The first version of an FAO emblem was in the form of a silver badge prepared by the Danish silversmith, Georg Jensen, for distribution to participants in the Second Session of the FAO Conference, held in Copenhagen from 2 to 13 September 1946. As may be seen from the illustration (above left), it showed a head of wheat, with the letters of FAO in approximately the same position as they appear on the emblem now being used, but with the name of the country — Denmark — where the motto now appears. According to Hambidge (1955), “Fiat panis” (Let there be bread) was selected as the FAO motto by the first Director-General, Sir John Boyd Orr.
Various designs were used for the emblem after 1946, but the general pattern has remained unchanged, and some of the earlier versions were still in use in 1980/81. One early design in gold on green still appears in these colours on the Organization's diplomatic pouches: it can be seen on the plaque at the Homestead Hotel which commemorates the holding of the Hot Springs Conference (see Figure 1). The version currently in widest use, however, is depicted above (right). It was designed by Mr. H. Engeler of what was then the Publications Service in April 1960, and was approved some time thereafter by Mr. B.R. Sen, then Director-General. The first published reference to its official approval and use appears to have been in Administrative Circular 77/31, dated 30 March 1977, which was directed toward achieving complete uniformity in the design used.
The emblem in its current version was registered on 1 July 1964 with the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI), the predecessor of the present World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in accordance with the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Under this convention the emblems of international organizations are protected against use as trade marks, or as elements of trade marks, in countries that are members of the Paris Union.
The provisions of the above-mentioned Administrative Circular were updated in Administrative Circular 80/30, dated 21 March 1980, which provides that requests by parties outside FAO to use the emblem are to be dealt with by the Office of the Legal Counsel.
Apart from the facts that one Director-General selected “Fiat panis” as the motto, and that another Director-General approved the present design, it does not appear that any formal decisions were taken either to have an emblem or as to what it should portray. The emblem thus made its appearance on the FAO scene in an informal manner, and it came into use gradually, in an equally informal and somewhat irregular way. It began appearing in one of its earlier versions on some FAO documents in mid-1947. For example, it appeared on the cover of the Director-General's Second Annual Report to the Conference, dated July 1947, and on the cover of Unasylva, Volume 1, Number 1, dated July/August 1947. On the other hand, it did not appear on tile Report of the Third Session of the FAO Conference, issued in December 1947. Present practice is to show the full name of the Organization, or the emblem, on the covers of all the organization's printed material. Both often appear on the same cover.