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From the Archive
August 2011 Review
There is quite a feast of new cat stamps to report on since our last review, and this time I will deal with them in alphabetical order. Albania comes first, and this issue is yet another late addition to the 2010 Europa series on the theme of children's books very late, in fact, as the issue date is given as February 2011! There are two stamps and a miniature sheet (MS), and one stamp has a small cartoon cat with a yellow tail.
In April Belgium produced a self-adhesive booklet of 10 stamps entitled 'La Foire' or 'The Fair', showing various traditional fairground activities. The images are rather dark and not particularly easy to distinguish, but on one is a fortune teller complete with crystal ball, playing cards, and a black cat sitting on her table (left) not so easy to see, but look for a pair of green eyes! Belgium also issued a 'railway stamp' on an MS; it isn't for regular postage and doesn't bear the country name. It shows Suske and Wiske, children who are the main characters in a long-running comic strip popular in Holland and Belgium; in French they are called Bob and Bobette, in English Spike and Suzy, and in the US they are Willy and Wanda. The margin shows a black-and-white cat, rather resembling Korky of the British Dandy comic, driving an old-fashioned railway locomotive (right).
February saw an issue from the Faroe Islands that didn't quite make our last review; two stamps feature fine-looking cats and they are available in both gummed and self-adhesive forms (left). The self-adhesives come in a booklet with four of each design. A recent release (late June) from France pays tribute to famous singer, lyricist and poet Georges Brassens, something of an iconic figure in that country, and marks the 30th anniversary of his death in 1981 at the age of just 60. This is a handsome, full-page-sized production with a background of a nautical scene; there are 10 self-adhesive stamps with portraits of Brassens. Above them is an enlargement of one of the portraits, showing him holding two slightly bewildered-looking Siamese cats (right), together with a tribute text from his home town of Sète in the south of France.
Still more 'Cats of the World' issues (see previous two reviews) have appeared; one is from Gambia, consisting of a sheetlet of four named breeds and an MS of a Turkish Van (pictured). My comment on the design of this issue would be 'could do better'; the MS isn't bad, but the sheetlet looks as though it was thrown together in a hurry. I don't yet know when these stamps were released.
It's a while (15 years) since any new cats on stamps came from the Isle of Man; now two sets include them. One is an 'incidental' feline sitting in the corner of a cartoon by Harold 'Dusty' Miller (left), one of a set of six issued in May. He was a well-known figure on the island, producing topical cartoons on political and social issues for newspapers between 1933 and 1962. The second set of six, from June and called 'Tales of the Tailless', shows Manx cats as depicted on postcards from the island dating from the early twentieth century (right).
Next comes Japan, which seems to have several new cats on stamps most years. In March two sheets were released depicting characters from Beatrix Potter books, under the title 'The World of Peter Rabbit' and supposedly commemorating a 40th anniversary. As Peter Rabbit first made his appearance in 1903, that's a bit puzzling! unless perhaps he first made it to Japan 40 years ago. The only other possibility seems to be that a film ballet of Peter Rabbit was made in 1971, but that seems an odd thing to commemorate. Anyway, one of the 50-yen self-adhesive stamps pictures Tom Kitten (left). In June there appeared a sheetlet of 10 Japanese stamps displaying work by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), one of the greatest of the country's printmakers. One value has 'Cat at Window', which shows a short-tailed white cat sitting on a window and observing crowds of people returning from a festival (right). Mount Fuji is in the background. (This same work appeared on a stamp from Grenada in 1997.)
I guess Tom and Jerry must be popular in the North African kingdom of Morocco, as a whole sheet of 10 stamps, issued in February, has been devoted to the comedy pair! They are shown in all kinds of unlikely situations, and I think these are the best Tom and Jerry stamps I've seen.
The second 'Cats of the World' issue this time comes from the West Indian island of Nevis. There are two sheetlets, each with four self-adhesive stamps of named breeds; one is devoted to shorthair cats and one to longhairs. Unlike the Gambia ones mentioned above I find these to be striking and eye-catching; especially the shorthair sheetlet it's not often that we get black as a background colour, and I think it's very effective here (left). In the margins there is a Singapura on the shorthair set, and a Persian on the longhair one (which has a white background). I don't know the issue date for these. Lastly we go to Ukraine, from where in late June came an MS containing six stamps in an overall design with a humorous depiction of a Ukrainian homestead. The farmer and his wife are seen at the window on one stamp, while their various animals, and some swallows, are on the others. A black-and-white cat is perched on the thatched roof (right).
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