Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 27.75" x 36.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 15.75" x 24.25"
Printed on silk, this American national parade flag was made for the 1884 presidential campaign of Grover Cleveland. The flag’s 38 stars are clustered about an oval medallion in the center of the canton. Printed in black ink, this frames a well-executed portrait of the future president, above and below which are the words “For President” and “Grover Cleveland”. Note how the stars vary greatly in their vertical alignment, which lends a nice whimsical element to an already attractive design. In cooperation with the image and the fine silk fabric, what results is one of the most beautiful cantons found in early American parade flags.

Some political campaign parade flags were produced by one flag-maker, in the same style, but for two opposing candidates. Another flag in this format was made for Cleveland’s Republican opponent, James Blaine. An example of the Blaine flag is documented in “Threads of History” (Smithsonian Press, 1978). It was donated to the Smithsonian by members of the family who owned the Cheney Silk Company in Manchester, CT, one of the nation’s largest silk manufacturers. It is therefore is safe to assume that the Cheney company made these flags, or at the very least, the silk on which they were printed. The Cleveland example is also pictured in the Smithsonian text, yet not from the Cheney accession.

This was the first of three times that Grover Cleveland would run for president, and one of two times that he would win. He was the only man to serve two non-consecutive terms (1884-88 and 1892-96) and was the only president to get married in the Whitehouse. In 1886, at age 56, Cleveland married his 22-year old ward, the daughter of his former business partner, who subsequently bore him five children.

Cleveland, a Democrat who appealed to moderate Republicans, had first served public office as a local sheriff, then as Mayor of Buffalo, and finally Governor of New York. He was an imposing, five-foot eleven, two-hundred-sixty-pound man who was thought of as a ‘regular Joe’.

By contrast, Congressman-turned-Senator, James Blaine “Of the Great State of Maine” (so hailed by his supporters), was generally regarded as pompous, flamboyant, and corrupt. This was at a time where robber-baron types, like New York’s Jay Gould, were at the height of their influence and aligned with Republican politicians.

The primary scandal of the 1884 election surrounded claims that Cleveland had a ten-year-old, illegitimate son. Though the truth of the matter was never fully substantiated, Cleveland, a bachelor, owned up to the allegations publicly and paid child support, even though the mother of the boy was a widow of questionable character with regards to her promiscuities. “Ma! Ma! Where’s my Pa?” was the chant of rival Republicans.

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 kerchief has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color. The cotton was washed to remove excess pigment. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the pigment and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. Spacers keep the textile away from the glass, which is U.V. protective.

Condition: This is perhaps the very best condition that one can hope to find on an example of this particular flag. There is very minor foxing and staining, very minor bleaching in the canton, and a pinprick-sized hole in the 4th white stripe. moderate fading of the red stripes and the blue canton. There is minor water staining, particularly in the stripe field beyond the canton. There are two small splits accompanied by a nick of fabric loss in the last white stripe at the fly end. There are more minor splits elsewhere throughout. 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: 1884
Latest Date of Origin: 1884
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD

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