New York: Great American Tea Company, 1886.
Near fine. Original chromolithograph advertising poster, 22 x 32 inches. A stunning print with exceptionally rich color, archivally backed. Professional restoration to edges and a few small spots on the printed area. Near fine. "Ten minutes for refreshments!" was the well-known cry of railroad conductors across the United States before dining cars became common on trains. Hungry and thirsty passengers would rush off the train and into the depot, where they scrambled to order and then bolt down their lunch under the watchful eye of conductor determined to keep the train on schedule. In this advertising print for the Great American Tea Company, the conductor stands in the doorway with pocket watch in hand, calming observing the chaos as customers (all white men served by Black waiters) frantically consume their food and beverages, some leaving smashed crockery in their wake as they rush to re-board the train. Coffee is dispensed from urns advertising the company's Sultana Coffee and its baking powder, and a giant sign on the wall reads "The Teas & Coffee used in this establishment are from the Great American Tea Co." Founded in New York City in 1859, the Great American Tea Company made its name using a direct-to-consumer sales approach that enabled them to offer quality tea at lower prices than found in retail shops. After a period of success selling mail-order to clubs, they began opening their own storefronts, which were sumptuously decorated in a Chinese-inspired style. In 1870, the company was renamed The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (better known today as A&P) in honor of the newly completed transcontinental railroad, but retained the Great American Tea Company name on its products (thus the appearance of the older name in this 1886 print). The company was a major force in American advertising in the late 19th century, using periodicals, circulars, trade cards, and premiums to spread their name. This scarce poster is one of the finest examples of their effective and popular campaigns.