Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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EXTREMELY RARE, PATRIOTIC, SILK KERCHIEF OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD, MADE IN LONDON FOR THE AMERICAN MARKET IN 1861 BY FOSTER & PORTER, WITH IMAGERY THAT CENTERS ON A SMOKING CANNON, BENEATH AN AMERICAN FLAG, WITH A PRO-UNION SLOGAN

Web ID: ker-206
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 42.25" x 44.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 30.25" x 32.5"
 
Description:
Patriotic kerchiefs that date prior to the 1876 Centennial of American Independence are rare among surviving 19th century textiles. Printed on silk and made during the opening year of the Civil War, this example features a large, smoking cannon as a central device, beneath an American flag, flying on a pole, at the base of which is a stack of cannonballs. Above and below is verbiage that reads: "The Union, Constitution and the Flag Must and Shall Be Upheld." Under the slogan, in much finer print, is a maker's mark that reads: "Registered by Foster Porter & Co. London."

Surrounding the perimeter is a wavy, red striped border, flanked in each corner by a blue canton with 13 stars. These are arranged in what is known as the Trumbull pattern, a square medallion that features a single center star. The design was named for Revolutionary War officer, John Trumbull, who served as George Washington’s aide-de-camp during the American Revolution, before becoming an accomplished painter of portraits and historical American scenes. Because there was no official star pattern for the American flag until 1912, arrangements of 13 stars can appear in a multitude of designs. Perhaps as many as 100 different star patterns are known for the 13 star count alone. The Trumbull configuration is of particular interest to flag enthusiasts, not only because it is both beautiful and unusual, but because it is known to be one of the earliest. Flags in this pattern appear in at least three of his paintings, including The Battle of Princeton (June, 1777), The Surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York (October, 1777) and one of two versions of The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, (October 1781). Because Trumbull sometimes changed the design of a flag when he executed later copies of his earlier works, one cannot perhaps be fully certain that a flag in that design was actually present at each location. Trumbull was, however, known for his attention to detail. Noted flag historian Edward Richardson describes him as “meticulous to the accuracy of uniforms and accouterments … therefore, the flags depicted in [his] paintings should be considered as accurate versions of the time”.

In 1838, Foster and Porter was listed in insurance documents as "hosiers, glovers, and warehousemen." The owners were John Porter Foster and Richard Porter and the firm was located at 2 and 3 Goldsmith Street and 124 Wood Street Cheapside. (London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, 19 September 1838, Ref. No. MS 11936/560/1283410). By 1851 they were well-known as makers and distributors of "British and East India silk handkerchiefs, printed in London." In that year they exhibited at the Crystal Palace, a.k.a., the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, a major World's Fair held in Hyde Park.

This is one of just three examples that I know to survive. One is among the collection of the New York Historical Society. The other is documented in "Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War," by Shaw, Madelyn and Zacek Basset, Lynne (2014, American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA), p. 178-179. According to Shaw and Zacek Basset, "Foster, Porter & Co., Ltd. registered a Union-sentiment handkerchief design on May 25, 1861."

In addition to the beautiful graphics, the scale of the kerchief is enormous when compared to most, which contributes a lot to its striking presentation. I believe this to be closely related to another, silk, pro-Union design, entitled "union Forever," that features an eagle over a portrait of George Washington, with crossed American flags beneath that display circular arrangements of 34 stars. Though unsigned, the two kerchiefs kerchief bears marked similarities to another, especially including the fabric, the printing, the shades of red and blue, the sentiments of the text, and the general, overall, visual feel.

Mounting: The banner 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 background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The two-part frame consists of a gilded French molding of exceptional quality, to which a rippled profile molding, black with gold highlights, was added as a cap. The Spacers keep the glazing away from the glass, which is U.V. protective. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: The overall condition is remarkable for such a huge silk dating to the mid 19th century. There are minor to modest losses in and adjacent to the upper two corners, accompanied by minor, associated staining. There is some light soiling in the upper right-hand quadrant of the textile, in the open white space, running into the text, and there is a scattering of minor stains elsewhere. There is a horizontal tear through the striped field of the flag, some minor weak areas in the canton with minor losses, and there are a number of extremely tiny splits and extremely tiny holes elsewhere in the textile.
   
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type:
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1861
State/Affiliation:
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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