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  44 TUMBLING STARS IN AN HOURGLASS PATTERN, ON AN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH A GHOSTLY PRESENTATION FROM EXTENSIVE WEAR, REFLECTS WYOMING STATEHOOD, 1890-1896

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 47" x 31"
Flag Size (H x L): 35.75" x 19.75"
Description....:
44 star American parade flag, printed on coarse, glazed cotton. Wyoming was admitted as the 44th state on July 10th, 1890. Although the 44 star count would not become official until July 4th of the following year, flag makers would have begun to add a 44th star immediately, if not even beforehand, in hopeful anticipation. This became common practice among flag-makers during the latter 19th century, reflecting both their support of westward expansion and a desire not to be one step behind their competitors. While the 44 star count remained official until July 3rd, 1896, it would have generally fallen out of use when Utah gained statehood on January 4th of that year.

The stars of this particular example are configured in rows of 8-7-7-7-7-8, with the top and bottom rows offset so that they resemble a broad hourglass. Note how the stars vary in their vertical position from one to the next, with a single point up, then a single point down, alternating consecutively across each row in a sequence I have termed “tumbling stars”. This adds a nice visual element to the flag’s design.

Note also how the blue pigment extends beyond the canton, down the hoist end, which adds visual interest and displays the eccentricities of the hand block printing used to produce such examples in the 19th century.

The flag was obviously flown for such an extensive period as to receive considerable wear. In some cases this can unsightly and thus undesirable. In others it can actually make the flag more visually interesting, reflecting precisely the sort of presentation that what one might expect from a flag that has been through a lot, endearing and at the same time almost ghostly. In this instance, the result is especially great in that regard. Finding one with this much wear, that has achieved this sort of look, as actually quite rare. Presumably this is due to the fact that once flags actually got to this point, they were almost universally discarded.

In some cases, flag makers may have saved the 1876 print designs for 39 star parade flags and used them again in 1889. In that circumstance, one may expect to see the same style produced in both periods. That in no way appears likely here, as so few exist in this style. It is also possible that some 39 star flags may have remained in the stock rooms of flag-makers and dry goods stores for more than a decade, to be brought out again when the actual addition of the 39th state once again loomed on the horizon. Because I have not encountered one with a hand-inscribed date, or any other reported specific history to 1889, 1876 is likely the only time this variety was made. In any case, the existence of 39 star flags is a classic display of both American capitalism and expansionist ideals for the growth of our nation.

Mounting: The flag was placed in its correct vertical position, with its stars in the upper left. It 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 black-painted and hand-gilded molding is Italian. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that was washed and treated for colorfastness. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There are extensive losses throughout from extensive use, in addition to minor foxing and staining.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 44
Earliest Date of Origin: 1890
Latest Date of Origin: 1896
State/Affiliation: Wyoming
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD
 

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