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43 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN PARADE FLAG, ONE OF JUST THREE KNOWN EXAMPLES AND THE ONLY ONE WITH A DYNAMIC STAR PATTERN; ONE OF THE RAREST STAR COUNTS AMONG SURVIVING AMERICAN FLAGS OF THE 19TH CENTURY; REFLECTS THE ADDITION OF IDAHO AS THE 43RD STATE IN 1890

43 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN PARADE FLAG, ONE OF JUST THREE KNOWN EXAMPLES AND THE ONLY ONE WITH A DYNAMIC STAR PATTERN; ONE OF THE RAREST STAR COUNTS AMONG SURVIVING AMERICAN FLAGS OF THE 19TH CENTURY; REFLECTS THE ADDITION OF IDAHO AS THE 43RD STATE IN 1890

Web ID: 43j-802
Available: On Hold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 24.5" X 19.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 16.5" X 11.25"
 
Description:
43 star antique American parade flag, printed on cotton, in an extraordinary form that presently exists as the only identified example of its kind. The stars are arranged in a peculiar form of what is known as a medallion configuration, the style of which is also unique to this flag. The arrangement consists of two consecutive wreaths of stars, neatly and evenly spaced, so that every other star in the outer ring lines up with one in the inner ring. All of the stars in this double-wreath pattern have one arm directed outward, toward the perimeter.

Inside the two wreaths is an odd arrangement of 9 stars. One of these is in a predictable position, in the very center. Those surrounding it nearly form a pentagon, though not quite. It seems as though this may have been the intention of the maker, with two spaces left open for the future addition of two more stars. If added, the design would become what is known as a “Great Star-in-a-Wreath,” which exhibits the form of a large star, embedded within the circular formation.

As it is presently, with the two stars absent, a 5-armed pinwheel intersects the center star. Once the presumed 2 stars were added, the pinwheel would cross each flat side of the pentagon at its center, to create a neat and beautiful design, like a starburst, with rays emerging from between each arm of the Great Star.

Among surviving parade flags with 43 stars, this is far-and-away the most visually dynamic. Only two other 43 star parade flag are presently known. Both are in the same lineal design, with one row of 8 stars, followed by five, staggered, zigzagging rows of 7.

Numerous flags appeared with unofficial star counts in early America, some of them produced by flag-makers in large quantity in anticipation of the addition of more states. Interestingly enough, other flags were officially adopted by the United States Congress, but for all practical purposes were never produced. Among these is the 43 star flag, which reflects the addition of Idaho. A tiny handful of flags with this star count are known, but they are among the most rare of all examples throughout American history. To understand why, one may turn back the clock to the 1876 and examine flag production from that year until the addition of the 44th state.

After the Flag Act of 1818, the official “flag year” began every July 4th. So on Independence Day, all states having been added to the Union over the previous year were officially given a star. Makers of flags, however, did not wait for July 4th and official star counts. Flag-making was a competitive industry and many manufacturers added stars before new states were actually added, wishing to create a reason for consumers to buy new flags and one-up each other in sales.

In 1876 the 37 star flag was official, but on August 1st we received our 38th state. Many flag-makers abandoned the 37 star flag when production began for the Centennial International Exposition, a six-month long World's Fair held in Philadelphia as the first of its kind in America, which served as the nucleus for celebrations of our 100-year anniversary of independence from Britain. In that year 38 stars was a common choice, but other flag-makers actually skipped past 38 all-together, choosing to instead produce 39 star flags, anticipating the addition of the Dakota Territory as one state.

Seeing that Dakota wasn't coming, production after 1876 seems to have reverted to the 38 star count. Then in 1889, thirteen years later, 39 star flags were once again manufactured with the anticipation of Dakota's statehood. On November 2nd of that year, a surprise was lay in store for the makers of 39 star flags, when the Dakotas arrived as two different states, which forever rendered 39 star flags both inaccurate and unofficial. Just a few days later, on November 8th, Montana entered the Union as the 41st state, followed by Washington State as number 42 just three days hence on November 11th.

40 star flags were made in limited quantity, reflecting the Dakotas entry. This count is scarce, but not exceptionally rare. Perhaps this is because some flag-makers anticipated the number correctly, and so some of the 40's are anticipatory flags.

41 star flags, by contrast, are among the rarest that exist in 19th century America. This was a 3-day flag and an increase ending in a count of 41 seems to not have been guessed.

In stark contrast, 42 star flags are common. These reflect the four new states that arrived in that week-and-a-half period between November 2nd and the 11th. For the next seven-eight months flag-makers seem to have favored this star count, producing many of them, probably with great enthusiasm for a reason to make new flags.

Just one day before the 42 star flag would have become official, on July 3rd, 1990, Idaho snuck in as the 43rd state, which rendered all of the 42 star flags forever unofficial. The 43 star flag became official on July 4th, but flag-makers basically skipped over the 43 star count entirely. This is because on July 10th, just 7 days after Idaho gained statehood, Wyoming was admitted. Practically all flag-makers seem to have predicted this and 43 star flags, while official for one year, were overlooked in favor of those with a count of 44 to add Wyoming as well. For all practical purposes, 43 star flags were not made. Only a tiny handful survive, perhaps ten or so at the most. Of these, three are printed parade flags (a.k.a., "hand-wavers"), while the remainder are larger, pieced-and-sewn examples. I have been privileged to own approximately half of these.

This particular flag bears an unusual trait among antique American parade flags, in that the cotton fabric was first printed with white pigment, before the red and blue were added. This is a known method, though scarcely encountered, present in fewer than one percent of identified examples.

In summary, this is one of the rarest star counts that there is among antique American flags, one of just three printed parade flags known to survive, and the only one extant with a dynamic star configuration.

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 flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount was placed in a shadowbox depth molding with a step-down profile molding and a finish that is a very dark brown in color, nearly black, with reddish highlights and undertones, to which a black-painted and hand-gilded Italian molding was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas). Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There are 4 small tears along and adjacent to the hoist end, where the flag was once affixed to its original wooden staff. There is a tiny nick along the hoist and extremely minor faying here and elsewhere around the perimeter. There is moderate pigment loss in the white areas, as well as in the canton, on the obverse. There is minor fading and there is a small amount of bleeding in the first white stripe. There is minor to modest soiling in limited areas. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The extreme rarity of this example would warrant practically any condition.
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Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 43
Earliest Date of Origin: 1890
Latest Date of Origin: 1891
State/Affiliation: Idaho
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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