Cats on Stamps
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From the Archive
July/August 2000 Review
The Spanish company Domfil has produced a bound, illustrated catalogue of cat stamps, in Spanish and English, listing Scott, Yvert and Michel numbers. Not all stamps are pictured; there are some errors, and it's slightly confusing that some smaller wild cats are included too, but it's an interesting and useful production.
A 1998 single from Djibouti picturing two cats and a catmint plant was mentioned in Gibbons Stamp Monthly; I suspect this will be a hard one to find.
I'm not sure why, but stamps from the Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda, bearing both those names, usually turn up later overprinted 'Barbuda Mail'. The sheetlet and MS (miniature sheet) of six kittens from 1997 have just appeared overprinted in this way (left). It seems also to be becoming popular to reissue earlier stamps with the addition of a logo for big international philatelic exhibitions. The Armenia Turkish Van stamp (right), and the New Zealand 'Popular Pets' cat and rabbit MS from early last year (not pictured), have both reappeared inscribed for the China 99 event.
Indonesia is new to the cat-stamp scene and produced an attractive 1999 sheetlet of six domestic creatures, including some birds and a tortie-and-white cat. It is rather reminiscent of Australia's 1996 'pets' set.
African countries or their agents produce some pleasing issues and Zambia is another newcomer. Two sheetlets of six in the composite-design style, plus four single stamps and two MSs, appeared in October, along with an equivalent set of dogs. The MS pictured (left) shows Siamese tabby points. Congo (the Republic this time, not the Democratic Republic) has produced a pleasant set of six cats Korats are shown here (right) and an MS with a group of Abyssinians on board.
In December 1999 Angola released a tribute to Japanese artist Hokusai to commemorate the anniversary of his death 150 years ago. There are two sheetlets of six and two MSs, including one stamp with two cats and two birds in a minimalist kind of style.
I finally obtained the most attractive sheetlet of nine cats, supposedly from Niger, that I had been seeking for some time (left), but I feel they are most likely not 'real stamps'. However, another issue from Niger, a sheetlet of 'space animals' (right), bears the name J.-L. Puvilland, who designs many stamps for French-speaking African countries, so these are probably genuine. Included is Félix the cat, who (almost) went aloft in a French Véronique rocket in 1963.
The United States has produced a handsome sheet of 15 stamps for each decade of the twentieth century. The one devoted to the 1950s features Dr Seuss' Cat in the Hat, a character created in 1957 that appeared in children's books (outer left). The 1980s sheet includes an actor in full make-up from the long-running Lloyd Webber musical Cats; an illustrated first-day cover is shown here (inner left). Japan, too, is running a 'century' series on similar lines; the first sheet appeared in August. Two of the ten stamps honour novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), and one (right) has a stylised cat from the cover of his book I Am a Cat.
There's a superb Millennium sheetlet from the Isle of Man. Strictly it shows a wild cat, but I find it so impressive that I will include it here. The three stamps show Manx skies and views at sunset, midnight and sunrise, symbolising the times of 23.59, midnight (0.00) and 00.01, respectively, at the year's end. Each stamp includes constellations and the middle one shows Lynx the cat and the animal it's named after. A beautiful group.
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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, with later revisions