Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 14.75" x 18"
Flag Size (H x L): 8" x 11.25"
33 star parade flag, printed on silk, bound with hand-stitching on three sides and with selvedge along the lower edge. Made for the 1864 presidential campaign of Abraham Lincoln & Andrew Johnson, the royal blue and scarlet red are strong and the graphics are beautiful. Silk was a popular fabric in the manufacture of some of the very first campaign parade flags, which appeared in 1840, and persisted in those made for the election of 1844. For some reason, it fell out of popularity afterwards and does not appear in any other recorded examples from any other candidates between 1848 and 1860, and in 1864 is the only known variety. Just three examples survive, all of which I have had the great privilege to own, and this is the only known style made of silk for either of Lincoln’s campaigns. Silk parade flags regained popularity in the election of 1868, when Republican Ulysses S. Grant defeated Democrat candidate Horatio Seymour.

The stars are configured in a variation of the “Great Star” pattern, which is one large star made out of smaller stars. Great Stars take on many forms. This particular one is comprised of a star-shaped perimeter, surrounding a wreath of 6 stars, with a single star in the very center. This variety is interesting, not only because of the inner wreath, but because when star-shaped or circular designs appear in printed flags, they are almost always accompanied by additional stars outside the principle pattern. S Sometimes simplicity is better and there is something to be said about the strong graphics of the one big star against the blue ground, unencumbered by smaller stars around it. The names of the candidates are overprinted in black ink in the striped field, using a wide Roman font that is shadowed to the lower right, is especially attractive, and is unusual among printed flags.

The 33 star flag was official between the years of 1859 and 1861. Political flags frequently display star counts that do not reflect the date in which the candidate ran for office, so it is in no way unusual to find a 33 star flag used in an 1864 campaign. In fact, a 33 star flag in this same style, but in a larger size, exists from the 1868 campaign of Ulysses S. Grant.

In 1864 the Republican Party re-labeled itself for the war-time election, calling itself the "Union Party" on various ballots in order to attract northern Democrats. Because of military setbacks and divisions in his cabinet, Lincoln was not the clear choice for the nomination. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase briefly through his hat in the ring, as did 1856 Republican candidate John Frémont. Lincoln ultimately secured the ticket at the convention in Baltimore and advocated for Andrew Johnson, a lifelong Democrat, but pro-Union Governor in Union-occupied Tennessee, to be his running mate. Following a series of Union military victories in the late summer of 1864, Lincoln and the Republican / Union Party resoundingly defeated George McLellan to retake the White House.

While all Lincoln-related parade flags are highly sought after and are collectively the most valuable of all printed flags known to exist, those made for the 1864 campaign of Lincoln & Johnson are of particular interest. Because Johnson became president following Lincoln's assassination, these flags have the advantage of featuring the names of two American presidents instead of one. Johnson also saw the nation through the beginning of Reconstruction and played a more significant role in American history than Hannibal Hamlin. In addition, flags from the 1864 campaign are more scarce. In addition, less time and resources were available during wartime to focus on campaign accessories. In fact, it is interesting to note that of those Lincoln-Johnson flags that do exist, some were actually recycled from the 1860 campaigns of his opponents by way of applying Lincoln’s name over top on a length of cloth or paper. Such frivolity was not seen in 1860. So assuming all other factors are equal (graphics, text, size, etc.), the presence of the Johnson name is superior to Hamlin.

Among flag collectors, the Great Star configuration is perhaps the most coveted geometric pattern. It seems to have came about shortly before 1818, when Congressman Peter Wendover of New York requested that Captain Samuel Reid, a War of 1812 Naval hero, help to create a new design that would become the third official format of the Stars & Stripes. The primary concern of ship captains was that the signal be easily recognized on the open seas. Reid’s concept of placing all the stars in a star-shaped pattern would have kept the constellation in roughly the same format as the number of states grew and more stars were added, in a distinct design that could be quickly identified through a spyglass. Though his proposal was rejected by President Monroe due to the increased cost of arranging the stars in this manner, the Great Star was produced by anyone willing to make it. Its rarity today, along with its beauty, has driven its desirability among collectors.

Mounting: The textile was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert trained 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 1800 and 1840. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for color fastness. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is minor to modest water staining in limited areas. There are a few tiny holes and splits in the canton and the lower 6 stripes, and some vertical splitting along the center of the flag. Many of my clients prefer early flags and textiles to show their age and history of use. The flag presents beautifully, and the great rarity of this particular textile would warrant almost any condition.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 33
Earliest Date of Origin: 1864
Latest Date of Origin: 1864
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD

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