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January 2016 Review
Not quite as many issues as in our last review in August, but still enough to be going on with. Belgium has come up with several Hallowe'en issues over the years; I'm not sure of the status of this year's offering it may be a private issue but it came in the 'Duo' format, and the colourful label has an owl together with a black cat wearing a witch's hat (left). I don't know the status either of the set of four and a miniature sheet (MS) bearing the name of Bequia (right), a small island in the Caribbean that is one of the Grenadines of St Vincent; I haven't been able to find out who issued the set, which I think dates from 2014. It's a fairly standard group of cat portraits, from which we show the Ragdoll from the MS.
The 150th anniversary in 2015 of Lewis Carroll's Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland prompted stamps from several countries among which you might not expect to find Bosnia & Herzegovina. However, an attractive and colourful single stamp from that country shows various characters from the story on a chessboard, with the Cheshire Cat grinning down from a nearby tree (left). Another, later issue on the same theme comes from the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha, which issued a set of six on 1 December; the Cheshire Cat grins down at Alice in a familiar image on one stamp (right). The six stamps are also available as a souvenir sheet, with another image of the cat in the margin.
Cuba is back with some more cat stamps in 2015, this time with what I thought to be a very nice set of six portraits of big cats. However, the MS shows a domestic Japanese Bobtail on the stamp, with a rather fearsome-looking piece of Japanese cat art in the margin. It's frustrating not being able to find out anything from the internet about some stamp issues; I imagine Cuban stamps are produced on the island rather than by one of the Western agencies, but my searches yielded no result for up-to-date information so I have no date of issue or other details.
Turkish Cyprus, the northern part of that divided island, produces its own stamps and in August 2015 came up with a set of four domestic animals, two cats and two dogs. They show what look like paintings of the animals' heads; we picture the attractive calico cat on the 70k denomination (left). A slightly bizarre booklet pane of four self-adhesive stamps came from Finland in March 2015; it was for International Women's Day and each has an image of a woman in a mirror. One of them is holding a yellow cat (right), baring its prominent teeth to match those of the woman!
Madagascar seems to be similar to Cuba in that I cannot find out who issues the stamps or obtain up-to-date info; anyway, during 2015 a set of four and an MS appeared showing named cat breeds. We picture the 'toyger', which is a breed developed starting in the 1980s with the aim of making them resemble toy tigers, the hope being that they might inspire people to care about wild-tiger conservation. Be that as it may, they seem to be pretty cats.
The Maldives, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, have issued a number of cat stamps in the past. This year a further set of four named breeds and an MS have been released; we show a trio of Selkirk Rex kittens from one of the stamps (left). This breed, which to date has appeared on only a handful of stamps, has hair that's highly curled and is thicker than other Rex breeds. The annual child welfare stamps from the Netherlands, issued in November 2015, take the form of a sheetlet of six stamps featuring characters from children's books, notably the story books called The Little Golden Books. Several of the stories pictured feature cats, and we show Katie the Kitten on an adventure climbing a tree (right). There are smaller felines from other children's books in the sheet margin.
Sierra Leone has quite often produced cat stamps and another 'standard' set of a block of four and an MS with named breeds came out in August 2015. The toyger makes another appearance on one stamp in this set, but we picture another breed that may not have been on a stamp before the Kuril Bobtail (left). Possibly related to the Japanese Bobtail, the Kuril hails from the Kuril Islands and other parts of the far east of Russia, where it has been known for 20 years or more. Originally a short-haired breed, long-haired varieties now exist. The MS from this set depicts a Manx cat. Since production was taken over by the Stamperija agency the Solomon Islands' name appears on ridiculous numbers of stamps, far in excess of any postal requirements, and yet another set of domestic cats was issued in June 2015. This was a strip of four instead of the usual block, from which we show a red Persian (right). The MS from this group also has a Manx, with Siamese in the margin.
Stamps from Somalia? Seems rather doubtful, and again I have to report no information about a little set of four bearing that name that I found on one of the auction sites. But I do like the kitten with ducklings (left), and the Balinese is another breed not seen on a huge number of stamps. However, as with the question of whether they are really Somali stamps, is that really a Balinese kitten? They are more or less Siamese with longer fur, and I don't know if they exist with a tabby coat pattern. A set of six and an MS from the Caribbean island of St Kitts is not particularly noteworthy, except that it's the first time the island has issued cat stamps. The Bengal shown is on the MS (right). I haven't been able to find an issue date.
At the time of writing one Christmas cat stamp has come my way, and that's one of a set of three from Iceland, with a musical theme. It features the well-known Icelandic black Christmas cat, which has appeared on previous stamps from the country; this time he's relaxing in bed listening to Christmas music on the computer! It was released in early November 2015.
We wish all readers a happy and peaceful 2016.
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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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