Publisher: Britton & Rey


Britton & Rey (1852-1916) was the leading lithography firm in the western U.S. for more than half a century. Joseph Britton (1825-1901) was born in England, emigrated to NY at 10, became a lithographer, and came to California during the gold rush. His partnership with French-born artist Jacques Joseph Rey (1820-1892) began in San Francisco in 1852, with Britton as chief lithographer and businessman and Rey as principal artist. They were very successful in real estate (both in the Mother Lode and in SF) as well. Rey married Britton's sister in 1855 and bachelor Britton lived with the Rey family. Active in local San Francisco affairs, Britton served on the Vigilence Committee, joined Hallidie in the Clay St. cable car venture, and drafted a new city charter while serving as city supervisor. Rey's son Valentine J.A. Rey ran Britton & Rey after Rey died in 1892 and Britton retired, eventually selling it in 1916.

Britton & Rey published postcards from ca. 1903 to ca. 1913. Most high quality color postcards of the Golden Age were printed in Germany, but Britton & Rey's locally printed cards are comparable in quality. Their pre-quake views include many unusual San Francisco Chinatown images. In contrast to most local publishers, none of their post-quake views show earthquake/fire damage.

Steve's SF postcard pages: