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Gem Hunters


Gem Hunters of the World Tea Cards

by Terry Gomes

J. Lyons is primarily known for their British issues of tea cards. Their Canadian subsidiary, J. Lyonís and Co. (Canada) Ltd., was known for producing two tea card series. The first, Canada Centennial cards, has been well documented on this site. A more obscure and multi-faceted promotion was also released called, Gem Hunters of the World, distributed in boxes of "The Tea". For the purpose of rhyming, the product title was pronounced with the word "The" have a long "E" sound. The series consisted of 30 cards and was issued in 1971. The cards were not put inside boxes as you would normally expect but were printed on the side panels! So, in order to assemble your set, you had to cut out the cards. Based on the one tea box presently known, there were three different cards printed on each box. Each card featured a colour photograph of a gem, mineral or rock with a variety of different coloured backgrounds.

In addition to the cards, there was an album available. The order form for it was printed on the side of the box. However, the cost was DOUBLE what most tea card albums sold for -50 cents! If you lived in Ontario you also had to pay tax which brought the album total to 53 cents. Ouch! This could account for why so few of them have been seen. That was a lot of money to lay out at the time for a booklet that was typically priced at 25 cents. I personally find the album not as clearly written as the Brooke Bond and Canada Centennial albums but it is colourful and laid out in an attractive manner.

But wait, thereís more! Inside each tea box you would find an actual gem, rock or mineral sealed in a paper packet. So, in addition to admiring your cards in the album, you were also able compare them to the real thing.

The final component of this issue was a collectorís mineral cabinet that you could send away for to store your specimens. The cost was $2.50 (plus 13 cents if you lived in Ontario). According to the box, itís dimensions were 10" X 7" X 1 13/16". It was described as being, "made of clear styrene including the hinged lid. The cabinet has 36 partitioned compartments so that you can expand your collection with 6 specimens which you have found yourself." It sounds like they really wanted to encourage children to take up collecting and become a, "Rock Hound!"


What do the cards look like?

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CARD 4 CARD 5

Garnet Crystals in White Calcite

Mylonite
CARD 18 CARD 30

Gypsum

Rhyolite (Showing Banding)

Here are four cards that represent the 30 card set. They measure 37 x 68 mm when cut along the dotted lines. When you look close at the pictures, you can see the scissor handywork. You have to keep your scissors sharp and your hand steady when you go to retrieve your cards. Since it's just the inside of the tea box, the cards have an unfinished (blank) back. The card number and the name of each gem, rock or mineral is indicated on the card front in English and in French, along with the set name.


Do you have a picture of the album?

Of course! The cover is a basic black theme showing off the specimens. The back has some details about groups of the gems, minerals and rocks and the inside pages show details about each offering. As you look at the inside page, note that the descriptions are again in English and French. Also note that the collector is left with no card sillouette when they go to paste the cards. The task is to cover up all the words of the language you do not want. This is shown with card number 2. Did you notice something else about the words? The left column has #1 and #3 in English and #2 in French while the right column has #1 and #3 in French and #2 in English. Of course this alternates back and forth so you best be careful pasting the cards in place or you'll mess up.

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Rock Album Cover Rock Album Inside Rock Album Back

Album Cover

Inside Page Back Cover


I wonder what the box looks like?

Wonder no more! As promised, here are three views of the box. The first is the top of the box, aka the cover. It promonently touts the gems, minerals or rock specimen being in the box along with an offer for a sweet cabinet. Then this front panel shows off two of the three cards. You'd best have a sharp pair of scissors handy when you go to cut. The final picture lets you peer into the open box. Check out the mystery pouch in the box. What wonderous specimen will be revealed?

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Tea Box Cover Tea Box Side Tea Box Open

The Cover

Front Panel Open Box



Have you ever seen an ad for this issue?

Yes! Here is an ad that was featured in the Toronto Star weekend comic strip section in 1971. Calling all Rock Hounds! This ad invites you start a new hobby. You can have all you need. A cabinet, cards showing the specimens and that sweet surprise inside the box.

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Advertising
The Ad

Note that we see the side panel with one card on it. Think a minute about collecting the cards. Kids could tell their mom what to watch for or better yet go shopping with their mom for their needed cards. However, Lyonís didnít make it that easy. The two other cards are not visible from the outside and are hidden under the front flap! Then again a precocious youngster might realize that for this size box, there would likely be 10 different boxes encompassing the whole set. If they saw a card on the box they needed, they would likely need the other two cards on that box as well. That is, unless the company printed random cards on many boxes. Who knows?!



Gem Hunters of the World Card Checklist

Need to know the titles of all 30 cards? No problem! Here they are in a neat sortable list. A few have links to the card pictures. Enjoy!

This crazy set that puts rocks in boxes of tea is a fun and hard to find series to collect. The cards are hard enough to come by but the specimens are the rare characters in this series.

Gem Hunters of the World - Cards Issued

Card Number Type Card Description
1 Gems Jasper
2 Gems Agate
3 Gems Carnelian
4 Gems Garnet Crystals in White Calcite  
5 Gems Mylonite  
6 Gems Amazonite
7 Gems Smoky Quartz
8 Gems Onyx
9 Gems Marble
10 Gems Perthite
11 Minerals Native Gold in Quartz
12 Minerals Iron Ore (Hematite)
13 Minerals Magnesium Ore (Brucite)
14 Minerals Native Silver in Calcite
15 Minerals Talc
16 Minerals Salmon Calcite
17 Minerals Lithium Ore (Spodumene)
18 Minerals Gypsum  
19 Minerals Aluminum Ore (Bauxite)
20 Minerals Nepheline
21 Rocks Shale with Fossil Ferns (300 Million Years Old)
22 Rocks Slate
23 Rocks Limestone with Coral Fossils (450 Million Years Old)
24 Rocks Schist with Pyrite Crystal
25 Rocks Scoria
26 Rocks Syenite
27 Rocks Basalt with Agate
28 Rocks Chert - Flint (with Chalk)
29 Rocks Graphic Granite
30 Rocks Rhyolite (Showing Banding)  

If you are interested in chasing a rare and obscure Canadian tea card set, Gem Hunters of the World is the one for you!


Last modified: December 17, 2020

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