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38 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN PARADE FLAG

Origin United States
Period 19th Century
Dimensions
W. 63 in; H. 42.5 in;
W. 160.02 cm; H. 107.95 cm;
Creation Date 1876 - 1889
Description 38 star American national parade flag, printed on coarse cotton. The stars, which are notably large among many of its counterparts in other star counts, are arranged in justified rows of 6-6-7-7-6-6.

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.

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.

Also known as "handwavers," parade flags were waved at parades and political events and generally measured three feet or less on the fly. At 50" on the fly, this is a particularly large example.

Prior to 1890, flags with pieced-and-sewn construction, as opposed to printed, were typically 8 feet long and larger. Even infantry battle flags were 6 x 6.5 feet. Because parade flags were rarely as large as the example in question here, yet sewn flags were rarely this small, and because the size is relatively ideal--manageable but large enough to make a bold statement-- this is an especially desirable example.

In addition to its size and the large stars, note the vibrant, chrome orange color of the stripes. Many cotton parade flags produced between 1850 and 1876 have shades of red that lean strongly toward orange. This was typical of the period and the presentation of these flags can be striking. Also note how the irregular weave of the fabric and the attractive patina contribute to its beautiful presentation.

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

The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There are tack holes along the hoist, with minor, associated rust stains, where the flag was once affixed to its original staff. One of these stains repeats twice into the 4th white stripe, a condition that commonly occurred when a parade flag was rolled onto its staff. There is minor to moderate water staining in the first 4 white stripes, though not in a wholly unattractive fashion. The overall condition is very nice for such a large parade flag and the presentation is excellent. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.

Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 42.5" x 63"
Flag Size (H x L): 30" x 50.5"
Styles / Movements Americana, Folk Art, Traditional
Incollect Reference Number 296576
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