J B White
Alastair White, grandson
of the founder of J B White Ltd, ran J B White &
Co from the 1960s and later founded Whiteholme (Publishers) Ltd.
"I took over my grandfather's show from my
father, kept 25 Dundee souls in employment for 30 years, then
handed it over to the next generation."
The brief history of J B White below has been compiled from notes
provided by Alastair White and Andrew Cronshaw. Thanks
to Alastair and Andrew for the helpful information.
B White & Co
James Bain White (1865-1947) founded J
B White, printers, in 1892.
In 1907, J B White Ltd:
- established a printing works at 106 Cowgate,
- began to publish postcards in small numbers. These were
views of Dundee, printed in colour in Saxony, possibly made
from photos taken by James White. James' three children,
Agnes, Janet and Thomas, appeared in these photos.
These cards bore the trademark:
- 'JBW - D' (in a shield)
- 'J B White Glossy Series
In 1909, the firm became J B White & Co:
Postcards published by Others
Around 1912, some of
James White's views of Dundee and Angus were printed by Valentine &
James copyrighted some
of his images in 1916. These were then used by several
- Philco Publishing Co, London
- C P & Co, Glasgow
- W J M, A
- Malcolm C MacLeod, Dundee
- Thomas Preston & CO, Dundee.
However, J B White &
Co's own postcard publishing stopped from around 1918 until 1921,
possibly due to wartime shortages of paper and card.
'Real Photo' Postcards
In 1922, J B White & Co
began again to publish postcards. This time, they were sepia
'real photo' cards of Scotland, starting with Angus, Perthshire and
Fife, and later moving on to Argyll, Inverness and Sutherland.
These used photos taken
by James White's son, Thomas, who had started working for the
company a few years earlier at the age of 14.
Thomas' cameras included:
- a brass and mahogany quarter plate reflex camera
with 36 metal 1/4-plate slides
- a 10" x 8" wide angle plate camera with six plate
holders, each holding two plates.
Thomas developed and
printed his own photos. These were retouched by J B White's postcard
artist, James Hutton. Clouds were added to many of the views
and sometimes people were moved from one image and superimposed on
photographs were then sent to the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd,
London, where they were re-photographed and made into postcard size
negatives that were printed, 16 at a time.
JB White & Co's trademark 'Best of
All Series' was first used in 1926 and remained in use until
1930s and 1940s
In the 1930s, Thomas White started using an Exacta camera.
Around 1943 Thomas bought a compact 35mm Leica camera.
Calendars and Postcards
The outbreak of war
brought paper shortages and a fall in demand for postcards.
The company diversified into calendars
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, when colour photography and
colour postcards were in the ascendancy, the company started producing:
- colour topographical postcards by a process known at the
time as 'hand colouring'. Colours were applied
to some of the company's best-selling black-and-white cards, using stencils.
Some of these cards use photos that were taken in the 1930s.
- colour comic postcards from two former Valentine & Sons
artists, James Hutton and Mr McGregor
Guide Books and Postcards
In the 1950s, J B White
& Co started publishing guide books, illustrated with their black
and white photos.
Thomas White's son,
Alastair, started working for he Rotary Photographic Co, Middlesex,
at the age of 17.
Aged 18-22, he spent 4 years in the RAF's
He went on to join the family business in 1959, the same year that
the company made is first colour postcards from transparencies.
The sepia postcards were
phased out and replaced by black and white cards, but by the
mid-1960s the quality of the photos were poor, these being taken by
salesmen with cheap cameras.
J B White were facing competition from:
- J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight
- Valentine & Sons Ltd, Dundee
- W S Thomson Ltd, Fort William, later Glasgow, also
Alastair White tells me that he met W S Thomson once in the early
1960s and recognised him form the Jowet Javelin
car he had at the time. It featured in one or two of W S
Thomson's postcards. Alastair adds that he regarded W S
Thomson's photography with Dixon's photogravure as representing
a ground-breaking phase in postcard publishing.
Takeover - 1
J B White were not able
to afford the cost of using colour photos until finance was provided
in 1960 by Photo Precision Ltd, a company established by two RAF
photo reconnaissance officers.
in 1963, a few months
before his death, Thomas White sold J B White & Co to Photo
Following Thomas White's
death, his son Alastair took control of the J B White & Co, under
the management of Photo Precision Ltd. The company moved to
Glenrothes, Fife in 1967, and over the next four years issued 2,000
different Scottish postcards.
Photo Precision Ltd were
only interested in the postcard side of the J B White & Co
business, so Alastair White and Ken Holmes, former manager of J B
White, started a new company, Whitehome (Publishers Ltd) to publish
Takeover - 2
Around 1969, Photo
Precision Ltd was taken over by and renamed Colourmaster Ltd.
The Glenrothes factory was closed and Scottish postcard production
was moved to England. Alastair White moved back to Dundee.
(Publishers) Ltd bought Charles Skilton's range of postcards.
Charles Skilton had
Previously (in 1970) bought all the remaining stock of Scottish
postcards published by Valentine & Sons Ltd, when they stopped
This enabled Whiteholme to start publishing postcards.
More Postcard Assets acquired
Whiteholme (Publishers) Ltd bought the Scottish postcard assets of
Millar & Laing Ltd, Glasgow, on their liquidation.
Whiteholme (Publishers) Ltd bought the stock of Dundee publisher,
David Whyte Ltd, on his liquidation.
Whiteholme (Publishers) Ltd continued to publish postcards from
their premises in Dundee. Alastair White retired in 2002 and
the business passed to his son, Duncan, who had been the firm's
Unfortunately, Whiteholme (Publishers) Ltd went into liquidation
at the end of 2005 (but see UPDATE below).
Thank you to David Notley who wrote to tell me that Whiteholme
had passed successfully into new ownership and is continuing to
publish a range of Scottish products including Calendars and
David Notley; Judges Postcards Ltd, St Leonards on
Sea, East Sussex: July 18, 2007
B White (again!)
Alastair White tells me (in 2006) that his son is hoping to make
himself into a one-man postcard publisher, trading under the name,
'J B White'.
details above were provided by:
- Alastair White (J B White, Dundee)
- Andrew Cronshaw (Picture Postcard Monthly)
from an illustrated article titled 'J B White of
in Picture Postcard Monthly, in October 1994.
R A Rayner
Many J B White
postcards, views in and around Edinburgh, bear the name 'R A
Rayner'. Several of these have three children (possibly his
children?) in the picture.
I hope to add some of
these cards to the web site later.
Do you know who R A
Rayner was? I have heard that he may have been an Edinburgh
chemist. If you know anything about him,
please e-mail me.
Stubbs: July 2, 2007