Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentines - The postcards from Dundee


Today being Valentines day, the day for giving and receiving cards of affection,I thought it worth mentioning that other famous postcard company from Dundee. Valentines and Sons were once Scotland's most successful commercial photographers. Founded in 1825 by John Valentine,the firm initially worked on engraving and printing,but John learnt portrait photography in Paris and this was added to the company range in 1851. They produced their first postcards in 1898 in monotone black,collotype views which catered for the growing upper and middle class tourist industry. Valentines were also commissioned to take photographs of theTay Bridge following the disaster for the Official Inquiry. As photography became more popular and affordable,picture postcards were replaced with greeting cards and what was left of the company was sold in 1980 to Hallmark Cards.
Dundee City Library holds the collection of photographs of the Tay Bridge disaster and the library and photographic archive of the University of St Andrews has a vast collection of the company archives. Valentines had a policy of discarding old negatives so of an estimated over 1,000,000 about 120,000 survive. Over 28,000 are available to view online at http://special.st-andrews.ac.uk/saspecial/ and more will be added as the digitisation continues.
A fantastic collection of places and social history,well worth a look.


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