Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: 38j-1109
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 40.75" x 58.5
Flag Size (H x L): 28.75" x 46.5"
Many fantastic star patterns were made in the patriotism that accompanied the celebration of the Nation’s Centennial in 1876, and this is among the best of all examples. Furthermore, flags with stars that spell out numeric or alphabetical characters are among the rarest of all designs. Only three other designs are currently known to exist.

In the canton of this flag, 38 stars are arranged to form “1776”. The count of 38 reflects Colorado’s pending statehood. The stars have 10 points, 5 of which are narrow and fall between the larger arms. 42 stars make up the numerals 1876. This may reflect speculation that two more states would soon join the Union, as other flags of this period are known that clearly support the same assumption. Or it may be that the number of stars used to spell 1876 may simply have been a matter of convenience.

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 (numbers 39 and 40) on the same day, November 2nd, 1889.

These particular flags with the 1776-1876 formation would certainly have been displayed at the Centennial Expo. More likely than not, they were made specifically for that event. They bear the unusual trait of being printed on a thin fabric made from blended wool and cotton. The reason for the inclusion of wool was that it sheds water, making it an obvious choice for flags that were to be used outdoors over an extended period. Most parade flags were printed on 100% cotton or silk, which were impractical for extended exposure to the elements, yet sufficient for most parades, political rallies, and reunions, which lasted only a day or two at the most. The fact that the Centennial Expo required flags that could withstand 6 months of use caused some makers to consider wool or wool blends for small-scale, decorative flags.

This particular example is constructed of three lengths of fabric that were pieced and joined with treadle stitching. There is a narrow, treadle-sewn binding made of twill weave cotton tape.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert trained staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

The cove-shaped molding has a textured surface, a rope style inner lip. and a very dark brown, nearly black surface with reddish highlights and overtones. To this a high quality gilded molding was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass.

Condition: There are minor holes and areas of breakdown in the striped field, especially along the top edge and the fly end. These are accompanied by five modest holes, located near the top center of the 1st stripe, and at the fly end of the 4th, 6th, 7th, and 8th stripes. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind these areas for masking purposes. There are 2 moderate tears extending from the top edge of the canton, and 4 small nicks, accompanied by a small vertical tear in the star in the upper-most, hoist-end corner. There is very minor bleaching in the canton and there are small rust stains along the hoist binding, where metal tacks once held the flag to a wooden staff, plus another along the last stripe, where rolling of the flag around its staff facilitated exposure to rust. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use, especially when the flag presents beautifully, as it does in this instance.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1876
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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