|HAND-PAINTED 19TH CENTURY BANNER WITH AN 1867 VERSION OF THE SEAL OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PROPOSED IN THAT YEAR BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE, BUT IN A VARIATION NEVER FORMALLY ADOPTED; LIKELY HAVING REPRESENTED DELEGATES FROM THAT STATE AT THE 1872 REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT NATIONAL CONVENTION [SIMILAR EXAMPLES IDENTIFIED AT BOTH]
|Frame Size (H x L):
|67.75" x 59.25"
|Flag Size (H x L):
|56.5" x 49"
|Banner with the Illinois State Seal, in a rare variation of the design, never adopted. In 1867 Illinois Secretary of State Sharon Tyndale proposed that the phrases in the state motto be reversed. In the wake of the Civil War, (which ended in 1865,) Tyndale suggested that the verbiage be changed from "State Sovereignty--National Union" to "National Union--State Sovereignty,” which made sense given the recent secession of the Southern States, which placed their own interests first. Illinois' own Abraham Lincoln had worked hard to preserve national interests, echoed here in the altering of the language. Though Tyndale’s suggestion was rejected, he was nonetheless charged with creating a new design, which he did and was soon adopted. This displayed the dates of "1818," when Illinois became a state, and "1868," when the seal was officially changed. Interestingly enough, Tyndale did manage to send a message in the new version by turning the word “sovereignty” upside-down , with the surmised explanation that this fit accordingly with the orientation / position of the streamer.
The banner is beautifully hand-painted on muslin and retains its original staff. The shape is attractively scalloped at the bottom edge, which is painted to look as if there is an applied fringe. Most of the elements are congruent with the 1868 version, but there are various differences. Set within a shield-shaped medallion—usually circular—is the expected eagle in a side view, spread wing pose with beak uplifted. The eagle is supposed to be perched upon a rock with one talon, while gripping a federal shield in the other. Here there is no rock and both talons grip the shield, which displays 13 stars. Note the date of "1867" and Tyndale's preferred order of the wording on the billowing ribbon in the eagle's beak. The foreground of the official design is all grass. Here there are olive branches—a peacetime reference appropriate for a country recovering from war—on a grassy area, set upon a sandy shore before Lake Michigan, with a rising sun on the horizon.
This banner was once part of a much larger group—a fact evidenced by surviving examples that illustrate other states. In addition to Illinois, examples of this particular group survive that represent Ohio, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New York. Four of these six I have owned. If I knew nothing else about them, save my examination of the construction and painted surface, I would date them circa 1870-1890. But additional information can be gleaned from the state devices they display, which changed over time. In addition to the details that help date the Illinois version, which suggest a very narrow window of possible production, the Ohio banner, for example, includes a combination of elements present in both the 1866 and 1868 versions of the state seal.
Knowing that banners in this basic style and scale were displayed to mark the location of state delegates at political conventions, research was undertaken to identify similar forms in 19th century photographs and illustrations. The most likely date seemed to be 1868, but I was already very familiar with the illustration of Tammany Hall in that year, in Manhattan, as decorated for the New York Democrat National Convention, and I knew that this precise style was not illustrated. I was also aware of another variety that may have been used elsewhere in the Democrat venue that year, but employed a swallowtail design and were likewise not a match.
An image of the 1868 Republican counterpart, held in Chicago at Crosby's Opera House, was much more difficult to locate, but when I tracked that down, I discovered it surprising void of the usual buntings and flags.
Turning my focus to engravings from other conventions, I examined everything I could find between 1856 and 1900. The most similar banners I found were displayed in just two halls, both in 1872, just one election year later than suspected. This was the race when incumbent Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, faced off against former Republican power broker and newspaper publisher, Horace Greeley, who ran on an independent ticket, eventually endorsed by the Democratic Party establishment.
The 1872 Republican convention was held in Pennsylvania at the Philadelphia Academy of Music, while the opposing, Democrat convention was held in Baltimore at Ford's Opera House. Detailed illustrations of both survive and clearly display what appear to be white banners, of a similar scale, featuring state crests, lining the balconies at both venues. Given that the surviving banners of similar form have come from all different sources, it seems likely that they were taken home by delegates following the event.
Because banners of this type are extremely rare, and because very little in the way of 19th century flags or patriotic textiles exist that in any way relate to Illinois, this is an extraordinary object and a remarkable relic of the state.
Mounting: The banner was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and presentation of flags and related textiles, and have preserved thousands of examples.
The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. A shadowbox was created to accommodate the staff. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas). Feel free to contact us for more details.
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|Earliest Date of Origin:
|Latest Date of Origin:
|1866-1890 Indian Wars
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