Military & Regimental Cigarette Silks of WW1

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Having been trading in Cigarette silks (Mainly with a Military Theme) for over 15 years and particularly the last 13 on ebay, I get asked the same questions from buyers and interested partys regularly. So i will attempt to put the answers here as the information is neither readily available or accurate...

I often get asked "What is a Cigarette Silk?" and for those who dont already know, It is a small peice of Printed (or woven) Satin (Almost never Silk) given away free inside Yester-years cigarette packets in the same manner as cigarette cards. Sometimes they came on a backing card or in a paper packet and more often than not with nothing at all. With the passing of years they have become increasingly collectable and valueable.......

One of the most common misconceptions I hear (And have read in print) goes as follows"Silks came about during WW1 due to the paper shortage making cigarette cards impossible or to expensive"..While this may be a possible contributing factor to the rise in popularity of Silks, It is most definatley not the sole factor.....

There were silk issues in the USA from the late Victorian period and the UKs own Godfrey Phillips had issued over 20 different series between 1910 and the outbreak of war...Also a fair few series were issued with card or paper backs making the paper shortage theory incredulous..

Although there were many different subject matters with the Outbreak of WW1 the Military Badges and Regimental Colours, Uniforms, Medals,Regimental Crests, Warships and War Heroes became the order of the day, especially for the male smokers...

Although during the war there were lots of companys issuing silks, By far the most prolific Issuer in the UK was Godfrey Phillips, they issued more silks than all the other Uk makers combined...Their B.D.V. Brand was very popular at the time and many examples can still be easily found cheaply today...They also issued as many unbranded or anonymous silks in thier other brands of tobacco and Cigarettes and many silks were isssued by other tobacco companys after they amalgamated with Phillips.....

Other UK Tobacco Companys who issued silks were: E&W Anstie(woven), Cohen& Weenen, Major Drapkin, Gallaher, R&J Hill, R&J Lea, B Morris, Muratti, Murray, Salmon & Gluckstein, John Sinclair, Robert Sinclair, Singleton and Cole and J Wix

There are also many anonymous Silks who the maker is not Known, and Trade Silks that were issued with magazines or Grocerys

Prices vary dramatically depending on condition and rareity...Job lots of frayed and creased common silks can be picked up for peanuts on ebay, and at the opposite end of the scale I have sold single silks for over £100 on ebay auction and have seen others fetch double...Obviously the less frayed and creased the better but with some series this will be impossible. Some silks issued in Packets or with card backing can be found in Excellent condition regularly while others printed on Thin or lower quality satin can only ever be found with Frayed edges...

After WW1 there were less issues and by 1922 harldy any in the UK there was a brief resurgence in the 30s mostly by Wix/Kensitas and Muratti but apart from the odd trade issue that was the end of silks..

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