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  RARE 38 STAR FLAG WITH "1876 CENTENNIAL" ADVERTISING & GOLD STARS, MADE FOR THE PHILADELPHIA CENTENNIAL INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 25.25" x 32"
Flag Size (H x L): 16.25" x 24.5"
Description....:
38 star American parade flag, printed on cotton bunting, made for the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876.

This is a very unusual & desirable flag for several reasons. First is the presence of the text in the stripe area that reads "1876 Centennial". Second, most flags of this type with advertising were overprinted with black ink & special-ordered for reunions, store advertising, political rallies and other events. The lettering on this example was printed in blue, contemporaneously with the canton, which makes it more unusual. Third, the gold color of the stars is unique among varieties of known, 19th century parade flags. No other styles are currently known to exist with gold stars.

Note also how the stars are arranged in columns, rather than rows. They point in various directions on their vertical axis, which adds a nice element of folk quality to the design and compliments its other attractive features.

It is safe to assume that these "1876 Centennial" parade flags with gold stars were made specifically for the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, a major world's fair and our nations official celebration of the event. I have found a handful of these flags in the Philadelphia area, including an example that is documented in "The Stars and Stripes" by Pierce (published by Richard Pierce, 2005, p. 23). The Pierce flag is Signed "Philadelphia, Sept. 1876, G.N.M." along the hoist end. Very few parade flags exist in this particular style. I know of fewer than 15 examples.

Don't be fooled by the seemingly backwards orientation. In the 19th century, the same flag ethics that exist today (which developed around the turn-of-the-century), did not exist. So in the mid-19th century, this was every bit as correct as what we now think of as a "forwards" and ethical manner of display. All known flags in this style are backwards-facing.

The 38th state, Colorado, received its statehood on August 1st, 1876. Although 37 remained the official star count until the following year, flag-making was a competitive venture, and no one wanted to be making 37 star flags when others were making 38's. It is for this reason that 38 and 13 stars (to represent the original 13 colonies) are the two star counts most often seen at the Centennial International Exposition. The 38 star flag became official in 1877 and was generally used until the addition of the Dakotas in 1889.

Mounting: The flag has been stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, which has been washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a gilded molding that dates to the period between 1830 and 1870. Spacers were used to keep the textile away from the glass, which is u.v. protective.

Condition: There is minor foxing and staining, but there are no serious condition issues.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1876
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association:
Price: SOLD
 

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