On December 9, 1960, a United Nations commemorative stamp honoring the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) was issued. The stamp was designed by Angel Medina, a noted stamp designer from Uruguay. It was printed in sheets of 50 of both 4 cents and 8 cents denominations by the Government Printing Bureau, Tokyo, Japan in quantities of 3,000,000 and 2,750,000 respectively. The 4 cents denomination was predominantly pale blue with dark green with the 8 cents denomination was predominantly orange with light olive green, blue and brown. The UN seal was represented at the top and the text for “International Bank for Reconstruction and Development” wrapped around the side and top edges.
The IBRD stamp was announced to staff of the World Bank in the December 1960 issue of International Bank Notes, an internal newsletter that was circulated to all staff on a monthly basis.
The proposal for stamps issued by the United Nations was first communicated in 1947, by Argentina. On October 24, 1951, the first United Nations commemorative stamp was issued as the result of an agreement concluded with the United States postal authorities in 1951. The first UN stamp was dedicated to the peoples of the world and sold for one cent. In the beginning, the UN stamps were only denominated in United States dollars for use exclusively at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Similar agreements were later reached with the Swiss authorities in 1968 and with the Austrian authorities in 1979.
The United Nations is unique as it is the only organization that can do so, even though it is neither a country nor a territory. Today the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) is the only postal authority that issues stamps in three different currencies: U.S. dollars, Swiss francs and euros. The stamps may be used for postage when used on mail sent from the United Nations offices in New York, Geneva or Vienna.
Usually six new commemorative issues are released each year and remain on sale for 12 months only. After that date, any remaining stocks are destroyed. Commemorative stamps are so named because they commemorate a certain theme. They are never reprinted, even if they are sold out before the end of the 12-month sale period. Over the years the stamps have displayed an enormous variety of styles and designs. In addition, the works of the world's great artists, such as Marc Chagall (France), Friedensreich Hundertwasser (Austria), Hans Erni (Switzerland), Vincent Van Gogh (Netherlands), Paul Klee (Germany) and Peter Max (U.S.A.) are also depicted on United Nations stamps.
For more information on postal stamps and the World Bank, visit this exhibit.
This feature is produced by the World Bank Group Archives to highlight the World Bank's contributions to development. For more information concerning the the above documents and images (or any of the Archives holdings) please contact us via the Access to Information website.
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