Cats on Stamps
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From the archive: June 2004 Review
A striking sheetlet from Antigua and Barbuda, issued during 2003, commemorates the 30th anniversary of the death of Pablo Picasso in 1973. There are four large stamps in a block, and then to the right of them a good-sized reproduction of his Reclining Female Nude with a Cat from 1964, the cat being a black kitten. A small miniature sheet (MS) accompanies the sheetlet. It took some time to acquire this set, but I think it was worth waiting for.
Going back to May 2003, there was a nice little booklet for the Czech Republic's children's day. Pictured is the back cover, including children and their parents with a cat and a dog. Although the actual stamps inside have no cats, the stamp pane does include two labels with the children and both pets.
The following month, June 2003, the Netherlands slipped another cat onto a stamp to add to their already quite extensive selection in recent years. This one is an orange, stylised one watching a bird, and it's on an issue called Land, Air and Water. This was the winning entry in a design competition on the subject.
I'm not sure there is much demand for postal services on Union Island, which is part of the St Vincent Grenadines or indeed even whether there are any people living there but that doesn't mean stamps aren't issued! Stanley Gibbons relegates these to 'appendix' status, however. Earlier this year an issue appeared for the Chinese Year of the Monkey: leading me to wonder, if indeed there are any inhabitants, whether any of them are Chinese? Anyway, a sheetlet bears four identical stamps with a painting by the eleventh-century artist Yi Yuan-chi showing a cat being held by a monkey. It's a detail from the whole painting, which is shown on a separate panel of the sheetlet, and also on the accompanying MS. There is another cat watching the proceedings with alarm.
The following month, March 2004, the United States honoured Theodore Seuss Geisel better known as Dr Seuss on the occasion of his birth centenary. Seuss recognised the importance of instilling children with a love of reading and thought that learning vocabulary ought to be fun. To that end he took a rather dull but important vocabulary list and invented a series of zany and amusing characters to illustrate it; they speak in verse and become involved in silly situations. The 'Cat in the Hat', already featured on a 1999 Celebrate the Century stamp, is his most famous character and first appeared in 1957. The cat is seen on the doctor's right shoulder, with other figures elsewhere on the stamp.
Next on the list is another Hello Kitty set, this one from Japan, Kitty's country of origin. They are self-adhesives and there are two sheetlets, one with ten smaller stamps and the other with five larger ones. The designs are all pretty similar, with Kitty just wearing a variety of different-coloured bows, ribbons and garlands.
Malta has never before featured any cats on stamps, although many other beautiful issues have been produced over the years, but has now remedied that with a splendid and welcome set of five large head portraits. Our picture shows a maxicard of one of the stamps, with the same picture enlarged in the background and a cat cancellation as well. These cards are an excellent production, in my opinion.
Germany has never before issued a 'dedicated' cats set either, but that too has changed. On 3 to 5 June a three-day thematic/topical philatelic fair and exhibition was held in Essen, not far from Düsseldorf, and this marked the launch of a set of five cat stamps bearing a surcharge for youth organisations ('semi-postals'). I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this large event and, after a quite lengthy wait in a queue, I bought my stamps directly from Deutsche Post at face value. In addition there was a postal stationery card with an imprint of one of the stamps and also depictions of three earlier German stamps that include cats. Better yet, a special cat cancellation was available on that first day only. Our illustrations show the postal card and a detail of the cancellation.
We expect to be back with another review in about three months' time.
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or bring any cat stamps to my attention,
please contact me,
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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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