rotary’s Anniversary. Since then, RoS has also become part of the Fellowships programme of Rotary International.

The first known philatelic item issued (overprints on earlier stamps) was in 1931, to mark the International Convention held in Vienna. It is thought that around 2,000 commemorative stamps have been issued worldwide.

Rotary on Stamps issues a bulletin every two months, giving details of Rotary themed stamps and covers issued.”

Some 98 countries issued stamps to commemorate Rotary’s centenary in 2005 and thereby recognised our contribution of service – both locally and internationally. The publicity surrounding all stamps featuring Rotary must be beneficial to our future.

Sadly, neither the Royal Mail nor An Post in Ireland have included Rotary stamps in their programmes, although some private issues have been permitted. Despite lobbying by the late Past District Governor, Mike Gosney, there has been no change in the official policy.

The British Island Post Offices have been more receptive. In 1998, Jersey’s Christmas stamps recognised four service organisations, including Rotary.

To celebrate Rotary’s centenary in 2005, the Isle of Man issued six stamps. I acted as an Assistant Postmaster at the 2005 International Convention in Chicago – the stamps were well received, and good sales achieved.

Guernsey Post Office issued a set of stamps, earlier this year, to mark the centenary of Rotary in Guernsey. It is hoped that Jersey may do the same in 2024.

Some members arrange to issue first day covers to mark special occasions or events. These are often arranged around the Rotary International Conventions. Others are used for fund raising purposes.

Some 98 countries issued stamps to commemorate Rotary’s centenary in 2005 and thereby recognised our contribution of service – both locally and internationally.”

Past President of the Rotary Club of London, Ian Balcombe, has arranged many such covers over the years, and managed to get the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh to sign a number of covers.

Rotary on Stamps issues a bulletin every two months, giving details of Rotary themed stamps and covers issued.

The February 2023 edition includes pictures of a private issue in Sri Lanka, to mark the visit of the then RI President, Jennifer Jones, to that island.

Since the start of the COVID pandemic, regular Zoom meetings have been held, when members from a variety of countries attend – these are timed to enable those in America, Europe and Australia to attend.

This medium has also been used for the annual AGM, as face-to-face meetings have been impractical.

In addition, stamp albums, an encyclopaedia and a catalogue are produced and updated each year. As these are prepared in the USA, postage has to be added to any quoted cost.

There are already a number of RoS members in Great Britain & Ireland. If the subject of Rotary stamps interests you, look on the Rotary on Stamps website for more details and how to join.

Last February, Guernsey Post’s philatelic bureau released a set of commemorative stamps to mark the centenary of The Rotary Club of Guernsey.

The stamps, which depict some of the club’s projects in Guernsey and internationally, were released on February 15th.

The Rotary Club of Guernsey was officially chartered on March 3, 1923, and has achieved a great deal over the last 100 years.

Not only does the club manage key community projects within the Bailiwick of Guernsey, but it also proactively supports Rotary International’s goals to eradicate polio worldwide and to assist in the relief efforts for those suffering following worldwide emergencies.

Past President, Brian Acton said: “It is so rewarding to see some of our main projects highlighted by these stamps that will be in wide circulation as we continue to commemorate and celebrate our centenary milestone.

“The club is very grateful to Guernsey Post for launching this issue to acknowledge the service provided to the community and we are sure that these will be enjoyed by many.”

The stamps depict the following projects:


Supported by individuals and local businesses, The Rotary Club of Guernsey transformed a derelict area of Delancey Park into a beautiful sensory garden and picnic area overlooking one of the best views in Guernsey.


The Saffery Rotary Walk, which celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2023, has attracted some 13,000 walkers over the years who collectively have raised over £850,000 for local charities.

The stamps depict some of Guernsey Rotary’s most notable projects.


Delivering life-saving drops of polio vaccine into the mouths of children is critical to achieving Rotary’s dream of a polio free world. The Rotary Club of Guernsey proudly supports Rotary’s Global End Polio Now campaign.


The Rotary Club of Guernsey, with support from the local community, led a centenary project to replace the Japanese Pavilion at Saumarez Park. This muchloved iconic structure is enjoyed by many people in the community.


The annual Flag Day, which raises funds to provide Christmas food hampers for those in need in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, was launched by The Rotary Club of Guernsey in 1938. It continues today, thanks to the generosity of the local community.

TREE OF JOY – £1.50

The Tree of Joy campaign was launched by The Rotary Club of Guernsey in 1994. It continues today as a community project to provide Christmas presents to children across the island who might otherwise not receive a gift at Christmas.


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