Who made postcards?

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The collection of Settle postcards includes many publishers who had varying successes and existed in different time periods that cover 100 years of postcard use. Here is a list of profiles about the publishers that feature in the collection.

To see more examples of postcards search the Postcard Gallery

Learn more about the 'Golden Age' of postcards by looking at Postcard Popularity

Learn more about the Postcard Publishing Industry

Raphael Tucks & Sons 1866-1960s

London, Paris, New York

Raphael Tuck was born in Prussia and emigrated his family and moved to Britain in 1865. In 1866 the family opened a picture framing and art gallery in London. During the 1870s they also produced Christmas cards - which were printed in their native Prussia - and became a well known publisher in Britain. In 1881 Raphael retired and his son Adolph who had always had a role in the family business took over its running along with help from his other two brothers. Through the 1880s-1890s the company continued to expand and opened branches in Paris and New York. The firm was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1893 by Queen Victoria and produced their first souvenir cards. Their first picture postcard was published in 1894. Raphael died in 1900 and his sons carried on with further expanding the firm’s sales of fine art reproductions, greetings cards and picture postcards. Adolph Tuck lobbied for changes in postal regulations and in 1896 these were changed with the introduction of a larger standard size and the double-sided back which now allowed the pictorial view to take up the whole of one side with the message, address and postage stamp occupying the other fig1. Adolph’s two sons joined the company in 1910; during WWI the brothers joined the war effort but after the war they returned to the family business and it flourished again until WWII when an air raid on London destroyed the publishing house. Business carried on in other locations they owned around London and a new head office was built in the late 1940s but after one of the brothers died and another retired in the late 1950s the company was sold off in 1962 and amalgamated in to other printing companies.

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Francis Frith & Co 1890-1970

Reigate, Surrey

Francis Frith began producing photographs in 1850 when he set up a photographic studio in Liverpool, known as Frith & Hayward. In 1855 he sold his companies (including a grocers and printers) in order to travel around Europe and the Middle East. During his travels he noted that tourists were the main consumers of images depicting the local area in which they were visiting but ‘armchair’ travelers bought scenes from other parts of the world in hope of obtaining a record. When he finished his travels in 1859 he opened the firm Francis Frith & Co in Reigate, Surrey; he understood the popular demand for views of exotic places and began producing prints of images from his travels. He also embarked upon an immense project to photograph every town and village in Britain. Initially he took the photographs himself but as success came and the mammoth task grew he hired people to help him. As the printing company became more established it specialised in postcards from the 1890s and within a few years over two thousand shops throughout Britain were selling Frith postcards. His sons took over the business after his death in 1898 and the firm continued to use a network of photographers, all of whom were carefully briefed in the taking of the photographs to suit the company's requirements fig2. His family continued the firm, which was finally sold in 1968 and closed in 1970.

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Photochrom Co. Ltd. 1896-1957

Turnbridge Wells

The company obtained British rights to the Swedish Photochrom process in 1896. It also bought the Tunbridge Wells premises and the negative stock of photographer Carl Norman & Co. In total 250,000 photographic negatives were acquired, this huge stock established them as a major printer and publisher of Christmas cards, tourist albums and guide books. They also published many advertising, comic, novelty, panoramic, and notable artist signed cards as well. The company bought other printing businesses and by 1903 were entering the postcard market fig.3. Around this time there were sister companies in Detroit, Cape Town, Auckland and Zurich. During WWI the Photochrom Company purchased the rights to reproduce images from the 1915 film Britain Prepared, a documentary made at the invitation of the War Propaganda Bureau. Although it was filmed in Kinemacolour the general release version was in monochrome, the Photochrom process added colour and audiences buying the postcards were offered a colour effect that had not been encountered when watching the film in the cinema. The company encountered difficult times in WWII due to scarcity of materials, in the aftermath postcard quality suffered. Publishing declined until final closure of the business is 1958.

Wrench (Evelyn Wrench) 1900-1906


Publisher of a great variety of picture postcards in varying techniques. Wrench became a Limited company in 1902 and in 1904 they changed their name to Wrench Postcards Ltd. because they refused to distribute any postcards but their own, supply eventually outgrew demand and they were out of business within two years. Wrench went on to have a career with the Daily Mail.

William Ritchie & Sons, Ltd. (WR&S) 1902-1928

London and Edinburgh

A publisher of a great number of view-cards depicting Great Britain and Ireland. Most were issued under the Reliable Series name. Their cards were printed in a variety of techniques but mostly as tinted collotypes. Some artist signed cards were also produced such as their Waterette series that reproduced watercolors through tricolor printing. They also sold 'hold to light' novelties and photographs, many of which were published in picture books and as real photo postcards. Only their logo or the letters WR&S appear on their cards.

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Walter Scott 1905-present day


Walter Scott was one of the most successful photographers in Bradford. He established his company in 1905 producing postcards with subjects of pictorial views, local events and personal portraits done in the photographic studio. The pictorial postcards were originally of Bradford and the surrounding area but in 1911 a series of County Capitals included places further a field. This involved traveling all over Britain taking photographs and seeing potential customers for new cards fig8. By the 1920s Scott had three photographers working for him and he concentrated on the running of the business. The company grew further and in the 1930s it employed 100 staff for the printing production and studio work which was covered in two premises. Walter Scott died in 1947 and the business was sold though it has still retains his name to this day; the production of new postcard views carried on until the 1970s by which time it was involved in the production of other printed matter, like many other large scale publishers trying to keep up with the times. More recently they have returned to re-printing a Nostalgia Series of postcards using negatives from the extensive Walter Scott library of images.

Lilywhite Ltd 1910-1960s

Lilywhite began printing their own cards in about 1910. Arthur Frederick Sergeant, who founded Lilywhite, was a keen photographer and had previously set up the Halifax Photographic Company.

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