|EXCEPTIONAL, LARGE, VOTES FOR WOMEN BANNER IN VIOLET AND GREEN, MADE IN HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT, PROBABLY COMMISSIONED BY HARRIOT EATON STANTON BLATCH'S "WOMEN'S POLITICAL UNION," CIRCA 1915
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 22.5" x 68"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||14.25" x 60"|
|American textiles produced to advertise the Suffragette movement are scarce and highly coveted. Among known examples, very few are what one might refer to as large. Unlike political campaign banners, which tend to have some scale, some even being long enough to span a city street, Suffrage-related cloth, that has survived into the 21st century tends to consist of either ribbons or pennants measuring between roughly 18 and 32 inches, or narrow sashes, worn over the shoulder. Banners, few and far between and even more scarce, tend to be comparatively small.
At approximately 5 feet in length by 14 inches in height, this is easily the longest banner I had the opportunity to acquire. Printed in a tall, Western-style font, with colorful and interesting use of kelly green and violet, the textile was produced by the Calhoun company of Hartford, Connecticut. Printed on fine, white-painted canvas, laid over a thin paper backing, it is signed with both maker's name and location in the lower right-hand margin. Also present is the Union bug of the Allied Printing Trades Council of Hartford, which denotes that it was printed with union labor.
The banner is very likely to have been produced for the Women's Political Union (WPU) of New York City. The WPU was the brainchild of American suffragette leader Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch (b. 1856, d. 1940). Harriot was the daughter abolitionist Henry B. Stanton and suffrage pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who served as the first president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWS) and co-authored the landmark, four-volume, "History of Woman Suffrage" with Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper. Following graduation from Vassar College, Harriot assisted these women by compiling research for the book. She then moved to England for 20 years, marrying a British businessman. In 1902, she returned to the States and became involved with two significant suffrage groups, the Women’s Trade Union League and the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1907, disgruntled with their ineffectiveness and stagnation, she founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women, which appealed to the working class. Before this time the suffrage organizations in America were largely represented by socialites, whose numbers could not effectively influence the vote. In 1910 the Equality League changed its name to the Women's Political Union (WPU) and organized America's first large-scale suffrage parade, which took place on Fifth Avenue in New York.
To differentiate the activities of the WPU, Harriot adopted the violet, white and green colors of her British suffragette peers. Yellow was generally the color most often used in America to represent the movement, but Blatch sought to distinguish the organization. In 1915, the WPU merged with suffragette leader Alice Paul's Congressional Union, which later morphed into the National Woman’s Party. This banner likely represents promotion of the WPU and its friends in 1915 specifically. This was a significant year for the Suffrage movement, because referendums were put to the vote in four states, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Examples of this exact type of banner, in three different sizes, are recorded in a 1915 photograph* of Suffragettes advertising an August 26th rally at the casino in Long Branch, New Jersey, where Anna Howard Shaw was the keynote speaker. Also advertised is a plea to vote for Suffrage in the forthcoming New Jersey state election, held on October 19th of that year. It's amazing to see an American textile in these colors, in this scale, actually signed by the maker and recorded in an early image of the period.
Brief History of Calhoun Press:
The Calhoun company, which, like many 19th century businesses, changed its name many time, was a pioneer in large scale printed banners and broadsides. Foremost it was a producer of circus, wild west show, theatrical, and other posters, though its work expanded to many other areas, including newspaper printing. An article published in the Hartford Courant on November 13th, 1908, provides a concise summary of maker's history until that year:
"For more than half a century the name “Calhoun” has appeared on theatrical paper, but the property of the concern, which has so long made Hartford its home, is now for sale, under and order authorizing Timothy Drake, the receiver of the Calhoun Show Print Company to sell. The Calhoun Steam Printing company, which was a pioneer in the line of large-type printing, was formed in 1852 by Alexander and Robert Calhoun, brothers, and Alexander Calhoun is considered the father of the house which was dealt with show people and others all these years. Both of the original Calhoun’s are dean and no member of the Calhoun family has been connected with the business for a number of years, but the name has been an asset and it has always been retained."
By the turn-of-the-century the firm had been renamed Calhoun Printing Company. In 1910 it was sold to Thomas F. Dignam, who re-named it Calhoun Press, Inc. When Thomas passed, in 1934, his son, John V. Dingham took over and ran the company until he passed, in 1979. Although no longer run by a member of the Dingham family, Calhoun Press is still in business today.
* Library of Congress image.
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 flag has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black fabric has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount was placed in a two-part frame that consists of a step-down profile molding, dark brown in color, nearly black, with reddish undertones and highlights, to which a flat profile molding, with a finish like old gunmetal, was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass.
Condition: There are fold marks with minor pigment loss and there is minor foxing and staining. The overall condition is extraordinary for a textile of this scale and of this period.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1910|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1915|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|