Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 46" x 73"
Flag Size (H x L): 33.25" x 60"

38 star American national flag with attractive color and in a desirable scale for a bold yet manageable display. 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.

The stripes of the flag are made of plain weave cotton bunting that has been pieced and sewn with treadle stitching. The canton of the flag is paint-printed on cotton, which was then treadle-sewn to the striped field. The stars are arranged in justified rows of 8-7-8-7-8, which is typical of the 38 star count. Note how their shapes vary from star-to-star, lending a nice quality to the presentation. There is a heavy cotton binding along the hoist with two brass grommets, along which "3" and "5" are stenciled in black to indicate size in feet. Although the stencil is very faint, these appear to be separated by a Maltese cross instead of an "x," which was typical of one or more flag-makers that have yet to be identified.

The indigo blue pigment used was heavily applied and is thus very thick and stiff, which makes the application very unusual when compared to its counterparts of later periods. Although flags with printed cantons and sewn stripes can be encountered on rare occasion with 42 and 45 stars (1889-90 and 1896-1907 respectively), and became common in the 46 and 48 star periods (1907-1959), they are rarely seen before this time. In fact, this is one of only two cotton examples that I have encountered in the 38 star era, and the only one in this particular style.

Both the size of the flag and its shades of red and blue are particularly attractive. Because most parade flags (printed on cotton, silk, or sometimes on wool) of this era have stripes that lean strongly toward orange, due to the pigments employed, smaller scale flags with strong red color are not only scarce, but sometimes more highly coveted. Measuring approximately 5 feet on the fly, the size is unusual among its counterparts of the period. Because parade flags were generally 3 feet long or less, while most pieced-and-sewn flags were generally 8 feet long and larger, flags that fall in between are scarce. Because they can easily be framed to a bold but manageable size, they appeal to both flag enthusiasts and one-time buyers alike.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics for support throughout for support. The flag was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, which was washed to reduce 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 some splitting in the canton with minor associated loss, due to brittleness caused by the thick layer of blue pigment. There is minor to moderate oxidation throughout. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
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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