Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Do You Know

What Causes Fog?

My parents always drank Brooke Bond (PG Tips) tea - and I still do. However my maternal grandparents only kept the Ty.Phoo brand in the cupboard above the fridge. Back in the late 1960s, I used to clamber up their little step-ladder to grab the packets of tea, and attempt to cut-out the black and white photo of a football star which was often printed on one of the side panels.

I was swiftly re-united with those memories last year, when I bought a slim album of Ty.Phoo's 'Do You Know' cards in Spitalfields Market for a few quid. Dating from 1962, they're before my time, but what a delightful period piece. A series of 24 picture cards, each one answering a 'Do You Know' question on the reverse: What causes a Rainbow?, What is a Mirage?, How does a Fly walk Upside-Down? and so on...

When I got home and tried to find more about their history online, what was clear from the start was that they're actually almost worthless to collectors! But so what.

Card No.23 is just magnificent. A superbly evocative painting of London's Piccadilly Circus in the fog. A tiny masterpiece designed as a freebie for tea drinkers like my grandparents to hand over to their grandchildren. Interesting that by 1962 when this card was issued, those notorious pea-souper fogs were already recent history. The introduction of the Clean Air Act of 1956 had banned the use of coal for domestic fires, which drastically reduced the sulfurous thick smog that once hung over London.

Ty.Phoo's foggy London squeezed into just 3.7 cms x 6.8 cms

Ty.Phoo was a product of  Edwardian Britain, and the word means 'doctor' in Chinese 

Now this is a FAB publicity shot for the brand c.1967. I never knew drinking a Cuppa T  could be such fun! Maybe that was when my grandparents became Ty.Phoo devo-teas...

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