Friday, March 2, 2018

A Currier & Ives tea print

Well, this is a first! I was browsing the Library of Congress website for vintage tea images, and I found one I'd never seen before, this print from Currier & Ives that reads "Splendid Tea!"

When I enlarged it, the line directly under the picture of the old lady, who bears more than a passing resemblance to a smiling Abe Lincoln, reads "Copyright 1881, By Currier & Ives, N.Y." Underneath "Splendid Tea!" it says only, "New York, Published by Currier & Ives, 115 Nassau St."

I've always associated Currier & Ives with the vintage prints of snow-laden landscapes, but I've certainly never seen any of their prints related to teatime. And what on earth do you suppose "Splendid Tea!" is about? Tea is splendid, I'll agree, but don't you think this was probably some sort of advertising piece? If you have any ideas on it, I'd love to hear them!


  1. Yes, tea is splendid! I don’t know about a tea company back then called Splendid, but there is a Glory and Grace Splendid Tea Co online that looks interesting.

  2. That IS a very intriguing Currier and Ives print! Perhaps it's related to the temperance movement? In 1881 Kansas became the first state to "prohibit the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors," so temperance was definitely an issue in that year. The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was a major political force at that time, supporting women's suffrage, prison reform, and many other progressive social issues in addition to refraining from alcoholic beverages. The WCTU did use "tea socials" to spread their ideas to the public (they were also one of the first groups to have a professional lobbyist in Washington, DC). Perhaps people in 1881 would have recognized the caricature as an actual activist or politician, but I don't (it doesn't look like Frances Willard, the early influential leader of the WCTU).
    --from Vernona in DC


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