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  ANTIQUE 38 STAR FLAG WITH HAND-SEWN STARS, IN A SMALL SCALE AMONG PIECED-AND-SEWN EXAMPLES, WITH WONDERFUL FOLK QUALITIES, COLORADO STATEHOOD, 1876-1889

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 55.5" x 82.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 45" x 72.25"
Description....:
38 star American national flag in a small size for the 19th century among its counterparts with piece-and-sewn construction and with some attractive features in its large, hand-sewn stars. Colorado became the 38th state on August 1st, 1876. This was the year of our nation’s centennial of independence from Great Britain. Although 37 was the official star count for the American flag in 1876, flag-making was a competitive venture, and no one wanted to be making 37 star flags when others were making 38’s. It is for this reason that 38 and 13 stars (to represent the original 13 colonies) are the two star counts most often seen at the Centennial International Exposition, the six-month long, World’s Fair event, held in honor of the anniversary, in Philadelphia. Some flag-makers were actually producing 39 star flags, in hopeful anticipation of the addition of another Western Territory. The 38 star flag became official on July 4th, 1877 and was generally used until the addition of the Dakotas in 1889.

The stars of the flag are arranged in justified rows of 7-6-6-6-6-7. These are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) to a navy blue canton made of wool bunting. Note how the rows are skewed at an angle, so that the overall presentation takes on a slightly crude effect which emphasizes its age and handmade qualities. The fact that the stars are not appliquéd in the traditional fashion, with a somewhat loose line of stitching running inside and parallel to the edge of the folded fabric, instead of a closer line of whip stitches traveling over the edge and back, contributes to this aspect of its appearance.

The stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting and piece with treadle stitching. There is an open sleeve along the hoist, made of cotton and treadle-sewn.

Adding to the appeal of this flag is its comparably small size among those of this era with pieced-and-sewn construction. During the 19th century, sewn flags (as opposed to those that were printed) were typically eight feet long or larger. This is because they were important in their function as signals, meaning that they needed to be seen and recognized from a great distance. Even flags made for decorative purpose were generally very large by today’s standards. A small flag was six feet in length, like this example. Production of flags smaller than this with sewn construction was near-to-non-existent, with the exception of infantry flank-markers and guidons, surviving examples of which are rare. Since the average 19th century sewn flag can be cumbersome to frame and display in an indoor setting, many collectors prefer printed parade flags and smaller sewn flags, like this one.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza for support on every seam and throughout the star field. It was then be hand-stitched to 100% cotton twill, black in color, which was washed to remove 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 mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is very minor mothing throughout, but the overall condition is excellent for a wool flag of this period.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
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
 

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