Cats on Stamps
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From the archive: October 2004 Review
A number of new cat stamps have appeared in the past few months, but some have been very slow in reaching me and so some pictures might have to be added to the next review.
Starting quite close to home, in the republic of Ireland, May this year saw the 50th anniversary of the Texaco children's art competition in that country. A set of four children's paintings to mark the occasion included a 60c. value entitled 'Marmalade Cat', by Cian Colman. (I thought at first it looked more like a dog, but that's its title!)
Ukraine keeps up the theme of its 2002 children's tales with a new set of three folk tales. I do not yet know what the stamp with a cat represents (left): had the cat been wearing boots I would have said 'Puss in Boots', but it isn't. Another ex-USSR country, Belarus, is due to issue a set of five cat stamps on 29 October; these will be the first domestic cat stamps from there. A third, Armenia, includes a cartoon cat confronting a dog on one of a pair of cartoons (right).
Speaking of Puss in Boots, the tiny Italian republic of San Marino issued during August a new set of fairy tales including Puss, shown standing in front of a castle and wearing an enormous pair of boots, with a mouse sleeping on a chair beside him (this doesn't seem quite to fit in with the Puss in Boots story).
A new set issued by Switzerland in September is dedicated to the Swiss Animal Protection Society, a very worthy cause. The animals featured are a pig, a cat and a hedgehog; each comes in a sheetlet of six with an enlarged picture of the animal's head in the left margin. There's a nice group of maxicards as well.
Also arrived is an unusual sheetlet of six from New Caledonia: unusual because these are circular stamps, and also because New Caledonia is perhaps not the first place to come to mind when thinking of domestic cats. Nouvelle Calédonie, to give its French name, is a large island in the NW Pacific, some 700 miles from Australia. It was formerly a French possession and so French is the official language, but English is widely spoken too. The territory is likely to become an independent nation within the next decade or so. These are attractive cat stamps, in my opinion. There was a 1972 set of artifacts from the island that included a figure which might be a cat, but I'm not convinced and have it on my 'doubtful' list.
Sierra Leone, in West Africa, has added to its fairly frequent issues of cat stamps with a new and quite pleasing group of four single stamps slightly out-of-focus silhouettes that are surprisingly successful a sheetlet of four handsome portraits, and a miniature sheet (MS) of a Devon Rex looking rather defensive. The single stamp pictured shows a Burmese, although you might be hard put to it to tell.
Montserrat, the West Indian island devastated by the Soufrière volcano a few years ago, has come up with a set of four cat portraits. These are a Singapura, a Burmese, an Abyssinian (pictured) and a Norwegian Forest cat on the $5 top value. There is an MS which I have not yet seen.
Other stamps said to include cats but which I have not yet been able to acquire are: Malaysia 2003 World Children's Day set of 3; United Nations (New York) 2004, 3 sheetlets of Indigenous Art; Turks and Caicos Islands, 2004 set of Joan Miro paintings; and from Taiwan two sheetlets on the 'Harry Potter' theme, one including the cat Crookshanks. There may also be a cat on an Irish set of four marking the National Gallery collection of that country, but this is unconfirmed. In addition there are various illegal issues supposedly from places such as Benin and Tadjikistan, but I have previously stated I will not give details of these.
Finally, Australia has a set of two cats and three dogs issued in September and promoting stamp collecting. (Splendid idea! why can't Royal Mail do this?) In addition there are an MS (showing the same stamps), a booklet, maxicards and various other products including a superb 'prestige booklet'. Well, actually there are two such booklets, one for dogs and one for cats, but I bought just the cats one. I obtained the items I wanted via Australia Post's website and my order arrived within a week. The black-and-white cat is called Ezzie, and the kitten is Tinkerbell. Note the clever backgrounds: fish for Ezzie and mice for Tinkerbell.
I gratefully acknowledge some information used in this article from the newsletter, Cat Mews, of the Cats on Stamps Study Unit of the American Topical Association, and from Nahum Shereshevsky of Israel.
If you would like to comment, provide additional information,
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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