Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 40" x 59.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 27.25" x 46.5"
Many fantastic star patterns were made in the patriotism that accompanied the celebration of the nation’s centennial in 1876, and this is among the best of all examples. Furthermore, flags with stars that spell out numeric or alphabetical characters are among the rarest of all designs. Only three other designs are currently known to exist.

In the canton of this flag, 38 stars are arranged to form the numeric date “1776”. The count of 38 reflects Colorado’s pending statehood. The stars have 10 points, 5 of which are narrow and fall between the larger arms. 42 additional stars were then used to form “1876” directly below. The star count employed in the latter may reflect speculation that two more states would soon join the Union. Other flags of this period clearly support the same assumption. Alternatively, however, it may simply be that it took 2 more stars to make a “8” in place of a “7,” so the total in the 1876 date was merely a byproduct of convenience.

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 parade flags were actually producing 39 star flags, in hopeful anticipation of the addition of two more Western Territories instead of one. But the 39th state would not join the Union for another 13 years, when the Dakota Territory entered as two states (numbers 39 and 40) on the same day, November 2nd, 1889.

These particular flags with the 1776-1876 formation would certainly have been displayed at the Centennial Expo. More likely than not, they were made specifically for that event. They bear the unusual trait of being printed on a thin fabric made from blended wool and cotton. The reason for the inclusion of wool was that it sheds water, making it an obvious choice for flags that were to be used outdoors over an extended period. Most parade flags were printed on 100% cotton or silk, which were impractical for extended exposure to the elements, yet sufficient for most parades, political rallies, and reunions, which lasted only a day or two at the most. The fact that the Centennial Expo required flags that could withstand 6 months of use caused some makers to consider wool or wool blends for small-scale, decorative flags.

This particular example is constructed of three lengths of fabric that were pieced and joined with treadle stitching. There is a narrow, treadle-sewn binding made of twill weave cotton tape.

Mounting: The flag 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 mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding with a wide, ogee profile and a rippled inner lip. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass.

Condition: There is minor to modest foxing and staining in the striped field and along the hoist binding. There is a series of small tack holes along the binding, with associated rust stains, where small metal tacks once held the flag to a wooden staff. There is a small area of loss in the lower, hoist-end corner of the canton. There is an area of moderate to significant loss spanning the 6th, 7th, and 8th stripes, at the fly end, accompanied by modest to moderate losses in the 1st – 5th stripes, in the same general region. There are minor losses elsewhere in the stripes. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind these areas for masking purposes, during the mounting process. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use, especially when the flag presents beautifully, as it does in this instance.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type:
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1876
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD

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