Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: 29j-817
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 13" x 15.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 5" x 7.25"
In the world of antique American flags there are nearly countless star patterns, but most have lineal rows or columns. Some have circular designs, which are further along on the rarity scale. Great Star patterns--where a large star is formed from smaller stars--are far more scarce and highly coveted. These can fall among the very best visually, but there are rarer configurations still. Among these are circles within squares, pentagons, ovals, and completely random patterns. There are flags where the stars actually spell something with alphabetic or numeric characters, some of which are among the rarest of all, but with regard to geometric configurations, the rarest--and arguably the most beautiful--are diamonds, shields, snowflakes, and starbursts (with occasional, unique exceptions). From a folk art perspective, these can excel beyond all others.

Bold and whimsical, this American national parade flag, printed on cotton, has 29 stars arranged in a configuration that constitutes one of the best that one may encounter on a 19th century example. This design falls into the general category of what I have termed a “starburst” or "starburst cross" medallion, meaning that there is dynamic pattern that seems to spring forth from the center, in a manner similar to the explosion of a firework. This particular variation has a prominent saltire present in the design, formed by the two diagonal lines that run corner-to-corner in the canton. Commonly known as the Cross of St. Andrew, borrowing the term from the flag of Scotland and the British Union Flag (a.k.a.,Union Jack), in late 1861 this would become recognized in America as the Southern Cross. 13-14 years earlier, however, the design had not yet been conceptualized and there was no such association.

17 stars form the saltire, the centermost of which is much larger than the rest. 12 more stars appear in V-shaped groups of 3 in the valleys created by each arm of the crosshatch formation. Note how the position of each star on its vertical axis varies a great deal from one-to-the-next, and how the profile of the stars varies a great deal, probably due to what was likely a hand-carved wooden block used in the printing process. The combination of the above features results in an example with excellent folk qualities in its visual presentation.

Among known parade flags with 29 stars, this is not only the best that exists, but it is simultaneously the only known example. Only one other variety is known in the 29 star count.

Iowa entered the Union as the 29th state on December 28th, 1846. The 29 star flag became official on July 4th, 1847 and remained so until July 3rd, 1848. This was the period in which the United States went to war with Mexico, in the wake of the annexation of Mexico and during a heightened state of westward expansion. Because very few flags survive that can be accurately dated to e narrow window of the Mexican War (1846-48), this flag is an exceptional rarity and an excellent addition to any collection.

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, with a design peculiar unto itself, and perhaps a standard that featured the numeric designation on a painted or embroidered streamer, on a solid buff yellow or blue ground. Most people would be surprised to learn that ground forces were not authorized to carry the Stars & Stripes until it was assigned to artillery regiments in 1834. Infantry was afforded the privilege in 1841, just prior to the Mexican War (1846-1848), while cavalry regiments were not authorized until the second year of the Civil War, in 1862.

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 gilded American molding dates to the period between 1820 and 1850. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is modest to moderate fading of the red stripes and minor fading of the blue canton. There is a vertical tear in the canton about one inch in length, in addition to minor tears and tiny holes in the white stripes. There is some loss in the upper and lower corners on the hoist end, where the flag was formerly attached to a wooden staff. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind the flag during the mounting process. There is minor foxing and staining throughout, accompanied by modest water staining in the center of the flag and moderate soiling in the bottom and center along the hoist end, with more significant staining in the upper, hoist end corner. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 29
Earliest Date of Origin: 1846
Latest Date of Origin: 1848
State/Affiliation: Iowa
War Association: 1777-1860 Pre-Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

Views: 486