SMALL vintage tobacco premium flag silk - brightly colored flag of British Colony of Australia - distributed between 1911 and 1916 with Egyptienne Cigarettes, as part of its popular Flags of the World series. Egyptienne Cigarettes, made in New York, was one of several brands sold by the American Tobacco Company. The name "Australia" is printed next to the image. "Egyptienne Cigarettes" is printed along the lower edge, and the factory number and location are printed along the top. SMALL flag inserts measure 3" x 1".
Australia began as a penal colony for Great Britain where thousands of people convicted of various offenses and there families were "transported" in the mid 1800s. This flag of Australia is probably a version of the "National Colonial Flag for Australia" of 1823-1824, identified as the first "flag of stars" in Australia's history - a white flag charged with the red cross of St George, having in each corner a star to symbolize the Southern Hemisphere under the constellation of the Southern Cross. This version has the Cross of Saint George set on a light blue shield with a coat of arms, but no Union Jack, was used when Australia was just another British colony.
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 distributed as inserts with 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. This one is no exception. The lettering of "Egyptienne Cigarettes" is almost completed obliterated on the bottom, and the factory and location information is partially obliterated on the top. 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.
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