Part of my role involves helping Dumfries Museum digitise their own collections. I recently started cataloguing and digitising a case containing over 800 postcards inscribed with music scores. On the face of it this may sound a tedious proposition, but the collection contains a fascinating array of folk tunes, many of which have been unpublished. I also came across many cards relating to Robert Burns, two of which are shown below.
The tunes on the back of the cards were written by different composers. Presumably, the postcard acted as the most convenient method for quickly noting down the tune. These humble postcards provide yet another example of the esteem in which Robert Burns life is held.
There were of course no cards or postcards available during the lifetime of the poet. However, he was a prolific writer and correspondent, and had the postcard been in vogue he would surely have taken advantage of it. The poet and his birthplace in Alloway were the first subjects to appear on a postcard. So popular were the Burns themed postcards that several publishers produced their own ‘Burns Series’. One publisher produced an entire set on the celebration of Burns Supper, and lines or verses from his works were often used to adorn Valentines, New Year and even birthday postcards.