|Swallowtail format, patriotic vertical banner bearing the name and the seal of the City of New York. Made in the period between 1860 and the 1876 centennial of American independence, the textile is entirely hand-painted on heavy cotton or linen. This is the only 19th century banner with the heraldic image of the city that I have ever encountered in private hands.
Note the bold and interesting imagery, which includes a modernistic, folded streamer on a cornflower blue field of 21 visible stars, and a loose interpretation of the device of the city, executed in a folk style. There is an endearing primitive nature in the stern faces of the native American and mutton-chop-whiskered sailor. The eagle is attractive and prominent, but the most interesting element is the animal above the Dutch windmill blades. There is supposed to be a beaver both above and below the apex, but the single mammal pictured here is clearly a rat. Though there were of course many rats in New York, but the reason for its inclusion is not clear. Perhaps the artist was working from a combination of memory and his own deductive reasoning. Other differences are also present. The date of 1625 usually appears centered beneath the feet of the figures, one of which is usually depicted simply as a settler, not a sailor. The Indian does not hold a peace pipe as he does here. The shape of the interior medallion is usually shield-shaped, not oval and the eagle isn't perched directly on it. In any event, the rat is certainly a curiosity.
Banners of this style were often hoisted on single vertical staffs that held the rope aloft in the center. This basic style was both carried in parades and affixed on mounts indoors. Similar decorations and banners can be seen along the walls at early political conventions, or hoisted among benches, where they denoted the positions of the seating of attendees from various states. This particular example was found among a series of banners representing Mississippi, Delaware, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, and Louisiana. This is the only one of the group that represented a city, which suggests that whatever event they were used at occurred in New York.
The 1868 Democrat National Convention was held in New York at Tammany Hall. A colorful illustration printed by for Joseph Shannon�s Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York shows the interior of the building masterfully festooned with patriotic banners, medallions, and buntings of similar nature, but none that match. Only the front and central interior are pictured, but two sets of state identifying decorations are shown. This banner and its mates could well have hung elsewhere on the premises. No Republican National Conventions were held in New York during the 19th century.
An alternative possibility is that the banners were used in festivities pertaining to the centennial of American independence in 1876, either in New York or at an event such as the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia, a World's Fair where New York, like each state, probably had its own pavilion.
Whatever the case may be, the textile is a boldly graphic, colorful survivor and presently represents the only privately held banner of its kind with the device of our nation's greatest city.
Construction: Painted cotton or linen tacked to a red-painted wooden staff with blue-painted acorn finials that is original to the banner. A length of red wool tape was used to reinforce the point where the tacks are affixed.
Mounting: The banner has been hand-stitched to a background 100% cotton, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye, which was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. A shadowbox was created to accommodate the staff. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic. |
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
||Phone: (717) 502-1281
||19th Century (1801-1900)|
||There is minor soiling. There is minor to moderate paint loss, especially towards the bottom of the stripe field. A very minor amount of professional restoration was done to strengthen the device and the stripes.|
||Frame: 75.75" x 52.75" Flag: 62.5" x 43.75"
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