Cigarette silk with embroidered badge, Essex Regiment.
Handpainting on bleached silk, as an art form, began with the ancient Chinese, but the idea of printing pictures on to silk for commercial purposes began in 1902, when English tobacco firm Lea issued a set of 30 showing butterflies and moths, followed by Old Pottery and Regimental Crests and Badges. Military themes went down well with a public that was soon to find itself caught up in patriotic fervour following the outbreak of war. Many wartime silks were the familiar cigarette card size, though manufacturers Godfrey Phillips issued them in a 165mm x 120mm format, and rivals Carrera trumped with silks measuring 305mm x 208mm -the size of a small handkerchief. Woven silks were a Dutch speciality. Arguably 1912-19 are the key years for silks. As with cards, there's a subject for all seasons. Phillips published War Leaders, Victoria Cross Heroes, Old Masters, Clan Tartans, Birds of the Tropics, Moths and Heraldry. The American Tobacco Company pushed the boat out, daringly, with Actresses and Bathing Girls, Flowers, Maps, Famous Queens, Women of Ancient Egypt and Presidents of the USA. Australia contributed Butterflies, Flowers and Queens. Silks (like water-colour paintings) are particularly vulnerable to 'foxing' -a fungus growth that presents in the form of small brown dots.
-from "Cigarette Cards and Silks" by Mel Lewis
Unfortunately, it's not clear where woven silks appear in the history of cigarette silks. This particular silk depicts the badge of the Essex Regiment.