World Stamps

New U.N. stamps show the importance of toilets, water and sanitation

Oct 25, 2021, 8 AM
The United Nations Postal Administration will issue three stamps in three currencies Nov. 19, World Toilet Day. The day, which is observed annually, raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation.

By Denise McCarty

The United Nations Postal Administration will issue three World Toilet Day stamps Nov. 19.

The day, which is observed annually on Nov. 19, was established by the Sanitation for All Resolution adopted July 24, 2013, by the U.N. General Assembly.

The United Nations website for the day said: “World Toilet Day celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.”

British illustrator Gail Armstrong, who specializes in paper sculptures, created the designs for the new World Toilet Day stamps.

The UNPA described the designs as depicting “three of the most important ways toilets, water and hygiene add value to our lives.”

The 58¢ stamp for use from the post office at U.N. headquarters in New York City shows a white toilet surrounded by flowers, leaves, wheat and corn.

The UNPA said about this stamp, “Safely managed toilets and water services dispose of our waste, helping prevent food crops from being contaminated and ensuring sustainable use of water in agriculture.”

The 1-franc stamp for use from the post office at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, represents good hygiene practices. Such practices are “possible only with reliable and affordable water and sanitation services, which help to protect people from preventable diseases such as COVID-19 and cholera,” the UNPA said.

According to the United Nations, 40 percent of the global population (about 3 billion people) “live without basic handwashing facilities with soap and water available at home.”

The design of the 1fr stamp includes images of bacteria and germs, water flowing from a faucet, and a hand sanitizer pump bottle with a first aid emblem.

The €1 stamp for use from the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria, emphasizes the importance of toilets for women and girls at home, in schools and in workplaces.

In discussing the Sanitation for All Resolution, the U.N. said on its website, “Sanitation is also a question of basic dignity and women safety, who should not risk being victims of rape and abuse because of lack of access to a toilet that offers privacy.”

The stamp pictures a girl, open and closed doors of public restrooms, and numerous symbols related to education.

Cartor Security Printing printed the stamps by offset lithography. Each stamp measures 35 millimeters by 50mm and is perforated gauge 14.25 by 14.5.

The stamps are in panes of 20 with images of the U.N. emblem and the “2021” year date in the selvage. A total of 5,000 panes of 20, or 100,000 stamps, were produced for each UNPA post office.

The UNPA is not the first postal administration to recognize World Toilet Day: Samoa issued four se-tenant (side-by-side) stamps Nov. 19, 2014 (Scott 1190), and San Marino issued three stamps June 16, 2015 (1938-1940).

Also, there are other stamps that have a toilet theme but are not related to the international day. For instance, Finland issued a booklet of four stamps featuring photographs of outhouses March 8, 2013 (Scott 1427). More recently, on Oct. 30, 2020, Austria issued a COVID-19 souvenir sheet printed on toilet paper. The sheet contains a single €2.75+€2.75 stamp.

For ordering information for the U.N. World Toilet Day stamps and first-day covers, visit the UNPA website; email; telephone 212-963-7684 or 800-234-8672; or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter