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Vintage Tea Posters of Ceylon

It was the pioneers of the tea industry here in the 1860s, Scotsman James Taylor first among them, who inadvertently spearheaded Ceylon’s trend for delightful poster art. The vivid marketing campaigns that accompanied the rapid expansion of tea cultivation across the Indian subcontinent served as a sort of global branding campaign for Ceylon; raising its profile internationally, accruing the island, perfectly-placed, just a few miles north of one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, with an exotic appeal that incurred an early 20th Century boom in luxury travel to the island; a boom that is being echoed now, one hundred years on. Taylor’s tea cultivating successors included Europeans such as Thomas Lipton and John Hagenbeck who began to evoke idyllic and colonial images of the mystical land of Ceylon to promote their tea. In the 1920s cargo companies bearing Ceylon's tea back to Europe and America and cruise-liners ferrying intrepid Edwardian tourists eastwards followed in the first tea planters' branding wake, tasking the greatest graphic designers of the age to create beautiful posters asserting this island as an irresistible port of call. Meanwhile Her Majesty's Government launched the Empire Marketing Board ("EMB"), an advertising initiative tasked with promoting "our trade with the east" that, with hindsight, looks like one of the last hurrahs of the British Empire. Some of the finest posters depicting Great Britain's tea trade with Ceylon were created by EMB funded artists, Ceylon Docks (1927) by K.D. Shoesmith  and Picking Empire Grown Tea by Harold Sandys Williamson not least among them.