Tea Revives the World

On top of all of the injuries the British had to endure during World War II there was also the insult of having their tea supplies disrupted. Which may sound minor when you stack it up against being bombed and all that sort of thing, and it probably is. But when one of the things that defines you as a nation is interfered with, its worth sitting up and taking notice.

Perhaps the ultimate indignity for the wartime Brits was the tea rationing that kicked off in 1940 and ran until seven years after the war’s end, in 1952. It’s not clear if rationing was in place in 1940 when an entity known as the International Tea Market Expansion Board Limited released a map titled Tea Revives the World, apparently hoping in some small measure to publicize tea’s role in the burgeoning war effort.

Born in 1884, McDonald Gill was an artist, architect, mapmaker and designer who passed on just two years after the end of World War II. By some accounts he’s best known for his illustrated maps, also known as decorative map posters. Though he died about a half century before the Internet got underway, he has a web site nonetheless and you can see some of his other maps – which dealt with such topics as London, mail steamship routes and more – at this page. Gill also did two other tea-related maps that are apparently less well-known, including one called Where Our Tea Comes From.

Given that it was originally created in the form of a map it’s no surprise that Tea Revives the World – or any of Gill’s maps – don’t translate quite as well to a computer screen. However, it is still available today and for a reasonable price, if you’d like to get one to hang on your wall or for whatever other reason. In the meantime, you can get an idea of what it’s all about by checking out this snippet of an article from a British paper. Find out more of the background about Gill’s tea maps here, where there’s also a good image of one of the other ones.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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