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Tom Rielly Displays

80th Annual Congress Tom Rielly Display

Display by Peter Westwood

Tom Rielly's Burnsiana

This year, most unusually, we have a final opportunity to see on display a collection created by the late Tom Rielly. Tom was a founding member of both the host societies of this year's Congress. This year is also 'The Year of Homecoming', celebrating especially the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. It is somehow most fitting that this display should be a collection of 'Burnsiana' from Tom's own albums. Following this Congress, it is probable that this collection will, like his other collections, be broken up and go under the hammer. However, for those of us in the Edinburgh Stamp Group and the Lothian Postcard Club, there are two Immortal Memories!

What follows is a brief 'spectator's guide' to the items selected from Tom's collection.

Frame 1: Robert Burns An introduction to the man in the form of portraits by Naysmith and others, with a silhouette of Bonnie Jean, and a selection of covers illustrating the worldwide nature of the Burns Federation.

Frame 2: His Life and Times Snippets perhaps, mainly on postcards. We have his birthplace at Alloway, the Robert Burns Bible, his marriage to Bonnie Jean, his sons, the production of the Kilmarnock Edition (which established his fame), his move to Ellisland Farm, and finally his time as an officer of the Excise.

Frame 3: Songs and Poems There are many postcards which illustrate verses from the poems of Robert Burns. A selection is seen here, together with some covers which also bear verses from his works.

Frame 4: Tam o' Shanter Undoubtedly one of Burns's better known works, a number of publishers of postcards have illustrated the tale. Here a selection, and also some covers, one of which is an advertising cover for 'Cutty Sark' whisky.

Frame 5: Robert Burns Stamps It is noteworthy that Russia produced the first Burns stamps; one in 1956 and one in 1957, with the same design but in different colours. Romania also produced one, in 1959, which was part of a set of six 'Cultural Anniversaries'. The Royal Mail has produced the most stamps in honour of Burns: two in 1966; four in 1996 on the 200th anniversary of his death; and two more, in miniature sheet form, in this year, the 250th anniversary of his birth (naturally, these cannot feature in this collection). The 1996 set includes a fascinating perforation 'step' error; well shown on two strips of three stamps. The twenty-two handstamps which were available for cancelling the first day covers of the issue are also illustrated.

Frame 6: Airletter Forms The Royal Mail only ever issued one airletter form for Robert Burns and one style of handstamp was also produced to cancel it. But the handstamps showed a considerable range of place names, and also two dates: the date of issue of the airletter (13th January 1975); and 25th January 1975.

Frames 7&8: Labels Compensating for the lack of real interest by the Post Office in commemorating the various other anniversaries of Burns's life. There are on show a large and colourful range of both mint and on cover labels, produced by a range of organizations: the Scottish Philatelic Secretariat; the Scottish Patriots; the Scottish National Party; the Burns Federation; and, of course, Peter Westwood.

Frame 9: Memorials Postcards and covers illustrating many of the memorials raised in memory of the Bard.

Frame 10: Burns Suppers The Immortal Memory is kept alive around the world.


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This page was last modified on 30th August 2017.

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