Postcard Publishers

J B White


    Post card by J B White of Dundee  -  Photographer probably R A Rayner  -  Sheep on Arthur's Seat, Queen's Park, Edinburgh

Company History

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.

Alastair wrote:

"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.

J 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, Dundee.

-  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) (1907-17) or

 -   'J B White Glossy Series (c.1908)

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 & Sons Ltd.

James copyrighted some of his images in 1916.  These were then used by several companies including:

-  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 another.

The retouched 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 1966.

More Cameras

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 photographic section.

He went on to join the family business in 1959, the same year that the company made is first colour postcards from transparencies.

Postcard Publishing


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 Edinburgh.

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 Precision Ltd.

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 calendars.

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.

Whiteholme Postcards


In 1974, Whiteholme (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 publishing postcards.

This enabled Whiteholme to start publishing postcards.

More Postcard Assets acquired

1980 Onwards

In 1982,  Whiteholme (Publishers) Ltd bought the Scottish postcard assets of Millar & Laing Ltd, Glasgow, on their liquidation.

In 1994,  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 photographer.

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 notecards.

David Notley; Judges Postcards Ltd, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex:  July 18, 2007

J B White (again!)

2006 Onwards

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'.


The details above were provided by:

- Alastair White (J B White, Dundee)  AND

- Andrew Cronshaw (Picture Postcard Monthly)

from an illustrated article titled 'J B White of Dundee' published 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.

 Thank you.

Peter Stubbs:  July 2, 2007



J B White (Dundee)

Thumbnail Images

Postcard Series

Company History

Coloured Postcard History


Postcard Numbering