James Valentine (photographer)
James Valentine (1815-1879) was a well-known photographer of Dundee, Scotland. Valentines of Dundee produced Scottish topographical views from the 1860s, and later became internationally famous as the producers of picture postcards.
Valentine studied photography at the University of St Andrews where he became an acquaintance of Thomas Rodger, who probably photographed in around 1850. The business Valentine and Sons Ltd was founded in Dundee in 1851 by James Valentine. He added portrait photography to the activities of his established Dundee business, which had been based up to 1851 on the engraving, printing and supply of business stationery. In 1855 he erected one of the largest photographic glasshouses in Britain. About 1860 he decided to emulate the success of George Washington Wilson in Aberdeen in selling topographical view photographs. In 1866 James Valentine carried out his first Royal commission and received the Royal warrant in 1867. His organisational and presentational skills were essential in the rapidly expanding and thriving concern which opened a large printing works at 152 and 154 Perth Road, Dundee. William Dobson Valentine (1844-1907), son of James Valentine, took a course of chemistry at the University of London and trained to be a landscape specialist in the studios of Francis Frith at Reigate, Surrey, the largest English publisher of the commercial landscape. He entered the family business in about 1860. He was joined in the enterprise by his brother George D. Valentine.
Valentine views in the nineteenth century aimed at the national middle and upper class tourist market, with the production of both drawing room albums containing selections of photographs arranged geographically and individual landscape prints. They competed with Francis Frith and George Washington Wilson, who were producing pictures of similar quality. Landscapes were available in a choice of sizes - cabinet, imperial and card. Stereoscopic views were also produced. Subjects concentrated on tourist sights in Scotland, then to England in 1882 and on to fashionable resorts abroad, including Norway, Jamaica, Tangiers, Morocco, Madeira and New Zealand before 1900.
The company became very widely known after the Tay Bridge disaster of December 28th, 1879, when they were commissioned to photograph the remains of the bridge for the Court of Inquiry. They recorded over 50 high quality photographs of the debris, and they were used in the court to help witnesses when giving testimony. The pictures were subsequently sold across the country, and used in picture postcards. They have recently (2003) been reanalysed using digital methods to show how and why the bridge collapsed in so spectacular a fashion. The enlargements show numerous defects, especially tapered bolt holes on the critical connections holding the tie bars and struts to the cast iron columns. Failure occurred from these brittle cast iron lugs[disambiguation needed], and initiated the disaster. Other defects included lack of strengthening girders at the tops of the piers in the high girders section. It was this part of the bridge which was almost completely demolished during the disaster.
- Peter R Lewis, Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay: Re-investigating the Tay Bridge disaster of 1879, Tempus (2004)
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