Valentine & Sons Ltd

Valentine & Sons Ltd


Valentine and Sons was a printing company founded in Dundee, Scotland in 1851 by James Valentine (1815–1879), that grew to become Scotland’s leading manufacturer of picture postcards.

After training as a portrait painter in Edinburgh, James Valentine returned to Dundee and established a successful engraving business, eventually opening a photographic studio in 1851 to add to his already flourishing enterprise as demand for portrait photographs was booming in the UK.

Yet it was James’s son William Dobson Valentine (1844-1907), followed by his son Harben Valentine (1869-1949), who expanded upon these first forays into the commercial photographic industry and created the empire that dominated the photo-postcard landscape at the beginning of the twentieth century and beyond.

In 1902 the split-back postcard was introduced which allowed for both message and postal address to be written on the reverse of a picture postcard. This led to a boost in sales. At this time Valentine’s offices, or factories, were opening throughout the British Empire.

Commercial rivalry between British publishers and those in Germany was intense and were it not for the 1914-1918 war it is possible that the Valentine’s company may never have survived the fierce competition. However, postcard use dropped significantly and, while this recovered post-war, it never reached the heights of the early twentieth century and the slow and steady decline of the photographic postcard industry had begun.

The company was purchased by John Waddington Limited in 1963, who sold it in turn to Hallmark Cards in 1980. Dundee operations ceased in 1994.

First Day Covers


Postcards printed by Valentine & Sons were assigned an image number. For their South African branch, the assigned numbers were six digits beginning with ‘5’.

Valentine & Sons Ltd, Dundee and London
Other Publishers
Valentine & Sons Publishing Co. Ltd, Cape Town


  • Keith Harrop
  • Walter Herdzik
  • John Irving
  • Ian MacDonald