SMALL vintage tobacco premium flag silk - Central America country 1875-1912 El Salvador national flag - distributed by Sovereign Cigarettes with its cigarette packages. Flag silks for Latin American countries were distributed between 1911 and 1916 with Sovereign Cigarettes, as part of its popular Flags of America series. SMALL flag silks measure 3" x 1".
El Salvador gained it's independence from Spain in 1841. Some version of this "stars and stripes" flag was used from 1865 to 1912 when the current flag was adopted. This flag consisted of five blue stripes and four white ones: the width of each stripe nine inches and its length 144 inches. The red square in the upper corner next to the flag pole is 36 inches per side, with one white five-pointed star for each department of the republic. In 1865 the number of stars was nine. By 1875 the number of stars was increased to 14, where it remained until 1912.
Sovereign Cigarettes, made at factories in New York, was one of several brands sold by the American Tobacco Company. "Salvador" is printed under the image of the flag. "Sovereign Cigarettes" and the factory number and location are printed along the borders.
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: Good condition for a tobacco silk, which often shows its age. Since the borders of tobacco silks are almost never finished, they are usually frayed, and this one is 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 usually a 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 the scanned images.
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