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1962 World Cup First Day Cover from Chile

Refer to caption
1962 World Cup first day cover from Chile

Beginning in 1934, and continuing into today, host nations have had the honor of issuing World Cup themed stamps. The 1930 inaugural competition in Uruguay was the first and only World Cup where the host country did not issue a stamp. This First Day Cover from Chile marks the release of four postage stamps to celebrate their turn as hosts of the 1962 World Cup.

Insert cover featuring World Cup trophy, Chilean logo, and playing field
Insert cover featuring World Cup trophy, Chilean logo, and playing field

The World Cup is an international soccer competition occurring every four years. It involves the national teams of member countries of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). FIFA serves as the governing body and organizer of the competition. Thirty-two countries compete at the finals for the chance to be named champion. Since its inception, it has become one of the most popular sporting events in the world.

One of the highest distinctions for a FIFA member country is to be chosen as the host nation for the finals. Chile was awarded this privilege for the 1962 World Cup. At that time, the finals featured only sixteen teams divided into four groups for the group stage. Brazil, Chile, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia made it to the semi-finals of the knockout stage. Brazil defeated the host country and went on to win in the final 3-1 over Czechoslovakia.  Chile went on to a surprising third place finish. However, the 1962 World Cup is best remembered for the “Battle of Santiago,” a physically violent group stage clash between Italy and the host nation.

For Chile, the success of the 1962 World Cup, both for the team and the nation, was immense. Just two years prior, the country had suffered a major natural disaster with the Valdivia earthquake. Considered the most powerful earthquake on record, it devastated the country and much of its infrastructure.  The resulting tsunamis wreaked havoc as far away as Hawaii and Australia. World Cup organizers worked closely with government officials to quickly rebuild and repair stadiums, roads, and other amenities in preparation for the games.

Campeonato Mundial de Futbal, Copa Jules Rimet, Chile 1962- Logo of the 1962 World Cup in Chile
  Logo of the 1962 World Cup in Chile

The 1962 Chilean First Day Cover features two regular issue and two airmail issue stamps in three denominations. These stamps marked the first time Chilean postal authorities developed stamps with sports imagery. The 2c and 10c stamp designs highlight two soccer players and the map of South America indicating the location of Chile. The two 5c stamp designs depict the Chilean national stadium with a soccer goalkeeper. Postmarking the envelope are three circular cancels. The center cancel is a special World Cup themed postmark with the official logo for the 1962 final. It illustrates the national stadium laid over a subtly mixed half soccer ball, half globe.  The Chilean flag appears on the playing field. The text surrounding the image reads: CAMPEONATO MUNDIAL DE FUTBOL / COPA JULES RIMET (World Football Championship / Jules Rimet Cup).  The other cancels indicate the issue date of May 30, 1962 and are from the town of Viña del Mar, one of the four cities that hosted soccer matches.

Canceled stamp issues on inside of the insert card
Canceled stamp issues on inside of the insert card

The cover also includes an elaborate bifold insert card. The front of the card shows an image of the Jules Rimet cup trophy, a soccer field, and the Chilean World Cup logo. The soccer field is actually a tactile surface of green velvet. The logo is applied in the center of the field and also depicted in color at the top right. The World Cup trophy is prominently illustrated on the left with a gold, sandy texture. The cup was named in 1946 to honor Rimet, the FIFA president and driving force behind the development of the soccer competition. It features Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory. The trophy passes on to each subsequent winner; however in 1970 after Brazil won the World Cup for the third time in history they were allowed to keep the Rimet cup permanently. The modern day FIFA trophy was inaugurated after that event. The inside of the card features the four soccer stamps with their first day cancels.

The tradition of host nation stamps and first day covers continues to this day. The 2010 World Cup takes place in South Africa beginning on June 11th.  Be sure to collect your favorite stamp from among the issues released so far.

For further reading

2010 FIFA World Cup Stamps

1994 World Cup USA Issue

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

Soccer Philately

Journal of Sports Philately

Written by Rebecca Johnson and Elizabeth Heydt
June 2010