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Contents:
* Collecting UK Smartie Lids  * Distribution
* Evolution in Lid Design * Rare and Limited Editions
* Rowntrees Imperial Size * Smartian Lids
* Rowntrees Metric Size * Football Lids
* Nestles "Smartie" Lid * Silver "Cola" Lids
Collecting UK Smartie Lids:
You wouldn't think there could be much to say on this subject, would you? WRONG! Whilst many are content to collect lids without any particular reference to the letters printed on them or the colour of the lid itself, other collectors like to collect the whole alphabet in each colour, in each cap series. some of us even worry about whether the tab points up or down.    I glued all mine to a cork notice board with a water soluble glue, and keep all the spares in a jar. If anyone can help fill any gaps I would love to hear from you (as you will see, there are plenty of gaps!). I have plenty of swaps to offer in exchange.
Evolution:
There have been several transformations in the evolution of the plastic lids used to secure the contents of Smartie tubes:
 Imperial sizeMetric sizePost Rowntrees
 Ruler (calibrated in centimeters)
In addition (though not discussed here), there have been a number of typefaces used. Reference to the digitally enhanced photo to the right shows three distinct cap types (see also Europe):
Rowntrees Imperial sizeRowntrees Imperial Size:
This is an example of the cap used on Rowntree Smartie tubes in Britain probably until the mid seventies, on the slightly larger imperial measure tubes used at that time (you will find these do NOT fit in an ordinary modern day tube).   The colours used at the time were Dark Blue, Orange, Yellow and Green.   The letters stamped on the inner face of the tube were all capital until just prior to the re-sizing of the tube to metric.    Half the letters were printed with the lid tab pointing down and half of them with it pointing up.   There were also lids bearing numbers produced for a short time. The author has three of these in his possession.   Occasionally letters were mis-stamped, resulting in letters at odd angles to the tab.

My collection:
Upper Case
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ Orange / Green / Yellow / Blue Series A, A-Z

Lower Case
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
Orange / Green / Yellow / Blue Series A, a-z
Rowntrees Metric sizeRowntrees Metric Size:
This is an example of the cap used on British Smartie tubes after the introduction of the metric sizes and all featured lower case letters on the reverse side, and once again half had the tabs pointing up, and half pointing down, apart from the occasional mis-stamps as with A) above.

Telling the difference between the imperial and metric lids...
they do look very similar!   The easiest way is to try and fit the lid in question on a modern Smartie tube... if it's an OLD one, it won't fit.
Many thanks to Peter Brooksbank without whom I would never have known about the dark blue lids in this series, never mind had any!

My collection:
Standard
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
DK Blue/ Orange / Green / Yellow / BlueSeries B Chart, a-z

"White Smarties"
(Thanks Peter!)
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
WhiteSeries B Chart, 'White Smarties'

"Cool Dude"
promotion
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
PurpleSeries B Chart, 'Cool Dude'

"Gruesome Greenies"
promotion
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
Light GreenSeries B Chart, 'Gruesome Greenies'
UK Nestl├ęs LidNestlés "Smarties" Lid:
After Rowntrees was bought out by Nestlé in the early 1990's, the caps were re-designed again, omitting the name Rowntree and replacing it with "Smarties". All the caps from this point on had the tab pointing down. Later on the orange colour was dropped and replaced with red.

Things change regularly with lid colours, at present (March 2000) the blue ones are not available so we have only Red, Green and Yellow.


