Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  PAIR OF LIBERATION FLAGS, MADE IN FRANCE TO CELEBRATE THE ARRIVAL OF U.S. AND BRITISH TROOPS FOLLOWING LIBERATION FROM THE NAZIS DURING WWII, NOTE THE STAR OF DAVID-SHAPED PROFILES ON THE AMERICAN EXAMPLE AND THE USE OF THE SAME CANDY-STRIPED FABRIC IN BOTH FLAGS, CA 1944

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): American - Approx. 41" x 47", British - Approx. 41" x 49"
Flag Size (H x L): American - 30" x 36", British - 30" x 38"
Description....:
PAIR OF LIBERATION FLAGS, MADE IN FRANCE TO CELEBRATE THE ARRIVAL OF U.S. AND BRITISH TROOPS FOLLOWING LIBERATION FROM THE NAZIS DURING WWII, NOTE THE STAR OF DAVID-SHAPED PROFILES ON THE AMERICAN EXAMPLE AND THE USE OF THE SAME CANDY-STRIPED FABRIC IN BOTH FLAGS, CA 1944:

Found in France, this pair of extraordinary flags, including both an American national variant and a British Union flag, share unusual traits and wonderful folk qualities. Their make-do construction is indicative of banners produced by private citizens in Europe, during both WWI and WWII, to welcome Allied Forces following liberation from the Germans.

Since shortages and poverty were byproducts of war, liberation flags were often made out of recycled materials. Note how the stripes of the American flag are made of an upholstery weight, candy-striped fabric that was likely salvaged from a draperies, a bedspread, or perhaps a chair. The choice to employ a salmon pink fabric instead of red probably represents the closest thing that the maker found at hand. While the blue fabric has faded, the salmon color was probably pink to begin with, darker but on the same order. Because striped or patterned fabric is practically never encountered in early American flags, it's presence on any vintage example is a fantastic find.

On the British flag, the Cross of St. George and St. Patrick's Cross are largely done with a solid salmon cotton of nearly identical hue, but the upper, fly end arm of the saltire is made of a piece of the same candy-striped fabric that was used to construct the Stars & Stripes. This ties the origin of the two flags firmly together. The white cotton is somewhat heavy and was perhaps conscribed from a bed sheet or an article of clothing. It is the same that appears in the American flag. The blue is consistent across both flags and clothing seems the most likely origin.

It may be presumed that any maker of American flags at home, in haste, overseas would seldom know the correct total of stars or stripes. Here there are 25 stars, which may be a byproduct of general ignorance, though it could be that the maker felt it impractical to include so many stars on such a small flag, especially given available time and materials. Use of the correct stripe count tends to support the latter theory, though it could have been a lucky guess.

The most extraordinary design feature of all, however is the shape of the stars, which are clearly in the form of the Star of David. This helps date the flags to WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-45), and specifically to the year 1944, when France was liberated following the Normandy invasion. Collectors of flags love this sort of feature. Use of stars with different numbers of points than the standard 5 is rare, but various examples are known with 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10-pointed stars, particularly in 18th and 19th century, when there was no specified number. The circumstance of having a different number of points is even more rare during the 20th century, when there was a specified profile [following President Howard Taft's Executive order of 1912] and American flags were largely mass-produced. As time passed there was less and less variation. Then there is the religious and historical significance, of course, which magnifies the importance. Use of a 6-pointed star or "Shield of David / Magen David" is certainly poignant in a WWII flag, made to celebrate the fall of Nazi oppression.

One may note that the British flag also exhibits basic design flaws . Here the red Cross of St. George is supposed to be superimposed on white, and the white saltire of St. Andrew is supposed to be larger than that of St. Patrick's red one. The white saltire is supposed to be set beneath the red and offset in a specific fashion. Because I typically can't remember the specifics of this myself, I can hardly imagine any average foreigner ever getting it correct without a model. Lack of the proper formatting would be expected in a British flag made at the home of a French citizen.

It's not especially unusual to find Stars & Stripes and British format liberation flags together. I have owned a couple of sets and have seen others. But it is particularly wonderful in this case, due to the significance of the various design elements. These flags are especially large in scale across the liberation examples that I have encountered, which lends to their visual impact. They are not large by any means in flag terms, but they are not tiny hand-held parade flags and their size makes them interesting among those I have seen. The flags were found together, but the use of this candy-striped fabric in the pair is particularly nice to see, documenting their origin from a single maker or at least a single household. The flags document an important connection of three great nations, together at a time of crises, and the 6-pointed stars incorporate history of the Jewish people specifically, at the time of their greatest challenge. Because of these reasons, the two flags would make an excellent addition to any flag collection, collection of WWII history or Judaica.

Construction: The flags are made entirely of cotton. The stars on the American flag were double-appliqu├ęd (applied to both sides) with a single tacking stitch at the crux of each valley and the tip of each point. The lineal seams and the binding were sewn by machine (probably treadle-operated).

Mounting: The flags have been hand-sewn to backgrounds of 100% cotton twill, 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 mounts were then placed in a deep, black-painted molding with a rectangular profile, to which a rippled profile liner was added, black in color with light gold highlights. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass.

Condition: There is significant fading throughout. Fading of the blue fabric is uneven. There is minor soiling throughout, and moderate soling along the top edge of the Stars & Stripes. There are some tiny dark stains in limited areas on each flag, most notably in tow of the stars on the American flag, and in its first, second, sixth and seventh red stripes and the 5th white stripe. There are a few tack holes along the hoists, where the flags were once affixed to wooden staffs. 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: Sewn flag
Star Count: 25
Earliest Date of Origin: 1944
Latest Date of Origin: 1944
State/Affiliation:
War Association: WW 2
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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