Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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42 STARS, AN UNOFFICIAL STAR COUNT, ON AN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH SCATTERED STAR POSITIONING, SIGNED "MRS. G.M. GILLETTE," 1889-1890, WASHINGTON STATEHOOD

Web ID: 42j-907
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 21" x 26"
Flag Size (H x L): 11.75" x 17"
 
Description:
42 star parade flag, printed on cotton muslin. The stars are arranged in a rectilinear fashion, but vary in position on their vertical axis. This adds a nice element of folk quality to the flag’s design.

The 42 star flag is interesting from a historical perspective, both because 42 was never an official star count, and because 42 star flags were only produced for about 8 months (November, 1889 – July 4th, 1890). The flag represents the addition of the Dakotas, Montana and Washington State, between November 2nd and November 11th, 1889. The 42nd state was officially Washington, but the four states gained their statehood only nine days apart, and flag makers added 4 stars, accordingly, to the count of 38 that was official at the time.

After 1818, star counts became official on the 4th of July each year. A new star was therefore officially added on Independence Day for every state that had been added over the preceding “flag year”. Flag makers, however, did not wait for July 4th and official star counts. Flag making was a competitive industry and no one wanted to be making 38 star flags, for example, when their competitors were making 42 star flags and there were 42 states. Idaho received statehood on July 3rd, 1890, taking the star count to 43 just one day before 42 would have become the official number. This fact makes 42 star flags an interesting part of our heritage and a classic display of American capitalism.

The name "Mrs. G.M. Gillette" was inscribed on the 5th white stripe in pencil. This would be the name of a former owner and it was common to sign flags in this manner during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A search on this name turned up two possible individuals. One woman by this name, who resided in or around the famous town of Deadwood, South Dakota, is recorded as having attended the first Jewish wedding in the Black Hills, in 1879, where she and her husband presented a gift to the bride and groom of "a neat little clock." Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed in Deadwood in 1876.

The other, a member of the Women's Whist League (a card game club), is recorded as having won a trophy in Washington, DC in 1898, while playing for the Minneapolis (MN) Ladies' Club at the national conference.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that these two women were one and the same. South Dakota and Minnesota share a border, and if a person from Minneapolis had the wherewithal and means to travel to Washington, DC (1,721 miles) for a card game during the 19th century, she may certainly have traveled to or from Deadwood (620 miles). It is impossible to know if either of these women--the same person or otherwise--owned and signed this flag, but the general time frame is correct.

  Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The modern burled wood molding that has a Ralph Lauren sensibility, with a worn surface that is somewhat reminiscent of old leather. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is extremely minor staining and oxidation, and there is a tiny hole near the center of the flag, in the last stripe, but there are no serious condition issues. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
   
Collector Level: Beginners and Holiday Gift Giving
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 42
Earliest Date of Origin: 1889
Latest Date of Origin: 1890
State/Affiliation: Washington
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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