Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 88.25" x 45"
Flag Size (H x L): 75.25" x 32"
Patriotic banner, hand-painted in watercolor on cotton, with the figure of Lady Columbia (a.k.a., Lady Liberty / Goddess of Liberty), rooted upon the globe. Simultaneously stern and beautiful, confident and pleasant, her windswept hair is crowned with a federal eagle on a helm ringed with stars. Draped in an American flag, she casually balances a sheathed sword to her right and a federal shield with a laurel branch to her left. With bright colors contrasting boldly against her white dress, the artist shows her standing at the ready in the glory of her personification of America.

Measuring more than six feet in height, and dating to the last quarter of the 19th century, the textile displays the image as nearly life-sized. Large patriotic banners are surprisingly unusual with patriotic themes such as this, unspecific to a particular state, office, or agency. In conjunction with the great design, use of pigments, implied movement and shading, the scale of the banner provides great impact and makes it especially desirable.

The most probable date of production is the 1893 World Columbian Exposition (the Chicago World's Fair), where her presence was especially fitting. The wooden rod with acorn finials is typical of prints and maps "on sticks," produced from the 1830's onward through this time, as well as cloth banners made during the same general era and into the early 20th century.

I have encountered just four cloth Lady Columbia banners in this general size and format, with various interpretations of her likeness. Three, including this one, are amazing. Two, which I likewise had the privilege to own, were painted in New York in the WWI era (U.S. involvement 1917-18). The last probably dates to roughly the same time period as this example. Selection as to which of these four tops the short list is a matter of artistic preference. Some would argue that this is the best, especially from a folk art standpoint. Some would prefer one of the New York examples, which are more highly detailed. Personally I prefer this and one of the New York banners in approximately equal measure. The bold simplicity of the style and cleaner lines has its own powerful merits. It also is much superior to my other choice in terms of condition.

However one may argue with regard to arranging a pecking order, the facts remain that this is, one, a rare object in the world of patriotic textiles, and two, that the quality of graphics and the scale make it amazing to behold.

Mounting: The banner 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 background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The mount has been placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. A deep shadowbox was created to accommodate the staff. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass.

Condition: There is a series of modest rust spots along the right-hand side, in the top 2/5 of the banner, left by the metal tacks that affixed the banner to the staff. There is minor to moderate water staining and soiling around and above the globe. A previous owner removed the banner from the staff and framed just the banner. At this time the left and right edges were trimmed. I moved the finials in slightly to accommodate and reapplied the staff with square 19th century tacks. The bottom three inches or so of the banner, in the globe area, was torn laterally. Luckily it was a clean tear and the segment was carefully kept with the staff. More heavily soiled than the main body of the textile, our conservation staff professionally cleaned and rejoined this original strip. Minor, professional color restoration (reversible) was undertaken in this area to make the reuniting more seamless.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type:
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1885
Latest Date of Origin: 1900
War Association:
Price: SOLD

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