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Jonathan King Jr. Business Archive - Valentine Manufacturer and collector

1850-1906. An important archive of business correspondence and ephemera amassed by the Valentine maker and collector Jonathan King Jr. (1836-1911), maker of some of the most whimsical and fanciful valentines in Victorian England. This archive of King material is notable for its design and draft material, proofs, and notes by King, as well as notes and clippings he collected for Valentine inspiration.

The archive ranges from c.1850 until c.1906. It is comprised of approx. 800 discrete items divided into nine (9) categories. There are many different kinds of physical media represented including photos, manuscripts and typescripts, proofs, newspaper clippings, billheads and receipts and of course valentines and material samples.

There are several standout items in this collection, including: Jonathan King’s first Valentine (annotated, “1846 my 1st Val[entine] very proud of it”); a sample of a particularly fine watermark depicting the Roman god Mercury; a clipping annotated by King: “Women as artists on Litho[graphy]”, showing his interest in women in art and the greeting card trade; a clipping reporting that one of King’s competitors uses English-made materials only, which King has annotated “A Lie”; and several large sheets of uncut, or partially uncut, printed sentiments. The draft material, samples, and proofs for Valentines give the viewer an important window into King’s creative process and business dealings.

There is an additional, but separate, category of extensive research, drafts, and glass slides belonging to the Jonathan King collector and biographer Carroll Alton Means. Means became interested in Valentines in the 1930s, and started collecting soon thereafter; he bought about twenty percent of King’s estate when it came up for sale, including the present King material.


Category One: Advertisements

Ephemera related to marketing and advertising King’s business: early lace paper letter sheets promoting his mother’s The Pretty Valentine Shop, newspaper clippings, printed advertisements from a serial, and a typewritten letter. Sizes range from 1.75” by 6.25” to 10.5” by 8”; dates range from c.1890 to 1908. Twelve (12) items in total.

· Four (4) bifolium lace paper advertisements promoting E.E. King’s The Pretty Valentine Shop
· A bifolium lace paper requesting a presence to present samples of King’s work.
· A fanciful handbill for Jonathan King Sr. promoting Green’s Characters & Scenes in Belphegor the Conjurer
· A Windsor elaborate embossed die-cut with flanking sentries promoting J. King, General Fancy Stationers “A Large Stock of Paper Collars”
· Three (3) newspaper clippings with King advertisements, one with contemporary ink annotations in King’s hand;
· One (1) full-page printed advertisement sometime excised from an unidentified serial;
· One (1) typewritten letter to King quoting advertising costs, dated 1908.


Category Two: Annotated Trade Clippings

A gathering of approx. seventy-five (75) newspaper and serial clippings, ranging in date from c.1890s to 1908. Sizes range from 1” by 3” to 14.75” by 9”. All have been loosely inserted into a marbled paper folder measuring 9.25” by 7.25”. There are reviews, want ads, newspaper reports of King’s competition, and an extensive amount of newspaper clippings highlighting the public’s feelings about greeting cards and Valentines. Most are annotated in King’s hand, and pasted to blank pieces of paper. A valuable look into King’s place in the trade and his views.

Highlights include:
· A newspaper want ad submitted anonymously by King, seeking collectors of tinsel prints;
· An excoriating review of an unrelated book, with King’s annotation: “What may be said of a Book on Xmas Cards if I write one”;
· Clippings highlighting King’s competition (e.g. Hagelberg, Raphael Tuck, Howland, Prang, etc.);
· A clipping annotated by King: “Women as artists on Litho[graphy]”, showing his interest in women in art and the greeting card trade;
· A clipping reporting that one of King’s competitors uses English-made materials only, which King has annotated “A Lie”.

Also found in this booklet is a pinned together nineteen-page manuscript list of early Toy theatre producers and illustrators from approximately 1800 – 1823.

Category Three: Business Correspondence

A group of King’s business correspondence. Includes handwritten and typewritten letters, as well as postcards and carbon copies. Seventeen (17) items in total. Dates range between the 1890s and 1906. Sizes range from 3” by 4.75” to 10.5” by 8.25”.

· Eight (8) letters addressed to King regarding business matters;
· Two (2) postcards addressed to King regarding business matters;
· One (1) letter from a hopeful contributor, with a carbon copy of King’s kind refusal;
· Two (2) letters, one typewritten and one handwritten, to King from librarian James Duff Brown, regarding King’s offer of loaning material for an exhibition;
· One (1) handwritten copy of one of King’s replies;
· Three (3) carbon copies of King’s replies.



Category Four: Business Invoices and Receipts

A group of eight (8) invoices or receipts related to King’s early business dealings. Dates range from 1860 to 1872. Sizes range from 4” by 6.5” to 8.25” by 5”.

· Two (2) invoices from King to business associates, each with drafts of some lines of Birthday verse on the other side in King’s hand;
· Two (2) invoices to King from printers, including one stamped/notarized;
· One (1) invoice to King from an artificial flower manufacturer, stamped/notarized.
· Two (2) memorandum from King, 1872, requesting an engraving and acknowledging payment in full.
· A blank invoice from Caledonia Road (c1861)


Category Five: Design Inspiration

A group of ephemera amassed by King for design inspiration in his business. In total there are approx. 78 items in this category, ranging from verse noted on pieces of scrap paper to large prints produced by other publishers. Dates range from approx. 1870s to c.1906. Sizes range from 2.75” by “2.75” to 10.5” by 9”. Most annotated by King, some with sketches.

