Cats on Stamps
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From the Archive: March 2008 Review
The stamp from Croatia pictured here and showing children and pets, including a cat, is not actually for postage but is a tax stamp, raising funds for children's charities. It dates from 2004, but has only recently come to light. And as for dates, I wrote last time that the 'Persian’ kitten' stamp from East Timor was undated, whereas in fact it clearly says '2001' on it. That means it appeared before the nation came into formal existence in 2002, so it must be a bogus or at best an unofficial issue.
Towards the end of 2007 Japan released what has become in recent years an annual offering of 'Winter Greetings' stamps. So far these have taken the form of two strips of five self-adhesives, and once again this time a cat features on one of them a kitten in this case (left). Definitely also an annual event is the appearance in November of semi-postal stamps from the Netherlands, with the surcharge going to child welfare. The 2007 ones illustrate stylised versions of children in the safety of their own homes, with one boy cradling an orange kitten (right).
Also from the Netherlands: there remained one of the 2006 series of 'Beautiful Netherlands' series of sheetlets I hadn't seen that from Zwolle. All the others proved to have a tiny cat hidden away somewhere in the design and, sure enough, so does this one. The feature doesn't seem to appear in the similar sheets issued in either 2005 or 2007; a different designer, perhaps?
Remaining in Europe, the first 2008 issue to reach me comes from Germany. One of a pair of 'greetings' stamps has five cartoon cat heads grinning over a fence (left), with the greeting 'Alles Gut!', loosely translated as 'All the best'. In addition, Belgium has Philippe Geluck's 'Le Chat' on a Red Cross semi-postal stamp issued in January this year (right).
Two series of sporting Games took place in the second half of 2007 and were marked by stamps: one in Cairo, Egypt and one in Thailand. The Pan Arab Games are held by countries of the Arab world, theoretically every four years since they started in 1953, but political unrest in the region has meant it hasn't always been possible to stage them on schedule. The 11th Games were held in November 2007 in Cairo; a single stamp from Egypt shows a delightful Egyptian black cat (left), while an accompanying souvenir sheet has, all round the margins, tiny cartoons of a cat participating in all the various sporting events (right). There has not been any philatelic cat from Egypt for many years (1980 was the last one), so this is a very welcome issue.
The second sporting issue marks the 24th SEA (South East Asia) Games of December 2007. Originally scheduled for Singapore, that country's sporting facilities were not completed in time and so the event was eventually held in Thailand, where it coincided with the Thai king's 80th birthday celebrations but so far the only stamps to mark the Games were issued by Indonesia. There are four, showing different sports; but there is a sheet of four sets (16 stamps) plus two labels, and on one of the labels is the Games mascot. I'm reliably informed (thank you, Karen Campbell) that it depicts a Korat cat, known in Thailand as the Si-sawat although to be totally accurate it should have had green eyes, not blue. The mascot is called 'Kaen' (pronounced 'can'), which is the name of a kind of flute symbolic of that region of Thailand, and that is why the mascot is shown carrying a flute. I don't think the label is available elsewhere.
Mexico produced a very colourful sheet of 15 stamps in November 2007 to commemorate the birth centenary of Francisco Gabilando Soler, a very popular children's song writer and performer in that country. I assume the stamps show scenes from some of his stories or songs; one has a guitar-playing cat (pictured) and another has a ginger-and-white kitten by Grandma's chair.
Lastly there are some issues from the African countries of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. It is difficult to know how 'genuine' these are; although I'm pretty certain they are issued by an agency, that probably doesn't make them any less genuine than any others produced by an agency such as IGPC. Whether they are ever actually on sale in the countries whose names they bear I don't know, but they are attractive enough. From Guinea-Bissau come a block of four (pictured) and a souvenir sheet, and these claim to commemorate the centenary of the Scouting movement. Domestic cats and Scouts of varying ages are shown.
One set from Guinea is dated 2006 and celebrates the Scouts of Guinea; it is mostly devoted to the small wild cats the serval and the caracal, one stamp for each. However, there are three souvenir sheets one for each cat, and a 'compound' one (illustrated left) and cunningly included in the margins of these are some domestic cats too! The second Guinea issue is I think from 2007 and features dogs and cats. Three stamps show different breeds of dog, with a smaller picture of a cat behind, and these three are on one sheetlet (right). A large cat head is to be seen in the background. There is then a separate miniature sheet for each stamp, bearing details (in French) of the dog shown in each case, but with cats featuring prominently in the margins.
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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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