Smart & Copley Ltd

Smart & Copley Ltd


Smart & Copley’s chemist’s shop was located the east side of Main Street between 8th and 9th Avenues was opened in 1899. The business was a partnership consisting of two qualified chemists, Harold William Smart and William Dawn Copley.

Harold Smart was born in Cambridge, England in 1873 and arrived in Bulawayo in 1896, having travelled by rail and coach from Port Elizabeth. William Dawn Copley was born in Long Clawson, Leicestershire, England in 1871. He arrived in Cape Town in 1895 and, after 15 months, travelled up to Bulawayo. It was in Bulawayo that those two men later met.

Their first Wholesale and Retail Chemist’s shop was opened in August 1897, at premises situate corner of 8th Avenue and Fife Street, Bulawayo. In 1899 they moved to larger purpose built premises in Main Street, on land they had purchased that same year.

In 1900 they set up a Photographic Department which was believed to be the most advanced in Bulawayo at that time. Both Smart and Copley were keen amateur photographers which, no doubt, added impetus to this expansion of their chemist’s business. Consequently, a few years later, when picture postcards came into vogue as a means of communication, they were well placed to publish their own photographic products.

In 1910, Smart left the partnership to establish Smart & Co. W.D. Copley stayed on in Bulawayo to continue successfully the business.

Copley died in August 1951. The business remained in those premises until the mid-1970’s when they moved across the road to new premises in Sagit House. Smart & Copley is now part of the Q V Group.



It is not known when Smart & Copley first started publishing postcards but it was probably sometime in 1905, as this is the year in which the earliest used postcards have been recorded. The subject views of their postcards were wide-ranging with those of Victoria Falls being published in greatest numbers, given the anticipated demand by tourists visiting the “Falls” following the opening of the railway bridge in 1905.

Smart & Copley also went on photographic safari into Bechuananland Protectorate as evidenced by postcards recorded. Many images used were taken on hunting expeditions ran by J E Hughes.

“Greetings” type postcards were also published. Surprisingly, postcards with views of Beira (Mocambique) had been published – until it was discovered that Smart & Copley operated a business there for a short period prior to 1910.

Plain Back
Crest Series



  • Andrew Wilkie
  • Geoff Brakspear
  • John Berridge
  • Keith Harrop
  • Walter Herzik
  • Jefferson Ritson
  • Gordon Shepher
  • Cliff Wheatley
  • James Gavin
  • Terry Cowlard