Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: pat-553
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 88.25" x 35.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 77.25" x 23.5"
Gubernatorial, congressional, and senatorial items for men who became major U.S. presidents are akin to rookie-related memorabilia for Hall of Fame, Major League Baseball players. Ranging from scarce to non-existent, these can represent the most desirable objects for any political personality. In the world of American political textiles, these are virtually unheard of. Not a single entry is documented in “Threads of History” by Herbert Ridgway Collins (Smithsonian Press, 1979), which catalogues 1,501 examples and serves as the primary fundamental reference on the topic.

Made to welcome John F. Kennedy, during the period in which he served as the junior Senator from Massachusetts (1953-1960), this patriotic, vertical bunting is the only cloth object of its kind that I have encountered. Posters survive, though rare, but there are simply no large, graphic textiles. This is not only true for JFK, but for all presidential candidates in this general era and prior.

Known as a "pull-down" in the flag industry, the top register of the banner features the image of a neighing donkey, in a style characteristic of the 1940's and 50's, with an erratic edge background that makes it look as if he has just burst through it to announce the accompanying text: "Welcome Senator Kennedy." This appears in white on a blue ground and this section of the textile, printed on cotton, is reminiscent of other presidential banners, popular between 1928 and the through the FDR years, and with a general artistic sensibility that can be seen in pennants through the Eisenhower presidencies (1953-1961). Note the whimsical presentation of the word "welcome" and the use of three different fonts, with tall, block letters punctuating his name.

The lower register consists of a long section of three vertical bars in red-white-red. Common in other patriotic pull-downs, (usually accompanied by a field of stars in the top, blue register,) these are made of cotton and pieced-and-sewn by machine. The only similar object documented by Collins is a 1932 banner made for the Bicentennial of George Washington's birth, which features his portrait within a celebratory medallion designed for the event (ref. item no. 1093 on p. 424).

Perhaps the most interesting element of this Kennedy banner is the use of glitter to augment the presentation. This is another element mid-20th century visual aesthetics. While it appears silver to the eye, close inspection of the particles reveal that they are actually multi-colored, with flecks of red, green, brown and tan, as well as white and numerous shades of grey.

Due to the popularity of John F. Kennedy, the continuing fascination with the events of both his life, that of his extended family, and his assassination, the importance of significant objects related to JFK cannot be understated. When this fact is added to the strong graphics and the rarity of pre-presidential textiles, the result is one of the most intriguing objects of the modern political era.

Mounting: The striped field of the banner was folded in a three-dimensional fashion. The textile was mounted and framed in our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

A deep shadowbox was created to accommodate the folds. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass.

Condition: There is significant loss of glitter, and there is minor oxidation, but there are no further serious condition issues.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1953
Latest Date of Origin: 1960
State/Affiliation: Massachusetts
War Association: Korean
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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