Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 25.5" x 33.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 14.75" x 22.5"
30 star American national parade flag, block-printed on coarse cotton, with a beautiful form of the medallion configuration that features a very large center star with a pinstriped halo around its perimeter and large flanking stars in each corner of the blue canton. Between these are two consecutive wreaths of stars in a third and considerably smaller size. Note the striking profiles of the 4 flanking stars, in particular, which are long-armed, misproportioned, and whimsical. All of these tip slightly so that the topmost point is directed slightly toward the center of the canton. Also note the vibrant, sun fire red stripes that lend bold color to the presentation.

The 30th state, Wisconsin, joined the Union on May 29th, 1848. The 30 star flag was official until July 3rd, 1851, but flags in this star count would not likely have been made following the addition of California in 1850. Flag-makers paid little heed to official star counts in favor of what was practical. While the Flag Act of 1818 dictated that the star count would officially change on the 4th of July following the date of a state's acceptance, stars were generally added by the makers of flags when the state was added (sometimes even beforehand). This means that the 30 star flag had a realistic window of production of just over two years.

Flags made prior to the Civil War are rare, comprising less than one percent of 19th century flags that survive in the 21st century. This is partly because our flag wasn't used in the same purposes in early America as we employ it in today. Private individuals did not generally display the flag. Use of the Stars & Stripes for functions of general patriotism rose swiftly following the 1861 attack on Fort Sumter that spurred the Civil War (1861-65). This was the beginning of widespread civilian use, which then exploded in 1876 during the centennial of American independence.

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.

The most likely use of this flag was at a political rally, probably in 1848 when Zachary Taylor ran against Lewis Cass and Martin Van Buren to win the White House. Use of parade flags appears to have occurred largely for political campaigning until 1861. Although the maker that produced the flag is unknown, examples with this unusual center star exist in at least six other star counts including 31, 34, 35, 36, and 42. Three examples also exist, probably from different makers, that bear 13 stars. One dates to 1856 and was made for the presidential campaign of James Buchanan. Another was made for the 1860 presidential campaign of John Bell, who ran against Abraham Lincoln, as an independent, on the Constitutional Union Party ticket. Another style, printed on a wool and cotton blended fabric, dates to the 1876 centennial and all of its 13 stars have halos.

With the exception of the 13 star examples, 30 is the lowest count encountered on printed parade flags with a haloed center star. Because parade flags first appeared in the 26 star period, just a few years prior, between 1837 and 1845, this 30 star example falls among the earliest of all known printed flags. Very few varieties in this star count have been discovered. I am aware of only three styles. In two of these, only a single example is known. I bought and sold one of the two, which is documented on page 15 of "The Stars & The Stripes: Fabric of the American Spirit" by J. Richard Pierce (2005). I know of fewer than twenty flags to exist in this third, halo medallion style.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye, which was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: The flag exhibits obvious signs of use. There is a long split in the fabric in the last white stripe, running horizontally, accompanied by a significant split in the same stripe at the fly end and more minor splits adjacent to the hoist end in both this same stripe and the 4th white stripe. There are minor holes in the white stripes along the fly end. There is some misprinting in both the canton and the stripes, along with a varying degree of fading. There is minor oxidation throughout, accompanied by some darker areas along the hoist end, where the flag was wrapped around its original wooden staff, and modest soiling in angled lines along near and adjacent to the fly end. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The rarity of this example, accompanied by its early date, well-warrants the condition.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 30
Earliest Date of Origin: 1848
Latest Date of Origin: 1850
State/Affiliation: Wisconsin
War Association: 1777-1860 Pre-Civil War
Price: SOLD

Views: 279