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  LARGE AND IMPRESSIVE PRESSED BRASS EAGLE, AN EARLY PARADE FLAG HOLDER & BUNTING TIE-BACK, MADE IN NEW YORK, PATENTED 1891
Dimensions (inches): 39" tall x 50" wide x 21" deep
Description:
Pressed brass eagles decorated the interiors of Civil War veterans' halls, armories, customs houses and government buildings. They typically have rectangular brackets on the reverse , into which patriotic bunting could be tucked, and/or open tubes, into which the wooden staffs of parade flags could be affixed to fan out above the eagle's wings.

The surface was gilded in gold leaf to give it a lasting luster. Much of the original gilding remains and the untouched, naturally aged surface is among this sculpture's strongest attributes.

Dramatic is the first word that comes to mind of this particular form, which is the largest and the most impressive that I have ever encountered. Note the sweeping profile of the wings, one of which is curved more than the other, arching around the beak. The wings are spread as if the bird is landing on the large, flattened orb, gripped within its talons. The combination of the profile, the scale, the detail, and wonderful patina lend a stunning visual impression.

Eagles like this began to appear during the last quarter of the 19th century and production probably persisted until around 1910. Their structures are partially hollow-bodied and three-dimensional, reinforced with tin on the reverse. Between the wings there is an array of five parade flag tubes and below these is a small rectangular plate, stamped with an oval, braided rope border, inside which is the following text: "Patented Septr. 15, 1891 NY".

A New York mark is seldom not a positive feature in the antiques marketplace. An eagle standing on a globe is New York symbolism and appears on the state seal. This may or may not be what the sculptor was trying to depict. The oval sphere is a closed vessel that could easily have allowed for the storage of whale oil. It could be that this form was available as a wall-hanging sculpture, as is the case here, or as a parade torch. There is a flattened, tubular structure on the reverse that would be ideal for accepting a flat wick. In this case it does not connect to the vessel, but perhaps it could if ordered as a torch for nighttime parades. The structure may alternatively have served as a means by which the eagle could have been attached to a staff for use in parades. A Civil war veteran's unit might hang it prominently on the wall inside their meeting hall for most of the year, and carry in parades once or twice per annum.

Condition: There is expected wear from age and use, including minor dents and natural gilding loss. There are a few, very minor breaks. The structure is remarkably sound and intact, especially considering its size and lightweight materials.
   
Primary Color: gold
Earliest Date: 1891
Latest Date: 1898
For Sale Status: Available
Price SOLD
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com
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