Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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38 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH AN EXTREMELY RARE DOUBLE-WREATH CONFIGURATION THAT FEATURES A SQUARE OF FOUR STARS BOTH INSIDE AND OUT, ON A BEAUTIFUL, CORNFLOWER BLUE CANON THAT RESTS ON THE BLOOD STRIPE, HAVING A WIDE, OXBLOOD RED HOIST AND STRIPES OF THE SAME UNUSUAL COLOR; A STRIKING, HOMEMADE FLAG, FOUND IN WEST VIRGINIA AND WITH VERBAL HISTORY AS TO HAVING BEEN MADE THERE; REFLECTS THE PERIOD OF COLORADO STATEHOOD, 1876-1889

38 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH AN EXTREMELY RARE DOUBLE-WREATH CONFIGURATION THAT FEATURES A SQUARE OF FOUR STARS BOTH INSIDE AND OUT, ON A BEAUTIFUL, CORNFLOWER BLUE CANON THAT RESTS ON THE BLOOD STRIPE, HAVING A WIDE, OXBLOOD RED HOIST AND STRIPES OF THE SAME UNUSUAL COLOR; A STRIKING, HOMEMADE FLAG, FOUND IN WEST VIRGINIA AND WITH VERBAL HISTORY AS TO HAVING BEEN MADE THERE; REFLECTS THE PERIOD OF COLORADO STATEHOOD, 1876-1889

Web ID: 38j-1162
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 64" x 98.5"
Flag Size (H x L): Approx. 52.75" x 87.25"
 
Description:
38 star American national flag, made entirely of plain weave cotton, with a host of interesting features. The stars are arranged in an extremely rare and visually intriguing variant of what is known as a medallion configuration. While the two consecutive wreaths are expected in a circular design of this era, in this star count, as-is the single star in each corner, the square of 4 stars in the center is highly unusual. Positioned so that they mimic the corner stars, though with different orientation on their vertical axis, the presentation is not only rare and interesting, but especially beautiful.

The unusual star configuration is accompanied by equally interesting shades of red and blue. I have not before seen the plain weave cotton fabric used in the oxblood red stripes, also used to create the wide hoist binding. I suspect this to have been hand-dyed, probably with beets. The canton is a wonderful shade of cornflower blue, highly sought after by flag collectors and enthusiasts.

The overall disparity here is both exceptionally unusual and graphically dynamic.

Another unusual feature is the fact that the canton rests on a red stripe. This is a very rare trait. Some flag historians refer to this as the “blood stripe” or the “war stripe”, suggesting the flag was sometimes constructed in this manner when the nation was at war. There is also evidence, however, that the U.S. Navy used this design feature on at least some of its flags made during the mid-19th century, but sometimes the feature was certainly accidental. Prior to 1912, there were no official proportions for the American flag, nor was there a prescribed way to position the canton on the striped field.

Found in West Virginia, the flag came with a note typed by an unknown individual, probably in the 1930’s, 40’s or 50’s, that reads as follows:

“Mary Jane Dudley made flag when the 38 state came into Union; Ernie Mercer Strawser [sic, Stracher] gave me the flag when I was cutting her firewood.”

Mary Jane Dudley was born May 4th, 1840, to William D. and Eveline Dudley, in or near Fairmont, Virginia (Marion County). In 1863, when West Virginia broke off from Virginia to become the 35th state, this became part of West Virginia. Ernestine (a.k.a., Ernie, Erme) Mercer was born on the 7th of February 1889. In the 1900 U.S. Census, both Ernie and Mary Jane were living in the Lincoln Magisterial District, which included the tiny bergs of Farmington and Barrackville, near Fairmont, which served as the Marion County seat. Mary Jane, who appears to have never married, passed away on Christmas Day, 1905, and is interred at Dudley Cemetery, Fairmont. Logic states that she must have passed the flag on to Ernie, who lived to almost 90, passing on January 7th, 1979.

A professor by the name of Jo Ann Lough of Fairmont, West Virginia (b. Sept. 10th, 1930), came into possession of the flag in the 1970’s or 80’s. She recorded its history on a small index card as follows:

“This flag and note were found among some clothing given to me to use for the Masquers [perhaps a needy family] or to disperse of as I saw appropriate, by persons unknown--in the 1970’s or 1980’s. 2-10-2000 - Jo Ann Lough.”

Lough took the flag to an antiques roadshow style appraisal in 2003, and at some point afterwards decided to part with it.

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.

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.
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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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