Cats on Stamps
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From the Archive: September 2009 Review
One event that has prompted several stamps this time is the 200th anniversary of the birth in 1809 of the writer Edgar Allan Poe, well known for his tales of horror and madness such as The Black Cat. San Marino, a small country not often featured in these columns, has depicted such a cat on one of its set of three commemorating famous authors, the others being detective writer Raymond Chandler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. There is an error on the Poe stamp, as the detective's name should be Auguste Dupin, not Daupin.
Bulgaria's set of four, also marking anniversaries, does not include a cat, but there is an accompanying set of maxicards and the Poe one has his portrait with a fearsome cat behind him (left). Lastly St Thomas and Prince, whose agents Stamperija seem to miss few opportunities to issue some expensive thematics, have a set of four dedicated to Poe. On one his cat Cattarina can be seen perched on his left shoulder as he writes (right).
A second St Thomas and Prince set, dating actually from July 2008 but only recently brought to my attention (thanks, Bridget), is devoted to circuses, with each stamp and an MS (miniature sheet) showing an act from a different one. The Moscow State Circus from Russia has an act with performing cats (yes, it is possible!) and two cats and a dog are seen on that stamp.
Several recent issues feature cartoon cats. Dikkie Dik is the principal character in a series of Dutch children’s books by Jet Boeke. He is a red cat, frequently in trouble because of the adventures his curiosity leads him into. The Netherlands has issued an MS of three stamps and six labels; the stamps show Dikkie Dik celebrating his birthday, with a cake, presents and several of his feline friends.
Israel again produced a 'MyStamp' sheet for Passover earlier this year; it formed part of a 'Passover kit' for children that also included a hagadah (Jewish religious text). The labels attached to the stamps show Afikoman Boy, a comic super-hero who forms the theme of the sheet. On three of the labels he is seen carrying a goat while flying over a cat that appears to be protesting loudly.
The third cartoon set is a sheet of ten colourful stamps and labels, a format often used by Japan these days, and it marks 50 years of boys' comics, with all sorts of characters from those comics. One of the labels includes a small and rather puzzled-looking cat (or it could be a tiger?). There is a further set from Japan, issued in July, featuring once again the ubiquitous Hello Kitty, but I have not yet been able to acquire it.
Finally there are some all-cats sets. One is yet another from Cuba, issued in April 2009 and following similar sets in 2007 and in 2005 as well as cats included in other animals issues. There are, as usual, six portraits and a rather attractive MS (pictured) with two oriental cats against a background of old Cuban buildings.
The second set this time comes from the Serbian Posts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and although there have been one or two cats on issues by the Sarajevo Government, these are the first ones from the Serb side of things. The four attractive designs, issued in August 2009, can be obtained in a sheet of 20 (five of each) with a portrait of a tabby cat split over five central labels. We illustrate the Russian Blue; others show Siamese, a tabby shorthair and a white Persian.
The third and last set this time, produced by the same agents as for St Thomas and Prince, is nominally from the Comoro Islands, or Union of the Comoros as they are described on the stamps. There is a sheetlet of six stamps and an MS, the latter showing a black-footed cat with other wild cats in the margins. The portraits are noteworthy for including two of the Sokoke cat the first time this species has been seen on stamps. The Sokoke is a rangy cat originating from Kenya; it came to the attention of the Western world only in the 1970s, although native people have been aware of them probably for centuries. At first it was not clear whether they were a domestic species or a wild one that had become domesticated, but DNA suggests that they are related to the group of Asian domestic cats. They are said to be highly intelligent animals.
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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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