Cats on Stamps
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From the Archive
September/October 2000 Review
During May, the major philatelic exhibition Stamp Show 2000 took place in London; it was excellent, I understand. Great Britain's Royal Mail marked it by issuing a souvenir booklet of four 1st-class stamps, featuring the ever-popular Postman Pat and his cat Jess on the front and on a large label inside. A delightful cover was also produced with a special cancellation showing Pat and Jess. Here I show the first-day cover, with the label, another picture and a Postman Pat cancellation.
In addition a first venture was made into personalised labels. The buyer could have a photograph taken and attached to a stamp for use on mail. I mention this because the stamp to which the photos could be attached was a reissue of the 1990 'Smilers' one showing the Cheshire Cat.
I travelled to Vienna, in Austria, where another big fair followed the London one. There were numerous postal administrations there, and I found both new and older material for my collection. Amongst the new was a set of three children’s cartoon characters from Slovenia; one is Muri the tomcat with his feline football team, while another shows a character called Pedenjped with his pet cat.
It was also good to see the stamp agency from North Korea, whose stamps can be hard to find here. Two different cat sets have been issued recently: one a block of four with a Scottish Fold and oriental cats (left), and the other a set of three mostly long-haired cats and kittens in domestic situations. The latter were available imperforate as well as perforated, and also as a booklet and on first-day covers. Pictured (right) is part of an imperforate pane from the booklet, with two examples of one of the stamps.
Early in the year, the People's Republic of China gave us a pretty set of three to celebrate their Spring Festival. The MS that accompanies it pictures a family with a cat sitting on the carpet (left). Israel has come up with a tribute to Hans Christian Andersen, in the form of three most attractive stamps showing some of his best-known tales, including The Ugly Duckling. Watching the bird from a safe distance is a cat (right). Israeli stamps generally come with attached pictorial 'tabs'; this one shows the mother duck and her chick.
In Belgium, Stamp Day 2000 was marked with a stamp showing a tabby cat and a rabbit seen sitting before an open book; I understand this stamp bears the title, 'To read and write, that is life.' In a sign of things to come, no doubt, it is designated in euros as well as in Belgian francs.
Several more of the familiar sets of cat portraits on stamps and miniature sheets have appeared. Liberia had two single stamps, a sheetlet of six entitled Pets Corner, and an elegant MS of a Tonkinese (inner left). The West Indian island of Dominica went one better with two pleasing sheetlets, each with eight stamps, and in the margin a cat's eye reflecting the world. Two accompanying MSs reflected the Egyptian theme which seems to be popular at the moment (outer left); and two sheetlets, each of six, from Mozambique, do the same. This set, again accompanied by two MSs, is really very attractively presented (right).
I was impressed too by a new set supposedly from Afghanistan, although that country has not officially issued stamps for years! However, the six stamps and an MS are colourful, and the MS margin shows an unusual sequence of an upside-down, falling Siamese cat righting itself to land on its feet: very clever and not shown on stamps before.
Lastly in this group, Tanzania issued a rather odd set of six, plus an MS of a Ragdoll, with the cats perched on the roof of what appears to be some kind of castle. Some of the stamps I encounter, including this set from Tanzania, picture cat breeds with which I am not familiar and which aren't in my books on the subject. I wonder sometimes whether they make them up! If any readers can enlighten me about the Seychelles longhair, the Andorra or the Spotted Mist, I would be delighted. And is there really such a beast as an Alaskan Snow cat?
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Our featured feline Chico (see head of the page) belonged to a lady in the Swiss village of Chesières who lived near the ground-floor office where I worked in the mid-1980s. Every so often he liked to pass by, spend a little time with us and check we were doing everything properly.
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Article written and first published during 2000: reproduced here by the author from February 2006