Between 1925 and 1927, the Stehli Silks Corporation produced the Americana Prints, a series of nearly 100 artist-designed dress silks for the modern woman. American artists, designers, celebrities and cartoonists were selected to create the prints, among them photographer Edward Steichen and cartoonist John Held Jr., who produced the piece featured here. Taken together, the prints present a microcosm of Jazz Age culture. One features automobiles, another aspirin tablets, and a third a crowd of people at a sporting event.
This example is a humorous riff off a typical polka-dot pattern, with jazz musicians and their instruments dotting the fabric in a repeating white and blue pattern. Like the other Americana prints, it was produced on a variety of silk fabrics, including crepe de chine, georgette, and chiffon. The prints were sold both as yard goods at high-end department stores and as ready-to-wear dresses at middle-market retailers. This, in addition to the publication of a limited-edition catalog of reproductions, ensured that the prints were widely circulated both as popular commodities and works of art.