Robert Murray Stamp Shop, Edinburgh
Established 1977
Retail shop, auctioneers, mail order

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Once you’ve collected everything, why not go for stuff that never existed in the first place ?

Robert Murray


I was looking through a collection and already several pages past these items when something in my head said “Hold on – there was something odd there !”. The second glance made it obvious that something was not right, and everything fell into place over the following moments.
The two items were quite ordinary-looking pieces, each with a UK George VI threepence stamp. What was wrong, and quite obvious, was that the stamps were imperforate colour reproductions. In addition, the cancels just looked “wrong”. The shape, the lettering, the layout, the impression; something was wrong. Indeed if you look at the Stirling postmark the lettering and sizing doesn’t match what was in use at the time.

But the big giveaway was the Tannochrae postmark. Tannochbrae never existed ! This was an imaginary town invented by A.J. Cronin for his “Doctor Finlay” stories, and made famous by the BBC television series “Doctor Finlay’s Casebook”. This series was shown between 1962 and 1971, and was set in the 1920s. ITV made another series in the 1990s which brought the characters into the post-war 1940s, with the introduction of the NHS as a major theme.

These “stamped” items therefore fit into the dates for the ITV programmes, and are almost certainly cut from envelopes that would have been props. With all the effort they put into making these, it’s a pity they probably got the postage rate wrong !


                      postmark Stirling
                      postmark on Tannochbrae stamp


I had a lovely stamp collector customer who had been a small-part actor in the original Doctor Finlay’s Casebook series. He said it was great; an enjoyable job, and decently paid. What made it even better was that every time the BBC sold the series to a foreign television station, he would get a further payment.

Eventually, years later, the series was sold to a West African station, for which the BBC didn’t get too much, but the actor got his cut all the same. An impressive British Broadcasting Corporation cheque for ten shillings !  As it wasn’t much, he framed it and hung it on his wall as a talking point. Eventually, the BBC wrote to him asking him to cash it as they were soon to finalise the year’s accounts !

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