The Arabian Nights in Canada, Part 3

The company Valentine & Sons was established in 1851 by Mr James Valentine (1814-1879), the son of Mr John Valentine, engineer of wood blocks for linen printing, Dundee. The firm began as early exponents of photography, became pioneers in the postcard industry and later developed the production of greetings cards, novelties, calendars and illustrated children’s books.  James Valentine’s sons were both early to develop skills in photography and by 1879 they were in great demand, having grown into one of the largest establishments in the country. By the early 1900s they also had a growing trade in Christmas cards and children’s books and had begun to publish fancy cards.[1]

In 1907, at the height of the postcard revolution, the photographs [the Valentines] published showed scenes from around the world. Often regarded as only postcard publishers, Valentines produced images in various formats including fine early photographic prints. Valentine & Sons printed its first postcards in 1898. Canadian production began between 1903 and 1906 with offices established first in Montreal and then Toronto. The earliest Canadian postcards published by Valentine and Sons were monotone black, collotype views showing the scenery along the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway north of Lake Superior and in the Rocky Mountains. At Valentine’s the greeting card gradually replaced the picture postcard. What remained of a card making empire was sold to Hallmark Cards Inc. in 1980.[2]

Montreal: Valentine & Sons, 1907

Valentine & Sons started life as pioneers in the postcard industry.  As business expanded, they expanded into greeting cards, novelties, calendars and illustrated children’s books.  Aladdin is one such children’s book.  In this case, Aladdin is also a shaped book.  Children’s shaped books sometimes take the shape of some element of the subject matter, reflected in the cover.  The book may be cut into the shape of some object, a house, an animal, trains, etc. Or, the book may be shaped around elements in the cover illustration that do not create any recognisable shape.  That is the case with Aladdin, and other titles in Valentine’s shaped books.  So far as I have been able to determine, Aladdin is the only story from the Arabian Nights that was published by Valentine and Sons.

New York: Charles E. Graham & Co., n.d.

The text of the story has been significantly scaled down, as would be expected for a children’s book of 24 pages (12 pages of text opposite with 12 pages of illustration.)  The text is actually the same as that published as Story of Aladdin by Charles E. Graham & Co. (New York, no date).  Graham’s book is also a shaped book, but in that case, the shape appears to be arbitrary, a trimming away of some sides of the book so that it could be included in the Cut Out Series.
Much of the story is concerned with the introduction of the magician (unnamed) to Aladdin and the events concerning the cave and the acquisition of the lamp.  In the final page the magician returns to ply his old lamps for new trick, obtaining the lamp, but not the princess this time.  In this version of Aladdin the magician fell into “a deep sleep.  Held by the power of the genie [of the ring], he awoke days after to find that his precious lamp had gone.  Once more it was in Aladdin’s possession, and by order of the Sultan, the wicked magician was banished to a lonely island.”  No frontier vigilante justice here.  Order is restored and it is the state, in the form of the Sultan, that bestow’s a merciful justice upon the rather incompetent magician.

The Charles E. Graham & Co. shaped book uses the same cover art as some versions of the M.A. Donohue & Co. Aladdin.  Donohue published at least four copies of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp with variations of the same cover art.  Two are shown below:

Chicago: M.A. Donohue & Co., n.d.

Chicago: M.A. Donohue & Co., n.d.

Finally, McLoughlin Borthers of New York also published many different editions of Aladdin. Amongst them is this shaped book of Aladdin.

New York: McLoughlin Brothers, 1895

I cannot find any Canadian library holdings for the Valentine book.

[1] Dundee University Archives:

[2]  Toronto Postcard Club:

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