|The Victoria & Albert Museum|
From the reign of King William IV, circa 1830, this trade card advertises for Mowbray & Son, a “Wholesale & retail genuine tea dealers and grocers” which was based on Newport High Street. The card emphatically shows the non-European origins of its goods by featuring a depiction of a man in Chinese-style dress, seated on a crate amongst cargo and loaves of sugar.
Tea from China became available in England in the late Seventeenth Century, but the cost and rarity made it a fashionable drink available only to the wealthy. Increased availability over the Eighteenth century saw that tea could be enjoyed by the population at large.
This particular trade card was printed to publicize the services of Mowbray & Son, as a source of this coveted tea. Such cards were not only useful advertising tools, but also served as a popular form of entertainment. They were collected and enjoyed for their ingenuity and artwork, serving also as reminders of particular tradesmen.