SMALL vintage tobacco premium flag silk - the Kingdom of Saxony, one of the German states included in Germany of the early 1900s - 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 "Saxony" is printed next to the flag image. "Sovereign 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 history of Saxony has spanned a millennium - first as a medieval duchy, and later as an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, and - at the time this flag was distributed - as an independent German kingdom within the German "empire". Located in the southeastern corner of Germany, it should not be confused with "Old Saxony" - the area inhabited by ancient Saxon tribes that invaded England in the 6th Century) - which corresponds roughly to the modern German states of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and North Rhine-Westphalia. This version of the flag of the Kingdom of Saxony has two simple fields - white over green - of equal size, surrounded by a golden fringe.
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, however, is in unusually good condition. Although there is some fraying along the top and bottom borders, the lettering of "Sovereign Cigarettes" and the factory and location information are both 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.
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