Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 38.5" x 30.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 27.75" x 19.75"
38 star American national parade flag, printed on coarse, glazed cotton, in one of the most beautiful and interesting configurations that exists. This consists of a wreath of stars, inside which is "Great Star" (a large star made out of smaller stars). The design is perhaps a bit difficult to see at first glance. The points of each of the Great Stars' five arms reach into and from part of the outer wreath.

Typically there are four flanking stars outside this type of pattern, one in each corner. Note that there are only two flanking on this example. This was done intentionally to leave room for the easy addition of two more states. Flag-makers felt that more Western Territories were soon to be added to the Union and eagerly anticipated their arrival.

The same company that produced this flag was also likely the maker of a similar variety that I have owned, in a similar size. It would be easy to mistake both for the same design, each being about the same size, with the same size stars and the same coloration. A more intent examination, however, reveals that it lacks the Great Star on the other example, which has a more common, triple wreath.

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.

This particular flag was probably produced in 1876, both because the medallion pattern is extremely rare after the centennial and because flag-makers printed more interesting designs for the celebration of the event.

President Ulysses S. Grant was in office when the first 38 star flags would have appeared. The list of presidents serving during the period when the 38 star flag was actually official include Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison.

Mounting: The flag has been placed in its correct vertical position, with the canton in the upper left. It has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton, black in color, which has been washed to reduce excess dye. And acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The flag was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The front is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is minor to moderate staining, accompanied by a vertical tear that spans the bottom two stripes. The flag presents beautifully, however, and great rarity of the Great-Star-in-a-wreath" pattern warrants practically any condition.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 38
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1889
State/Affiliation: Colorado
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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