Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Raphael Tuck and Sons - Art Publishers to Their Majesties the King and Queen

See, Cupid is bringing a present, my sweet, 'Tis my heart he is bearing to lay at your feet.

3 3/8" x 5 3/8"
circa 1912
Raphael Tuck and Sons
Post Card Series No. 154
"Love's Delight"
Originally sold in set of 3

To My Valentine

3 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Series No 221
When Love is Young
divided back
made in England

Tuck is one of the most recognized names in postcard and greeting card publishing.  They produced a wide variety of cards including an enormous amount of valentines.  The company began in 1866, founded by Raphael Tuck and his wife, Ernestine.  Designing was done in their London offices, while the cards were largely printed in Germany. World War One interrupted this chain of production, but after the war Germany returned to its printing endeavors until war would once again break out. This time the damages the company directly suffered were much greater and the German printing industry did not recover as well as they did after WWI. Their recovery was further complicated by the American public's aversion to buying goods marked as German made in the aftermath of the war, putting a dent in the company's US sales.

To My Valentine
I wonder what me fiancee would say if she saw me now in this compromising position

3 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Postmark is hard to discern, appears to be 1907
undivided back
made in England

The company was know as Raphael Tuck and Co until 1882 when it was renamed as Raphael Tuck and Sons.  They are renowned for the impressive quality of their  printing, including their reproductions of fine art, as well as the high caliber of the artists they employed. Despite this, they were very prolific, with many cards readily available due to the large quantities printed. Prices for collectors can vary enormously because of this, with values depending on the particulars of the card, including who the artist might be, design intricacy, etc and of utmost importance, the condition of that individual card. That is not to say there are no rare cards - of course there are. The numbering system on the postcards Tuck produced make it easier to identify which postcards truly are the rare ones. With Tuck's non-postcard cards, this is much more difficult to suss out.

Forget-Me-Not ~ To My Sweet Valentine. If you'll be my Valentine, I'll be faithful to you' I've been your lover lady mine, Ever since I knew you. - H. M. Burroughs

2 3/4" x 3 7/8" (3 7/8" x 5 5/8 opened)
between 1901 and 1910
dating via the named Monarch: King and Queen Alexandra
made in Saxony
Artistic Series

In 1883, the company received  a Royal Warrant of Appointment from Queen Victoria. Cards published after this during Queen Victoria's reign are marked with the phrase: Art Publishers to Her Majesty the Queen. They maintained this appointment with the UK's successive royalty until the company was subsumed into the British Printing Corporation after 1959. Looking at which Monarch is named on the back can help in dating.

That Tuck was able to pick themselves up and reorganize after the shelling they received in the December 29th, 1940 attack on London by the Germans as part of World War II (often referred to as The Blitz) is pretty remarkable. The losses they underwent with the destruction of their London offices were staggering. And although, pick themselves up as they did, they were unable to reach the same heights they had enjoyed prior to the war. After Desmond Tuck, grandson of Raphael, retired the company was combined with two others (none of the sources I have found name these two businesses) to form a new entity. They carry on in some way today, not under the Tuck name of course, but as a part of Maxwell Communications Corporation. The ties to the original Tuck company may lie in the history of this ongoing company, but so much of that history was sadly forever lost in the rubble of WWII.

My Valentine

3" x 5"
circa 1910s
made in SAXONY

Die-cut card with image from the Betsy Beauties series of postcards
There are 10 different cards in the postcard series

For valentine lovers, an artist of particular note who created many cards for Tuck is Frances Brundage.  Her large size cards with three-dimensional features are especially worth seeking out.

 Artists known to have worked for Tuck:


Ernest Dudley Chase - The Romance of the Greeting Card (revised 1956 edition)
Robert Brenner Valentine Treasury - A Century of Valentine Cards
Marian Klamkin Picture Postcards - History of Raphael Tuck and Sons
Barbara Johnson, Ph. D. Valentines - A Collector's Guide

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