Tricia Currie Hunt of Windham got her first cat when she was just 10 years old. Now in her 60s, she has scores of them. Many are from foreign countries.
But these furry felines don’t have to be fed or taken to the vet. They’re found on postage stamps, the best of which are now on display at the Windham Public Library.
“A lot of cats are standoffish and aloof. ‘If I could operate the can opener, I wouldn’t even need you,’ ” Hunt says. “But many are very loyal, and when a cat devotes itself to you, you know the two of you are forever.”
Hunt first delved into the art of philately, or stamp collecting, some 25 years ago when she worked in the foreign order department at L.L. Bean.
Receiving mail from all over the world adorned with unusual postage stamps, Hunt was intrigued by all the colorful varieties. The company allowed her to remove canceled stamps from mail orders after they’d been processed.
“You soak the envelope in clear, tepid water,” she said. “Allow the stamp to fall off; don’t try to peel it. Then put it either in a drying book or between two pieces of paper towel with something heavy on top of it.”
Displayed in a glass cabinet on the library’s second floor through the end of October, the exhibition is only about a third to one half of what Hunt actually has for cat stamps.
Many countries are represented, including Angola, Korea, Poland, Somalia, Hungary, Great Britain, Cuba, Bhutan and Tanzania. She has one labeled “unknown”; she would happily welcome any input as to its origin.
With all of the unusual offerings, her favorite stamp happens to be one from the United States from an animal rescue series back in the late 1980s.
“I firmly believe that shelter pets are the best animals you can find,” she says, “largely because many of them have had such hard lives.
“When they find an owner who loves them and can care for them, and they know they’ve got three meals a day coming in, a roof over their head and they don’t have to scrap and fight for every inch of life, they are so warm and loving.”
Hunt recommends that any would-be stamp collector consult books on the subject first.
When she started, she wanted every stamp ever made, but soon realized many collectors have topical collections, narrowing their focus to a specific subject such as Disney, space exploration, dinosaurs or famous people.
Hunt ultimately decided to focus on just cats, which she has always loved.
Through her collecting, she can tell much about what a certain stamp represents, or even its time period. One stamp in her assortment is from Vietnam, and though she doesn’t know its exact date, she knows it is postwar because it is not labeled north or south.
“I’ve tried to show something from every country I’ve collected so far,” she said.
The Windham Public Library (892-1908) is at 217 Windham Center Road and is open every day but Sunday. If you can identify the country of origin of the unknown stamp (photo, lower right), Hunt would be happy to hear from you. She can be reached at [email protected]
Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at: [email protected]