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Tea chest used for packing

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Tea chest, as used for storage and house removals, early to mid 20th century

Woman unpacking from a tea chest. Detail from a screen shot from an old film.

Tea chests were large wooden boxes reinforced at the edges, usually with metal strips, and as their name implies, their purpose was for transporting and storing tea. In the 1940s and probably before, shops weighed out customers' tea directly from these tea chests and into paper bags. So, as tea was so widely drunk, there was no shortage tea chests and they tended to be regarded as throwaway items. Consequently tea chests were popular as storage and packing crates in homes and for moving house. Even as late as the 1960s, when my family moved house, the removal company brought along empty tea chests for us to pack into. Apparently it wasn't worth their while to bother to collect the empties afterwards.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.