The Legacy of Raphael Tuck & Sons

 

The company Raphael Tuck & Sons has left quite a legacy in their wake ever since its start as a family business in 1866.

The company is especially known for its postcards. Between the late 19th century and early 20th century, postcards became hugely popular, and Raphael Tuck & Sons capitalized on this.

However, they didn’t start with postcards; when Raphael Tuck and his wife Ernestine opened up a small humble shop in England in 1866, they simply sold pictures and frames.

Four years later his sons joined him in the business. As well as continuing with pictures and frames, the family established themselves as great printers of lithographs, chromos, and olegraphs. Soon they also made their first Christmas card.

Raphael Tuck & Sons also made its own books. Pictured here is a childrens' book printed on fabric.

Raphael Tuck & Sons also made its own books. Pictured here is a childrens’ book printed on fabric.

Tuck’s son Adolph created a contest in 1880 for the best Christmas card designs. More than five thousand designs were submitted, some of which were displayed in galleries for viewing. Thousands of pounds were spent on buying entries. The contest was one of the main events that made Christmas cards into an annual tradition.

In 1893 the company even got a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria, letting them show the sign of royal approval on their products.

Raphael Tuck passed away on March 16, 1900 before postcards really hit their peak of popularity. However, the business continued to thrive.

Bad luck hit in London 1940 during the war when tons of bombs hit London. Raphael House was shattered to bits and tens of thousands of original art was destroyed.

Despite this huge setback, the company gained its footing fairly quickly.

A postcard of the Main Street of West Littleton.

A postcard of the Main Street of West Littleton by Raphael Tuck & Sons.

By the 1950s, all of the original family members of the company had passed away, and in 1959 Raphael Tuck & Sons combined with two other companies to become the British Printing Corporation.

 

The Victor Talking Machine Company

No discussion of records or record players is complete without bringing up the Victor Talking Machine Company.

The company is well known for its logo, showing a fox terrier looking into a phonograph with the words “His Master’s Voice.” (Some claim that the surface the dog sits on is his master’s coffin, though that’s never been confirmed.)

The company name “Victor” could have come from a number of inspirations. One such story says that the business founder Eldridge R. Johnson chose it for its resemblance to the word “victory”, saying it would a “scientific and business ‘victory.’” Another story says it comes from the battle of the patents over Berliner and Frank Seaman’s Zonophone. These aren’t the only guesses, but are the most widely accepted theories.602px-RedSealTetrazziniBatti

The fox terrier in the logo is named ‘Nipper’. In 1898 the artist Francis Barraud painted his brother’s dog Nipper listening to the horn of a phonograph; the Victor Talking Machine Company started using the image as its logo.

The company released a number of different kinds of phonographs. The earlier versions ran purely on the acoustic method, with zero electricity.

Victor gained its name by recording famous performers. Most performers charged much more than Victor could make up for in record sales – but it paid off later by making the business’s name well known. Victor released the recordings by the most popular music names of the time under the “Red Seal” records, catapulting the Victor name to success.

The Carter Family promotional Victor portrait.

The Carter Family promotional Victor portrait.

Radio found its way into families’ living rooms in the 1920s, and Victor had to adapt to the new music culture and technology. Victor moved to an electrical-based recording system using a microphone and released the new records under the name “Orthophonic Victrolas”.

The Victor Talking Machine Company existed from 1901 to 1929, when it was sold to the Radio Corporation of America, which later became the company RCA Victor. It’s still a very recognizable company from its image of Nipper the dog looking into the phonograph.