TACKY TOBACCY Indian Flannel Tobacco Premiums from the 1920's
If I were asked to name the most beautiful objects produced in North America, I would not hesitate to say Navajo pre-reservation saddle blankets. To even stand next to a good one is thrilling. They often took a weaver 6 months to make, and the subtle variations in wool color, the placement of design (or the intentional lack of design) and the texture added by "lazy lines" adds up to just about the most beautiful and heart-wrenching visual treat there is. A brief search will turn up dozens of nice examples, but the essay by Joshua Baer, "The Last Blankets" explains my attraction as well as his own, and if you can find the book he printed on the same subject, you'll prize it as I do. I believe it is one of the finest essays ever written on collecting art...and why.
I would NOT, however, even think of saying "Umm...INDIAN TOBACCO FLANNEL PREMIUMS FROM THE 1920's." They are quite horrendous. These tacky fabric pieces were given away to placate the kids and wife while Daddy smoked away his health and the family funds. Most often seen representing the flags of all nations (I've even had a quilt made entirely from confederate flag felts) they are the size of a discarded paperback book and even less valuable. There is usually one laying on a table in your local antique mall with a 50 cent price safety pinned to it. Leave it there unless you need a floor rug for a child's "western theme" doll house.
Group of four Tobacco Flannel Premiums, c. 1900-1920 Collection Jim Linderman