Best Wishes From Scotland

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Bob Teevan

Best Wishes From Scotland

November 30, annually, is Andermas or Saint Andrew’s Day in Scotland. The holiday is little known outside of Scotland, where St. Andrew’s name is often spoken reverently. Not only in the town of St. Andrews, famous for its golfing heritage, but across the glens and burns of the national landscape. Also known as the Feast of Saint Andrew the celebration is intended to recall and mark the occasion in a biblical event at which the disciple Andrew introduced his brother, the Apostle Peter, to Jesus, the Messiah.

To mark the occasion has a stronger meaning than the native Scot pays to St. Andrew’s Day. It is an event that passes without much in the way of celebration. It is not a public holiday and it is not celebrated with the same enthusiasm that the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

This card was published by Davidson Brothers Pictorial Post Cards from original art of Penrhyn Stanlaws. It is from a set featuring women in military uniform. This card features a bugler wearing a military tunic, a kilt and a hat known as a busby. She is also wearing white spats over her boots, a large sporran and a feather or cockade in her busby. She likely has a dirk in her sock although this small knife cannot be seen as it is worn on the right. Whether this is a generic image or depicts an actual tartan is unknown, but the tartan is very similar to the Ancient Gunn tartan that honors the northeast regions of Scotland from Caithness and the Orkney Isles.

Mailed in Stow, a village 25 miles south of Edinburgh, on March 3, 1904, it is addressed to Miss S. Duncan at 17 Colinton Road, Edinburgh. The message refers to the receipt of leap year goods although the suggestion is that they don’t suit. I have no idea what leap year goods were and can only suggest that they are postcards or other stationery items, although a love potion of some kind that could assist an unwed miss to receive a positive response to her proposal of marriage may be included.

St. Andrew was an apostle of Jesus and was also the brother of Peter. If royalties are due him for being a patron saint, then he will have some money coming as not only is Andrew the patron saint of Scotland but also fulfills a similar role for Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The relics of St. Andrew were taken to a Fife coastal town in the eighth century, later known as St. Andrews, the home of a much respected university and the town in which Prince William first met Kate Middleton.

St. Andrew was crucified in 60 AD although he thought himself unworthy of being crucified in a style similar to Christ and was therefore bound to a cross shaped like an ‘X.’ This style cross now known as a St. Andrew’s Cross or a saltire. The saltire (white on a blue background) is the national emblem of Scotland. Legend suggests that the adoption of the saltire followed a battle in 832 at East Lothian when Oengus II lead heavily outnumbered Picts and Scots into battle. On the eve of the battle, he vowed that if St. Andrew granted victory, he would make Andrew Scotland’s patron saint. His army enjoyed victory and a white saltire appeared in the blue sky causing Oengus II to deliver on his pledge. A fine story although evidence suggests that Andrew was celebrated in Scotland prior to this date. With so many countries to look after I suspect Andrew was busy on that day.

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The artist, Penrhyn Stanlaws is a story in his own right. Penrhyn Stanlaws is a pseudonym or part pseudonym. Despite what you may think it is not the Penrhyn part that is fictitious; he was born Penrhyn Stanley Adamson in Dundee in 1877.  A quick search of the Scottish records found only four persons born in Scotland with the forename Penrhyn. None of them were Adamson or Stanlaws.

Adamson was famous more so in America then in Great Britain. From the U. S. census of 1920, we know he was living in New York as Penrhyn Stanlaws, 42, of Scotland who first entered the United States in 1892. He was an artist and although married, he is listed alone, and at that time he is still an alien.

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The following is from his Find a Grave web page:

Penrhyn Stanlaws was born March 19, 1877, in Dundee Scotland as Stanley Adamson. He was the younger brother of another illustrator, Sydney Adamson, so he would change his name to avoid confusion. Stanlaws’ art could be found on several magazine covers throughout the 1910s and ‘20s, including the Saturday Evening Post, The American Magazine, Collier’s, Life, Judge, The Metropolitan Magazine and Hearst’s International. He was best known for cover-art depicting beautiful women. His “Stanlaws Girl” rivalled the “Gibson Girl” and was modelled on silent star Anna Q. Nilsson. In 1915, tragic early star Olive Thomas was another of Stanlaws’ subjects in the famed nude Between Poses. Other early stars who posed for him included Mabel Normand and Florence LaBadie. He moved to Hollywood and is credited as being director of seven films: “The House that Jazz Built” (1921), four Betty Compson films, “At the End of the World,” “The Little Minister” (both also 1921), “The Law and the Woman,” and “Over the Border” (both 1922), plus two Bebe Daniels films, “Singed Wings” and “Pink Gods” (both 1922), the latter of which also featured the “Stanlaws Girl,” Anna Q. Nilsson.”

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Stanlaws holidayed in Great Britain in 1926 and the following extracts come from the Dundee Evening Telegraph of August 25, 1926.

Penrhyn Stanlaws. The paragraphists have been reporting the holiday movements in this country of Penrhyn Stanlaws, that very deft illustrator whose graceful fancy and nimble pencil evolved the delightful Stanlaws’ girl famous on both sides of the Atlantic twenty or so years ago. The work of Penrhyn Stanlaws lit up all the best magazines and created vogue. The artist was as clever with his pen, and his creative faculty working with literary craft produced a play which Sir Henry Irving accepted. If memory serves, a reference to that play occurs in Bram Stoker’s biography of the great actor. Of late Penrhyn Stanlaws has given his rare talent to film making, and among others has The Little Minister to his credit.

The Artistic Adamsons. Penrhyn Stanlaws is the penname of Stanley Adamson, second youngest of the brilliant brothers Adamson, belonging to Dundee. He is at present visiting his native city, in company with his brother Howard, known to the art world as Howard Somerville, a Punch contributor; and portrait painter whose striking transcripts have figured at the Royal Academy and loading exhibitions. Sydney Adamson, the eldest brother of this accomplished family, made his fame in America first as an illustrator and then in portrait painting. He did fine work while representing a principal paper with the American forces in China and had the distinction of being mentioned in dispatches for bravery in the field. All the Adamsons were educated at the old West End Academy in Tay Street.

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Stanlaws died at age 80 in 1957, a victim of his own doing. He fell asleep while smoking in a large, upholstered chair in his Hollywood, California, studio. He had lived there since the 1940s. He was survived by his wife who lived in Connecticut. 

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Penrhyn is Welsh for “headland”. I first ran across the word when I was thumbing through a Scott stamp catalogue and found an entry for Penrhyn Island, which is one of the Cook Islands associated with New Zealand.

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