Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: 33j-858
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 16" x 20"
Flag Size (H x L): 8.25" x 12.25"
33 star American parade flag, printed on coarse, glazed cotton, with the 1860 Republican ticket printed in blue along the 2nd through the 5th white stripes. Printed in a combination of Roam and standard block letters, this reads: “For President, Abraham Lincoln. For Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin.”

The stars of the flag are arranged in a strange variant of the medallion configuration. To flag enthusiasts, the can appear, at quick glance, to be a standard double-wreath, with significantly larger stars in the center and in each corner of the blue canton. Upon closer inspection, however, the pattern of the small stars is anything but circular and takes some time and effort to decipher. When the flag is viewed on the obverse (front), the most distinct feature within the pattern is a line of small stars that connects 3 of the larger ones, dissecting the canton left-to-right at an upward, 45 degree angle. A second linear formation divides the canton vertically at the center. Then there are two diamond formations, two triangular formations, and two single stars, each opposing the other in various positions. The diamonds, comprised of 4 stars each, flank the large center star to the left and right. The triangles are located northwest and southeast of center, in the void between the large stars. The single stars can be found in the southwest and northeast quadrants, in the vortexes created by the aforementioned vertical and diagonal lines of stars. Only two copies of this exact flag are known, both of which I have had the privilege to own.

Past the obvious lack of apparent reasoning for the bizarre configuration, one of the strangest things about this flag is the existence of a nearly identical version of it, yet with the small stars neatly arranged. About equally rare, I know of approximately two examples of it as well, one of which I owned. The other is documented in “Threads of History: Americana Recorded on Cloth, 1775 to the Present”, by Herbert Ridgeway Collins (Smithsonian Press, 1979), as item 290 on page 156. In the Collins text, the flag is listed as being among the holdings of the Chester County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society. The same exact flag is now documented as being in the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection at the Indiana State Museum, perhaps having changed hands.

Based upon the color of the blue pigment and the lettering, I expect that both styles were very likely produced by prolific Philadelphia flag-maker H.C. Howard. Howard is suspected to have produced a variety of sizes and styles, with a variety of star configurations, for numerous presidential candidates in 1856, 1860, 1864, and probably 1868. The proximity of Philadelphia to adjacent Chester County tens to support this theory.

Oregon entered the union as the 33rd state on February 14th, 1859. The 33 star flag was official from 1859-1861, and was thus still the official flag when Ft. Sumter was fired upon, on April 12th of that year. This event marked the beginning of the Civil War and a 33 star flag was flying at Ft. Sumter during the attack. Because the 34th state, Kansas, had already acquired statehood on January 29th, 1861, flag makers knew that the 34 star flag would soon become official. For this reason, 33 star flags were not produced in great quantity for the war, which would last until 1865, and the 33 can be considered to be more of a pre-Civil war flag than a war-period flag. 33’s are considerably more rare than 34 and 35 star examples.

Flags made prior to the Civil War comprise less than one percent of 19th century flags that have survived into the 21st century. Prior to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Stars & Stripes was simply not used for most of the same purposes we employ it in today. Private individuals did not typically display the flag in their yards and on their porches. Parade flags didn't often fly from carriages and horses. Places of business rarely hung flags in their windows. Private use of the national flag rose swiftly during the patriotism that accompanied the Civil War, then exploded in 1876.

Even the military did not use the flag in a manner that most people might think. The primary purpose before the Civil War was to mark ships on the open seas. While the flag was used to mark some garrisons, the flags of ground troops were often limited to the flag of their own regiment and a Federal standard. Most people would be surprised to learn that the infantry wasn’t authorized to carry the Stars & Stripes until 1837. Even then it was neither required nor customary. It was not until the Civil War took place that most U.S. ground forces carried the national flag.

It is interesting to note that Lincoln was hardly the favorite at the beginning of the campaign, winning the Republican nomination from the 3rd ticket. He then defeated John Bell (Constitution Party), John Breckinridge (Southern Democrat), and Stephen Douglas (Northern Democrat), to become the Republican party’s first president. Lincoln was elected with a mere thirty-nine percent of the vote and carried no state south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Hannibal Hamlin, our nation’s first Republican vice president, was born in Maine in 1809. He was an attorney who, in his political career prior to the White House, served as Chairman of the Maine State House of Representatives, as a U.S. Congressman and Senator, and as Governor of the State of Maine. He was a Democrat until 1856, but was an opponent to slavery. He did not run with Lincoln in the second campaign in 1864, but did return to the U.S. Senate from 1869-1881 and served as Minister to Spain from 1881-82.

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 preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

The exceptional American molding has a paint-decorated surface, retains its original gilded liner, and dates to the period between 1830 and 1850. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. Spacers keep the glazing away from the textile, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There is minor foxing and soiling, accompanied by modest fading of the red-orange stripes. There are tiny holes along the hoist end, where the flag was once tacked to its original wooden staff. There is minor misprinting, minor transfer of the blue pigment, and extremely minor fraying along the fly end. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. Further, the great rarity and desirability of Lincoln campaign flags warrants almost any condition issues, especially those so minor as are present in this example.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 33
Earliest Date of Origin: 1860
Latest Date of Origin: 1860
State/Affiliation: Oregon
War Association: 1777-1860 Pre-Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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