Category:Vintage Tea Room Postcards

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From the Land of Tea

In this installment of "From the Land of Tea," we take a look at a web page that was funded by my Patreon supporters, who had access to it one full year before the public.

  • Patreon Release Date: October 14th, 2021.
  • Public Release Date: October 14th, 2022.

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Support From the Land of Tea

American Tea Rooms!

All of the material you have access to here -- the fabulous tea cups, the instructive booklets, the nostalgic postcards, the boldly graphic matchbook covers, and all of the historical information researched and shared from the mind of the woman who is making it all happen -- can easily fit into one 8 x 10 foot room in an old Victorian farmhouse, but you would never see it without the investment of the time it takes to produce such a site and the caloric input such a site requires in the form of food for the writer, graphic designer, and database manager, as well as the US currency needed to pay for the computers, software applications, scanners, electricity, and internet connectivity that bring it out of that little room and into the world. So, as you can see, this site is the darling of many, and it is growing at a rapid rate ... but although it is "free," there also is a cost. Your financial support underwrites this cost.

Each new web page or sample pdf is circulated to Patrons as an unpublished galley proof or advance copy. After one year access for Patrons, each web page will be released to the public, while book pages will be available to the public as printed books, and copies will be sent to Patrons who subscribe at the upper two tiers.


Copper Kettle Tea Room, 23 Mercantile Place, Los Angeles, California, postcard front, circa 1909. The Copper Kettle opened in 1908 under the proprietorship of two sisters, Smith college alumna Harriet Morris (1880 - 1961) and Barnard College alumna Mildred Morris, helped by their friend Beatrice Wigmore.
The Mah Jong Room at the Mary Louise Tea Room complex opposite Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park) in Los Angeles, California, postcard front.
Shanghai Tea Room, Denver, Colorado, postcard front,1930s, linen era.
Tea Room, Second Floor, Kolb's Restaurant, New Orleans, Louisiana; postcard front.
Hotel Jefferson Tea Room Saint Louis, Missouri, postcard front.
Alma's Tea Room, Intersection Route 3 and 38, Manchester, New Hampshire, postcard frontwhite border era. Seating capacity 250. Open the Year Around. Est. 1925. Alma M. Truesdale, Prop.
Day’s Ice Cream Garden Tea Room, Ocean Grove, New Jersey, postcard front, chrome era.
Colonial Tea Room, Niagara Falls, NY, postcard back
The Studio Tea Room in Camden, South Carolina, exterior, postcard front, circa 1920s. I wonder if the interior was as charming as the floral exterior.
Blue Parrot Tea Room Foyer, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, postcard front, linen era.
M and O Tea Room and Wishing Well, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Blanche Moffett, proprietor 1949, postcard front, linen era.
The Sun Parlor Tea Room at the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), Dallas, Texas, circa 1920; postcard front, white border era.
First and Last House in England, Land's End, Penzance, Cornwall, England, offering Teas, Film, and Postcards. The First and Last House in England is the farthest west structure on the island, and thus to first to be sighted when approaching England from the Atlantic Ocean and the last to be seen when sailing west.

This page hosts links to many pages filled vintage Tea Room postcards, both interior and exterior views. Some offer a free or paid reading with every meal and some merely present as public tea rooms. They are listed alphabetically, by nation, state or province, city or town, and then by tea room name.

You can also use the site's search function (at left, in the directory bar) to search for individual tea room (and tea cup) names.

Tea Room Image Collections

To place this work in context, please read the following introductory pages:

Any given tea room may appear in one or more the following image collections:

  • Vintage Tea Room Postcards: These are sorted by state or nation; one page per state or non-USA nation.
  • Vintage Tea Room Menus: These are listed on one page, alphabetical first by state and then by tea room name.
  • Vintage Tea Room Business Cards: These are listed on one page, alphabetical first by state and then by tea room name.
  • Vintage Tea Room Matchbook Covers: These are listed on one page, alphabetical first by state and then by tea room name.

Tea Room Postcard Gallery Index

Our Tea Room Postcard Gallery allows you to browse for vintage tea rooms alphabetically, first by State or Nation, then by tea room name. Any nation outside the USA is listed by a nation-name instead of a state-name. If a given nation accumulates more than 16 tea room postcards, i will break the nation into provinces, counties, or districts and move the images into those named pages.

