Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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13 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH HAND-SEWN STARS IN AN UNUSUAL, ELONGATED FORM OF THE MEDALLION CONFIGURATION AND ENDEARING WEAR FROM LONG-TERM USE, MADE IN THE ERA OF THE 1876 CENTENNIAL OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

13 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH HAND-SEWN STARS IN AN UNUSUAL, ELONGATED FORM OF THE MEDALLION CONFIGURATION AND ENDEARING WEAR FROM LONG-TERM USE, MADE IN THE ERA OF THE 1876 CENTENNIAL OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

Web ID: 13j-1698
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 60.5" x 105.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 49" x 94"
 
Description:
13 star American national flag, made in the era of the 1876 centennial of American independence. The stars are arranged in a rather unusual form of what is known as the medallion configuration. This typically consists of a wreath of 8 stars, surrounding a single, center star, with a flanking star in each corner of the blue canton, above and beyond the circular design. In this rare example, the four flanking stars are instead placed to the left and right of the wreath, on parallel planes set below and above its upper and lower horizons. This results in an interesting, elongated configuration with the ring of stars as its tallest element. The profile of the flag is also more elongated than usual, which works especially well from a visual perspective.

Note how the stars in the wreath are thoughtfully oriented, so that a single point is directed outward from the center. Also note how the center star, and the four stars beyond the ring, are all arranged such that there is a single point directed upward. Though subtle, both of these elements are done in such a way as to make positive contributions to the flags appearance.

The stars of the flag are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides). The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced and joined with treadle stitching. There is a heavy sailcloth binding along the hoist with two brass grommets. Along this, near the bottom, on the obverse, “4 x 8” is lightly penciled, followed by a price of “$11.00.” These are almost certainly original storekeeper notations. The presence of a hand-written size is common, though the price is very much not.

Prior to the last decade of the 19th century, most flags made for extended outdoor use were very large when compared to modern flags. Those with pieced-and-sewn construction were generally eight feet long and larger. This is because flags needed to be seen from a distance to be effective in their purpose as signals. Until the Civil War, the primary use of the American national flag was to identify ships. Although some small, printed flags began to appear around 1840, mostly for use at political rallies, the function of most flags was utilitarian. This is very different from today, where their use is largely decorative and for the general display of patriotism. Pre-1890, even those flags made for decorative function tended to be far larger than their modern counterparts.

Beyond and in spite of all of the bold characteristics described thus far, one of the most notable traits of this particular flag resides in its exhibit of endearing wear. Extensively flown, the flag’s visual presentation gains rather than loses as a result of its state of preservation. Many collectors love flags that show their age gracefully and wear their history, be it recorded or forgotten, proudly upon their sleeves.

Why 13 Stars? 13 star flags have been continuously produced throughout our nation’s history for purposes both patriotic and utilitarian. This was the original number of stars on the American flag, representing the original 13 colonies, so it was appropriate for any flag made in conjunction with celebrations of American independence. In addition to use at the 1876 centennial, 13 star flags were hoisted at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1824-25, the sesquicentennial in 1926, and celebrations of July 4th. They were displayed during the Civil War, to reference past struggles for American liberty and victory over oppression, and were used by 19th century politicians while campaigning for the same reason.

13 star flags were flown by American ships both private and federal. The U.S. Navy used 13 stars on the ensigns made for small boats, because they wished the stars to be easily discerned at a distance. As the number of stars grew with the addition of new states, it became more and more difficult to fit stars on a small flag so that they may be viewed from afar as individual objects. Because any star count that has previously been official remains so today according to the Congressional flag acts, all 13 star flags in an otherwise appropriate design remain official flags of the United States.

In summary, this is a beautiful 13 star example, with hand-sewn stars in an unusually elongated variant of an often-loved configuration that seems to fittingly match its likewise elongated profile, probably made to celebrate our nation’s 100-year anniversary of independence in 1876, with endearing wear from obvious use.

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 black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas). Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is significant fabric loss from wind shear along the top and bottom stripes and at the fly end. There is some tearing and associated fabric loss in the upper, hoist-end corner of the canton. There are minor losses elsewhere throughout. There is modest to moderate soiling in the striped field, most notable in the center of the 1st-4th white stripes and in the 2nd half of the 5th and 6th white stripes. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
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Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1870
Latest Date of Origin: 1880
State/Affiliation: 13 Original Colonies
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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