Incorrect Symbol

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Australia 305

SCN 305

     The "proper" medical symbol is the Rod of Aesculapius (or Aesclepios in Greek) with a single serpent entwined around a cypress branch.

     It is used by the American Medical Association, the U.S. Air Force Medical Service and the Australian Army Medical Corps, among others,  while the U.S. Army Medical Corps, the U.S. Navy Pharmacy Division, the Public Health Service, the Australian Medical Corps. and the Queensland Government Ambulance Service use the Caduceus of Hermes (Mercury) with two entwined serpents. Hermes was the messenger of the gods, the god of trickery, wealth and death.

     The Royal Flying Doctor Service began in 1928 in Queensland as the Aerial Medical Service. It was expanded to cover all of Australia and supported by the Australian government in 1932, and it was re-named the Australian Aerial Medical Service. In 1942 it was re-named again as the Flying Doctor Service, with Royal added in 1955.

     The stamp was issued in 1957. While the Rod of Aesculapius would have been a proper symbol to appear on the stamp, no doubt the Caduceus was chosen because of the wings.

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