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Nobel's Will & The Prizes

Master Collection, United States Scott 557, Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win a Nobel Prize (Peace-1906). This 5-cent stamp featuring Roosevelt was issued in 1922 as part of the 4th Bureau Issue. It was the first American postage stamp to showcase a Nobel Prize winner.

The manufacture and sale of dynamite around the world made Alfred Nobel a very rich man. Upon his death in 1896, Nobel’s will stipulated that the majority of his wealth:

"invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.

The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical work by the Caroline Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting.

It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not."