Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags

American Parade Flags with Overprinted Advertising

by Jeff Bridgman
Page 3

American Parade Flags with Overprinted Advertising
It would be unfair to say that overprints are new to flag collectors. Political overprinted flags have brought astounding prices by all accounts for many years, the very best surpassing $50,000. Yet printed paper flags of all types have only recently gained widespread attention. Paper flags include some of my favorite designs.

An 1876 paper flag advertising The Van Amburgh Circus is possibly the best I have ever seen, followed closely by the “Cooked Corned Beef” flag from the Mastai collection that reads “put this on a stick for the children” in tiny print along its sleeve . I feel privileged to have been lucky enough to own both of them. Flags like theses exhibit traits that turn the gears of American folk art collectors, and herein lies the reason for their attraction. As a collector of American painted furniture and folk art, such designs are more interesting to me than are some extremely rare political flags, such as those that carry the last names in block text of the long-forgotten candidates who lost an election. But to each his own, as the saying goes. Individuality is inherent in the love of antiques.

Probably the most common type of overprinted flag is the simple G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) reunion parade flag. The G.A.R. was the Civil War veterans association for the Union Army. The most simple GAR overprints display the letters of the organization’s prefix. These are sometimes accompanied by a date, and other times accompanied by a post name. Better Civil War reunion designs carry the mane of the regiment and the place the event was held. These are significantly more valuable than the simple designs (fig. 3).

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