Earlier claims to be the first British PPC publisher
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Prior to this E.T.W.DENNIS research there were other firms who claimed to be the first British picture card publisher. These claims have now been superseded for lack of evidence and the new research on Dennis. .
British Photographic Publishing Co of Leicester Mr Corkett (later when working for Tuck in 1906) claimed that this firm was among the first but there is a lack of evidence that this firm ever published any PPC's at all! (Corkett's claim appears in the 27 April 1906, Journal of the Society of Arts)
Picture Postcard Monthly have been running a readers survey of the first date of postal use for UK locations. The results for Leicester were
Leicester: A card published by Velograph for Bender of Croydon P/U 18 December 1898
Leicester: Three Dennis published cards P/U 21, 25 and 29 November 1899. (Nothing earlier has turned up for 9 or 10 years now)
This indicates that Leicester was quite slow in getting PPC's. I personally have never seen any certain B.P.P Co (Corkett) cards at all of Leicester or anywhere else. A later 1926 interview with Mr Corkett has come to light (p43, PPM Feb 2008) quoting from an interview Mr Corkett gave to The British Printer in July/August 1926. Here Mr Corkett very explicitly says that his early cards were court size. This rules him out as the first view card publisher, as court size cards were only allowed from January 1895. (incidentally he also claimed that his cards were views in half tone, printed by Raithby Lawrence & Co Ltd )
Stewart of Edinburgh
Their claim to be "first", arose from an interview with the Stewart manager (in the Sept 1900 Picture Postcard Magazine) He claimed that he had invoices for cards supplied in 1894, apparently for Edinburgh. . No postally used cards were produced however and nor for that matter were the invoices. Pre 1899 this firm were not prolific PPC publishers. The first Stewart card known in the PPM reader's survey is a court card P/U January 1895 of St Andrews Cathedral (illustrated) There is a very limited scattering of Stewart cards P/U in 1896, 1897 and 1898. Illustration from March 1999 PPM
Some printer trial colour proofs of Edinburgh view cards (in the old "rectangular" official size) were auctioned by Robert Murray of Edinburgh on 10th October 2011. The Edinburgh based cataloguer had seen these actual proofs more than 20 years previously , but had seen none of this type since. Given this Robert Murray's cataloguer's exceptional experience and knowledge, it does suggest the possibility that these cards only existed as colour trials and were never issued. Only the finding of a 1894 postally used card would now give credence to Stewart's claim. These proofs were printed by block and lacked detail.
Stewart got a German printer, Ludeking Bros of Hamburg, to produce coloured cards (in the old official size) in 1894/5. The above illustrated Ludeking card (Alan Kelly collection) is a coloured version ( in the old official size) of a later monochrome Stewart card (published in court size)
I think Stewart abandoned both multi colour printing and the old official size and from the start of 1895 produced only court sized cards in monochrome
Valentine of Dundee The Valentine archivist conducted interviews with a few of the firm's "old timer" employees. They thought that the Valentine PPC's were first printed in late 1897. This is backed up by the PPM readers survey, giving the first dates of Valentine cards postal use as being in early 1898
Blum & Degen This firm only claimed to have started in 1895. There exist a number of their cards PU in 1895
Conclusion: Stewart of Edinburgh is the only other remotely possible contender to have published the first GB picture card. No card of theirs with 1894 postal use has ever turned up. They certainly did not put in the sustained effort, pre 1898, that is shown by Dennis on the rest of this site. The other firms can safely be dismissed.
The Tuck Snowdon myth??
There seems to be a myth that Tuck published a card in 1894 of Mount Snowdon. No such card has ever come to light. Crude amateur cards exist with photos pasted on to official cards, but with no mention of Tuck. Just as an example of these efforts, I show above a Summit of Snowdon Hotel photographic card , with a photograph pasted on to on to the back of an official card, but this was very far from Tuck quality and the P/U date is 1896, coinciding with the opening of the Snowdon railway. In addition the one penny letter rate has been used. This Snowdon summit hotel was no more than a hut where presumably you could get a glass of beer
A similar Snowdon card has been found postmarked July 29th 1893 at Carnarvon, (Illustrated below) The picture used is a crude general view of climbing up Snowdon, pasted on to an official card . The text "From Halfway House" .is printed by rubber stamp?? This card was treated as Printed Matter by the Post Office, with a receiving postmark stamp on the non address (picture) side. These cards were probably produced by a local cafe owner/publican?
Tuck was so dominant in PPC's after their postcard debut in 1900 that maybe people just assumed that PPCs=Tuck always? Mr Corkett was the managing director of Tucks when in 1906 he gave the above B.P.P of Leicester opinion. Very noticeably, he made no claim for Tuck PPC publishing at all in 1894 for Mt Snowdon or anywhere else.
Later Note. The Tuck website www.tuckdb.org denies that Tuck published an early Snowdon card, although they give no details at all.
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