13 May 2009

Tobacco Felts

The Flea Market Acquisitions, Part II

I found a big pile -- no less than 50 big -- of these lovely butterfly flannel pieces on the second day of the giant flea market.

The dealer was from Pennsylvania and found them at the bottom of an auction box lot. Because she didn't know much about them, I'm guessing I paid a lower than average price.

These butterfly flannel bits are called "felts" and considered part of the larger tobacciana category of tobacco-related collectibles. On ebay, you'll find them listed under Felts & Silks.

With the helpful information on a few ebay listings and this www.fabrics.net article -- Textile Tobacco Inserts and Premiums -- I learned a bit more about my new collection. The felts were likely produced in the U.S. around 1900, give or take a couple decades. Like cigarette cards, they were freebies inside tobacco products. They were collected and sometimes stitched into pillows or quilts.

Not sure what I'll end up doing with these. Some are very appealing, like an old scientific illustration. Others are in fact quite gaudy. I expect that I'll pull out a few to frame and put the rest away until inspiration strikes .

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