SMALL vintage tobacco silk of brightly colored flag of the Orange Free State, now a province of the Union of South Africa. These flag inserts were distributed between 1911 and 1916 with Sovereign 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. This flag is identified "Orange Free State" next to the image. "Egyptienne STRAIGHTS Cigarettes" is printed along the lower edge, and the factory number and location are printed along the top. SMALL flag silks measure 3" x 1".
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, later a British colony, and finally a province of the Union of South Africa. Extending between the Orange and Vaal rivers, it was an independent republic from 1854 to 1902. In 1902, it became the British Orange River Colony after the Boer Wars.
In 1910, it joined the Union of South Africa (renamed the Republic of South Africa in 1961) as a province under its former name. The flag identified here - rectangular with seven horizontal stripes of equal width alternately white & orange and a canton of three stripes, red, white and blue - was the official flag from 1854-1902 - the entire period of the Orange Free State's existence as an independent republic.
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 "Egyptienne Cigarettes" and the factory information are partially, and sometimes completely, obliterated by fraying along the borders. However, this one is exceptional. Although there is some fraying along the top and bottom borders, the lettering of the "Egyptienne STRAIGHTS Cigarettes" and the factory and location information is completely intact. There are also few slight wrinkles, which may disappear with a careful pressing on delicate setting. Areas of minor staining or fabric discoloration are much less noticeable in person than in this scanned image.
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