I, Miss Cuddlywumps, am positively purring to welcome my very first interview guest to this blog. The purrs are for Marci Jarvis, who is here today to introduce us to her stamp-collecting hobby. Marci is a retired teacher who has worked as editor and feature writer of Cat Mews during the last 16 years. She and her husband share their home with a pair of brown tabby littermates. Many of their vacations are planned around stamp shows in the U.S. and abroad. She also volunteers in the youth area at the annual WESTPEX show in San Francisco. Marci will be presenting the musical slide presentation “The Black Cat in Philately” at WESTPEX 2016 on April 30 and “The Tiger in Philately” at the World Stamp Show: NY 2016 on May 31.
Miss C: Hello, Marci. Thank you for joining me today to share your hobby. I understand you collect postage stamps that have pictures of cats on them. Can you tell me how long you’ve been collecting and how you got started?
Marci: Hello, Miss C. Thank you for the opportunity to share a fun hobby with you. I’ve always loved cats, and about 20 years ago I was given some cat stamps and I joined a stamp club. Not long after that, a new stamp friend became a mentor and helped me to work on a small exhibit on the domestic cat while learning about the types of stamps (or elements) along the way.
Collecting cats on stamps can often mean learning
about cat species you never even heard of.
These stamps, from Mongolia and Russia, feature
the manul. Marci says, “The Pallas’ cat or manul
is an unusual and I think, adorable wild cat species.
At one of my first stamp shows, I found the
stylized cat from Mongolia (on the left)
in the dime bin and wondered if it was a ‘real’ one.
Armed with the clue ‘Felis’ inscribed on the stamp,
I was able to research it to discover that
it is indeed a cat (now classified as
For more on the manul, see “Meet the Manul.”
I constantly learn something new about cat breeds, little-known wild cat species, history, geography, literature, and art. I enjoy the variety of cats: domestic, wild, and heraldic, and the vast array of types of stamps like commemoratives, air mail, souvenir sheets, first-day covers, overprints, etc. I also love the thrill of the hunt at stamp shows or online for new issues and varieties, often discovering something completely new to me. Postal history, places with cat names (i.e., Kitty Hawk, NC, and Los Gatos, CA) and pictorial postmarks are also part of my collection. Another plus of stamp collecting is making friends here in the U.S. and around the world, and trading stamps with them.
Are there a lot of stamps with cats on them? I’ve hardly seen any, so it seems like it might be a limited subject.
In a word: YES! I have no idea exactly how many cat stamps I have, but my Excel spreadsheet is a large file, and I don’t come close to having every stamp issued with a cat.
Do you have a favorite item in your collection, or is there some item you dream of but haven’t been able to find?
To choose a favorite item is difficult because it’s almost like choosing which of your cats you love more. The philatelic item I’d really love to find is an artist’s painting (essay) of an issued or unissued cat stamp.
This US stamp from 2002
and featured a kitten named
Samantha, photographed by
Marci did a follow-up interview
with Samantha’s owner in 2012,
and the then 10-year-old-cat
was doing well.
If someone wanted to collect cats on stamps, where would they start? I wouldn’t even know where to find stamps that have cats on them.
It may be helpful for a beginner to limit the scope of cats to collect and specialize in one type like domestic cats, a particular wild species, or something quirky like Garfield. Collecting U.S. cats on stamps is also a good idea. (Free checklists are available with membership to the Cats on Stamps Study Unit.)
It’s always helpful to join a local club to learn about stamp collecting in general. Read about stamp collecting online. Our award-winning publication of the Cats on Stamps Study Unit, Cat Mews, is specifically about cats on stamps as well as background information on breeds, wild cat species, and heraldry with cats. Some of our members don’t collect stamps yet, but are interested in reading about them. We are affiliated with the American Philatelic Society (APS) and the American Topical Association (ATA). The journal is quarterly and depicts the newest cat stamps and older ones. Visit our website at catsonstamps.org. Anyone with specific questions is welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit a stamp show and talk to topical stamp dealers, those who specialize in various topics like flowers, birds, and cats. Stamps are available from the country issuing them, stamp dealers around the world, and online. Ebay is a good place to look for cat stamps, but be sure to comparison shop as prices can really vary.
Thank you, Marci. That was fascinating. Stamps sound like a lot of fun, and I never imagined you could learn so many different things from collecting. She of Little Talent would like me to add that, for readers in the Baltimore area, BALPEX is coming up in just a few weeks, September 4–6. This is a stamp show in Hunt Valley, MD. Stop by and talk to some people to learn more about stamp collecting. You might even run into old SoLT searching for stamps for her new cat collection.