Items printed on textiles, sometimes referred to as "silks," were popular for printing commemorative items and items to be given away. Mostly, such printing was done on silk, but satin and linen were also used. Generally, these items were created for ceremonial occasions, and included menus, theatre and concert programs, bookmarks, decorative maps, badges, and keepsakes. They were printed in a variety of ways, but lithography and letterpress were most common. It was common for the items to have silk fringes.
The American Antiquarian Society's collection of textile printing is housed in two large boxes and consists mainly of badges worn in parades and funeral processions, menus, theatre programs, and a few miscellaneous items. Many of the badges feature portraits of political leaders. Other badges were designed for parades celebrating public works, such as the opening of the Croton Reservoir and the dedication of a statue to Benjamin Franklin in Boston. The textiles range in date from about 1812 through the early twentieth-century.
-Terri Tremblay, Assistant Curator of Graphic Arts
Source: Rickards, Maurice, The Encyclopedia of Ephemera. New York: Routledge, 2000.