Two SMALL vintage tobacco premium flag silks - the national flag of the Scandinavian country of Sweden and the standard of the Swedish royal family - distributed between 1911 and 1916 with Sovereign Cigarettes, as part of its popular Flags of the World series. Sovereign Cigarettes, made in New York, was one of several brands sold by the American Tobacco Company. The name "Sweden" is printed next to each image. "Sovereign Cigarettes" is printed along the lower edge, and the factory number and location are printed along the top. SMALL flag silks measures 3" x 1".
Immigrants from Scandinavia, including many from Sweden, settled in the United States in the late 1800's, frequently in the upper Midwest states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. Succeeding generations of Swedish Americans still proudly fly the Swedish national flag in celebration of their Swedish heritage. This version - a blue field divided quarterly by a cross of gold - has been in use at least since the early 17th Century.
This Swedish royal standard - a yellow cross on a blue field in four equal quadrants (with swallowtail and tongue), with the full arms of Sweden surmounted by the Royal crown in the center, and usually set against a square white field - has been in use since 1906.
During the early 20th Century, American Tobacco Company was one of a number of cigarette companies that gave free silks, flannels or leather to customers who purchased their tobacco products. These textile items were distributed either as an "insert" (sometimes in an envelope, into the tobacco packaging, and sometimes attached to the outside) or as a "premium"" (given away in exchange for coupons inserted in the packaging). The small 3" x 1" silks were usually inserts in the product. The larger silks were usually premiums given in exchange for coupons.
The cigarette "silk" was one of the most popular of the textile tobacco inserts or premiums. They were often beautifully polychrome printed, with a number of different themes. And although called "silks" they were actually made from a variety of fabrics such as silk or silk satin, a cloth combination of silk and cotton, a cotton sateen or even a plain woven cotton. Tobacco silks and flannels were often used by women to make quilts and other textile objects. (It is thought that distributing these textiles with tobacco products may have been a marketing strategy to entice women into smoking cigarettes.)
CONDITION NOTE: Tobacco silks often show their age. Since the borders of tobacco silks are almost never finished, they are usually frayed, and on some silks the name "Sovereign Cigarettes" and the factory information are partially, and sometimes completely, obliterated by fraying along the borders. These are no exception. On some silks "Sovereign Cigarettes" and the factory information are partially, and sometimes completely, obliterated by fraying along the borders. On others, both are completely intact. There are also few slight wrinkles, which may disappear with a careful pressing on delicate setting. Areas of minor age fabric discoloration are much less noticeable in person than in this scanned image. 3-01-0433L-17b
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