Rotary’s early emblem was a simple wagon wheel (in motion with dust).
It was designed in 1905 by Montague M. Bear, a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago who was an engraver. He designed the emblem to represent both civilization and movement. Most of the early Rotary clubs adopted the wheel in one form or another.
In 1922, the organization decided to create and preserve an emblem for the exclusive use of all Rotarians, and the following year, the present emblem, a gearwheel with 24 cogs and six spokes, was adopted. A keyway was added to signify the usefulness of the gearwheel.
An official description of the emblem was adopted at the 1929 International Convention. Royal blue and gold were chosen as the official Rotary colors and the flag of Rotary was designated as a white field with the emblem emblazoned in its center. The emblem, worn as a lapel pin, now identifies Rotarians around the world.
The Rotary emblem is a trademark owned by Rotary International and is protected throughout the world by the international association. The emblem is a registered trademark in more than 35 countries to date. Clubs, districts and Rotary entities are welcome to use the Rotary emblem subject to the guidelines for the use of the Rotary Marks as set forth by RI’s Board of Directors. These guidelines govern the use of the Rotary Marks on all merchandise, promotional materials and publications, including domain names and web sites.