Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 28.5" x 41.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 18" x 30.5"
36 star American national parade flag, made for the 1880 presidential campaign of Republicans James A. Garfield and Chester Arthur. This rare style has an extended area at the fly end, where a rectangular strip in the same red-orange color as the stripes creates a perpendicular banner that silhouettes the names of the candidates. Three different sizes of this style of Garfield flag are known, of which this is the largest. The same variety is also exists for opposing Democrats Hancock and English. Because campaign flags were probably created by enterprising businessmen who sought to profit from the sale of flags at parades and rallies, as opposed to being ordered by the respective party, variations of the same flag were often produced by a flag maker for both candidates.

The bold, chrome orange coloration is not a result of fading, but is a product of the pigment used to print many parade flags between 1840 and 1890. Striking contrast between this and the cornflower blue canton sets this particular flag firmly apart from its modern counterparts.

Because Garfield was assassinated during his presidency and was replaced by Vice President Arthur, both men served the nation’s highest office. Having the names of two presidents is a desirable feature on political campaign cloth and is unusual simply because the Vice President so rarely gained the White House.

The 1880 election, its candidates, and the unfortunate event that followed made for one of the most interesting campaigns and presidencies. While the campaign platforms were relatively uninteresting, because they were so similar, the election results would become one of the most unusual in American presidential politics. Garfield and Hancock nearly tied in the popular vote, tallying 4,446,158 and 4,444,260, respectively. This represented approximately 48.3% for each candidate. Garfield won the electoral vote, however, 214 to 155. The margin between the two candidates in the popular vote remains the smallest ever in U.S. history.

Brief History of Garfield and Arthur:
James Abraham Garfield was a professor who left academics for law before his 1859 election to the Ohio State Senate. Like his Democrat opponent, Winfield Scott Hancock, Garfield served as a Union Army General during wartime. Though successful would be an accurate description of Garfield’s military career, it was brief and unlike that of the much-celebrated Hancock. Garfield left the Army during wartime, in 1863, when he was elected to the United States Congress. His promotion to major general came after the Battle of Chickamauga, shortly after he had been elected. In 1876 he moved to the Senate and became the Republican floor leader. In that same year he was appointed to the highly controversial Electoral Commission that put Rutherford B. Hayes in the White House despite his loss of the popular vote. In 1880 he ran for president and won, though he served less than four months in office. He became the second U.S. president to be assassinated when he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2nd, 1881, a disgruntled man who unsuccessfully pursued a political appointment following the election. Garfield lived until September 19th, when he died as a result of his wounds. Chester Arthur succeeded to the presidency and served out the remainder of the term.

Like many Vice Presidents, Arthur was chosen for political advantage, to placate his faction, rather than for skills or loyalty to his running mate. He is an interesting figure in political history for several reasons, among them the rather shocking fact that he may not have been a U.S. Citizen. Arthur’s parents were Irish immigrants to Canada and lived just 80 miles from the Vermont border before moving to the U.S.. Arthur claimed to have been born in 1829 in the town of Fairfield, Vermont, though no birth record has ever been found and he artfully avoided the question of his possible birth on Canadian soil. On at least one occasion he reported the date of his birth as 1830 instead of 1829, and there seems ample reason to be suspect of the information he provided.

Arthur was a member of the Stalwarts of the Republican Party, a faction the opposed Civil Service reform and was less moderate than the politics of the supporters of Rutherford B. Hayes. Before Charles Guiteau surrendered to authorities he shouted: “I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts...Arthur is president now!”, which resulted in no lack of further controversy and questioning. As a result, Arthur laid low after the shooting, retiring to his home in New York. He rarely appeared publicly and effectively left the nation fumbling, without a leader, until Garfield’s passing.

Before politics, Arthur practiced law and was a strong supporter of equal rights for blacks. During the Civil War he served as both quartermaster general and inspector general, with the eventual rank of brigadier general. He returned to law after the war and, in 1871, was appointed by President Ulysses Grant as Collector of the Port of New York, a powerful and lucrative position that he served until 1878. After the presidency he returned to New York and died the next year from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was interred at Menands, New York.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton, black in color, that has been washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There is minor to moderate staining and soiling, more prevalent toward the fly end. There are very minor tears and losses in the lower fly end quadrant. There is a very minor tear in the center of the fly end, beyond the ampersand. There is an area of minor loss in the upper, hoist end corner of the canton. There are minor holes in this area and along the hoist, resulting from where the flag was affixed to a wooden staff. The colors are excellent. many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 36
Earliest Date of Origin: 1880
Latest Date of Origin: 1880
State/Affiliation: Ohio
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire

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