Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 20.75" x 25.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 11.25" x 15.75"
13 star American parade flag, printed on a blended cotton and wool fabric. Made around the time of the 1876 centennial of American independence, the stars are arranged in what is known as a medallion pattern. This consists of a wreath of 8 stars, surrounding a single, center star, with a star in each corner of the blue canton. Although this was a popular star configuration during the centennial era, the flag is a rare one and I am presently aware of six or fewer in this style to exist.

The design exhibits several unusual and desirable characteristics. One of these is its large scale. At just under 12 x 16 inches, most of its counterparts with 13 stars are but a quarter of this size. Even more notable are the stars, themselves, which appear in what has been termed a "haloed" design, with a thin white line that follows their perimeter. The fabric is also unusual. While known to have been employed in a few other varieties of printed flags, this is the only 13 star variant of any period known to have been produced in this wool & cotton blend.

This style of 13 star flag is known to have been printed alongside another variety of parade flag, in the same size, with 37 stars. I discovered this fact when I encountered 3 of each on the original bolt, uncut, positioned side-by-side. In the 37 star variety, about equally rare among surviving examples, the stars are arranged in an exceptionally rare diamond pattern. While the 37 star flag was still official in 1876, it was well known that at least one more state would be joining the Union that year. This caused most flag-makers to cease production in favor of 38 and 39 star flags. For this reason, 37 star flags were seldom produced for our nation's centennial, where 38 and 39 star counts were preferred, along with 13 star examples to commemorate the original 13 colonies. It is interesting to see 37 star examples that can be so obviously dated to that year specifically.

It is likely that these flags would have been specifically made for the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia, our nation's first World’s Fair, which served as the nucleus of the celebration its 100th birthday. Unusually parade flags were printed on cotton or silk, or sometimes even on paper, to be waved or displayed in short-term use at parades, patriotic or political events. Because cotton and paper absorb water, and because silk is not appropriate for long-term exposure to water, these materials are not optimal for long-term outdoor use. 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. The Centennial Expo lasted for six months and this is the reason that some makers used wool or wool blends in small, decorative flags.

The most notable example of a flag in this exact style was formerly in the collection of Boleslaw and Marie D'Otrange Mastai. An image of its canton appears on page 173 of their landmark text, "The Stars and the Stripes" (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1973). The flag was later acquired by my good friend, collector Richard Pierce, and a full image of it appears in his book, "The Stars & The Stripes: Fabric of the American Spirit" (J. Richard Pierce, 2005), p. 29. For many years this was the only known example. During roughly the same period of time there was but one known example of the 37 star, companion variety, which I personally bought and sold and was also in the Pierce collection. Today approximately 6 copies of the 13 star variety are known, all of which I have had the privilege to own.

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 gilded American molding dates to the period between 1830 and 1850. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass. Feel free to inquire for more details.

Condition: There are tiny holes and threadbare areas in the white area along the hoist end. There are a couple of small bleach spots in the canton. There is fraying along the fly end, accompanied by modest losses into the 2nd and 3rd stripes and extremely minor losses into the 1st and 7th stripes. There is a moderate hole in the last stripe, near the fly end. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind this area for masking purposes. There is extremely minor soiling in limited areas throughout. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1876
State/Affiliation: 13 Original Colonies
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD

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