Animals with Flags

To encourage loyalty, tobacco companies used to give away a small collectible piece of printed fabric (a “silk”) with each pack of cigarettes.  Kovels Antiques notes, “popular subjects included actors and actresses, animals, baseball players, college mascots and seals, flags, generals, Indians, kings and queens, U.S. presidents, and Hamilton King girls.”

This 1915 set from the Imperial Tobacco Company (ITC) of Canada mashed up animals and flags, with often surreal results:

A hippo bellows with a flag of Transvaal planted in its back.
A hippo bellows with a flag (allegedly) of Transvaal planted in its back.  Photo from eBay.
Behind a ferocious crocodile, a huge Egyptian flag has been planted in the middle of a pond.
Behind a ferocious crocodile, a huge flag of the Sultanate of Egypt has been planted in the middle of a stream or pond. Photo from eBay.
An enraged gorilla dislikes an alleged flag of the French Congo planted in his back.
An enraged gorilla has a dubious flag of the French Congo planted in his shoulder.

ITC does not appear to have been much concerned with the accuracy of the flags depicted, frequently taking artistic license.  Taken together, these silks provide strange and fanciful vexillological imagery from a century ago.

animals-with-flags-1915

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Author: SDM

Ethnography * Technology * Design

1 thought on “Animals with Flags”

  1. My dad recently purchased a ton of these from what he calls a “flags of the world” series and now I’m trying to find out anything about them (mostly just finding more sets for him to look for, like animals with flags xD)…

    Cheers!

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