Brooke Bond tea-cards
Here's the long awaited post on Brooke bond tea-cards!! I have no idea when exactly this practice of collecting these coloured rectangular tea-cards originated, nor who started it. What I know is that I seemed to have been swamped in them ever since 9DR began!! All of Monsieur Père's correspondence revolved around them; apparently this was the only reason (with birthdays) why he ever wrote! I kept his "letters" in a shoe box, and they're still stored somewhere: well, believe or not, they are all folded in the shape of a kind of paper bag for tea-cards. This way, I imagine, they would contain the cards safely and stop them from falling out. This gives you an idea of their preciousness! We would collect each of the series (a series was fifty cards), one by one, each series lasting perhaps six months, that is, the tea-packets would have cards from a particular series for that length of time, and then pass on to another, and we would then know, I suppose, that we would have to get the new album (5 pence) in order to start sticking in the new set! I can't recall exactly how many sets we used to have, maybe eight or ten. At present, I only have three left, I don't know why.
Anyway, as soon as the new series started, Monsieur Père and later Grandma, I think, ordered the still missing cards - after a wrenching period of extra-purchases of tea in a frantic attempt at laying hands on the missing numbers, and we could complete the little booklets. I recall that certain series were better loved than the others. I particularly liked the dinosaur series, the animal series in general, and the Inventors series. As can be expected, we had a whole lot of duplicates, which we couldn't really exchange, unless we came back to England. We used them for other purposes: I included many of the animal series ("the wild birds of Britain" for example) into a Book of Animals I had composed, and we stuck some others on slips of paper to make Happy Family games (there must have been a "Famous buildings of the world" series or such a like).
It was really the drive for collecting that made us all so dedicated: the learning aspect was less present. And yet, when I open these booklets today, I'm surprised at how much the writers had managed to pack inside, how informative they were. I doubt such smart little works of vulgarization exist today. But I'm also pretty sure that, at the time, we didn't avail ourselves of all that science. The fun was to collect the cards, stick them in their allotted spaces, and to manage to finish the series. The last ones of each series were especially valuable, because we had been waiting for them so much, and so each time we opened a packet of tea of course there were less and less chances of drawing the desired missing ones! I don't think we ever managed to finish a series before it changed though; we always in the end had to resort to sending the list to Brooke Bond, and it meant Monsieur Père had to pay in order to get the last ones...
So, here are some photos of these little treasures: but I wonder, are there still tea-cards today? I'm not sure, but the old ones apparently can be ordered here (Brooke Bond website): LINK and for those of you who would like to look at many, many of the cards from the numerous collections that go up as early as 1954 (I think), have a look HERE!
Naturally one can also buy albums and wallcharts on ebay...
and here are some among MP's little makeshift letter-envelopes, with one opened!!
There! have fun!
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