Tea Rooms of the United States

American Tea Room postcards date from 1905, during the era of the great Postcard Craze, to the present. Many of these old tea rooms may be gone, but their photos linger on.

As you can see, some American tea room postcards simply existed to promote a particular place, but some were owned by people who were, in their own way, minor local celebrities, making their tea rooms more open to sociological investigation. Each postcard has a caption explaining what i know about it, and some have additional text developed by looking up the name of the tea room's proprietor, if it was given on the card.

Most of these images come from my own vintage tea room postcard collection, but some have been donated by fellow-collectors or come from online sources. I want to honour the work of local librarians, historical societies, state and federal archivists, paywall newspaper archives (Lord, i wish they were free!), and curious deltiologists who contribute so much background information, which allows me to realize and understand the breadth of the material culture of tea rooms in America.

Tea Rooms of the British Commonwealth

Tea leaf reading, as well as the custom of taking afternoon tea, developed in the British Commonwealth. Inhabitants of Anglophone nations are the primary users of fortune-telling tea cups and the primary frequenters of tea rooms.

Tea Rooms of Europe

Most European tea room postcards depict pre-World-War-One establishments, created for the convenience of British and American tourists. This is obvious in the fact that the term "Tea Room" often appears on signage, rather than an indigenous term like "Tee Stube")

Tea Room Postcard History

For more information, see Tea Room History

The beginning of the tea room movement happened to coincide with the postcard craze, which was in full flower from 1905 until World War One. (If you are unfamiliar with the tea room movement, you can learn more about it in the page on Tea Room History.) Even after the postcard craze waned a bit during the 1920s, many tea rooms kept on printing postcards, as they had learned that illustrated mailing cards were an inexpensive way to boost their business. Postcard stamps only cost one cent back then, so in some some tea rooms, when you sat down to order, a pre-stamped postcard showing the room in which you were seated accompanied the menu, and you were encouraged to write a message and mail it to a friend. Thus, today's postcard collectors find many tea room cards with messages on the back that read something like this:

Hello, Edith —
We found this wonderful
little place on the way
to the Falls — Maybe
you can come along next
time and we'll stop here
to eat. The view is lovely
and the food is great.
— Mabel

Dating Tea Room Postcards

For more information, see Dating Tea Room Postcards

On this site you will find many interior and exterior views of quaint, old-fashioned tea rooms, as well as the backs of cards, some with messages and some simply indicating the name of the printer or additional information about the tea room. A few of the images are photographic prints or contemporary online photos, but most take the form of postcards.

Postcards that depict a place are also known as view cards. Those that are about a topic, such as cute kittens or railroads are called topicals. Topicals can be view cards, and vice versa. A classic example of a view card that is also a topical is a postcard of a train station. It shows a view of the station, and might be collected by someone who collects view cards of specific towns, counties, states, or nations -- or it may be collected as part of the topic of railroading. Tea room postcards are mostly considered to be view cards, but some of them may overlap with popular collection topics such as clothing fashions, houseplants, food service, or street signage.

Dating postcards can be a little tricky, but here are five basic ways that collectors can date a card:

  • By Era of Manufacture
  • By Copyright, Postal Code, Publisher, or Series Number
  • By Automobile Models, Clothing Fashions, and Signage
  • By Back-of-Card Postmarks, Fontography, and Handwriting
  • By Census, City Directory, Newspaper, and Magazine Research

To learn about how these techniques are combined to date a postcard's publication ir was made or a photograph was taken, please visit our detailed page on Dating Tea Room Postcards.

We Welcome Contributions

If you have a photo or scan of a vintage or contemporary tea room you want to share here, we welcome contributions!

We seek interior scenes of tea room furnishings and decor and exterior tea room views with signage; we like to have the postcard backs as well as the fronts, but recognize that this is not always possible. Contemporary close-ups of plated food on a table will not be archived.

Horizontal images must be a minimum of 600 pixels wide after trimming away backgrounds and should include the name, city, and state of the establishment, plus any other information you may have.

Please post your image donations in the "Tea Room Image Donations" thread in my husband nagasiva's Facebook group:

Thank you!

catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
The Mystic Tea Room

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