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April 2012 Review
There are quite a lot of new or fairly recent issues to report this time, so we'll go through them in alphabetical order. That makes the first one and the first domestic-cat stamp of 2012, issued in January a single stamp from Andorra (French post office) showing 'La boutique des sorcières' or 'The Witches' Shop', complete with black cat above it. Apparently in times gone by this was a kind of grotto beside one of the main routes between Andorran villages and the Spanish border, and a group of women would set up their stall there to sell potions, ointments and herbal medicine to travellers. When the road was widened later on, the grotto disappeared.
The Europa theme for 2012 is 'Visit ...', inviting countries to put on their stamps something to show why tourists should visit them. Belarus has a pair of stamps from March, also appearing in a miniature sheet (MS), illustrating people with local produce. There are no cats on the stamps, but a tiny kitten appears at the foot of the MS margin.
There have been two issues of interest from Croatia. The first dates from December 2011; three stamps show Croatian visual arts. One of them is 'Woman with Cat', by Marijan Trepse (1931) and has a seated woman with a black cat on her lap (left). The second issue, from February this year, is a dedicated cat-stamp set, with four colourful designs showing named breeds (right).
Moving on to Denmark, it's quite an event to see any stamp from this country including a cat; there has only ever been one before and that was in 1975. Now an MS dating from October 2011 has four 'winter stamps'; the connection with winter is not clear to me, but perhaps it is to Danes. One stamp has a ginger cat peeking out of an old woman's shopping bag (left), while in the margin the same cat is seen fleeing with a fish in its mouth (from one of the other stamps - right).
We missed reporting earlier a couple of prestige booklets from France, issued in May 2011; entitled 'Festivals and Traditions of our Regions'. These again have no cats on the stamps, but there are a couple of felines on cartoons on the introductory pages (same in each booklet - left). A Great Britain set of 10 from March this year pays tribute to the tradition of British boys' and girls' comics by showing a principal character and a front page from each. The Dandy is the longest-running, having begun in 1937, and is one of only three still being produced 75 years later. 'Desperate Dan' is well known to readers of the title and is featured against a front page showing the adventures of Korky the Cat (right). You can't see Korky very well, but see our review of November 2005 for better images of him on a 'Smilers' sheet of that year.
In June 2011 Hong Kong (since 1997 part of the People's Republic of China) produced a sheetlet depicting 'Chinese Idioms and their Stories' (left). Once again there are no cats on the 5 stamps of the sheetlet, but a small black-and-white cat is peering round a corner in the margin. Remaining in the Orient, Japan seems to have abandoned the 'Winter Greetings' sets of recent years in favour of 'Spring Greetings', released in February! The format remains the same two strips of self-adhesives, one of 50y. values and one of 80y. and there is a striped yellow cat in a basket of flowers on one of the 80y. (right)
Mozambique appears now to have become one of the several African countries for which stamps bearing its name are produced in silly quantities by some agency other than the legitimate postal authority, so I'm rather wary of them. However, a 2011 issue featuring the work of famous American cartoonist Joseph Barbera, for the 100th anniversary of his birth, includes 'Top Cat' (right), and I don't think we've seen him on a stamp before. There are six stamps in a sheetlet, and there is also an MS. Top Cat was a Hanna-Barbera animated character who appeared in a series of cartoons in 1961/62.
Pakistan is another country where domestic cats on stamps have been thin on the ground in fact similarly to Denmark there's been only one, on an art stamp from 1972, 40 years ago. Now that is joined by a tiny cat on a child's painting, issued as part of a sheet of 8 stamps and 2 labels from a children's art competition at the 'Kurrachee 2011' National Stamp Exhibition. The issue was released in June 2011.
Finally, South Korea has produced a self-adhesive sheetlet of 10 cartoon characters from that country. One of the stamps shows a cat-like character, and at both ends of each strip of 5 there is a label bearing a cat head. It's easier to illustrate the whole sheet (below) rather than to pick out any one part to highlight.
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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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