The Valentine company was founded in Dundee by James's father, John Valentine, in 1825. After learning the daguerreotype process in Paris in the late 1840s, James added portrait photography to the family business in 1851. By the 1860s the company had begun to cater for the growing tourist industry by producing photographic prints with views from around the country. After James's death in 1880, his son William Dobson took over the ever-expanding business. 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.