Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: pat-250
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 80.5" x 53"
Flag Size (H x L): 65" x 34"
Swallowtail format, patriotic vertical banner bearing the name and the seal of the State of Illinois. Made in the period between 1861 and the 1876 centennial of American independence, the textile is entirely hand-painted on heavy cotton. This is the only stars & stripes format, 19th century banner with this heraldic image that I have ever encountered in private hands.

Note the bold and interesting imagery, which includes a modernistic, folded streamer on a cornflower blue field of 22 visible stars and an interpretation of the device of the state, executed in a folk style. Below this, on a field of 11 vertical stripes, is a medallion set within beautiful, gilded scrollwork. The seal is a loose interpretation of the actual. It shows a bold, spread wing eagle, facing to the right, with a billowing red streamer in its beak and a federal shield set before it with 17 stars. None of the star or stripe counts here have any specific reference and are merely decorative. The eagle stands upon a rock before what, on the actual seal, is Lake Michigan. The motto “State Sovereignty National Unity” typically appears upon the streamer, but is absent here. Also absent is the rising sun and olive branches. The design displays a blend of elements present in both the 1st and 2nd official design, adopted in 1819 and 1825, respectively, and the one adopted in 1868. In the 1868 version, the eagle is in a less attractive side pose and facing the other direction. Based upon both this banner and related ones that are known by the same hand, it seems likely that the painter was working with verbal descriptions only.

Banners of this type were often hoisted on single vertical staffs that held the rope aloft in the center. This basic style was both carried in parades and affixed on mounts indoors. Similar decorations and banners can be seen along the walls at early political conventions, or hoisted among benches, where they denoted the positions of the seating of attendees from various states. This particular example was found among a series of banners representing Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, and New York City. Ones representing Kansas and Massachusetts are also known. The presence of the New York City example suggests that whatever event they were used at occurred in New York.

The 1868 Democrat National Convention was held in Manhattan at Tammany Hall. A colorful illustration, printed for Joseph Shannon’s Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York, shows the interior of the building masterfully festooned with patriotic banners, medallions, and buntings of similar nature, but none that match this particular style. Only the front and central interior are pictured, but two full sets of state identifying decorations are shown. This banner and its mates could well have hung elsewhere on the premises. No Republican National Conventions were held in New York during the 19th century.

An alternative possibility is that the banners were used in festivities pertaining to the centennial of American independence in 1876, either in New York or at an event such as the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia, a six-month long World's Fair event, where a city like New York probably had its own pavilion, along with each individual state.

Whatever the case may be, the textile is a boldly graphic, colorful survivor of the latter 19th century and one of only two banners of this period or prior that I have encountered with the device of Illinois.

  Construction: Painted cotton, tacked to a wooden staff with acorn finials that is original to the banner. A length of red wool tape was used to reinforce the point where the tacks are affixed.

Mounting: The banner was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by masters degree trained staff. We take great care in the mounting and presentation of flags and have preserved thousands of examples; more than anyone worldwide.

The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. 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 plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is minor soiling and there was very minor paint loss. A very minor amount of professional restoration was undertaken. There is some breakdown around the left eye of the soldier. 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:
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1876
State/Affiliation: Illinois
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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