Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 34.5" x 39.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 24.25" x 29.25"
During the Women's Suffrage movement, many organizations sprung up all over the country that helped bring the issue to a head. The nucleus of activity surrounded New York State and New York City, where leading activists such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch waged war for the right of women to vote.

Of the various textiles produced to trumpet the message at parades and rallies, suffrage banners are not only the largest, but are by far the most rare in the antiques marketplace and are highly coveted by collectors. Found in a collection in California, with a teacher who had bought it 30 years ago while traveling across country, this particular example at first appeared to have been constructed of fine, white cotton, to which bold lettering, made from paper that was first painted metallic gold, was artfully clipped and applied. Many Suffragettes wore white in parades, and while pennants and many other related textiles in America tend to be a deep, cheddar yellow, banners viewed in period images of suffrage marches appear to have often been white like the dresses.

When viewing the reverse of the banner, it is clear that the original color was actually blue, not white. The glue used to apply the letters made the original dye colorfast, so the reverse of the lettering is blue. Only traces of this color appear elsewhere, beyond the lettering, along the portion wrapped around the wooden bars.

The combination of blue and yellow seems to have been preferred by the Empire State Campaign Committee, which was Carrie Chapman Catt’s group. A person making a homemade banner might conceivably use any fabric available, so the color isn’t conclusive evidence of a NYS relationship, but it does provide a good clue as to its possible origin.

Like other suffrage efforts in New York, the Empire State Campaign Committee was gearing up for a highly anticipated vote for state level voting rights in 1915. On November 2nd of that year, male voters in New York defeated a state referendum that would have amended the US Constitution to give all women of the state the right to vote. New York was among four eastern states where the issue was put before voters, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. It was unsuccessful in all four states. Public support for the issue had been favorable in New York in that year, where the Suffrage movement was 100,000 members strong. Polls had predicted the likeliness of a win, but it would be two more years before New York would become the first eastern state to approve suffrage, on November 6th, 1917, and not until 1920 when American women would earn the right to vote nationwide. The latter came on the coattails of the U.K., where women obtained voting rights in 1918.

The banner was found with its top and bottom edges wrapped around and nailed to wooden slats. These are original to its use and would have kept the banner properly supported and unfurled while carried by hand or, more likely, on a staff. It survives as a rare reminder and relic of the suffrage movement.

Mounting: The banner has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, that 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 modern black molding with a copper colored liner, inside which a shadow box was created to accommodate the wooden slats. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass.

Condition: There is nearly complete fading of the blue color to white. There are minor rust stains around the original tack holes. There are minor losses in the paper lettering. Where needed, this was professionally re-applied with archival adhesive. I carefully removed the wooden slats and re-applied them with the original tacks, in order to remove bunching of the fabric so it could be better preserved and displayed. The exceptional rarity warrants almost any condition.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type:
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1910
Latest Date of Origin: 1920
War Association:
Price: SOLD

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