Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  34 STARS, CIVIL WAR PERIOD (1861-63), THE LARGEST KNOWN PARADE FLAG WITH AN EAGLE IN THE CANTON, EXTRAORDINARILY RARE AND ONE OF A KIND AMONG KNOWN EXAMPLES, USED IN THE 1872 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF GRANT & WILSON

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 47.5" x 58"
Flag Size (H x L): 36.75" x 47"
Description....:
American parade flags that incorporate large eagles in their design are among the rarest of all printed examples. At approximately 37” x 47”, his extraordinary specimen is approximately four times as large as any I have seen in person. Though there is one documented flag of similar scale, but in a different style, in the collection of the Smithsonian’s Division of Naval History, there is nothing of which I am aware outside that institution. Stars & Stripes style flags with pieced-and-sewn construction that incorporate large eagles are also especially rare; so-much-so that the collective known group of both printed and sewn versions is closely coveted by the collecting community.

Another of the flag’s features is of equal scarcity. During the 1872 campaign of incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant, in the midst of the reconstruction of the south, a hand-sewn banner was added to the fly end that contained hand-painted text with the names of the candidates. This was certainly done to recycle the flag for use at a political rally. So far as I am aware, fewer than ten flags are known from the Grant & Wilson campaign that have either hand-painted or printed text, so the importance of its presence here can not be understated. Grant made many flags for his 1868 run for the Whitehouse, but, like many incumbents, did not need to work as hard on the second time around.

Kansas was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about 2 ½ months before the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter that marked the beginning of the Civil War. The 34th star was officially added on July 4th of that year, but most flag makers would have added a 34th star with the addition of Kansas in January. The star count remained official until July 4th, 1863, and 34 star flags would have generally been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year.

Biographical Information on Grant & Wilson:

President and General Ulysses S. Grant was born in Ohio in 1822, the son of a tanner. He was shy and quiet as a youth, and most who knew him then would never have expected forthcoming greatness. Like Robert E. Lee, his eventual Confederate counterpart, Grant was a West Point graduate and fought in the Mexican War. Unlike that of Lee, however, Grant’s early military career was far from illustrious. Forced to leave the Army for insubordination, as a civilian he went through six different jobs in just six years. When war broke out in 1861, he was working for his father’s leather shop in Illinois. Trained officers were scarce, so he soon returned to the Army and was placed in charge of an unruly group of Illinois volunteers that no one else would have. Accounts say that he drilled them nearly to their death, before leading minor, successful campaigns that turned heads and won him a promotion to Brigadier General. Various incidents and problems with alcohol caused many to plead for his dismissal, but Lincoln made the suggestion that “a case of whatever Grant was drinking” be sent to every Union General. “I can not spare this man”, touted Lincoln, “...he fights.” In March of 1864, Grant’s continued determination caused Lincoln to place him in charge of the entire Union Army. In April of 1865, he cornered the main part of the Confederate Army near Richmond, Virginia, an act that caused the surrender of General Lee and ended the war.

Following the failures of incumbent President, Andrew Johnson, Grant’s hero status won him the 1868 Republican nomination. He was elected, and although many shortcomings would cause Grant’s presidency to be widely criticized, he was known to be terminally honest, exceptionally loyal to his friends and staff (sometimes to a fault), and he was re-elected in 1872. While in office, he fought for equal voting rights for people of all races and colors, pushing the 15th amendment to its 1870 ratification. Grant strove to maintain order in the south with brute force, using the military to protect African Americans and combat southern extremists and hate groups, such as the Klu Klux Klan, which had been established in 1866 and was experiencing rapid growth. Grant died in 1885 and interment took place in New York City (Grant’s Tomb).

Henry Wilson, a leading senator from Massachusetts, replaced Schuyler Colfax as nominee for vice president in 1872, following allegations of corruption against Colfax in a business scandal. Born Jeremiah Jones Colbath in 1812 in Farmington, New Hampshire, one of twelve siblings, he was given up for adoption because his impoverished family could not support him. He legally changed his name to that of his adopted father and took the first name of Henry. Wilson moved to Massachusetts in 1833 and became a shoemaker. He was well-educated, attending several academies, and taught public school in the town of Natick. Wilson joined the state legislature in 1841 and served until 1852. For four years of this time he owned and edited a paper called the Boston Republican. He was elected by Democrats and Free-Soilers to the United States Senate in 1855, before joining the Republican Party and serving three more terms. Like many politicians following the Civil War, Wilson took his turn with the military. As senator, Wilson served as Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, and during the Civil War, he took a more hands-on role by raising and commanding the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Wilson became paralyzed in 1873 and died in the United States Capitol Building in November of 1875, before his term had ended.

Mounting: This is a pressure-mount between 100% cotton velvet and u.v. protective plexiglas. The mount has been placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding.

Condition: There is significant fabric loss, foxing, and staining, but the flag has an outstanding presence and its great rarity as the only known example, warrants almost any condition. Some collectors prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. Further, because this flag is so beautiful, I would place it among the top 5%, from a visual standpoint, of anything I have ever framed.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 34
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1863
State/Affiliation: Kansas
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
 

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