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February 2017 Review
It's been a few months since our last review, so here's a round-up of some of what's appeared since then on the domestic-cat front. I know of three issues that marked Christmas 2016, of which two Scandinavian ones are quite similar. Denmark produced, in late September, a booklet of five self-adhesives depicting pixies, or 'nisse', little beings said to hang around houses at Christmastime. Here one is dancing with a tabby cat (left). Sweden came up with a similar strip of five in November, showing 'barn elves', small creatures that in rural Sweden were supposed to frequent farms and help to care for the animals. People had to treat them well and thank them, or they could turn nasty! One Swedish stamp has a barn elf in a snowy landscape with what looks like a tabby-and-white cat (right).
The third Christmas stamp, from Bulgaria also in November, has a black cat with back arched forming a sort of fireplace with a fire burning beneath (left); looks rather uncomfortable! A second, rather curious item from the same country in October is a miniature sheet (MS) that pictures a British blue shorthaired cat (right), its head being on a stamp with simulated perforations (why not ordinary ones?). What's also strange is that the same MS is available with grey background instead of yellow, and then there's a third version, which looks more like a proof, entirely in green. I don't know why these three different versions were produced.
From Belgium there was a set in the now common format of a booklet strip of self-adhesives; here there were ten stamps (two sets of five) entitled 'Sweet Kisses'. One has a pair of tabby kittens 'kissing' (left), while a second has a rabbit and a tabby cat. These date from November 2016. The first domestic-cat stamps of 2017 came from Belarus, with a charming group of four kittens issued in mid-January; we picture a Bengal (right), the others being a Maine Coon, British shorthair and Scottish Fold.
Back in October 2016 France released a booklet of 12 self-adhesives with the unusual theme of 'planetary correspondence', featuring various heavenly bodies, some having animals looking up at them. The one we show has three cats sitting on a snowy fence and gazing up at the moon.
The annual child-welfare stamps appeared from the Netherlands in November 2016; this time six stamps with a charity surcharge formed a sheetlet showing a bright-red double-decker bus with all sorts of characters from children's books by Fiep Westendorp (whose birth centenary year it was) appearing at the windows. One stamp has two cats (left); there may be others but I haven't had a chance to examine it closely yet. Last from the European side of things was a set of eight from the Isle of Man depicting characters from an Aardman series called Creature Comforts that uses clay figures to create animated stories for children. One stamp shows Captain Cuddlepuss the cat, lying on the sofa and having a philosophical discussion with Trixie the dog (right). This set dates from August 2016.
Moving on to the African continent, Sierra Leone seems to have joined the Stamperija stable as the first English-speaking African country so far to do so. Whether these issues are postally valid remains questionable, but there were two sets late in 2016. In October there were paintings by Goya in the usual format of a block of four and an MS; one has another incarnation of 'Don Manuel Osorio de Zuniga', the little boy, a bird and three cats (left), which has appeared on several stamps in the past. Late in December there was a similar group of domestic cats, from which we show a pair of ocicats (right).
Also from Stamperija is a set of cats purportedly from the Central African Republic; this appeared in July 2016. The Peterbald (pictured left) is a comparatively modern (1990s) breed originating in Russia, similar to oriental shorthairs but having the hair-loss gene, so they may be coated or may be bald like a sphynx. I know of only three other stamps showing this breed. The same is true of the Nebelung, an uncommon breed whose name in German means 'creature of the mist' and that is described as having a shimmering, silver-blue coat. The fourth philatelic Nebelung is on a sheetlet of three stamps, with an accompanying MS, from Madagascar (right) issued during 2016, although I don't know exactly when. More cats are in the margin of both items. (It seems likely that these are not official issues from Paositra Madagascar, the island's postal authority.)
Moving on to the United States, a big set of 20 self-adhesive 'forever' booklet stamps appeared in August 2016 on the theme of 'pets'; they include a tabby Maine Coon cat and a black-and-white Persian kitten (pictured).
Lastly, and again from Stamperija, there was an ambitious sheet of no fewer than 36 stamps bearing the name Solomon Islands issued in December 2016 and showing named cat breeds. Some unusual ones are featured, such as the Ukrainian Levkoy, Lykol (so-called 'werewolf cat'), bambino, ragamuffin, Arabian Mau (pictured), German Rex and Aegean; but there are notable exceptions too, for example Turkish Van cat, Chartreux, British Blue and American shorthair. Still, in general I think this is a worthwhile addition to my collection! and maybe they'll produce another sheet to feature those and others not so far shown.
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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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