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Dimensions (inches): 30" w x 35" h x 1.25" d

Patriotic American shield with 13 stars to reflect the 13 original colonies, arranged in two rows, with a large star in the center of the top row. The construction consists of a large sheet of artist's board, laid over a shaped strainer frame, made of thick pine. The red, white, blue, and gold polychrome paint survive in an excellent state of preservation, with light craquelure.

The shield, which appears to date to around 1920, in fact has clues on the reverse that help substantiate its manufacture. Two waybill tickets are present from the American Railway Express Company (AREC). One of these has a date, which, though partially obstructed by a large number "7", provides enough information. The AREC was formed by the Federal Government during WWI (1917-18) to take control of and consolidate the four major railway express companies. These companies had provided the most popular method of shipping before parcel post. In 1929, the AREC was renamed the Railway Express Agency, so the date, which begins with a "1" and ends in a "9", must be either 1919 or 1929. According to a fragment of a shipping label, the recipient of the shield appears to have been a theater company located at 1115 Vine Street (city unknown), so it was probably a theatrical prop or a decoration for the building's exterior or lobby. The Armistice treaty, ending WWI, was signed in November of 1918, so it is likely that the shield was purchased for a 1919 performance that celebrated the war's end and the long-awaited homecoming of soldiers from "Over There".

It is very likely that the shield would have then seen use just a few years later, in 1926, for events relating to the celebration of our nation's sesquicentennial of independence, our 150th anniversary. Although I researched the theater quite thoroughly from the information on the fragmented tag, nothing came up at a 1115 Vine address. This was likely Philadelphia, as Vine is a major Philadelphia street and the city was particularly rich in the arts. Further, many patriotic items of this kind were produced in the Midwest during this period and the waybills appear to have originated in Cincinnati.

Condition: Excellent, with only minor bumps along the edge of the artist's board and very minor scrapes and other paint loss on the front.
Primary Color: red, white, blue
Earliest Date: 1918
Latest Date: 1919
For Sale Status: Sold
Price SOLD
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