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From the Archive: December 2008 Review
Following on from the Czech Republic stamp reported last time illustrating a tale of cats and dogs by Josef Capek, it's worth mentioning that there's a booklet too, containing eight of the stamps together with a couple of delightful cartoon labels of Capek with the pets, and another cartoon drawing on the back of the booklet.
In May 2008 the stamp exhibition 'Israel 2008' was held in Tel Aviv, and one of the items produced to celebrate it was a sheet of Disney characters (left) seen in the Jetix TV programmes. Included in the sheet, which could be personalised by visitors to the exhibition, are some labels, one of which shows Doraemon the robot cat (right), who has previously appeared on Japanese stamps (see our review for November 2005).
Later in the year, in October, a meeting of the TurkishIndonesian Joint Council was held in Ankara, and the occasion was marked by a joint issue of stamps from the two countries. The stamps show five motifs from each country, and one of them is a cat. Turkey, naturally, chose a Turkish Van cat, while Indonesia chose a flat-headed cat, a wild species that has appeared only very rarely on stamps before. The stamps on both sheets are identical apart from the inscriptions, so there are two versions of each cat and we picture the two Vans. These are the variety known as Vankedisi, which are pure white and do not have the characteristic orange markings of the normal Van cats. As far as I know, this is the first occasion when a domestic cat has been shown on a joint issue.
In August a sheet of 26 'fun' stamps was produced depicting 'The A to Z of New Zealand', a light-hearted look at 'Kiwiana', or things that are familiar to New Zealanders. 'G is for Goodnight' shows Kiwi and The Cat, characters who apparently in the earlier days of television used to have a nightly ritual that ended each evening's viewing (see YouTube clip).
All the other new cat stamps this time hail from Europe. Iceland released its traditional pair of Christmas stamps in early November; one of them shows the Christmas cat, while the other has Stiff-legs, one of the 13 goblins that, according to legend, descend from the mountains before Christmas, beginning on 12 December. The cat is the house pet of the goblins' parents, Gryla and Leppaludi, and anyone who does not receive a new garment for Christmas is said to be taken by the cat. The stamps were designed by classmates from Nesskoli primary school who were the winners of a design competition for primary-school children held by Iceland Post. The cat is the work of 8-year-old Konrád Kárason Thormar.
There has been no domestic cat on any Luxembourg stamp for quite some time, but now one has appeared, with a Great Dane dog (left), on a single stamp in aid of the National League for the Protection of Animals. It was issued in late September. In November Germany made an addition to its previously announced stamp programme in the form of a charity stamp for the organisation 'Ein Herz für Kinder' ('A Heart for Children'), which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The design (right), chosen by a vote among the readership of the newspaper Bild Zeitung, includes a small cat, waving a flag, immediately to the left of the central heart.
Lastly this time, France has done cat-stamp collectors proud with no fewer than three items of interest. In September came this year's 'Sourires' (Smiles) booklet of self-adhesives, which features Jim Davis's anarchic feline Garfield. A special cancellation was also available (right).
In the same month came the 12th in the series 'Portraits of Regions', a souvenir sheet containing ten stamps devoted in this case to the region of Épinal, its way of life and in particular its gastronomic delights. One stamp has a dashing Puss in Boots although I wondered what his connection with Epinal is. Briefly, it seems that he represents L'Imagerie d'Épinal, which is a long-established colour-print workshop in the city. Dating back hundreds of years, it was reinvigorated in more recent times, and Puss is one of the better-known images it has produced.
Finally, in October, the painter Jean-Jacques Henner (1829-1905) was commemorated with a single stamp showing his 'Jeune fille se chauffant les mains à un grand poêle' ('Young girl warming her hands by a large stove'). A black cat is to be seen at the left of the picture.
I wish all readers a very happy Christmas and New Year! Here is an earlier Christmas cat watching the robins and my cat Midge posing for a Christmas photo.
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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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