Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 22.25" x 16.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 14" x 8"
In the world of antique American flags there are nearly countless designs. Because there was no official star configuration until 1912, their placement before that time was left to the whims of the maker. Most structured their stars in lineal rows or columns. A smaller number of flag-makers chose medallion designs that employ two or three consecutive wreaths, usually surrounding a large center star and with a flanking star in each corner, outside the circular field. Substantially further down the rarity scale is the "Great Star" pattern, in which the smaller stars are arranged in the profile of one large star. This pattern is highly coveted and visually powerful, but there are rarer configurations still. Among these are circles within squares, pentagons, ovals, diamonds, starbursts, shields, and snowflakes. Then there are combinations of the above in various sorts, and flags where the stars form letters or numbers. There are flags where the stars are randomly placed with no pattern at all, and patterns that are entirely their own.

This particular flag, printed on glazed cotton, is an interesting deviation from the norm, combining a rare variant of a medallion design with additional graphics. In the very center is a single star, the scale of which, relative to the remaining 35 arranged about it, is proportionally enormous. The disparity of the relative proportions is equal to or greater than any other variety I can think of. There are a couple of other styles that come close, but these are rare and highly desired.

Instead of two or three wreaths encircling the center star, there is only one. Such a circumstance is almost never encountered on either printed or sewn antique American flags with greater than 13 stars, and the higher the star count gets the less likely it will occur. On either side of this are crescents of stars, arranged like parentheses, which is even more rare. This occurs in at least one style of political campaign parade flag from 1884 (actually two varieties made for opposing candidates), and it can be seen on extremely unusual on sewn flags; more specifically, ones that are especially memorable standouts in the flag world, that serious collectors seldom forget, such as the one recorded by Boleslaw and Marie D’Ostrange-Mastai on page 115 of "The Stars and the Stripes: The American Flag as Art and History From the Birth of the Republic to the Present" (Knopf, New York, 1973), which was the first major reference on the subject of flag collecting.

A flanking star in each corner of the blue canton completes the 36 star device on the flag in question here, which was also formerly part of a major collection. This exact flag is pictured on page in “The Stars & Stripes: Fabric of American Spirit” by J. Richard Pierce (J. Richard Pierce, LLC, 2005), p. 34, and it is made further important because it presently survives as one-of-a-kind among known examples. [Note: In the Pierce book, the photograph of the flag is a mirror image, flipped horizontally, so that it would fit more easily with other flags on the page.]

Nevada entered the Union as the 36th state on October 31st, Halloween, in 1864. Ushered in by Abraham Lincoln just eight days before the presidential election that resulted in his second term, the territory’s wealth in silver was attractive to a nation struggling with the debts of war and so increased support for the Republican ticket. The 36th star was officially added on July 4th, 1865, but since the flag makers generally cared very little about official star counts, the production of 36 star flags began much earlier. The makers of printed flags are known to have begun adding the 36th star as early as July of 1864, several months before the addition of Nevada actually occurred. This was a common practice during the late 19th century and is reflective of both the nation's desire for Westward Expansion and the hope of flag-makers to bring new star counts to market before their competitors. The 36 star flag was officially replaced by the 37 star flag in 1867, following the addition of Nebraska.

Mounting: The gilded American molding dates to the period between 1840 and 1870. The flag has been placed in its correct vertical position, with its canton in the upper left. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, which 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. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: Condition: There is minor overall fading and there is minor foxing and soiling along the fly end. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.

* Important Note: Parade flags were typically printed on one side only, then the color bled through to the other side to result in a two-sided flag. These flags were printed on a bolt of fabric and were typically done in both what we might think of as forwards-facing and backwards-facing. Because they were block-printed, this allowed for the block to be moved only slightly after printing one blue canton, to print another next to it, allowing for economy of movement while at the same time decreasing the chance of dripping pigment on the fabric. There were no flag ethics at this time and there was no backwards or forwards in terms of the way we think of flags today. Plus, once the flag got on a staff, it didn't matter which side was darker. I try to frame the stronger side. When that happens to be the reverse, I orient the flag in its modern, correct vertical position if possible, with the canton in the upper left.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 36
Earliest Date of Origin: 1864
Latest Date of Origin: 1867
State/Affiliation: Nevada
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD

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