Medium-sized vintage tobacco premium flannel "felt" with the 1912-1959 48-Star United States of America Flag set against a YELLOW background - distributed between 1912 and 1916 as a premium with one of the several cigarette brands marketed by the American Tobacco Company, as one of several sets of "Flags of the World" series issued with different tobacco brands. This felt measures 5-1/4" x 8-1/4". Full-color image of the flag is on both front and back – however, the side with the hoist to the left is the "front" or better side.
The 48-star flag, arranged in 6 rows of 8 stars each, was adopted when two stars were added for the new states of Arizona and New Mexico in 1912. This remained the configuration until July 4, 1959, when an additional star was officially added for the new state of Alaska, bringing the total number of stars to 49. On July 4, 1960, the current 50-star flag was officially adopted when Hawaii was also granted statehood. There are thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.
On this flannel felt, the 48-star American flag is set against a YELLOW background, and surrounded by a stars-and-bars decorated border. NOTE: The border surrounding the felt is not part of the flag itself, but is common to all felts issued in this particular "Flags of the World" series.0
The practice of inserting premiums in tobacco products began in about 1870 and continued into the first decades of the 20th century. As with the "silks", flag textiles or "felts" were packed in or on packages of cigarettes from 1906 and to 1916. American Tobacco Company was one of a number of cigarette companies that distributed free silks, flannels or leather to customers who purchased their tobacco products as either "inserts" or "premiums". Larger "felts" were available in premium catalogs, and sent to consumers in exchange for coupons distributed in tobacco packaging. This United States 48-Star Flag flannel felt is one of the moderately large ones and could have been distributed as a premium.
Tobacco "felts" were actually made of a cotton flannel fabric and printed in many designs, in themes similar to those used on silks. They 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.) Some subjects also seemingly targeted women, like butterflies, but the majority of the flannel felt themes were male oriented. "Flags of the World" was one of the most popular themes.
CONDITION NOTE: There are five available, each SOLD SEPARATELY. Each is in generally good condition, although the condition of each may vary slightly. Fabric is not color-fast. Three have areas of pink discoloration, and two have small spots of light age discoloration, visible in some spots on the front-side white stripes. On two, the blue field has bled slightly into the white stars. On the back side, some may have small areas of surface wear. There could also be slight wrinkles in the fabric, which should disappear with a careful pressing on delicate setting. The edges of each may be very slightly frayed in spots. ANY FLAWS ARE OBVIOUS IN THE PHOTOS.
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