StampNews.com is glad to present the next stamp issue from the Åland Post’s stamp series of Chinese Zodiac animal signs. Previous issues are the 2014 Åland sheep, the 2015 Europa stamp on the theme Old toys featuring a monkey, and the 2016 miniature sheet on a Rooster theme.
This year’s miniature sheet was designed by popular Swedish artist Martin Mörck who depicted a pair of sailor’s dogs reminding us of a bygone time when sailing vessels dominated the townscape and Åland sailors brought home China dogs as souvenirs from English ports.
The delicate porcelain dogs were produced in Staffordshire in the beginning of the 1800s. Such cute ceramic figures were particularly popular among Scandinavian and Åland sailors. Originally, the dogs were brought back as a momento to England from China by seamen. At first these small statues depicted the Foo-dog and then it changed to the more familiar spaniel.
The dogs are a mirror image of each other. They are commonly made to be white with brown or black spots. Around the neck is a gold leash and chain. The dogs were placed on the mantel piece or windowsill at home. Traditionally the dogs were placed looking into the living room when the sailor was at home but out of the window when he was at sea.
These same dogs are produced today in Staffordshire and are sold as souvenirs to many tourists. They are sold in a variety of colours and sizes. The original China dogs that appeared on the miniature sheet may be viewed in the collections of the Åland Maritime Museum. The minisheet is sold along two bright maximum cards, also designed by Martin Mörck.