Edited by Frank R.
Shaw, FSA Scot, Atlanta, GA,
Scottish Coin To Celebrate
250th Anniversary of
Robert Burns’ Birth
In their “daily news from Scotland’s Capital” on July 12, the
Edinburgh Evening Press carried an announcement by Chancellor
Alistair Darling to the House of Commons that a new “2£ coin will be struck
in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert
Two of the three comments posted in response to the announcement on
Scotsman.com were rather negative with one person asking for a coin
commemorating William Wallace and his fight for Scotland’s independence.
Another seconded the first comment with digs at Robert Burns by saying,
“Yes, William Wallace…a man who was FAITHFUL to his wife and to SCOTLAND.
Let us put him on our coins. Then we will be remembering a BRAVE HEART…not a
BROKEN HEART…which is what Burns’ wife must have experienced.”
The third comment was, “I love both William Wallace and Robert Burns. A
Burns coin is a good start, but let’s not forget William Wallace much less
the Brus. Each is worthy of a coin regardless if they went to bed with a
book and a glass of wine or a lover and a glass of wine. It is what they did
for the people of Scotland that counts!”
I don’t know what history book the second responder referenced as to
“William Wallace…a man who was faithful…to Scotland” inferring perhaps tat
Robert Burns was not. I do not know of any man, Scottish or otherwise, who
stood up for Scotland and her people any more than Robert Burns. He was the
champion of liberty for the Scottish people, and it was shown in his
writings until he died. The comments aside, I prefer the latter.
As a collector of everything Burns, the new coin excites me! A greater
tribute could not be given to our Bard since the coin will be in circulation
throughout the country. It will be in every person’s pocket or purse at one
time or another as a reminder of this talented poet and songwriter.
The value of the pound versus the dollar? Well, when Susan and I first began
traveling to Scotland in the early 1990s, the pound was worth approximately
$1.60 to the dollar. Now the pound is worth $2.00 against the dollar. Even
as the dollar slips in value (and it does not look like the slide will be
over anytime soon), you can sign me up for a roll of the coins right now!
Make that two since I learned long ago never to give one of the
grandchildren something without having a gift for the other! Such a gesture
negates the question, “Where is mine?” These two kids, Ian and Stirling,
ages seven and five respectively, have been taught about Robert Burns. Hold
up a picture, a bust, a small statue, a medal, or a mauchline ware piece and
they will immediately tell you it’s “Robert Burns”.
Another plus for all Burns lovers will be the special celebrations in 2009
honoring the Bard led by The Robert Burns World Federation and its able
leader Shirley Bell who lives in Dumfries, the last home of Burns and where
he died at the age of 37. You can also look for the hundreds of Burns Clubs
and St. Andrew’s Societies around the world to celebrate this very special
anniversary of his birth. I hope our own St. Andrew’s Society of Atlanta
will celebrate the event in grand style. (A word to the wise!) I also have
it on good authority that there will be a Burns celebration at the
University of South Carolina led by our friends Dr. Ross Roy and Dr. Patrick
Scott, two of the outstanding Burns scholars in the world. Even if you are
fortunate enough to attend a 2009 celebration in Scotland, as I’m sure some
of us will, you will not want to miss the gala affair in Columbia. Again, on
good authority, those who attend will be in for a treat!
In the meantime, why not do something unusual to prepare for the Burns
celebrations in 2009 by pulling a book on Burns off the shelf to begin
reading now. If you do not have one, then buy or borrow one. You’ll be a
better Scot and, just as importantly, a better person. You can quote me on
that! (FRS: 7-23-2007)