The Real McCoy… Really?

I have recently been looking at the early Valentine and Sons view post cards of Prince Edward Island, especially the two series  that the company did for the Inter-Colonial and Prince Edward Island Railway which I explored in an earlier posting. A closer look at some of these cards has thrown up an interesting variant series (or perhaps two). 

Typical Valentine Black and White image but lacking the characteristic reference to the Inter-Colonial and Prince Edward Island Railway. The reference appears on neither the front nor the back of the card.

These monochrome cards have the white card-bottom stripe with the title but without the railway reference. However a bigger surprise is to be found on the card back.

McCoy Archambault back001
Card backs showing McCoy and Archambault overprints

These cards have an overprint of the publisher credit, in some case completely obscuring the “Valentine Series (Britain)” wording, but more frequently showing the Valentine information as well as that of another publisher. Most of the P.E.I. cards that I have found have the words “McCoy Printing Company, Moncton, N.B.”  as seen in the above illustration. In Mike Smith and William Angley’s 2010 volume McCoy Printing Company Picture Postcard Handbook 1900-1910, seven items are listed as McCoy cards using the Valentine image numbers which also appear in the railway series.  Several additional cards with this format have been found and it now appears that at least nine of the Valentine images appear with the McCoy overprint and it is probable that, as with the colour series, all ten of the cards appeared in this alternate format.  Use of Valentine images, complete with image numbers, by other publishers is not uncommon but this is a clear indication that Valentine may have actually been the publisher for some of these other series. 

What is somewhat surprising is that McCoy may not have been the only publisher which took advantage of these early Valentine cards. At least one card (again seen above) bears the words “R. Archambault, P.O. Box 108, Montreal”  In this case the wording appears on the back of the “Near Souris” card with Valentine image # 100,925, illustrated at the head of this posting     

I am not aware of any other P.E.I. cards with this Archambault imprint or credit. Was this a “one-off” or is there yet another ten-card series with the Valentine images out there somewhere?  Having looked only at P.E.I. cards it is difficult to state whether or not this publisher mixing and matching was common elsewhere. 

The impressive number of Valentine cards now has another collecting dimension as more variant series are identified.    

Author: sailstrait

I am an archivist, historian and small boat sailor. Since 2011 I have been skipper of "Ebony", a 1982 Halman Nordica 20. I sail in Northumberland Strait between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. A long time interest in marine and maritime history of the region has resulted in number of publications as well as the less formal presentations in this blog series. In addition I am a member of the Charlottetown Yacht Club, PEI Sailing Association and the Northumberland Strait Yachting Association. I have a specific interest in the history of the Charlottetown Yacht Club, Charlottetown Harbour, Northumberland Strait and the vessels that have sailed there over the years.

4 thoughts on “The Real McCoy… Really?”

  1. I think I may have an idea as to how McCoy and Archambault were overprinting Valentine postcards. In the unpublished ‘History of Valentines of Dundee’ by J. Harben Valentine, he notes that in 1912 they discontinued holding stocks in their branch offices and withdrew the stocks to Dundee when they closed those branch offices. It is possible that Archambault and McCoy got hold of some old stock, that was not sent back to Dundee, at a local ‘fire sale’, and overprinted these cards.


    Roger Miller


    1. Thanks for thinking about this. Not sure if it solves the problem however. One of the cards is dated 1907 and the other , although not postally used, seems to be from the same period which would be some time before your suggested dispersal date. I have seen the McCoy name added to cards from other publishers and they were obviously functioning as agents as well as publishers but I have still not located any references to Archambault.


      1. There is an A.(nthime) R.(emi) Archambault, general merchant, in Montreal around 1910. From what I can gather he was a bit of an entrepreneur who seemed to fall in and out of businesses. I have a W.G. MacFarlane card from Peterborough that has the same Archambault overprint as your card. It is un-posted, but it is likely from a time around the spring of 1908 when W.G. MacFarlane’s assets went at auction after he assigned his stock in bankruptcy. Archambault could have picked up some of MacFarlane’s stock at that time.

        It was not uncommon for publishers to dispose of slow-moving, stale, or surplus stock by wholesaling that stock very cheaply. This stock, once purchased, was often times used as advertising material or rewards for selling novelty goods..

        I wish you luck in finding the link between McCoy, MacFarlane, J. Valentine & Sons. and Archambault.


        Roger Miller


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