38 Star Antique US Flag with Handwritten Benjamin Harrison Campaign Overprint | Circa 1888

38 Star Antique US Flag with Handwritten Benjamin Harrison Campaign Overprint
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38 Star Antique US Flag with Handwritten Benjamin Harrison Campaign Overprint
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38 Star Antique US Flag with Handwritten Benjamin Harrison Campaign Overprint | Circa 1888

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Price: Call 618-553-2291, or email info@bonsellamericana.com  
Frame Size (H x L): 31” x 46”
Flag Size (H x L): 21” x 36”   

Offered is a thirty-eight star antique flag printed on glazed cotton, and including a handwritten endorsement of the Harrison and Morton campaign of 1888.  Antique flags often include a reference to a political candidate or the name of a previous owner, and the inclusion of such information—even when written directly on the flag—is both positive and interesting.  In the case of this flag, “Harrison and Morton 1888 – Brandon” is printed on the second stripe.  Brandon is a reference to the original owner of the flag.   Further, “Harrison and Morton” is printed in a larger font on the eighth stripe, and “1888” is printed on the tenth stripe. 

Harrison was a moderate Republican, and elected the 23rd president in the election of 1888.  Harrison ran against Grover Cleveland, the incumbent President and a Democrat.  Harrison lost the popular vote, but won the electoral vote with 233 electoral votes to Cleveland's 168.  Harrison signed into law the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, the first legislation prohibiting business combinations in restraint of trade.  Despite this, many Americans viewed Harrison and the Republicans as being too closely aligned with the wealthy elite, and as wasteful.  Upon Harrison's election, the treasury had a great surplus, but the "Billion-Dollar Congress" spent enormous sums on soldiers' pensions and business subsidies, erasing the surplus.  By 1890, the Democrats recaptured the House of Representatives by a large majority, and in turn, Harrison had little influence on legislation.  In the election of 1892, Harrison lost the electoral vote with 145 electoral votes to Cleveland's 277. 

The stars are arranged in a 6-6-7-7-6-6 pattern, in which there are larger spaces in the rows of six and smaller spaces in the rows of seven.  The stripes of this particular flag are closer to orange than red.  Such a color is a result of the use of madder to create the red dye, and is common in flags dating between 1850 and 1880 (and sometimes a bit later).  The orange color of the “red” stripes is very attractive.   

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 Black and 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: As shown in the photos, this flag has minor staining and foxing throughout its surface, both on the canton and the stripes.  Further, it includes a number of small holes, the most of which are along the hoist and fly ends.  Still further, it includes minor stains from an early tape repair that had been made around the edges of the flag.  The tape has been removed.  Despite all of this, the flag presents wonderfully, in part because of its age appropriate patina.  Flags that were printed with madder age more quickly than their counterparts, and this aging is to be celebrated and appreciated.    

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

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