History of The Valentine & Sons' Publishing Co. Ltd. (Canada)

The Valentine & Sons' Publishing Co. Ltd.

In 1825, John Valentine, an engraver, founded a lithographic printing company in Dundee, Scotland named Valentine and Sons of Dundee. His son James, a photographer became a partner in 1830. By the 1860s the Valentine Company reproduced photographs taken by James. These were sold as prints and stereo-views. Valentine and Sons of Dundee were once one of Scotland’s most successful commercial photographers.

After James’ death in 1879 his two sons, George and William Dobson took over the Company and began printing Christmas cards, in addition to their printed views of Scotland. In 1884 George moved to New Zealand where he became a landscape photographer. William continued on with the company.

Valentine & Sons printed its first postcards in the 1890s. Valentine & Sons became a limited company in 1896. Canadian postcard production began in 1903. In 1907, at the height of the postcard revolution, they became a public company.

The Canadian office of Valentine’s of Dundee, Scotland ran from 1907-1923 under the name The Valentine & Sons' Publishing Co. Ltd. The first office opened in Montreal and then Toronto. We have a card that shows Winnipeg listed on the back, however, we cannot confirm at this time whether or not they had an office in Winnipeg. We have also seen works published by Valentine & Sons that listed Vancouver, in addition to the three other cities. In addition to postcards, they also published postcard folders, souvenir books and greeting cards.

The earliest Canadian postcards published by Valentine and Sons were monotone black, collotype views showing the scenery along the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.), north of Lake Superior, as well as scenes in the Rocky Mountains. The tinted halftone and collotype postcards continued to be printed in Great Britain. Later cards were also printed in the United States.

While they closed their Canadian offices in 1923, they continued their business focusing solely on postcards. Later, they put most of their efforts into greeting cards, unfortunately, not anticipating the growing demand for color postcards. By the 1950’s their business was suffering. They were purchased by John Waddington & Co. in 1963 and subsequently sold to Hallmark Cards in 1980. Dundee operations closed in 1994.

Valentine cards are numbered on the front by hand (6 digits separated by a prefix and suffix with the distinct J.V. initials). The Canadian cards were printed in Great Britain, Canada and the United States. The Canadian cards we mainly see are the ones beginning with the prefix 100 – 115, 400 & 600, with the 100 series cards becoming harder to find as time goes on.


Example of a postcard published by The Valentine & Sons' Publishing Co. Ltd. and printed in Great Britian in 1907.

The Valentine-Black Co. Ltd.

Valentine-Black Co. Ltd. printed cards from 1922 to 1933. Many of these postcards show similar scenes as the earlier Valentine cards, however, the look of these cards is vastly different. Valentine Black cards were not printed using the color overprinting style as The Valentine & Sons Publishing Co. cards were. Valentine-Black cards were printed by a variety of printers throughout Canada and the United States. Valentine-Black cards are identified by letters and numbers.


Example of a postcard published by Valentine-Black Co. Ltd. as part of the Bond Street Series.


We are currently working on a database that includes "The Valentine & Sons' Publishing Co. Ltd." postcards of views in Canada indexed by the series numbers and images. We will feature it on our website once we have a large portion of it completed.

Shipping Rates for Postcards

Canada - $1.20 + $0.50 for each additional
United States - $1.80 + $0.50 for each additional
Other Countries - $2.50 + $0.50 for each additional

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