If you’re like me then your knowledge of collectible cards begins and ends with baseball cards and I have to confess that I’m not even all that knowledgeable about them. Baseball cards first came into being in the years just after the Civil War and were followed in subsequent decades by popular cards from cigarette companies as well as cards from other merchants seeking to promote their products.
Products like tea, for example. While these apparently never made much of a splash in the United States, tea cards were quite popular in the U.K. from about World War II onward until about the turn of this century. One of most notable purveyors of tea cards was Brooke Bond, a company which came into being in 1845 and took up tea selling about a quarter of a century later.
The company rolled out their first tea cards in the mid-Fifties and, according to one collector, were turning out more than 700 million of them every year in just a little more than a decade. The cards featured a wide variety of subjects, everything from natural history and wildlife to aviation to inventors and their inventions, the popular PG Tipps monkeys (advertising mascots) and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
As is the case with pretty much any other type of collectible the range of prices for tea cards is a wide one, though perhaps not as wide as for some items. If you peruse the extensive selection of Brooke Bond cards from The London Cigarette Card Company you’ll find that prices range from about two dollars (US) to nearly four hundred dollars for the rare Butterflies of the World, Our Pets, and Transport Through the Ages sets, all of which were issued in the mid-Sixties. Which is small potatoes compared to the millions that a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card might bring but then again it’s hardly a small chunk of change.
For more information about tea cards than I could ever hope to provide, you could start with the Web sites already mentioned. Other good resources, particularly for novices to this sort of thing, can be found at the collector’s sites, TeaCard.com and Brooke Bond Tea Cards.
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