Friday, October 29, 2010

James Valentine - Views of Edinburgh, Scotland

I apologize. I am once again straying away from postcards. I originally thought to use these as illustrations in combination with postcards of Scotland, but they are so beautiful that I decided to feature them on their own.

James Valentine was a Scottish photographer (1815-1879.) In the early years, Valentine produced studio photographs and then started concentrating on views of Scotland. I have approximately 20 of these views, which measure about 7" by 9".

I love that you can clearly read the signs for D. McLeod's Temperance Hotel and Knox's Corner China Warehouse (now a museum.) What a beautiful shot. Here's another one of the Tolbooth and Canongate. It really gives you a sense of what it would be like to walk down a street in  Edinburgh at the end of the 19th century.

After James Valentine's death in 1879, his sons retained the business and soon started focusing on producing postcards. They were employing 1,000 people by the turn of the century and by 1907, they had 40 people employed to retouch the postcard views. This is a job I would like to have had, except for the drawback of the lead-based paints, which could shorten your career and turn your skin a funny color if you got in the habit of licking your paintbrush. Otherwise, I love the idea of adding color, brightening skies, painting little fluffy clouds, and deciding what color the ladies' dresses will be. Alas, I was born too late.

By the 1950s, the focus of Valentine's turned to greeting cards. In 1980, they sold out to Hallmark cards, and in 1994, Valentine's Dundee factory closed.  I won't post all of the cards, but I will post more of them soon.


  1. an excellent post and a great reminder of the origins of the Valentine's postcard's still important info for postcard fans!

  2. Although the images show some of the gritty quality that industrial era Edinburgh was known for, the city has some great character.

  3. Wonderful views, Christine. Does anyone else think these views of Edinburgh resemble northern European cities? BTW, Christine--are you sure you want to be a photo retoucher for the Valentines a century ago? I'm thinking low piece rates, 12-hour days doing bench work, overbearing supervision, etc. (Like you, I have strong affection for the past, Christine, but I'd like to guarantee I got into an upmarket demographic when I stepped into my time machine.:-}) Jack/Youngstown

  4. The street view is much the same today, apart from the traffic :-)



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