Cats on Stamps
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From the Archive
May/June 2000 Review
It's time for another review of the latest cat stamps, and a few that actually date from earlier but have only recently come to my attention. This often happens when stamps from the more far-flung corners of the world take some time to reach the UK shores. Sometimes also I don't find out straight away that there's a cat in a certain set.
In the last article I mentioned two sets of cats from Burkina Faso. I now understand that they are all counted as one set, even though they seem to fall into two quite distinct groups with different styles. It's also worth mentioning that one of the miniature sheets has a mummified cat in the margin (pictured); this is definitely a first and is a very attractive item. For some reason, the cat on the actual stamp is not an Egyptian Mau which would have been my logical choice but a Japanese Bobtail, or Mi-Ke.
Argentina has produced two offbeat sets that include cats. The first dates from 1998 and is a booklet of four self-adhesives based on stories by Maria Elena Walsh. One is entitled 'Zoo Loco', a cat with a moon-shaped head sitting on what looks like a piece of green cheese (left). The other is a set of six comic-strip characters, one of which is the cat 'Gaturro' (right), apparently a very well-known character in Argentina.
A similar set of children's stories emanated from Venezuela in 1998. This comprised a colourful sheet of ten and a miniature sheet. One of the stamps shows the elegantly dressed cat 'Piojo' leaning on a cane and looking rather suave (left). The Netherlands, following the children's stamps mentioned last time, came up with a really colourful, 'fun' sheet of 20 self-adhesive Christmas stamps. One has a cat wearing a paper hat and with a wineglass on its head (right).
Another retrospective issue that I hadn't seen before was a block of four from 1998. Each has a face value of 25,000NZ and bears the name Democratic Republic of Congo, the name by which the former Zaire is currently known. There is also an MS with a large tabby apparently dispatching a mouse, watched earnestly by four kittens (pictured). I don�t recall seeing this scenario on a stamp before, either. But are these real stamps? There have been many 'stamps' issued in recent years purporting to come from various Russian republics; many are very attractive, but they are completely bogus and have no postal validity whatsoever. I am suspicious as well of some of what claim to be African issues. However, as long as you're aware that you are buying pretty labels rather than actual stamps, it's up you whether to include them in a thematic collection.
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan must earn a tidy income from its numerous attractive stamps. In November its second cats set appeared, again as part of a cats, dogs and horses group. There are nine rather nice 'Cats of the World' on a numbered sheetlet, with a shocking-pink border; three single cat stamps; and an MS with a grey Norwegian Forest cat looking as though he's off on safari! I have acquired a couple of the dogs and horses and they too are lovely stamps. Shown here is a cat called a 'pewter longhair' from the sheetlet.
France is in the cat stamp news again with a pretty set of two cats and two dogs dating from October 1999. The cats the beautiful, grey Chartreux breed and a European tabby are shown with kittens, and the Breton spaniel and Pyrenean mountain dog with puppies. I looked up the Chartreux breed in one of my cat books and was amazed to find that there is an ongoing naming system for pedigrees. Each year is designated an alphabetical letter, and cats born in that year have names beginning with that letter. For 2000, all names will begin with R. A few letters little used in French names are omitted from the system.
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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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Article written and first published during 2000, and reproduced here by the author from February 2006