Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 43" x 59.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 31" x 47.25"
44 star American national flag in a tiny scale among its counterparts of the 19th century. The stars are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with lineal treadle stitching. These are arranged in zigzagging lineal rows of 8-7-8-7-7-7, which is a pattern sometimes seen in this star count. The canton and stripes are made of wool bunting that has been pieced and sewn with treadle stitching. There is a twill cotton binding along the hoist with three brass grommets, through which cotton ties were affixed so that the flag could be flown on a staff.

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.

According to the Third Flag Act, enacted by Congress on April 4, 1818, stars were to be added on Independence Day following a state's addition. Flag makers didn't generally care what was official, however, and while the 44 star count remained so until July 3rd, 1896, it would have generally fallen out of use at the beginning of that year, when Utah gained statehood on January 4th.

The word “Navy,” set within a rectangular border, is stenciled along the hoist in black ink, along with the numeral 2, followed by a superscript 2, followed by a Maltese cross and the number 4. “Navy” in no way indicates military use, but is rather a brand name, intended to inspire confidence in the buyer. It designates the grade of wool bunting that was being used by the manufacturer, and while not a military flag, the use of the name probably reflects that the same variety of fabric was supplied to the Navy in a previous order. The numbers represent the size of the flag in feet. I have not previously seen a flag with a superscripted number. Because the flag measures approximately 31” x 47”, I expect that this was supposed to read “2.5 x 4” as opposed to “2.2 x 4.” Shrinkage of an inch is common in wool flags of this scale.

The flag's tiny scale among pieced-and-sewn construction is one of its most rare and desirable traits. Prior to the 1890's, flags with sewn construction often needed to be large in order to serve their utilitarian function as signals. Lengths of eight and longer were common. A six-foot flag was considered small.

Beginning around 1890, flag-maker's began for the first time to produce sewn flags in quantity that measured three to four feet on the fly. These almost always bore 13 stars, however, instead of a count representing the full complement of states at the time. Commercially-made flags with 44 stars are almost never encountered in four feet. At the same time, both collectors and one-time buyers alike often prefer smaller scale examples, like this one, which can be more readily conserved and displayed in modern indoor setting.

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. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is an L-shaped tear in the last red stripe at the fly end, and there is modest foxing and staining along the hoist and in the stars, but the overall condition is excellent for a wool flag of the period. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age gracefully.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Sewn 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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