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  IMPORTANT OHIO STATE FLAG, AMONG THE FIRST, OR PERHAPS EVEN THE VERY FIRST EVER PRODUCED; DESIGNED BY CLEVELAND ARCHITECT JOHN EISENMANN IN 1901, TO ACOMPANY THE STRUCTURE HE LIKEWISE DESIGNED TO HOUSE THE OHIO EXHIBIT AT THE 1901 PAN-AM EXPO IN BUFFALO, NY; PRESENTED TO FAIR ORGANIZER AND OHIO NATIVE, WILLIAM BUCHANAN (AMB. TO ARGENTINA, ORGANIZER OF THE WORLD COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION, AND AMB. TO PANAMA), FOLLOWING USE AT THE EVENT WHERE OHIO NATIVE, PRESIDENT WILLIAM MCKINLEY, WAS ASSASSINATED

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 59" x 85.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 51.5 x 78"
Description....:
Early state flags fall between very scarce and extraordinarily rare in the antiques marketplace. One primary reason for this is that most states, even if they existed during the 18th or 19th century, didn’t actually adopt flags until the early 20th century. The Maryland State Legislature, for example, didn’t find need for a state banner until 1904, in spite of the fact that Maryland was one of the original 13 colonies.

All states adopted official seals (i.e., crests / coats-of-arms), most having completed the task while still colonies or territories, preceding statehood. Some of the earliest states, such as Pennsylvania and New York, officially adopted or at least used flags, almost from their very origin, but most states did not adopt flags until many years later.

Ohio joined the Union as the 17th state on February 19th, 1803, during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, in the same year that he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. When Ohio finally adopted a flag in 1902, 99 years later, only 19 of America's 45 states had done so. In most cases, the fuel that lit the fire for such action was participation in Worlds Fairs. Ohio was active in several prior to the turn-of-the-century, but it was the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo where things changed.

When states had the both the budget and the wherewithal to do so, they built a stand-alone structure in which their World's Fair exhibit would be housed. These were not like modern county fairs, which run for a few days, or perhaps a week or two at best. Instead such events typically had a duration of several months, required extensive construction, and were more attuned to what one might expect in a present-day Olympic Games. This isn’t precisely a coincidence, as the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Expo, held in St. Louis, was orchestrated as part of, and in conjunction with, the 1904 Olympics.

In 1901, the Ohio building at the Pan American Expo was designed by Cleveland architect John Eisenmann, who also designed a banner that flew atop the structure. This was adopted by the Ohio Commission, which served as the legislative body in charge of the state's participation. When incumbent Ohio Governor George Nash was attending the event, State Senator Samuel L. Patterson presented him with the Eisenmann-designed flag, and the following year, on May 9th, 1902, the design was officially adopted by the Ohio legislature.

The particular flag, that is the subject of this narrative, may be the earliest example ever produced. If not, it is among the very first. The flag was handed down through the family of William Buchanan, along with a plethora of objects and artifacts from the Pan-American Exposition (sold separately to other sources). Buchanan organized not only the Pan-Am Expo, but the 1882 Souix City, Iowa Exposition, and the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (the Chicago World’s Fair). The former of these was one of the earliest, and the latter, of massive scale, the largest such event that had ever taken place in America thus far. An Ohio native, born in Covington in 1853, Buchanan was named U.S. Ambassador to Argentina by President Grover Cleveland in 1894, a position in which he served until 1899, when he took charge of the Pan-Am Expo. Although a Democrat, Buchanan kept his post when Republican William McKinley, also an Ohio native, gained the White House, following the 1896 election. Cleveland had previously served as both mayor of Buffalo and Governor of New York, which probably elevated Buchanan’s political clout with the Buffalo committee. Buchanan took charge of construction, operation, and dismantling of the fair, and thus would have had significant contact with John Eisenmann and his crew.

The Pan-Am Expo opened on May 1st, 1901, and closed on November 2nd of that year. In the interim, on September 6th, fellow Ohio native, President McKinley was shot while attending the fair, dying of his wounds 8 days later, on the 14th of that month. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, having traveled to the expo, was inaugurated there on the same day as President of the United States. Evidently impressed with Buchanan, Roosevelt named him Ambassador to Panama in December of 1903, as construction began on the Panama Canal (1903-1914), one of the most important achievements of the 20th century and still considered, by the American Society of Civil Engineers, to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Buchanan was an obvious choice to receive one of the first, or perhaps the very first, Ohio state flag, maybe flown on the Ohio Pavilion when the structure was dedicated/christened.

The flag is made entirely of silk taffeta, joined with machine stitching. There is a gold, silk fringe, applied in the same manner. The blue fabric was rolled over and stitched along the hoist, to form an open sleeve. The stars are applied in gilt paints. Both this and the silk construction, with silk fringe, are congruent with production of many of the finest military flags of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Some Notes on the Design of the Ohio State Flag:
The elements of the Ohio state flag are centered on a red disc, set against a circular white ground that forms a letter "O." This simultaneously represents a buckeye, the fruit of the state tree and an iconic Ohio symbol. The flag's 5 stripes are said to represent the state's waterways and roads, while the triangular shape of the union is said to illustrate hills and valleys. The presentation of 13 stars along the hoist end, arranged in a semi-circular medallion with two off-set stars above and below, reflects the original 13 colonies. The diamond of stars, towards the fly end. bring the overall count to 17 to reflect Ohio's admission. When the design was adopted by the state legislature, the position of these stars was changed slightly, moving them further around the circle to form a wreath.

Flag expert Whitney Smith, who coined the term Vexillology in the late 1950's (the accepted term for the study of flags), pointed out that the format of the flag itself was reminiscent of Civil War cavalry guidons, carried by Ohio regiments throughout the state. These were of swallowtail form, though with 13 stripes, all horizontal and 90 degrees to the hoist. Most often these had circular star patterns around an open center, which makes them even more similar to the Ohio flag. Although these were carried everywhere throughout the North, the flags are certainly similar. The Ohio flag, however, is in the shape of a ship's burgee rather than that of a U.S. Cavalry guidon. This is especially appropriate due to the importance of the Ohio River, as well as Lake Erie. For thousands upon thousands of American settlers, the Ohio River, largest of the Mississippi's tributaries, was the gateway to the American West. Its own tributaries provided transport throughout the state itself, while Lake Erie opened passage to Michigan and beyond. All were the lifeblood of industry and trade.

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 presentation of flags and have preserved thousands of examples.

The background fabric is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount was placed in a black-painted frame of significant quality, with a deep, rectangular, shadowbox profile. The glazing is U.V. Protective acrylic (Plexiglas). Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: Exceptional, with no significant condition issues.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type:
Star Count: 17
Earliest Date of Origin: 1901
Latest Date of Origin: 1901
State/Affiliation: Ohio
War Association:
Price: SOLD
 

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