Raphael Tuck & Sons, Ltd.

Raphael Tuck & Sons, Ltd.


Raphael Tuck and his wife Ernestine opened a shop in October of 1866 on Union Street in London. Ernestine was a wise and competent businesswoman and Raphael an artistic perfectionist.

The Tucks had four sons, and three of the four sons participated in the firm established by their father. Their second son, Adolph, was chairman and managing director of Raphael Tuck and sons, Ltd. until his death on July 3, 1926. He was honoured by being made a baron on July 19, 1910, which honour also fell to his first son, William Reginald and to William’s first son, Bruce Adolph Reginald Tuck.

Although the Tuck firm did some black and white printing in their London offices, the majority of colour work was contracted for in Germany, Raphael’s home country. This is evidenced by the printed (or chromographed) in Bavaria, Germany or Saxony inscribed on the majority of the early Tuck postcards. The majority of the printing continued to be contracted for in Germany until the First World War cut off business relations between the two countries.

Both consecutive (individual numbering in sequence) and serial numbering systems were used on the Tuck postcard issues, making it difficult to reconstruct an accurate checklist of these cards. Clearly defined systems may be noted in some of the groups like the Oilette Series, which are generally serially numbered in sets of six. But, confusion reigns when the collector discovers two Series with the same number, groups with a letter number combination and groups with no numbers at all. As a general rule, Tuck sold their cards in sets of six. But, that could mean six different images or the same image repeated in the packet six times or less.

Raphael Tuck died on March 16, 1900. His sons continued to expand the business after his death. It was due to the efforts of his sons that the size of the postcard in England was increased to the size allowed by the Universal Postal Union .

During WWII, Raphael House was bombed during London air raids by the Nazis. Records of seventy-four years, and more than 40,000 original pictures and photographs, were lost.

The business continued to thrive post WWII and eventually combined with two others to become the British Printing Corporation.



  • John Irving