Scarce 45 Star Antique Campaign Flag | Features McKinley and Roosevelt | Utah Statehood | Circa 1900

Scarce 45 Star Antique Campaign Flag | Features McKinley and Roosevelt
Scarce 45 Star Antique Campaign Flag | Features McKinley and Roosevelt
3. Antique McKinley and Roosevelt Campaign Flag.jpg
Scarce 45 Star Antique Campaign Flag | Features McKinley and Roosevelt
Scarce 45 Star Antique Campaign Flag | Features McKinley and Roosevelt
3. Antique McKinley and Roosevelt Campaign Flag.jpg

Scarce 45 Star Antique Campaign Flag | Features McKinley and Roosevelt | Utah Statehood | Circa 1900

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Price: Call 618-553-2291, or email info@bonsellamericana.com
Frame Size (H x L):
15.5” x 22”
Flag Size (H x L):
6.25” x 13”   

Offered is an antique William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt campaign flag.  It is printed on cotton, and it features forty-five stars arranged in a 7-8-7-8-7-8 pattern.  Two blue and white portraits are featured to the left of the stars, and the portraits are separated by a white bow.  The first, upper portrait is of McKinley, and the second, lower portrait is of Roosevelt.  With McKinley is an overprint that states “For President | Wm McKinley.”  And with Roosevelt is an overprint that states “For Vice President | Theodore Roosevelt.”             

The first campaign flags were made in 1840 and were associated with the William Henry Harrison campaign.  In 1890, a bill was introduced that attempted to prevent the desecration of the flag by printing, painting, or advertising for public display or private gain.  The bill failed.  Then, in 1895, a similar bill was introduced, but also failed.  And finally, in 1905, a bill finally passed outlawing the use of marks and portraits on the flag, coat of arms, and other insignia of the United States.     

With this background in mind, campaign flags are especially difficult to acquire, because they were only made between 1840 and 1905.  And in reality, most examples that surface are from a narrower time frame between 1860 and 1890.  The campaign flags that date to before 1860 were made in low volumes and additionally were less likely to have survived.  Likewise, the campaign flags that date to after 1890 were also made in low volumes.  By 1890, politicians knew that campaign flags were losing favor and likely to be outlawed.  For this reason, this McKinley and Roosevelt flag, which was made in 1900, is particularly unusual.

An example of this flag is documented in the Threads of History, written by Herbert Ridgeway Collins.  The referenced example is shown as item 827 and was held in the private collection of Norman Loewenstern.  Likewise, an example of a similar flag featuring William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson is also documented.  The referenced example is shown as item 828 and was held in the private collection of Harold Levy.  Mr. Collins was the curator of the Division of Political History at the Smithsonian Institute.  His book is the best reference available for political textile collectors and includes over fifteen-hundred examples, dating from 1775 to 1979. 

For several reasons, this McKinley and Roosevelt flag is particularly desirable.  First, it is a campaign flag.  Campaign flags are among the most collectible of all political items.  Second, it is particularly scarce.  Few have surfaced.  Third, it features two iconic presidents, McKinley and Roosevelt.  And forth, it is the only campaign flag that features a portrait of Roosevelt.   

McKinley was the presidential nominee for the Republican Party in 1896, and Garret Hobart was his vice-presidential running mate.  McKinley’s most formidable opponent was Bryan, who was the nominee for the Democratic Party.  McKinley defeated Bryan.  McKinley won 271 electoral votes and 51% of the popular vote, while Bryan won only 176 electoral votes and 47% of the popular vote.  McKinley was a proponent of the gold standard and “honest money.”  In contrast, Bryan was a proponent of the free coinage of silver, despite inflation concerns related thereto. 

McKinley was again the presidential nominee for the Republican Party in 1900, but this time Roosevelt was his vice-presidential running mate.  Again, McKinley’s most formidable opponent was Bryan, and again McKinley defeated him.  McKinley won 292 electoral votes and 52% of the popular vote, while Bryan won only 155 electoral votes and 46% of the popular vote.    

Roosevelt was a reformer who was best known for removing corrupt officials and regulating corporations.  Such actions irritated Republican leaders.  And in response, they were relieved to have him as the vice-president, the thought being that his role would be ceremonial in nature and sidetrack him from continuing to reform and regulate.  In 1901, however, McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt became the youngest president in history. 

The forty-five star flag represents the inclusion of Utah to the Union.  Utah was admitted on January 4th, 1896, and this flag became official on July 4th, 1896.  Presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Teddy Roosevelt served under this flag, and the Spanish-American War was fought under it. 

In 1848 Utah became a territory of the United States, and in 1849 its constitution was established as the Mormon State of Deseret.  The next year, the State of Deseret applied to become a state, but Congress rejected the application and changed its name to the Utah Territory, which included the entirety of Nevada and portions of Colorado and Wyoming (as a section of the Missouri Compromise).  Despite its continued efforts to gain statehood, it remained a territory, partially as a result of the Mormon Church and Utah authorities being openly tolerant of polygamy.  In 1890 Utah outlawed the practice, and in 1896 Utah finally became the forty-fifth state.  The forty-five star flag was official for 12 years up until July 4th, 1908, when the forty-six star flag became official and began to represent the inclusion of Oklahoma in 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 an antique frame.  The frame includes an outer walnut layer and an inner silver layer.        

Condition Report: This flag includes some minor stains, particularly across the Roosevelt portrait and across the stripes closer to the fly end.  Still, it is very good conditions and displays extremely well.

Collectability Level: The Extraordinary – Museum Quality Offerings  
Date of Origin: 1900  
Number of Stars: 45 
Associated State: Utah  

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