Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 40.5" x 59.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 28.25" x 47"
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. 43 stars make up the numerals 1876. This may reflect speculation that 5 more states would soon join the Union, or it may simply be that it took 5 more stars to make an "8" than it did to make a "7."

Colorado became the 38th state on August 1st, 1876. This was the year of our nation’s 100-year anniversary of independence. Per the Third Flag Act of 1818, stars were not officially added until the 4th of July following a state's addition. For this reason, 37 was the official star count for the American flag in 1876. Flag-making was a competitive venture, however, and few flag-makers would have been continuing to produce 37 star flags when their competitors were making 38’s. It is for this reason that 38 and 13 stars (to represent the original 13 colonies) are more often seen at the Centennial International Exposition, the six-month long World’s Fair held in Philadelphia in honor of the event. Some flag-makers would have been adding a star for the 38th state even before it entered the Union, in the early part of 1876 or even prior. In fact, many makers of parade flags were actually producing 39 star flags, in hopeful anticipation of the addition of two more Western Territories instead of one. But the 39th state would not join the Union for another 13 years, when the Dakota Territory entered as two states on the same day. The 38 star flag became official on July 4th, 1877 and was generally used until the addition of the Dakotas in 1889.

These particular flags with the 1776-1876 formation would certainly have been displayed at the 1876 Centennial International Exposition 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 for short-term use. The Centennial Expo lasted for six months and this is the reason that some makers used wool or wool blends for smaller, 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.

Condition: 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.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1876
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD

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