|38 HAND-SEWN STARS, 1876-1889, COLORADO STATEHOOD:
38 star American national flag. The 38th state, Colorado, gained its statehood on August 1st, 1876. The 38 star flag became official on July 4th, 1877, and remained so until July 3rd, 1890. Because flag-making was a competitive venture, and no one wanted to be making 37 star flags when others were making 38's, flag makers paid little heed to official star counts and would have begun producing 38 star flags for the nation's centennial of independence, before they were official, sometime in the early part of 1876 or even prior.
Today, in the 21st century, a flag with 6 foot (72") length or smaller is common and considered by most people to be quite large, but in the 19th century, this flag is actually small when compared to its counterparts with sewn construction. Printed parade flags (sometimes called hand-wavers) were generally 3 feet long or smaller, but flags with sewn construction were generally between 8 and 45 feet in length. This is because flags needed to be seen from a great distance to be effective in their purpose as signals and there was simply very little purpose for small, sewn flags. Today's use of the Stars & Stripes is more often decorative and for the general display of patriotism. In the 19th century, however, even flags made for decorative purpose were large by today's standards.
The stars of the flag are made of cotton, are hand-sewn and double-appliqued (applied to both sides of the flag). The canton and stripes of the flag are treadle-sewn and made of wool bunting. This construction is characteristic of the period and typical of most flags made for outdoor use. There is a cotton sleeve with two brass grommets for hoisting.
Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% organza for support, then stitched to a background of 100% gabardine wool, black in color. The black fabric was washed to remove excess dye, and an acid-free, dye-setting agent was added to the wash. The flag was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The front is u.v. protective plexiglas.
Condition: Excellent for the period. There are no serious condition issues.