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Life and times of Rington’s Tea

PUBLISHED: 13:17 05 May 2018

Some of Lynn’s Rington’s souvenirs. The tea tin dates from 1953.

Some of Lynn’s Rington’s souvenirs. The tea tin dates from 1953.

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Mike Hicks considers tea-linked collectables

I had an enquiry from a reader, Lynn, who questioned whether there was any value in items that were sold or given away by Rington’s Tea Company. I had occasionally seen things like pottery tea-caddies decorated in blue and white for a tea company, but hadn’t paid them much attention.

In looking into it in a bit more detail, I found that Rington’s have been in business since 1907 and still remains a family business today. Started originally in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the founder - Sam Smith - borrowed £250 to start his business.

In the 1920s, Rington’s bought two motorised vehicles to help them with the deliveries, because it was their policy to sell their tea direct to the consumer. By the 1940s they had 400 employees and by 1943 something like 200 vans but they had to take the vans off the road during war time because of petrol rationing.

It was way back in the 1920s when they decided to expand their range of products to include pottery, decorated in chintz and willow pattern designs. It was a very shrewd marketing move because the customers had the tea caddy in front of them with the Rington’s name and, of course, there was always the idea you felt you had to use Rington’s tea in a Rington’s caddy.

Today, the firm has a custom-built factory in North Tyneside and the business still delivers door-to-door for morev than 250,000 customers throughout the UK. Their delivery vans battle through all weathers to make certain the customers get their tea on time. I must admit, I have not seen one of their distinguished vans in our area but they added greatly to their range including biscuits and cookies as well.

Many of the things they sold, or gave away, in the 1920s have now become collectors’ items, as per Lynn, who has a collection of Rington’s memorabilia.

They are not especially valuable but do show the shapes, the patterns and changes from the 1920s right through to the present day. Of course, blue and white is a forever popular combination and would grace anybody’s dresser or kitchen You could probably pick pieces up for maybe £10-£30.

It might be worthwhile seeing if you can find any old advertising material for such firms because, as I have said many times before, advertising material going back to the 1950s and before is now quite keenly sought after. It doesn’t have to be just the big enamel signs; it could be window display or promotion material.

Mike Hicks runs Stalham Antique Gallery at 29 High Street, Stalham (NR12 9AH). You can contact Mike on 01692 580636 or info@mikehicksantiques.co.uk.


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