Brooke Bond & Company, the former manufacturer of PG Tips (now owned by Unilever), was founded in 1869 by Arthur Brooke and has been using collectibles to promote its products for decades. One of those collectibles is the picture card books that were included in packages of teabags.
The picture cards and related booklets were printed for a period of about 45 years (1954 to 1999). A special machine had been devised by Neville Brooke and Phillips Engineering to insert these booklets into the tea packages. The printing was handled by the Berkshire Printing Company, starting with a series based on subjects drawn from natural history and produced with the assistance of Miss Frances Pitt, an eminent naturalist and author. Then, they added other series with subjects ranging from wildflowers, astronomy, fish, and butterflies to African and Asian wild life. Later editions were about transport, the motor car, and British costumes. These picture cards rapidly became collectors’ favorites and educational aids; by 1968 the annual distribution of the cards was over 720 million.
That were also a lot of boxes of teabags being sold. And not just to collect the cards. The PG Tips brand was especially appealing as a healthful drink (the “PG” stands for “pre-gestive”).
Recently we did a bit of “weeding” in our garden… uh, I mean in our library of books. It’s a tough process. Some books we bought because we had intended to pursue certain interests, including gardening. Others we bought with the intention of improving our minds but found that it was the books that needed improving. One can only read the latest tome expounding on current events for so long before they all start to sound alike. And some of the old classics of literature are, well, not very classic — just old. During the course of “weeding” this “garden” one has to be careful not to hack up the keeper plants.
We almost threw out a keeper book — the Brooke Bond Prehistoric Animals picture cards book in very good condition. A few years ago I wouldn’t have recognized what it was but now do, so it’s now in the keeper pile as the “weeding” continues.
Now, do I keep that extra copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or not? (I have a volume of her complete works, so this one is redundant.) I’d better have a cuppa PG Tips while pondering this Sphinx-ish riddle.
Collectible Tea Cards
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