My collection:
Standard
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
Orange / Green / Yellow / BlueSeries C, a-z

Red (replaced Orange)
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
RedSeries C, Red

"Scary" and
"Shark Infested"
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
Purple / Spring Green / CyanSeries C, 'Scary'

"Limited Edition"
promotion
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
Evergreen / Royal BlueSeries C, 'Limited Edition'
Distribution of Lids:
There are equal quantities of all the letters produced, with the exception of letters "q" and "z", which are only half as common as the others.   This is because two blocks containing the entire alphabet are fitted to each injection moulding press, each with 25 of the 26 letters of the English alphabet: one block carries a "q", the other carries a "z".
Rare and Limited Edition Lids:
Sometimes as described earlier, lids are mis-stamped resulting in the letters not lining up with the tag, so these are rare. Sometimes limited production runs are made of letters in other colours so these are comparatively rare also. Occasionally, as with the number series lids and Smartian lids shown below bear designs other than the standard alphabet. Once again, very rare. If anyone has any lids with numbers on, please contact me. I would happily pay £5 for any lid bearing a number, so it may be worth checking the attic next time you're up there.
Smartian Lids:
These are a bit special. With the Smartian promotion (described on the tubes section of this site) came a series of lids in very bright "day-glo" colours, with "alien" designs on the reverse of the lids. The picture below has been digitally enhanced to show the designs more clearly. For a real treat, the picture also shows three Rowntrees Imperial size Number lids.
 Smartian Lids and Rowntrees Numbers
Football Lids
 football lids
I first saw this set myself in April 2000, though Peter Brooksbank had alerted me to the fact that they were coming. There are lids on the tubes in eight colours with eight football related words stamped on the underside. Most tubes contain one or more "footballs" of the same ingredients as Smarties but round and overprinted (albeit badly) with football patterning. There's no saying how long these will be available, so I recommend you get collecting now. Here's a table you can use to mark up your own collection, and once it's all over I will be running a lid exchange scheme for you all to try and complete your sets. Use the boxes to mark each lid you get with a marks (e.g. IIII) then you'll know how many swaps you have to trade to fill the gaps in your own collection.
Black Maroon Red Dark Blue Blue Light Blue White Yellow
Tackle
Shoot
Goal
Foul
Booked
Penalty
Pass
Corner

I haven't seen these in London yet, though they are available in other places and I bought my first 12 in Cumbria. There are sixty four lids in the set, but using the handy chart above and keeping it with you at all times, you can see through the lid if you are careful and have good light to choose ones you don't have yet, . If you can't eat sixty four tubes of Smarties in a single sitting, fear not... simply tip the Smarties into a large plastic bucket and take a few to work or school each day for the rest of your life! Well hey, it works for me!

The Smarties inside make up the colours for one of each of the UK Premiership football teams. You can see which team is which if you move the mouse over the picture and read the name in the status bar. Clicking on an image will take you to the FA-Carling Premiership home page for that team, although you WILL need to close each new window before you visit another team's page or you will see an error. This is due to the way that Carling have programmed their site.

 UK Teams: See Status bar for details, or click to visit


My collection:
Football
Black / Maroon / Red / Dark Blue / Blue / Light Blue / White / Yellow
Tackle / Shoot / Goal! / Foul / Booked / Penalty / Pass / CornerFootball lids
Silver "Cola" Lids
lid_silver.gif (4145 bytes)One of the weirder promotions in a while is one I first heard about then saw for myself in mid June 2000, with tubes of Smarties (coloured red and brown) all with cola flavouring.    The taste is actually not as bad as you might imagine; I guess some people might like them, but since I now have a complete set of SILVER lids to collect (a-z), I guess I will have to develop the taste for them myself and probably become another hopeless addict.   Thanks to Peter Brooksbank for the scanned image!

My collection:
Cola Flavour promotion
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
SilverSmarties Cola Flavour Ltd Edition
Metalic "Dinosaur" Lids
lid_dino.gif (10221 bytes)This series once again uses the silver lid from the "Cola" series above, but this time there are two more brand new colours, both shades of metalic green.   The tubes for this promotion (see tubes/2) contain smarties in these three colours, but contain no unusual flavourings.   For simplicity, I have placed the silver lids from this promotion with those of the previous one.

My collection:
Dinosaur promotion
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
DinosaurSmarties Dinosaur Lids