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  38 STARS IN CRUDE COLUMNS WITH HAPHAZARD ORIENTATION, ON AN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH A BEAUTIFUL, SLATE BLUE CANTON, SIGNED "LEDDON," MADE IN THE ERA WHEN COLORADO WAS THE MOST RECENT STATE TO JOIN THE UNION, 1876-1889

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 56" x 93"
Flag Size (H x L): 43.75" x 80"
Description....:
38 star American flag with hand-sewn stars that point in all directions and keenly attractive colors. The stars are arranged in a lineal fashion, but in columns rather than rows, which is both out-of-the-ordinary and visually compelling. These appear in counts of 6-6-7-7-6-6. Made of cotton, the stars are hand-sewn and are double appliquéd, meaning that they are applied to both sides. Note how their vertical alignment is rather crude, as well as how their individual positions on a vertical axis contributes to a haphazard appearance. This whimsical attribute add great folk quality to the overall design.

Also note the beautiful slate blue canton and how it provides striking contrast to the scarlet red stripes. The top and the bottom of these, especially, are notably wider, which is unusual and positively impacts the flag's presentation. Made of wool bunting throughout, the canton and stripes are pieced and joined with treadle stitching. There is a sailcloth canvas binding along the hoist, applied in the same manner, then bound by hand at top and bottom. Along this are three, hand-sewn, whip-stitched grommets.

Near the top of the binding, on the obverse, the name “L. R. Leddon” was boldly inscribed with a dip pen, in carefully executed script, underlined for emphasis. This would be the name of a former owner, as it was common to mark flags in this fashion during the 19th century. Although an uncommon name, research thus far into its origin has yet to produce fruitful results.

Despite the fact that the materials employed in the making of this flag are those one would expect from a commercial maker, it is possible that the flag was homemade. Note that the edges of the stars are not turned under, as would be the case with skilled applique work. It may have alternatively been made by a ship's chandler that sewed sails but had little experience with applique work, or was, at least, less skilled in this regard. The stars are sewn with a simple whip stitch, with the occasional inclusion of a blanket stitch, sometimes achieved by grabbing the stitches used to apply the star on the opposite side. The stitching is fairly good, but crude in terms of its appearance, especially in double-applique work when trying to line up white stars back-to-back, sandwiching them against a blue ground, and sewing with white thread. One can also see small holes in the center of each star, from basting stitches that were removed after the fact and that would not normally be encountered on a star appliquéd by a professional maker. In some cases all of the above would be a bit unattractive and less desirable. Here I find them endearing. I like how they appear, in the way that they amplify the hand-stitching and demonstrate the fact that someone was employing all the skill they possessed to make something that was probably very important to them, and evidently to L.R. Leddon, who added their name so eloquently. A name like this is rarely the maker, I suspect, unless duly noted (i.e., "made by L.R. Leddon,") but it seems like such a circumstance could, in fact, be valid in this instance. Perhaps this was intended to announce to everyone who made the flag as well as who owned it.

Colorado became the 38th state on August 1st, 1876. This was the year of our nation’s 100-year anniversary of independence. Per the Third Flag Act of 1818, stars were not officially added until the 4th of July following a state's addition. For this reason, 37 was the official star count for the American flag in 1876. Flag-making was a competitive venture, however, and few flag-makers would have been continuing to produce 37 star flags when their competitors were making 38’s. It is for this reason that 38 and 13 stars (to represent the original 13 colonies) are more often seen at the Centennial International Exposition, the six-month long World’s Fair held in Philadelphia in honor of the event. Some flag-makers would have been adding a star for the 38th state even before it entered the Union, in the early part of 1876 or even prior. In fact, many makers of printed parade flags were actually producing examples with 39 stars, in hopeful anticipation of the addition of two more Western Territories instead of one. The 39th state would not join the Union for another 13 years, however, when the Dakota Territory entered as two states on the same day. The 38 star flag became official on July 4th, 1877 and was generally used until the addition of the Dakotas in 1889.

In summary, this is a great flag of the 1876 centennial era, with wonderful, visual attributes.

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 was flat-lined with hand-stitching to 100% silk organza on every seam and throughout the star field for support. It was then hand-sewn to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, that was washed to remove excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas.

Condition: There is very minor mothing. There are tiny, darned repairs in the 1st, 4th, 8th, and 12th stripes. There is extremely minor foxing and staining. There is minor to modest soiling in the white fabrics in limited areas. The overall condition is extraordinary for a wool flag of this period.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1889
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD
 

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