LARGE vintage tobacco premium flag silk - the first Bulgarian national flag of 1879 - distributed between 1911 and 1916 with Nebo Cigarettes, as one of its popular Flags of the World series. Nebo Cigarettes, made in New Jersey, was one of several brands sold by the American Tobacco Company. Nebo Cigarettes is printed on the lower border, and the factory number and location on the top. LARGE flag silks measure 4-3/4" x 2-3/4".
This flag was officially adopted in 1879, shortly after Bulgaria gained its independence following the Russo-Turkish War. The design is a tri-colour consisting of three equal-sized horizontal bands of white, green, and red. The white and red color is derived from the flag of Russia used in the 1878 "Russo-Turkish War". The green color of this flag represents the significant development of agriculture in Bulgaria. On this silk, below the flag, has been added the image of a single lion taken from the escutcheon on the official Bulgarian state emblem.
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 1-3/4" silks were usually inserts in the product. The larger silks were usually premiums given in exchange for coupons. This silk is of the larger size and most likely was distributed as a premium.
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: Very 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. There are also few slight wrinkles, which may disappear with a careful pressing on delicate setting. Areas of minor age discoloration are much less noticeable in person than in this scanned image.
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