|American parade flag, printed on coarse, glazed cotton, made to celebrate our nation's 100-year anniversary of independence in 1876. Set perpendicular to the stripes, so that the flag must be displayed vertically, is an open, tombstone-shaped window with an elaborate six-color overprint. This includes a portrait of Lady Columbia (a.k.a. Lady Liberty) holding an olive branch and a downward-pointing sword in her right hand and the scales of justice over her head. She is flanked by a cornucopia, a fanciful patriotic shield, and an architectural gazebo with the word �Liberty� on its domed roof. In the arch above her is the word �Centennial� and below are the dates �1776-1876�.
Seven examples of Lady Liberty overprinted flags are known to exist in this general style. Within these seven flags, there are 2 distinctly different versions of Lady Columbia herself. In the other version, she is holding a flag on a pole, topped with a liberty cap and her figure is flanked by an eagle, a shield, olive branches, a cannon barrel, and a rose.
Three of the other flags are in the same style as this particular textile. This flag has black text and Lady Liberty's profile is printed in black. Two of the other three are like this, but one of the group is blue. Among the three flags with the other version of Lady Liberty, two are black and one is blue.
All of the images are hand-colored in a different manner. Because six colors were used (including the profile), this particular one is among the most colorful. One has seven colors, two others have six, one has five, and two are limited to three colors only.
Each of the two styles of Lady Liberty flags was made in two different sizes. This particular flag measures 28" x 42" and is the smaller variety. The larger size is approximately 33" x 53". Only one of the flags in each style is known in the larger size. Because each of the two sizes required a different print block, subtle variations are present. It is important to note that all of these flags are huge among printed parade flags, most of which measure less than three feet on the fly.
There is evidence that these flags may have been distributed as part of the presidential campaign of Rutherd B. Hayes and running mate William A. Wheeler. One of the flags has the names of these men printed above the word "centennial". Another has the profile of large block letters bearing their names penciled below the canton, as if someone was intending to add it, but the verbiage was never completed. Hayes ran for the White House and won in 1876.
Few parade flags, if any, are known before this time or after, with overprinted advertising as extravagant as the Lady Columbia flags, all of which are privately owned and none of which is documented in any text. It is of interest to note that two companion flags exist that have a standing portrait of George Washington in place of Lady Columbia. I owned one of these two flags, which was formerly a part of the Mastai Collection and is pictured in several text, including:
� Mastai, B. & M.L.O. �The Stars & The Stripes� (1973, Knopf, New York), p. 169.
� Collins, Herbert Ridgeway. �Threads of History� (1978, Smithsonian Press), p. 207, item 439.
� Friz, Richard. �The Official Price Guide to World�s Fair Memorabilia (1989, House of Collectibles), illustrated after p. 148 within an unnumbered, color insert section
The use of 36 stars on flags made for the Centennial International Exposition, when we had 37 states (until August 10th) or 38 states (afterward) was not uncommon. It was probably a matter of convenience, being easy to design and had no other underlying purpose.
The outstanding characteristics present in this flag and its great rarity as the only known example make it one of the best printed flags that exist from our nation�s 100-year anniversary, a time period when some of the most beautiful 19th century parade flags were made.
Mounting: Then flag has been hand-sewn to a 100% cotton background, black in color. The black fabric was washed to remove excess dye. An acid-free dye-setting agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind between the flag and the background to provide a further barrier, to mask out minor losses, and to strengthen the color of the textile against the black background. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic. |
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
||Phone: (717) 502-1281
||19th Century (1801-1900)|
||There is minor foxing and staining and there is minor fabric loss at points along the perimeter. There is some dye loss in the canton and stripes and there is a minor misprint in the overprint, resulting from a slight fold in the fabric when it was printed. Many of my clients prefer flags that show their age and obvious use. The flag presents beautifully and its great rarity well warrants these minor issues.|
||Frame: 53.25" x 38.75" Flag: 42" x 28"
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