I recently purchased these two neat little tobacco silks at a tag sale.
Unlike the name suggests, tobacco or cigarette silks were usually not made from silk, but from satin. Images were printed on the satin, and used as collectors items, often targeting women. These particular satins date from 1911 to 1914. Several things help date these, but it is most evident in the Germany satin:
- Printed at the top right and along the bottom center is ‘Nebo Cigarettes, Factory no 21 5th District N.J.’ Nebo Cigarettes, started c. 1899 in New York, was bought out by the P. Lorillard Company based out of New Jersey in 1911 with the dissolution of the American Tobacco Company.
- The women both have the defined busts and waists of corsets. Corsets were on the decline starting in 1914, and girdles replaced corsets with newer generations of women by the 1920s. Women preferred the long lines and boyish silhouettes provided by the girdles, which supported the area from waist to hips, instead of the strict figure supplied by the corset, covering from the top of the bust to below the hips.
- The German woman’s uniform further dates the satins. She wears the Prussian Garde du Corps helmet, and Imperial German cavalry uniform of Kaiser Wilhelm II, King of Prussian and Germany Emperor from 1888 to 1918.
By the start of World War I, these fancy uniforms were replaced with the more understated blue-gray uniforms, along with the helmets with the spike seen in many anti-German World War I propaganda posters.
Satins were popular in the early 1900s, and were considered collectible ‘premiums,’ usually only found with more expensive brands of cigarettes. Collectors often had to send off coupons from cigarette packs to obtain one or more satins. A variety of satin series’ were created, and included busts of Native Americans, royalty, Victorian women, flags, well-known celebrities, and sports stars. One of the main goals, besides generating brand loyalty, was to encourage women to smoke. Women collected the satins and were encouraged to create household items. Many sewed quilts or pillows featuring their collected satins, and often coined ‘Crazy Quilts.’
The Barrington House. ‘Fashion Plates 1914.’ The Barrington House. 9 June 2013. Image. 4 August 2013. http://bartoscollection.com/fp1914.html
Becker, Carl. ‘The Kaiser’s Army in Color: Uniforms of the Imperial German Army, 1890-1910.’ Data Life Engine. 7 January 2008. Image. 4 August 2013 http://mirageswar.com/2008/01/07/print:page,1,the_kaisers_army_in_color._uniforms_of_the_imperial_german_army_as_illustrated_by_carl_becker_18901910.html
Brenemen, Judy Ann. ‘Tobacco Premium Quilt History: Silks, Ribbons, and Flannels.’ America’s Quilting History. 2001. Web. 4 August 2013. http://www.womenfolk.com/quilting_history/tobacco.htm
Brick, Cindy. Crazy Quilts: History, Techniques, Embroidery Motifs. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press, 2008. Print.
Dollhouse Bettie. ‘The Girdle Story Part 1: The Beginnings.’ Partial Coverage. 4 August 2013. Web. 4 August 2013 http://www.dollhousebettie.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&Itemid=0&lang=en&show=224
Hyman, Tony. ‘Silks and Satins.’ National Cigar Museum. 2013. Web. 16 July 2013. http://cigarhistory.info/Premiums/Silks_and_Satins.html
King’s College London. ‘Recruitment Posters.’ King’s Collection, King’s Collection London. 30 April 2013. Image. 4 August 2013. http://www.kingscollections.org/exhibitions/archives/the-cartoon-in-wartime-propaganda/types-and-techniques/recruitment-posters
Shaw, James. ‘Nebo Cigarettes.’ Jim’s Burnt Offerings. 8 November 2010. Web. 16 July 2013. http://www.jimsburntofferings.com/adsnebo.html
Symes, Peter. ‘Fashion Plates 1912.’ Wynne’s Diary. 29 July 2013. Image. 4 August 2013. http://www.wynnesdiary.com/section_pages/fashion/fashion7.html
Stevens, Sue. Kiwis at War: Cigarette Silks-Military Textile Collection. National Army Museum. 2010. Web. 4 August 2013. http://www.armymuseum.co.nz/kiwis-at-war/did-you-know/cigarette-silks/