Cats on Stamps
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From the Archive
March/April 2001 Review
Here we are again, well into 2001. There have not been too many new cat stamps other than the so-called Russian republic labels, that is. A recent fortnightly list from one of my regular suppliers gave eleven sets of them, for a total of some £30; rather too much of a good thing, however attractive they look.
A few months ago I mentioned a pleasant Cats of the World set from the West Indian island of Dominica. Now The Gambia, in West Africa, has produced a very similar set, obviously by the same designer, to mark last August's Stamp Show in London. I think this sort of thing happens because stamps for a number of these countries are all commissioned by the same agency, the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation of New York. The Gambian sheetlet of eight shows a cat's eye in the margin reflecting an outline of the continent of Europe; as the Dominican design showed Africa and the Americas, perhaps someone will come up with Asia and Australia soon. There are two MSs accompanying this set.
The rest of the Ghana cats I also mentioned earlier have arrived here as a sheetlet of six under the title of Pets Corner; they are pleasant enough, if not outstanding. However, the MS shows a Lilac Persian reclining in front of a roaring fire, something I haven't seen pictured in this way before on a stamp.
There is another new set from Sierra Leone, too, with both dogs and cats once more a sheetlet of six and an MS for each. These are quite decent stamps, with a composite design that makes the cats look as though they are in a jungle clearing. The rather smug-looking calico cat on the MS, though, seems to have the African plains in the background.
For anyone who may be interested in cartoon cats, in the past year or so there have been several issues featuring Betty Boop. I think she is probably best known in America, but no doubt she has her devotees elsewhere. She is often shown accompanied by a black-and-white animal resembling a cat, and/or a little white dog. Research on the Internet says that in fact the black-and-white creature was also a dog; however, some stamp designers seem to have turned it into a cat. There have been various sheetlets of nine (Chad, Comoro Islands, Niger to name a few) showing Betty, some with these animals. There is also a sheetlet from St Vincent and the Grenadines (pictured), in the West Indies, and this has Betty participating in various nursery-rhyme stories, most of which I can recognise. There is no doubt about the validity of the cats on the illustrated stamp: this is the story of the Three Little Kittens (who lost their mittens).
Some more oddities, probably from the same stable as the 'Russian republic' labels, really cannot be genuine stamps. They bear the names of three of the former Trucial States in the Persian Gulf; a group from Manama (dependency of Ajman), and others from Fujeira (pictured) and Sharjah. What disqualifies them from being serious stamps is that these places last issued their own stamps 30 years ago, in the early 1970s, after which they joined together to form the United Arab Emirates. Manama is the capital city of present-day Bahrain. The separate states in the UAE are certainly not beginning to issue their own stamps independently again.
There is an even odder sheetlet of six, allegedly from Manama, with a curious combination of animals: a pair of Devon Rex cats, two horses, two foxes, and what appears to be a family of ferrets. These are very cheap to buy if you can find someone who stocks them; but be aware that they are bogus 'stamps' with no postal validity.
Note: After this article, subsequent ones appeared in The Cat magazine only every four months, rather than every other month, until December 2003 when they ceased altogether. The series subsequently continued here at Purr 'n' Fur: see the index page.
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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 2001, and reproduced here by the author from June 2005