· Approx. sixty (60) scraps of paper with ideas, notes and sketches;
· A red note book with eleven (11) leaves of ideas, notes and sketches;
· One (1) watermark specimen depicting a very impressive watermark of the Roman god Mercury on a book by Homer (“The Iliad”);
· Two (2) hand-colored prints by A. Park, most likely earmarked by King as good for tinsel prints;
· One (1) large calendar print with metallic embossed paper border, pasted onto a large piece of card;
· One (1) postcard with Valentine verse on verso.
· Two (2) poems “To A Dandy” and “A Rose” apparently in Kind’s hand.
· A 10-page manuscript entitled “Tinsel and Valentine”, penned by an enthusiastic anonymous collector. It concludes with … “A last, long glance round, a passing thought of wonderment whether this interesting and novel collection will ever be for public view or whether this intensely interesting and amusing link with the past will forever be under private control. There is interest: attraction: novelty: idea development for certain set purpose – is that sufficient to attract one of our National Institutions?”



Category Six: Original Photographs

A group of 19 original photographs, all of King. Dates range from c.1850s until 1910, spanning King’s entire adult life. Sizes range from 4” by 2.75” to 11.75” by 9”. There are photographs and cabinet cards, as well as two small photos inserted into greeting cards. One of the photos has pen and ink touch-ups, emphasizing King’s facial hair and suit.

· Three (3) photos of King at work – one pictured Staff p. 130. Copyright retained by Clarke & Hyde
· Seven (7) original photographs;
· Four (4) cabinet cards; on signed;
· Three (3) post cards
· Two (2) small original photographs inserted into holiday greeting cards.


Category Seven (a): Sampling of Drafts, Proofs, and Samples (see additional sections below)

Group A includes approx. 122 proofs, samples, and drafts collected by King. Materials include lace paper, scrap, artificial flowers, cork, printed and handwritten verse. Includes one of the most important items in the archive, Jonathan King’s first Valentine. Sizes range from 4” by 2.5” to 10” by 8”. Dates range from c.1870s to the turn of the century.

· A Valentine with lace paper, scrap, and spun glass labeled in pencil “1850 my 1st Val[entine] very proud of it”;
· Three (3) proofs for packaging printed on coated black paper;
· Fourteen (14) proofs and drafts of Valentines, advertisements, etc.;
· One (1) sample scrap of lace paper;
· One (1) sample envelope;
· A scrap of paper with seven (7) samples of artificial flower petals;
· A gathering of four leaves, sewn at spine, with approx. ninety (90) samples of artificial leaves.
· Happy Little Kittens valentine with design components
· Two (2) printed invitations to I.O.G. T. Barnsbury Chapel School Rooms First Anniversary.
· A “fill in the blank” marriage proposal printed by King 1870s
· A J. L. marks mock-up of Rural Pleasures vinegar valentine


Category Seven (b): Sampling of Drafts, Proofs, and Samples (Boxes)

Group (b) includes approximately 445 distinct items. There are four distinct categories in this archive of King material. Includes product samples received by King from his suppliers (e.g., envelopes, lace paper, etc.). There are proofs, drafts and prototypes of King’s Valentines and examples of the finished product. Materials include lace paper, embossed paper, and scrap.

In total, there are approx. four hundred forty-five (445) items. They range in size from 3.5” by 4.5” to 6” by 5.5”. Most date from c.1870s or 1880s, and have been pasted onto blank sheets of paper measuring 11” by 8.5”. Some have King’s ink annotations with price or comment.

Category One - Valentine Greetings/Prototypes (106)
· Scrap – Leap Year & Babies
· Scrap – Black w Gold Border
· Scrap - Caricatures
· Scrap – Cursive Message Red Border
· Black Background w Sentiments (Mixed)
· Background w Sentiments (Mixed)
· Decorated Lace Paper
· Sister Love
Category Two - Samples (306)
· Flora – Wide Border
· Embossed Die-cut Scraps
· Letter sheets, Covers – Polished, Other
· Multicolor – Fancy Cards & Covers
· Die-cut Letter sheets & Covers
· Letter sheets & Covers (Christmas)
· Die-cut Small Cards
· Cards – Flora – Gold Trimmed
· Lace Paper (Older)
· Tri-fold Flora
Category Three - Mock-ups (13)
Category Four - Examples (20)
· Small – Gold border
· Chromolithograph – Little Girls

Category Eight: Printed Sentiments

A group of proofs of printed sentiments, notable due to the fact that they have survived in intact uncut or partially uncut sheets. There are sixteen (16) items in total ranging in size from 1.5” by 1” to 17.5” by 22”, and in date from c.1870s to c.1890s.

· Five (5) individual proofs of printed sentiments;
· Eleven (11) sheets of printed sentiments, uncut or partially uncut, including one printed on oiled cloth.

Category Nine:

Category Nine: Carroll Alton Means

This category is comprised of dozens of photos and documents amassed by the Valentine historian and Jonathan King biographer Carroll Alton Means. It is contained in one (1) banker’s box (approximately 0.6 cu. ft.) All is dated c.1950. It is notable for Means’ extensive research on King’s life and cultural impact. Includes:

· Approx. fifteen (15) glass slides, reproducing original photos of Jonathan King;
· Research and drafts on Jonathan King’s life;
· Research and drafts on the origin of the Christmas Card;
· Research and drafts on Valentines and St. Valentine’s Day;
· Means’ correspondence;
· Reproductions of photographs of King.


Overall, the archive provides a valuable look into King’s business dealings and industry. Of note is the advertising and correspondence from prospective contributors along with King’s extensive research and analysis of the trade along with many of his design concepts in various stages of development.

Price: $9,200.00

Item #230008545