Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 59" x 82"
Flag Size (H x L): 47" x 70"
38 star American national flag in a bold yet manageable size among its 19th century counterparts with pieced-and-sewn construction. The stars are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliqued (applied to both sides). These are arranged in justified lineal rows in counts of 8-7-8-7-8. All of the stars are oriented in an upright position (with one point up). Note how the stars are corralled in a tighter regiment than usual, with a bit more blue of the canton around them than one might expect.

The stripes and canton of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced with treadle stitching, which is typical of the period. There is a twill cotton binding along the hoist with two brass grommets, through which braided cotton cord was threaded, so that the flag could be affixed to a staff or pole.

A name that appears to read "J.T. Mille," though possibly "Mills" or "Miller," is inscribed along the binding, near the top, on the obverse, with a dip pen. 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. Research into the name "Mille," an unusual name in America, yielded no positive results, while "Miller" and "Mills" are simply to generic, with thousands upon thousands of possible matches with the initials "J." or "J.T.".

The colors of the flag are strong and pleasing, and the presence of the ties adds a degree of movement to its display. The best thing about its visual characteristics, however, results from the wear it received during extended use. The losses in the stars, along the fly end and elsewhere, provide the sort of endearing appeal that some connoisseurs of early American flags--myself among them--sincerely enjoy from an artistic standpoint, as well as a patriotic one. Much of what survives from the 19th century is either in fairly excellent condition, having seldom been flown, or has a patterning of loss that does not lend itself to this degree of graphics. Because most flags that received extended use were discarded, either in the period or during the many years that followed, the possible candidates for an example with this sort of presentation are few and far between.

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.

President Ulysses S. Grant was in office when the first 38 star flags would have appeared. The list of presidents serving during the period when the 38 star flag was actually official include Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison.

During the 19th century, flags with pieced-and-sewn construction (as opposed to printed) were typically eight feet long or larger. This is because they were important in their function as signals, meaning that they needed to be seen and recognized from a great distance. Even flags made for decorative purpose were generally very large by today’s standards. A small flag was six feet in length and this particular example measures just over that on the fly. Smaller flags were even more unusual. Since the average 19th century sewn flag can be cumbersome to frame and display in an indoor setting, many collectors prefer printed parade flags and smaller sewn flags, like this one, the size of which provides a good balance between visual impact and versatility.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed in 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.

The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas.

Condition: There is minor to significant fabric loss at the fly end. There are minor holes throughout, accompanied by modest holes in the 1st, 3rd, 10th, and 11th stripes and a moderate hole in the 2nd stripe. There is an L-shaped tear in the canton, extending from the hoist in the upper corner, with moderate associated loss, accompanied by a few minor holes elsewhere within the canton. There is some fraying with associated loss along the top and bottom edges. The seams have experienced some separation along the top of the 8th through the 12th stripes, near the center of the flag. There are minor to extensive losses in approximately half of the stars. There is minor to modest foxing and staining, accompanied by a few darker stains along the hoist and in the stars. many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. This one does so in a keenly attractive manner.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
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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