About this artwork

Based in Dundee, the Valentine Company had been in existence for around half a century when this photograph was taken. Although the company specialised in photographic views that appealed to the tourist market, they also documented well-known streets and buildings. This image shows Castle Street, in the heart of Dundee’s old city centre. Its tall buildings were clearly occupied by shops on ground floor level, with tenement flats above. In addition to J P Crowlie’s shop in small wares, other businesses visible are a saw maker – next to the rubbish heap further down the street –, a brush maker and a baker and biscuitmaker. The photograph could be dated by identifying at what moment all of these businesses were located in Castle Street at the same time.

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.