38 Star Antique Flag with a Beehive Star Pattern | One of the Rarest of all Patterns | Circa 1876-1889

38 Star Antique Flag with a Beehive Star Pattern
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38 Star Antique Flag with an Extremely Rare Beehive Pattern 5.jpg
Comparison of 38 and 42 Star Antique Flags with Beehive Star Patterns
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38 Star Antique Flag with a Beehive Star Pattern
38 Star Antique Flag with an Extremely Rare Beehive Pattern 2.jpg
38 Star Antique Flag with an Extremely Rare Beehive Pattern 3.jpg
38 Star Antique Flag with an Extremely Rare Beehive Pattern 4.jpg
38 Star Antique Flag with an Extremely Rare Beehive Pattern 5.jpg
Comparison of 38 and 42 Star Antique Flags with Beehive Star Patterns
2. 3 Gold Image.jpg
Large Frames.JPG

38 Star Antique Flag with a Beehive Star Pattern | One of the Rarest of all Patterns | Circa 1876-1889

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Price: Call 618-553-2291, or email info@bonsellamericana.com
Frame Size (H x L): 29” x 37”
Flag Size (H x L): 19.5” x 28”   

Offered is a thirty-eight star antique flag with a beehive pattern.  Flags with such a pattern are among the rarest of all antique parade flags.  Just a hand full exist in private collections, and they almost never go to auction.

The core of the beehive is defined by stars that are positioned in a 5-6-6-6-6-5 pattern.  And the core is surrounded by flanking stars in the corners, each of which is smaller in size and canted 45⁰.  The bottom flanking stars aid in defining the base of the beehive, and the top flanking stars appear like bees entering the hive.  The resulting beehive appearance may have been accidental, but may also have been intentional as a result of the industrial nature of the United States, particularly in the late 1800s.           

This particular thirty-eight star pattern was later used as a forty-two star pattern (see the comparison image).  In the forty-two star pattern, above the core and between the top flanking stars is a set of four larger stars.  The four larger stars represent North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington, which were the four states added to the Union in 1889.  The flag maker reworked the thirty-eight star stamp, so as to shoehorn the additional four larger stars onto the canton.  Interestingly, the thirty-eight star stamp was a child of a thirty-four star stamp.  Such reuse of the manufacturing equipment, over this span of time, points to the crude nature and frugality of 19th century flag making.  

This flag is printed on a plain weave cotton, which has significantly more substance than most cottons that are used for parade flags.  The reds of this flag are orange in color, in contrast to its forty-two star counterpart (again, see the comparison image).  The thirty-eight star flag’s stripes are closer to orange than red.  Such a color is a result of the use of either madder or cochineal to create the red dye, and is common in flags dating between 1850 and 1870 (and to a lesser extent up to 1880).  Clearly, the forty-two star flag used a more modern dying technique than its counterpart.  We find this obvious transition in dying techniques to be quite interesting.     

The thirty-eight star flag represents the inclusion of Colorado to the Union.  Colorado was admitted on August 1st, 1876 and this flag became official on July 4th, 1877.  Presidents Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and Harrison all served under this flag.  Colorado became known as the “Centennial State,” a result of becoming official just twenty-eight days after the centennial.  The official star count for US flags in 1876 was the thirty-seven star flag.  However, it was common for flag makers to produce anticipatory flags in advance of their official date, making the thirty-eight star flag—and for historical reasons, the thirteen star flag—the most common flags flown during the centennial celebrations of 1876.       

The nation’s centennial in 1876 inspired patriotism across the county and reunited its citizens.  Cities of all sizes hosted parades and celebrations, and buildings and homes were canvased in red, white, and blue with flags being the primary symbol of national pride.  The most notable celebration was the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia.  In just six months, the Exhibition hosted nearly 10 million visitors, and included many extraordinary exhibits, including the introduction of the Corliss Steam Engine and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. 

The thirty-eight star flag was official until July 4th, 1890, the time at which the forty-three star flag became official and began to represent the inclusion of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and Idaho to the Union.

Conservation Process: This flag was hand sewn to cotton fabric, and both were hand sewn to a mounting board.  To prevent the black dye in the cotton fabric from seeping into the flag, it was first washed in a standard wash and then in a dye setting wash.  The flag is positioned behind a UV resistant acrylic, and spaced apart therefrom using spacers. 

Frame: This offering is in our Large Gold Frame.  However, it can be reframed and would look great using any one of our Large Frames, which are shown in the final image.  The pricing associated with the different framing options may vary.  Reframing of an offering may delay shipment by up to two weeks.     

Condition Report: This flag has staining and foxing throughout, but particularly along the hoist end and along the fly end.  There are rust marks where the flag was originally attached to a staff.  The canton has some fading.  There is a manufacturing defect across the canton and the third red stripe.  Despite all of this, the flag presents wonderfully.  Many collectors prefer flags that have a patina and show their use.  

Collectability Level: The Best – Perfect for Advanced Collectors  
Date of Origin: 1876-1889
Number of Stars: 38   
Associated War: The Indian Wars (1860-1890) 
Associated State: Colorado  
   
 

 

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