Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: 38j-1090
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 15.5" x 18.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 6.75" x 9.5"
38 star American national parade flag, printed on silk. The stars are arranged in a variation of what is known as the "Great Star" or "Great Luminary" pattern, so that they form one large star. The pattern is also sometimes called the "Great Flower" and one can see why this term is applicable here. Note how the arms of the stars are open and slightly conical, like petals, and that there is a circular wreath in the center.

Great Star patterns come in many forms. Note how this particular variety includes a star in each corner of the canton, and a star between every arm except one. This blank space was purposeful and was left open for the much-anticipated addition of another Western Territory, most likely the Dakota Territory, which didn’t actually arrive until November 2nd of 1889, and then did so as two separate states instead of one.

I have often referred to the Great Star configuration as sort-of the “Rolls Royce” of the geometric patterns. Coveted by collectors, it seems to have came about shortly before 1818, when Congressman Peter Wendover of New York requested that Captain Samuel Reid, a War of 1812 Naval hero, help to create a new design that would become the third official format of the Stars & Stripes. The primary concern of ship captains was that the signal remained easily recognized on the open seas. Reid’s concept of placing all the stars in a star-shaped pattern would have kept the constellation in roughly the same format as the number of states grew and more stars were added, in a distinct design that could be quickly identified through a spyglass. Though his proposal was rejected by President Monroe, due to the increased cost of arranging the stars in this manner, the Great Star was produced by anyone willing to make it. Its rarity today, along with its beauty, has driven its desirability among collectors.

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.

Mounting: The paint-decorated, rippled profile, American molding dates between 1830 and the 1850’s. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

The flag 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 preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is minor soiling in 2 areas within the striped field. There is a scattering of tiny, pinprick-sized holes, accompanied by tiny areas fabric breakdown. The flag presents beautifully. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1889
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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