Suffolk firm Butterworth & Son, based in Bury St Edmunds, calls time on picture cards in its tea packets
For just over 30 years, my father, Robert Butterworth Senior, has been working at an occupation which must be unique within the UK. His passion for all things picture and postcard saw him introduce picture cards to all packets of tea sold from our then shop in Guildhall Street.
Throughout that time he has been responsible for producing the collectable picture cards which are enclosed within every packet of Butterworth’s tea bags.
From the conception of suitable subjects, commissioning appropriate artwork, to researching and writing the background details to print on the reverse, all of this has been in his charge.
It all started in the late 1970s with the development of the once famous Bury Blend Tea (now called Suffolk Special Blend), blended for the local hard water conditions.
In the early 1990s, the first set of 12 picture cards was introduced, ‘Scenes of Historic Bury Saint Edmunds’. This was later followed by an 18-card series ‘A History of the Suffolk Regiment’.
Since that time, more than 80 sets have been introduced covering every conceivable subject.
These would include sport, military, sci-fi, animals, scenic, glamour, culture, history, railway and novelty subjects, too.
My father has spent most of his retirement years pursuing this hobby and the sets are now sought after and sold within collecting circles but is now beginning to reduce the number of sets produced.
By the end of 2023, the last packet of tea containing a colourful picture card will have been sold and the tradition will slip into a fond memory.
It is believed that Butterworth & Son are the last company in England to include picture cards with tea.