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38 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH A DOUBLE-WREATH CONFIGURATION THAT FEATURES AN ENORMOUS CENTER STAR, REFLECTS THE PERIOD OF COLORADO STATEHOOD, 1876-1889

38 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH A DOUBLE-WREATH CONFIGURATION THAT FEATURES AN ENORMOUS CENTER STAR, REFLECTS THE PERIOD OF COLORADO STATEHOOD, 1876-1889

Web ID: 38j-975
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 65" x 115.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 53" x 103"
 
Description:
38 star American national flag, made entirely of plain weave cotton. The stars are arranged in a medallion configuration. This features an enormous center star, surrounded by two wreaths of much smaller stars, with a flanking star in each corner of the blue canton. The sort of disparity here, present in the scale of the large star, versus those around it, is both exceptionally unusual and graphically dynamic.

Colorado became the 38th state on August 1st, 1876. This was the year of our nation’s centennial. 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 remained the official star count for the American flag until part way through the following year. Flag-making was a competitive venture, however, and few flag-makers would have continued to produce 37 star flags when their competitors were making 38’s. Many flag-makers added a 38th star before Colorado entered the Union, in the early part of 1876, or possibly even prior. In fact, many makers of printed flags, called parade flags or hand-wavers, were actually producing flags in the 39 star count, in hopeful anticipation of the addition of two more Western Territories instead of one.

It is for these reasons that 38, 39, and 13 stars, to representing the original 13 colonies, are most often seen on flags displayed at the Centennial International Exhibition. Hosted in Philadelphia, this enormous event was our nation’s first World’s Fair, lasted for a duration of six months, and served as the nucleus of celebrations held to honor America’s 100-year anniversary of independence. The 38 star flag became official on July 4th, 1877 and was generally used until the 39th state was added in November of 1889.

This is probably a homemade flag, though sewn by a very skilled hand, or possibly, by two different individuals. The stripes are pieced and sewn entirely by hand, with remarkable care and precision. The canton is constructed of two lengths of blue fabric, that have been joined with treadle stitching. This was joined to the striped field by hand. The stars are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with treadle stitching. There is a treadle-sewn, cotton binding along the hoist, with five, hand-sewn grommets.

It is extremely unusual to encounter this combination of sewing methods. Soon after the sewing machine was mass-marketed, in the mid-1850’s, flag-makers both public and private made good use of treadle machines, to join stripes, when constructing American flags. During the Civil War (1861-65), most stripes were treadle-sewn. Stars were another matter. Until the advent of electric machines that could execute a zigzag stitch, in the 1890’s, these were far easier to appliqué by hand. It was simply too difficult to pump a treadle machine, while turning the background fabric to sew stars, lining them up, and tucking their edges under, while directing the needle. Few flag-makers pursued this manner of application, and, if they did, they usually abandoned it after a few stars, electing to complete the rest by hand.

An absolutely beautiful example of the period.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded, and distressed, Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas). Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is minor to modest soiling and water staining throughout. There are various tiny holes and very small tears along the fly end, accompanied by a small scattering of the same near the center of the 5th white stripe. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Video:
   
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1889
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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