One of the most comprehensive collection of tobacco "silkies" is being exhibited at Kauffman Museum in North Newton, and this weekend the museum will honor the woman who collected them — and quilts and other items made from them — before she passed away.
Kauffman Museum will honor the source and inspiration behind the “Better Choose Me: Collecting and Creating with Tobacco Fabric Novelties, 1880-1920” exhibit at the next Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program at 3 p.m. Jan. 6 in the museum on the Bethel College campus.
The exhibition includes colorful quilts and household textiles made from tobacco premiums, all antiques collected by the late Ethel Ewert Abrahams of North Newton.
On Jan. 6, retired museum director Rachel Pannabecker will present “Remembering Ethel Ewert Abrahams: Collector and Artist.” The program is free and open to the public.
Pannabecker will retell the story of how Abrahams began her unusual collection, which Pannabecker believes is the most comprehensive tobacco novelty collection in the United States.
The exhibition title “Better Choose Me” refers to the BCM Company slogan, printed on silk cigar ribbons that were made into a table cover.
Research by Abrahams and Pannabecker on the history of tobacco premiums and how women creatively used them was published in the 2000 issue of "Uncoverings," the journal of the American Quilt Study Group.
“Better Choose Me” will be on display through Jan. 20.
Honoring collectors is the heart of the museum’s “Connecting to Collecting” theme for the 2018-19 school year.
Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays. Admission to the special exhibit “Better Choose Me: Collecting and Creating with Tobacco Fabric Novelties, 1880 to 1920” and the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” and “Mirror of the Martyrs” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 to 16 and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. The museum store is open the same hours as the museum but there is no admission charge for visiting the store.