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  RED BANDANNA WITH IMAGES OF PLAYING CARDS, LATE 19TH CENTURY, EXTRAORDINARILY UNUSUAL AND THE ONLY EXAMPLE OF THIS TEXTILE THAT I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED
Dimensions (inches): frame - 34" x 37", kerchief - 24" x 27"
Description:
Despite the prominent use of the red bandanna in the American West in the latter 19th century through the opening of the 20th, surviving, period examples are extraordinarily scarce. Due to their utilitarian function, as handkerchief, facemask, sweatband, sling, and whatever other purpose the owner so desired, these iconic textiles were effectively disposable. Following their course of use, presumably after many washings, there was neither need nor any particular desire to save them.

Political kerchiefs were an exception. Fanciful versions with the images of presidential candidates and their platform slogans, distributed or purchased at rallies and dry good stores, were often tucked away in a drawer or chest and were sometimes even framed. Examples with more generic imagery, however, such as the familiar geometrics, scrollwork, and paisleys, were not considered dear or worth keeping.

Over 30 years of buying antique American textiles I have seen very few American bandannas of any sort that do not have political text or imagery. Even fewer have more elaborate pictorial designs, like those that are present on this example, which features playing cards. In the center of the bandana is decorative filigree, surrounded by a ring that contains all of the face cards. More cards appear around the perimeter, anchored in the corners by the four aces, with 20 more cards in groups of five in-between, all of them on the bias. The resulting offset pattern is interspersed with more filigree scrollwork.

I have never seen another example of this textile, which is not only beautiful, but a wonderful documentation of card playing and gambling in the wild west.

Mounting: The kerchief has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, that was washed and treated to reduce and set the dye. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There are two small holes in the numbered cards. There is minor to modest foxing and staining in limited areas, accompanied by an area of moderate staining in one corner. The overall condition and colors are simply extraordinary for such a rare textile.
   
Primary Color: red, white, black
Earliest Date: 1875
Latest Date: 1895
For Sale Status: Available
Price $3,850
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com
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