Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 18.25" x 15.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 5.5" x 8" on a 11" staff

36 star American national parade flag, printed on coarse, glazed cotton. Overprinted in black in the stripes, in a large, sculpted font, is advertising for the 1868 presidential campaign of General Ulysses S. Grant with running mate Schuyler Colfax. Among known parade flags, those made for political campaigns, with text or pictorial advertising, are the most valuable. Within this group, textiles made for the most beloved figures in American history, such as Lincoln and Grant, are avidly sought by collectors.

Also important to a flag’s value are its visual presentation and any peculiar elements within the design. In this regard, two things are worth noting on this example. One is the amount of space that the attractive text commands with respect to the overall size of the flag. Because the lettering is quite large, it makes a bold statement. Two is the configuration of the stars, which appear in one of the more unusual forms of a wreath configuration.

The design starts with a typical outer wreath, flanked by a star in each corner. But instead of having one or two concentric circles inside it, followed by a large center star, the stars inside the perimeter seem to have no apparent pattern. In actuality, these form what is known to flag enthusiasts as a "Great Star," which is a start made out of stars. To the untrained eye, this can be very difficult to see, especially in this instance. Here, the star-shaped form is canted at a slight angle, so that one point of it rests in roughly the 11:00 position when the flag is viewed on the obverse (front). When a Great Star is married to a wreath design, it sometimes shares stars with the wreath itself. That characteristic is present in this configuration; in fact, the pattern could also be viewed as a Great Star with two stars between each arm (and a star in each corner of the canton.)

Because the Great Star pattern is very difficult to discern, what jumps out at the viewer is simply a whimsical, circular medallion with no apparent pattern in the middle. And because it’s a design on which the eye can’t easily rest, it draws you in with an almost hypnotic movement.

Together the two patterns form what I have termed a “Great Star-in-a-Wreath." I have often described the Great Star as the “Rolls Royce” of geometric patterns, yet both are highly desired.

The 36th state, Nevada, gained statehood during the Civil War in 1864. Makers of parade flags would have added a star to their flags at this time, but the 36 star flag did not become official until July 4th, 1865, after the war’s end. It was replaced by the 37 star flag in 1867. Note that 36 is one star short of the official star count in 1868. This is sometimes the case with political campaign flags, which often have a number of stars that is one or more behind what was official in the election year. Sometimes campaigning may have started before the election year. At other times the star count probably wasn’t that important to the person manufacturing or ordering these small, printed flags.

Biographical Information on Grant & Colfax:

President and General Ulysses S. Grant was born in Ohio in 1822, the son of a tanner. He was shy and quiet as a youth, and most who knew him then would never have expected forthcoming greatness. Like Robert E. Lee, his eventual counterpart, Grant was a West Point graduate and fought in the Mexican War. Unlike that of Lee, however, Grant’s early military career was far from illustrious. Forced to leave the Army for insubordination, as a civilian he went through six different jobs in just six years. When war broke out in 1861, he was working for his father’s leather shop in Illinois. Trained officers were scarce, so he soon returned to the Army and was placed in charge of an unruly group of Illinois volunteers that no one else would have. Accounts say that he drilled them nearly to their death, before leading minor, successful campaigns that turned heads and won a promotion to Brigadier General. Various incidents and problems with alcohol caused many to plead for his dismissal, but Lincoln, in retorted jest, made the suggestion that “a case of whatever Grant was drinking” be sent to every Union General. “I cannot spare this man”, touted Lincoln, “...he fights.” Grant’s continued determination caused Lincoln to place him in charge of the entire Union Army in March of 1864. In April of 1865, he cornered the main part of the Confederate Army near Richmond, Virginia, an act that caused the surrender of General Lee and ended the war.

Following the abominable failures of incumbent President, Andrew Johnson, Grant’s hero status won him the 1868 Republican nomination. He was elected, and although many shortcomings would cause Grant’s presidency to be widely criticized, he was known to be terminally honest, exceptionally loyal to his friends and staff (sometimes to a fault), and he was re-elected in 1872. While in office, he fought for equal voting rights for people of all races and colors, pushing the 15th amendment to its 1870 ratification. Grant strove to maintain order in the south with brute force, using the military to protect African Americans and combat southern extremists and hate groups, such as the Klu Klux Klan, which had been established in 1866 and was experiencing rapid growth. Grant died in 1885 and interment took place in New York City (Grant’s Tomb).

A member of the Whig party, before transitioning to the Know-Nothings and then becoming a Republican, New York City-born Schuyler Colfax served seven terms in congress, including three as Speaker of the House. He was jovial and well-liked by both the mainstream and radicals, which earned him the nickname “Smiler” Colfax. He served with Grant as Vice President for the first term only and was unsuccessful for re-nomination due to allegations of corruption in a business scandal.

Mounting: The paint-decorated molding has an inflection profile and a gilded inner lip and dates to the period between 1840 and 1870. The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. And acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for same purpose. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There is very minor foxing and staining, but there are no significant condition issues and this is an excellent state of preservation, especially for such a rare and desirable flag of this period. many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 36
Earliest Date of Origin: 1868
Latest Date of Origin: 1868
State/Affiliation: Nevada
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD

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