James Valentine Photographic Collection

Record level Collection

Part of Scottish Topography Collection (collecting area) Parent record level Collection

View hierarchy


The James Valentine Collection represents the industrial photographic production of this firm which began operation in 1851 in the city of Dundee, Scotland.
The archive of the firm's British monochrome view business was transferred to St Andrews University Library in 1971, the official handover taking place in December of that year after some initial sorting within the library.

At its height, Valentine's collection of original monochrome negatives, with views from Land's End to John o' Groats as well as many places overseas, was without doubt the largest and most universal ever established in Great Britain. Although only about a fifth of it survived the firm's practice, initiated in 1931, of discarding many out of date views, the archive still remains an impressive monument to the firm's success and provides an important resource for social historians and other researchers. The archive continues to grow through the generous donations of a few individuals eager to see gaps in the collection filled and the images made widely available.

The primary outlet for the views produced was the leisure and tourist market, and the subjects were the scenes associated with this. Fishing was regarded as attractive, agriculture very much less so, and industry was rarely portrayed. Stately homes, historic ruins, great open spaces, beaches, the grandeur and curiosity of nature, and great engineering feats formed the basis of the firm's repertoire.

The view registers for the British topographical series survive from 1878 to 1967 in forty folio volumes recording over half a million views. Unfortunately, there are very few records relating to the business aspects of the firm, resulting in a lack of information about the firm's employees or commissioned artists.

The James Valentine collection is organised in the same way the company organised into Series in much the same way they did for over a century.

The Valentine Alphanumeric monochrome Series A is composed of a number of views and composite postcards from across Scotland. 9999 titles of Scottish views were registered by Valentine for this series. These images were taken during the period 1934 to 1947. The later Scottish views were registered in the B and D Series.

Related resources


1860 - 1961




Help make our records better

The University cares greatly about accurately recording and cataloguing our collections data, and we welcome input from you to make the quality of our records even better.

Suggest additions or corrections to this record