Bagpuss first hit TV screens in 1974
Stamps are being unveiled today to help a world-famous saggy cloth cat celebrate a special birthday.
This year marks four decades since Bagpuss - created by Blean-based artist Peter Firmin - first hit TV screens in 1974.
Since then, the pink and white striped character has cemented himself as a childhood icon and collectors' favourite.
To commemorate the milestone, a Kent-based collectors firm has created a limited edition envelope.
The new first day cover, which was designed by Mr Firmin and artist Cath Buckingham, is released today by Buckingham Covers in Folkestone.
Cath said: "It was a privilege to work closely with Peter Firmin on this cover. He was a delight - nothing was too much trouble.
"He invited me to his home in Blean, where Bagpuss was created, and opened all his archives of artwork for me.
"He was also active in the design and created the postmark himself."
A limited number of the covers have also been signed by Mr Firmin and his daughter Emily - now an acclaimed papier-mâché artist - who inspired the character in the series.
Peter Firmin at home in Blean with the original Bagpuss
Some of the funds raised from the cover will be donated to The Scottish Wild Cat Project at Howletts and Port Lympne wild animal parks.
Mr Firmin and his friend Oliver Postgate also created Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog and The Clangers - all from a cowshed on the outskirts of Canterbury.
Limited edition stamps to commemorate children's TV favourites, including Bagpuss
The full-line up includes Andy Pandy, Dougle from The Magic Roundabout - which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year - Windy Miller from Camberwick Green, Mr Benn, Great Uncle Bulgaria from The Wombles, Paddington Bear and Postman Pat.
As well as the envelope, the Royal Mail has produced a series of 12 stamps featuring Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine and a host of other characters to celebrate more than 60 years of classic children's TV.
More modern additions include Bob the Builder, Peppa Pig and Shaun the Sheep.
Bagpuss creator Peter Firmin with a giant stamp
Andrew Hammond, from Royal Mail Stamps, said: "For over 60 years, Britain's children's TV characters have brought cheer to generations of viewers.
"More importantly, it has presented us with a cast of characters that, like the memories of the programmes themselves, remain with us throughout our lives.
"It feels appropriate to celebrate all of these unforgettable characters on a set of very special stamps."
The original Bagpuss, which first hit out screens in the 1970s
The Bagpuss First Day Cover costs £13.95 and is available by phoning 01303 278137 or visiting www.buckinghamcovers.com.
The stamps are available at Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/stamps or by calling 08457 641 641.
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