About this artwork

The Tolbooth is the oldest building in Edinburgh's Canongate. It was built in 1591, in the French Style, and at five-storeys high, was intended as an administrative centre with a gaol at the bottom and the Council Chambers and law court above. The clock was added on in 1884. Today the premises are occupied by the People's Story Museum. James Valentine's company mainly published picturesque views of town and country but it also included images of historic city buildings in its repertoire.

James Valentine

James Valentine

The Valentine company was founded in Dundee by James's father, John Valentine, in 1825. After learning the daguerreotype process in Paris in the late 1840s, James added portrait photography to the family business in 1851. By the 1860s the company had begun to cater for the growing tourist industry by producing photographic prints with views from around the country. After James's death in 1880, his son William Dobson took over the ever-expanding business. At Valentine's the greeting card gradually replaced the picture postcard. What remained of a card making empire was sold to Hallmark Cards Inc. in 1980.