Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 73" x 118"
Flag Size (H x L): 60.5" x 105.5"
38 star American national flag, made following the addition of Colorado in 1876, with its stars arranged in an especially graphic rendition of what is known as the "Great Star" pattern. This consists of a large star in the very center, with a series of smaller stars around it, arranged in such a fashion that together they form the profile of a much larger star.

This rare variation of the Great Star has a star between each arm, where most do not. In fact, note that there are actually 2 stars between the arms on the hoist end. The basic pattern--with 1 star between each arm as opposed to 2--very clearly mimics printed parade flags of the 1850-60 era, which look distinctly like this 38-star example, but with fewer stars. The presentation is not unlike exploding fireworks and is particularly striking.

Among collectors, the Great Star is the most coveted of all geometric designs. It probably came about shortly after the War of 1812, when Congressman Peter Wendover, of New York, requested that Captain Samuel Reid, a War of 1812 naval hero, sought to create a new design that would become the third official format of the Stars & Stripes. A recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Reid became harbor master of New York following the war. During his lifetime, he created many innovations in signal use, including a system that could actually send messages from New York to New Orleans by sea in just two hours.

Use as a Naval signal had been the primary reason for the initial creation of an American national flag in the first place, in 1777, but since there was no official star design, the appearance of our flag varied greatly. So Reid and Wendover's primary concern centered on both consistency and ease of recognition. Their hope was as more and more states joined the Union and more and more stars were added to the flag, that it would remain easily identified on the open seas. So in 1818, Reid suggested to Congress that the number of stripes permanently return to 13 (reduced from 15) and that the stars be grouped into the shape of one large star.

Reid's proposal would have kept the star constellation in roughly the same format, in a pattern that could be quickly identified through a spyglass as the number of states grew. His concept for the stripes was ultimately accepted, but his advice on the star pattern was rejected by President James Monroe, due to the increased cost of arranging the stars in what would become known as the "Great Star", "Great Flower", or "Great Luminary" pattern. Monroe probably didn't wish to impose this cost on either the government or civilians, so he suggested a simple pattern of justified rows. Never-the-less, the Great Star was produced by anyone willing to make it and its rarity today, along with its beauty, has driven the desirability of American flags with this configuration.

In summary, this is one of the most graphic great star flags that I have ever seen, which places it among the very best examples of the period.

Great Star designs take on many forms. In this particular example, note that there is a star between each arm of the large star and that there is a triangle of three stars in the very center.

Colorado became the 38th state on August 1st, 1876. This was the year of our nation’s 100-year anniversary of independence. Per the Third Flag Act of 1818, stars were not officially added until the 4th of July following a state's addition. For this reason, 37 was the official star count for the American flag in 1876. Flag-making was a competitive venture, however, and few flag-makers would have been continuing to produce 37 star flags when their competitors were making 38’s. It is for this reason that 38 and 13 stars (to represent the original 13 colonies) are more often seen at the Centennial International Exposition, the six-month long World’s Fair held in Philadelphia in honor of the event. Some flag-makers would have been adding a star for the 38th state even before it entered the Union, in the early part of 1876 or even prior. In fact, many makers of parade flags were actually producing 39 star flags, in hopeful anticipation of the addition of two more Western Territories instead of one. But the 39th state would not join the Union for another 13 years, when the Dakota Territory entered as two states on the same day. The 38 star flag became official on July 4th, 1877 and was generally used until the addition of the Dakotas in 1889.

Decorative star patterns, like this one, tend to be seen on 38 star flags that were made specifically for the centennial, which fueled all sorts of creativity in the manufacture of patriotic objects.

Construction: The stars of the flag are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliqued. This means that they were applied to both sides of the canton. The stripes were joined with treadle stitching. There is a cotton sleeve with 2 brass grommets.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-sewn to 100% natural fabric for support on every seam and throughout the star field. Fabric of similar coloration was used for masking purposes. The flag was then hand-stitched to 100% cotton twill, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: The binding along the hoist is not original to the flag. It is a blue and white, ticking stripe, herringbone weave cotton tape, period to the flag's construction, used to complete the unfinished edge. There is minor foxing and staining throughout, accompanied by minor fading.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1889
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD

Views: 2765