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. Later they opened the Vancouver and Winnipeg offices. The Vancouver and Winnipeg offices are first listed in their respective city directories in 1912 as Valentine & Sons United Publishing Co. Ltd. The Manager listed in the Vancouver directory was John Henry Powell at at 609-318 Homer Avenue. The Managing Director listed in the Vancouver directory was George Clark. This is now the heritage building named the Mercantile Building built in 1909. The Manager listed in the Winnipeg directory was George P at a private residence. The office is listed as 427 Bannatyne (515-516). There is also reference to Ashdown Block.
In addition to postcards, Valentine & Sons 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.
Vancouver Heritage Foundation
Henderson’s Greater Vancouver Directory – Provided online by the University of Alberta
Henderson’s Winnipeg City Directory – Provided online by the University of Alberta
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.