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Connecticut Yankee Antiques and Collectibles

Kris Armour, New London CT   

Circa 1900 Austria-Hungary - Vienna & Trieste City Flags - Vintage Early 1900's Sovereign Cigarette Silk - American Tobacco Company Advertising Premium

TWO small vintage tobacco premium flag silks of Austria-Hungary flags - the blue flag of Vienna, and the red & white flag of Trieste - 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 names "Vienna" and "Trieste" are printed next to the images. "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".

Austria-Hungary, also known as the "Dual Monarchy", was a union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in Central Europe. The union was the result of the Compromise of 1867, under which Austrian House of Hapsburg agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them. The Dual Monarchy existed for 51 years when it dissolved on October 31, 1918 following military defeat in the First World War.

This City of Trieste flag - a golden halberd on the Austrian flag (red/white/red horizontal alternating stripes) - dates to the period from 1382-1918, when Trieste was part of Austria. On this version, the halberd is missing and the top of both red bars is fimbriated in gold. We could not find this version of a City of Vienna flag - a gold eagle over a field of blue - listed as one officially used by the City of Vienna. However, Vienna was the seat of the Hapsburg's empire. And since the Hapsburg family's royal standard featured the imperial eagle in the center, this may a version of the imperial flag used by Vienna.

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 unusual in that all of the lettering on both the top and bottom is 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.

Item ID: 01-0433L-35

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Circa 1900 Austria-Hungary - Vienna & Trieste City Flags - Vintage Early 1900's Sovereign Cigarette Silk - American Tobacco Company Advertising Premium


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Connecticut Yankee Antiques and Collectibles

Kris Armour
New London

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