Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > British & French Flags



Web ID: ofj-925
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 35" x 45.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 23.75" x 34.5"
National flag of Spain, in the style chosen by King Charles III to be flown by merchant ships beginning in 1785. In use until 1927, this is the flag that most often appears on identification charts throughout the 19th century. Made of wool bunting, pieced-and-sewn with treadle stitching, this particular example was made in the United States for celebrations held in honor of the nation's 100-year anniversary of independence from Great Britain. The fly end is bound with an open sleeve made of heavy cotton twill. Along this is a black-inked stencil that reads "SPAIN," accompanied by its size of "2 x 3 feet." Also included are the name and location of the maker, "Horstmann, Phila." A small tag, hand-sewn on the obverse of the twill-woven cotton sleeve, reads "Jussen." This would represent the name of a former owner and it was common to mark flags in this fashion during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Horstmann & Brothers Company was a major military goods manufacturer and dealer. The firm, which opened in 1816, is best known for the significant role it played in the outfitting of soldiers during the American Civil War. Because Horstmann Brothers was located in Philadelphia, and because it was well known for producing flags and banners, it became a logical source for this material in 1876. This flag was acquired from a Pennsylvania antiques dealer, who bought it at a sale in the greater Philadelphia area, along with a group of related flags. Among them were an array of international flags, an American, colonial style example, plus two American national flags with 38 stars. All were in the same basic scale and all but two bore similar markings.

Colorado joined the Union as the 38th state in 1876. In that same year, our nation's first successful World's Fair took place in Philadelphia. Held over a 6-month period, this served as the nucleus of centennial festivities. More than 200 structures were erected in Fairmount Park to accommodate exhibitions. The largest of these enclosed more than 20 acres and many bore cathedraled expanses that were ideal for the display of flags.

World's Fairs celebrated both national history and modern accomplishments, with an eye to positive international cooperation and mutual respect. Spain participated and, in addition to having a smaller presence in various large buildings, actually built three independent structures specifically for its exhibits. These included the Spanish Government Building, the Spanish Soldiers Headquarters, and the Spanish Exhibition Building. The only other nations with as many stand-alone structures were England and France. In "The Centennial Exposition, Described and Illustrated" (1876, Hubbard Bros., Philadelphia), p. 519 - 521, author J.S. Ingram had many things to say regarding Spain's presence at the Expo., among which he made the following observations:

"In referring to the exhibits of Spain, we must not omit to remind our reader that when preparations were being made for our Exhibition, Spain and her people were distracted by civil war, which was followed by a long period of international dissension, very hurtful to all industrial pursuits. Taking these facts into consideration, the display made of her resources and products was really very remarkable and extremely creditable."

"The exhibits were contained in a large and imposing enclosure painted in imitation of colored marble, surmounted by the arms of Spain and trophies of flags…"

"The front also contained cases in which armor, photographs of armor, etc., were displayed."

One of the handsomest articles in the who Spanish section was a magnificently carved sideboard of oak and other woods, valued at $1,500 exclusive of the duty. This splendid piece of furniture stood ten feet high and six feet in width, and was entirely covered in arabesque designs and imitations of animals, birds, fruits, etc., in alto relievo. At the extreme top of the screen which formed the back of the sideboard was carved a large basket containing fruits, over the top of which was leaping a cat of life-size, with a fish in its mouth…"

"The Spanish section of Agricultural Hall, surrounded by a wall of yellow wood, and entered under a lofty Gothic portal, was a wonderful museum of wines, oils, spices, fruits, grains, woods, tobacco, skins and nuts, all from Spain and her colonies. On the floor lay huge logs of mahogany and rosewood. Festoons of tobacco leaves and sheaves of grain surrounded the pillars. On shelves rising one above the other were ranges bottles and jars in orderly array, filled with every conceivable article…"

"In the Spanish Government Building, which was situated near the Catholic Fountain, was an extremely interesting and valuable exhibition of arms, models, educational and scientific appliances, hospital equipments, etc., which was specially deserving of study."

Early Spanish flags are particularly rare in my experience. This is the eldest example that I have ever encountered and it's remarkable to have been the product of an American maker, signed, and produced for an identified, landmark event of patriotic purpose, in which Spain fervently participated. Because most pieced-and-sewn flags of the 19th century were 8 feet long and larger, it's also remarkable to be of such manageable scale. For an American of Spanish origin, or vice-versa, it's truly an ideal example for many reasons.

Mounting: The flag 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 have preserved thousands of examples.

The black-painted and hand-gilded molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There are minor losses throughout, accompanied by a few moderate losses and tears, the most significant of which are in the top, hoist-end corner, adjacent to the binding, along the top and bottom edges, and in the lower, fly-end quadrant. We decided to leave the flag in its original state, but if desired, fabric of similar coloration can be placed behind these areas to mask the losses. 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: Sewn flag
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1876
State/Affiliation: Other
War Association:
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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