|An albumen print showing a group of fishermen at Clovelly in North Devon. Set into a steep hillside, Clovelly is one of the most famous villages in the England. The single cobbled high street winds its way down the hillside through sixteenth-century, whitewashed cottages to a small harbour.
Photographed by James Valentine. Signed, titled and numbered in the negative.
The firm was established in 1851 by James Valentine (1814-1879), the son of John Valentine, an producer of wood blocks for linen printing in Dundee, later a printer and lithographer. Its output was originally photographic, but became pioneers in the postcard industry and later developed the production of greetings cards, novelties, and calendars, as well as illustrated children's books.
James Valentine began in business, aged 17, as an engraver in his father’s firm. He first dabbled as a Daguerreotypist as an aid to engraving, but went on to study in Paris under Monsieur Bulow in the 1840’s. On his return to Dundee he set up a studio in the High Street. He received a commission from the Queen to make a series of 40 photographs of Highland scenery and in 1861 was one of the seven founding members of the Edinburgh Photographic Society. In 1863 his eldest son William Dobson Valentine joined the firm, after apprenticing as a landscape photographer with Francis Frith.
In1868 James Valentine was appointed a Royal Photographer and by 1879 the firm had grown into one of the largest establishments in the country. In 1897 the government allowed correspondence to be written on the reverse of a postcard. This coincided with Valentine's success in collotype printing, a lithographic technique which mechanically reproduced images for printing as postcards. By the end of the century, Valentine’s had established the perfect method for cheap reproduction of postcards. They were also able to use their immense collection of topographical negatives to issue series after series of British views.
By the early 1900’s they also had a growing trade in Christmas cards and children's books and had begun to publish fancy cards noted for their high quality and design. By the time of the First World War the firm had become a global name with office branches in Canada, South Africa, Australia, America and Norway. In the 1920’s they expanded their trade in calendars and then in greetings cards, forming the basis of their business today. In 1963 the company became a subsidiary of John Waddington Ltd.
The print measures 5.4” by 8.1” (135 mm by 207 mm) and is mounted on a slightly larger piece of stiff, firm card [reverse is blank].
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