In the 1950s and 1960s, packets of Brooke Bond tea included illustrated cards, usually fifty in a series, which I avidly collected.
One of the most famous illustrators of these cards was Charles Tunnicliffe, the internationally acclaimed bird painter. Most of the initial series were wildlife-based, including ‘British Wild Animals’, ‘British Wild Flowers’, ‘African Wild Life’, ‘Asian Wild Life’, and ‘Tropical Birds’.
The first series was introduced on 23rd October 1954 and featured British birds but the first set that I have and can remember was from 1958 – ‘British Wild Life’.
I was only four years old and it was my dad who collected them really and I can remember sitting at the kitchen table while he used a bottle of gloy glue to stick them into place. Gloy glue was a curious sticking paste that worked quite well at first but after a while dried out and the things that were previously stuck together just separated.
Later I used to collect them for myself and paste them into the books (which used to cost 6d) but I never made such a good job of it as him.
Collecting the cards was exciting, I can recall the moment when mum would buy a new packet of tea and I would open it to get to the card, down the side of the packet and covered in tea dust (these were tea leaves and not tea bags). At the beginning of a new series the collection would build quickly but after twenty of thirty cards it was always disappointing to get a duplicate and this meant having to go through the negotiation process at school to do swaps.
There always seemed to be a couple of cards that were difficult to get and sometimes this meant sending off to Brooke Bond to buy them which sort of defeated the object of collecting them and felt a bit like cheating.
I still have my Brooke Bond albums and a couple of years ago I was certain that they must be worth a fortune but a quick visit to ebay knocked the wind out of those particular sails. Never mind, they are priceless to me because it leaves me with fond memories of childhood and my dad who had a passion for collecting all sorts of useless things!
Being so much younger than you my cards were different. No idea what happened to my albums though 😦 I do have a kings and queens one with about two cards missing but I don’t remember collecting that one so my parents must have done it – looks like parents liked doing it as much as kids. I so remember that feeling of disappointment as you collected half a dozen of the same one and hoped to swap with someone for the elusive missing ones.
Pingback: Brooke Bond Tea Cards | Have Bag, Will Travel
Of course I remember them! And the whole disappointing business of tussling to get a full set. Though I’m an inveterate hoarder, I no longer have mine. But it sounds as though they wouldn’t be a useful money spinner. Thanks for the memories!
I have lost some over the years. Butterflies and Wild Flowers I think!
I also remember the moment when a new packet of tea was opened and then it was a case of trying to find it in that little dusty world smelling of tea dust. I began with African Animals and Tropical Birds, and I’ve tended to buy an album or two in charity shops if they are in good condition and cheaply priced.
This website, I am sure, would interest you.
Thanks John, that is a great link.
I know that I had British Butterflies and British Wild Flowers but they are gone. Perhaps my sister has them?
I always remember that the Tree card for the Elm described it as ‘Cathedral Like’. We shall never see that again either.
I am in a nostalgic mood.
A great nostalgic post. I do remember them, but I have no idea what happened to them. I was 12 when they began.
Thanks Derrick, many of them must have been cleared out and thrown away over the years!
Pingback: Portugal – Mafra and World Heritage Sites | Have Bag, Will Travel