|Many fantastic star patterns were made in the patriotism that accompanied the celebration of the Nation�s Centennial in 1876, and this is among the best of all examples. Furthermore, flags with stars that spell out numeric or alphabetical characters are among the rarest of all designs. Only three other designs are currently known to exist.
In the canton of this flag, 38 stars are arranged to form �1776�. The count of 38 reflects Colorado�s pending statehood. The stars have 10 points, 5 of which are narrow and fall between the larger arms. 42 stars make up the numerals 1876. This may reflect speculation that two more states would soon join the Union, as other flags of this period are known that clearly support the same assumption. Or it may be that the number of stars used to spell 1876 may simply have been a matter of convenience.
The 38th state, Colorado, gained its statehood on August 1st, 1876. The flag was official from July 4th, 1877 � July 3rd, 1889. Because flag-making was a competitive venture, no one wanted to be making 37 star flags when others were making 38�s. Flag makers paid little heed to official star counts, and would have begun producing 38 star flags for the Nation�s centennial sometime in 1875 or the early part of 1876.
These particular flags with the 1776-1876 formation would certainly have been displayed at the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia, an important World�s Fair that served as the official celebration of our nation�s 100-year anniversary of independence. More likely than not, they were made specifically for that event and they bear the unusual trait of being printed on a thin fabric made from blended wool and cotton. The reason for the inclusion of wool was that it sheds water, making it an obvious choice for flags that were to be used outdoors over an extended period. Most parade flags were printed on 100% cotton, because cotton was less expensive and most parades, political rallies, or reunions lasted only one day. Flags made for these events were thus disposable, meant to be used only that one day. The Centennial Exhibition lasted for more than a month and this is the reason that some makers used wool or wool blends for small, decorative flags. This particular variety is constructed of three pieces of fabric, which are treadle-sewn. There is a narrow, treadle-sewn binding made of twill weave cotton tape. Four brass rings were sewn to the hoist so that the flag could be affixed to a wooden staff.
Mounting: The flag was backed with 100% silk, both for additional support and for masking purposes. The flag was then hand-sewn to a 100% cotton twill background, black in color. The black fabric was washed to remove excess dye, and an acid-free, dye-setting agent was added to the wash. The mount is backed with archival material and placed in a substantial molding with a black-painted frame that has a serpentine profile and a gilded inner edge with a rippled profile. The front is U.V. protective acrylic. |
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
||Phone: (717) 502-1281
||19th Century (1801-1900)|
||The flag has strong color among surviving examples in this style. There is minor foxing and staining throughout, accompanied by a small stain between the 9th and 10th stripes. There is very minor fabric loss in various spots, accompanied by moderate hole between the 12th and 13th stripes, near the hoist end. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.|
||Frame: 40.5" x 59.25" Flag: 28.25" x 47"
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