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From the Archive
November/December 2000 Review
Not many new cat stamps have come my way since I last wrote. There are plenty in the pipeline from Antigua/Barbuda, Angola, Nicaragua, Mozambique and Ghana but as these have not reached me yet, I'll wait until they can be illustrated. To some extent, we still seem to be catching up on 1999 issues.
One such is the lovely block of four from the Congo Republic, showing a Singapura, a Cream Tabby Point Siamese, three Blue Persian kittens and an Exotic Chocolate Shorthair. Note the little Singapuras around the margins. These stamps also come as rather expensive, individual 'de luxe' sheetlets.
Many countries produced special issues for the prestigious China 99 philatelic exhibition in Beijing last year, and Tanzania was no exception. Their offering was a tribute to the artist Xu Beihong (1895-1953), in the form of a sheet of ten beautiful stamps of selected paintings and two more on a miniature sheet (MS). One of the ten is the superb Cat and Bamboo, which has the economy and delicacy that make Chinese art so attractive.
Western Sahara, the former Spanish Sahara in West Africa, has been a disputed territory with neighbouring Morocco. A set of cats under the name of Western Sahara appeared in 1995; now another set of six and an MS, dated 1999, have come along. The country name is now given as Saharan Republic, but the cats are nicely depicted anyway. A Balinese is shown here (left). The others comprise a fine Maine Coon, a Colourpoint and several Persians, including a tabby one on the MS.
Whilst not many legitimate cat stamps have appeared, there has been no shortage of what may perhaps best be described as 'Cinderellas'. These are labels that resemble stamps, but have no postal validity. Many dealers do not stock them and I do not normally include them in my new-issues roundup. However, there is no doubting the attractiveness of some of them; they usually come in blocks of four or sheetlets of six or more. The examples shown are labelled as coming from Tadjikistan (left) and Kyrgyzstan (right); the latter bear a strong resemblance to paintings by the British cat artist, Lesley Ann Ivory.
Other productions purport to come from various regions of Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, although again they seem to be 'bogus' stamps and in many cases have been disclaimed by the legitimate postal authorities of the countries concerned. A colourful block of four (left) bears the name of Udmurtia, a region of west central Russia that was previously a Soviet Socialist Republic. In addition there were no fewer than 13 blocks, each of four stamps, presented as 'local post' issues of four different regions of Estonia (right). I am not entirely certain of the status of these, but I should think they are also most likely to be 'cinderellas'.
By the time you read this we will be fast approaching Christmas. We are usually treated to some cats on Christmas stamps, but will have to wait to see which countries oblige this time; 24 of them have in the past, to my knowledge. To provide a seasonal note, here is Disney’s 'Black Pete' posing as Santa on a stamp from Sierra Leone (left). Pete is a large and ugly black cat who was one of Walt's earliest creations, appearing first in a silent cartoon film of 1925. The Liberian MS picturing Santa with two cats and a Melba Finch (right) is part of a set that came out at Christmas 1999.
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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