Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 16.75" x 20.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 8.5" x 11.75"
33 star parade flag, printed on silk. The stars are configured in a variation of what is known as the “Great Star” pattern [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 7 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. Sometimes simplicity is better. There is something to be said about the strong graphics of the one big star against the rich, royal blue ground, unencumbered by smaller stars around it.

Because there was no official configuration until 1912, the design was left to the liberties of the maker. 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. Such a distinct design could be quickly identified at a distance. 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.

This is an extremely rare example and even more extraordinary due to its remarkable state of preservation.

The 33rd state, Oregon, entered the Union on February 14th, 1859. The 33 star flag was official from 1859-1861, and was thus still the official flag when Ft. Sumter was fired upon, on April 12th of that year. This event marked the beginning of the Civil War and a 33 star flag was flying at Ft. Sumter during the attack. Because the 34th state, Kansas, had already acquired statehood on January 29th, 1861, flag makers knew that the 34 star flag would soon become official. For this reason, 33 star flags were not produced in great quantity for the war, which would last until 1865, and the 33 can be considered to be more of a pre-Civil war flag than a war-period flag. 33’s are considerably more rare than 34 and 35 star examples.

Flags made prior to the Civil War comprise less than one percent of 19th century flags that have survived into the 21st century. Prior to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Stars & Stripes was simply not used for most of the same purposes we employ it in today. Private individuals did not typically display the flag in their yards and on their porches. Parade flags didn't often fly from carriages and horses. Places of business rarely hung flags in their windows. Private use of the national flag rose swiftly during the patriotism that accompanied the Civil War, then exploded in 1876.

Even the military did not use the flag in a manner that most people might think. The primary purpose before the Civil War was to mark ships on the open seas. While the flag was used to mark some garrisons, the flags of ground troops were often limited to the flag of their own regiment and a Federal standard. Most people would be surprised to learn that the infantry wasn’t authorized to carry the Stars & Stripes until 1837. Even then it was neither required nor customary. It was not until the Civil War took place that most U.S. ground forces carried the national flag.

Mounting: The gilded American molding is antique as well, dating between 1830 and 1850. This is a pressure mount between U.V. protective acrylic and 100% hemp fabric.

Condition: There is very minor foxing. There is some fraying along both the hoist and fly ends. There are a few pinprick-sized holes, almost not worth mention, and a tiny bleached fleck along the top edge of the canton. Colors are strong and bright and the overall condition is remarkable for a silk flag of this period.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 33
Earliest Date of Origin: 1859
Latest Date of Origin: 1861
State/Affiliation: Oregon
War Association: 1777-1860 Pre-Civil War
Price: SOLD

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