|38 STARS IN A RARE AND STRIKING CIRCLE-IN-A-SQUARE MEDALLION, WITH AN ENORMOUS CENTER STAR, MADE FOR THE 1876 CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION BY HORSTMANN BROTHERS OF PHILADELPHIA, A MAJOR MILITARY OUTFITTER
|Frame Size (H x L):
|30" x 39.75"
|Flag Size (H x L):
|19" x 28.75"
|38 star American national parade flag, press-dyed on wool bunting, with an especially rare type of medallion star pattern that consists of a huge center star, surrounded by a wreath of stars, with a square of stars around the perimeter. This design is significantly more rare than the equally beautiful “great star” pattern (a star made out of stars), generally thought of as the Rolls Royce of configurations among 19th century designs. Circle-in-a-square patterns are so scarce that even major collectors like Boleslaw Mastai, who wrote the first major text on flag collecting and owned more than 600 flags and flag-related objects, was evidently never fortunate enough to acquire one.
Many fantastic star patterns were made in the patriotism that accompanied or nation’s 100-year anniversary of independence in 1876 and this is among the best of all examples. Note how the vertical alignment of the stars varies greatly, but that the center star, as well as the stars in the left and right columns, all have one point directed upright. There were no regulations concerning either star configuration or position until 1912, and many flag-makers went out of their way to catch the attention of potential buyers.
The flag was made by Horstmann Brothers, a major military outfitter. Several known examples of this variety exist with a binding along the hoist, on which the Horstmann name is printed. One particular flag, so marked, was found in the Philadelphia area among a group of international flags, all but two of which were made of press-dyed wool and likewise marked with the Horstmann name. Due to the fact that the company was located in Philadelphia, and that the Centennial International Exposition—our nation's first major World’s Fair event—took place in the same city, in 1876, it is logical to assume that Horstmann supplied these flags to be displayed at the festivities.
Note the attractive, royal blue color of the canton. Most known Horstmann examples in this rare design have much darker coloration. Sometimes there is a formal binding along the hoist of this style of flag, and sometimes not. In this case, both the hoist and fly ends are simply hemmed with treadle stitching. A series of small tack holes along the hoist, with small, associated rust stains, demonstrates how it was affixed to a wooden staff, with metal tacks.
Press-dyed wool flags are scarcer than those printed on cotton and silk. Because parade flags were often intended for one day's use at a parade, political rally, a reunion of soldiers, or some other patriotic event, most were made of cotton. While cotton absorbs water, short-term use precluded the need for anything more hardy. Because the Centennial Exposition lasted for a period of six months, it required decorative flags that would sustain being flown for a longer time and withstand the elements. It is reasonable to assume that press-dyed wool flags were adapted for precisely this purpose, because wool sheds water is suitable for extended outdoor use. Previous to this time they primarily saw military function.
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 continued 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 Expo.
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 on the same day. The 38 star flag became official on July 4th, 1877 and was generally used until the addition of the Dakotas in 1889.
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 background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount was placed in a gilded molding of exceptional quality, with a traditional, American profile, to which a step-down profile, shadowbox depth molding, with a very dark brown finish, almost black, with reddish undertones and highlights, was added as a cap. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas). Feel free to contact us for more details.
Condition: In addition to the aforementioned tack holes and rust stains along the hoist, there is a light, diagonal strip of soiling in the first white stripe, near the fly end, and a couple of very minor stains elsewhere in the striped field. There are a few tiny moth holes in the canton and the stripes. Overall immaculate for a wool flag of the period.
|Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
|Earliest Date of Origin:
|Latest Date of Origin:
|1866-1890 Indian Wars
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