Above: Photo of The Great Republic gallery at CityCenter DC
Specializing in antique Americana has allowed us to handle a myriad of classic and exquisite collectable items. From 13-star flags, to original oil paintings, to rare first edition books-- we have it all, and we have seen it all. Our sellable collection of art continues to grow as new acquisitions come in and inventory is sold and shipped out across the world.
Today, we showcase some pieces that can be considered the basics for a quality Americana collection. We'll help you buy antiques and learn more about them, too. We compare these with the pieces that are more rare and sought-after by seasoned collectors. Read below to learn how to start out in the collecting world, and then how to build upon a growing collection!
American flags hold tremendous history in their stars and stripes. Since humble beginnings, the American flag has grown as a symbol of a unified and proud nation. There are twenty-seven different official flag variants, each with its own history and significance. As an iconic representation of the United States, the American flag is certainly a staple in any Americana collection.
The scarcity of many official flag variants can make collecting challenging. Below is an excellent example of a quality ‘starter’ flag, which could be purchased for a new collector looking to start collecting.
48-Star Printed Parade Flag, Circa 1912
Leaning star pattern, flag waver, $1,950
Presented is a printed 48-star flag in a typical row pattern. The 48-star flag was made official on July 4th, 1912 after both New Mexico and Arizona gained statehood on January 6th and February 4th of the same year. The flag is in good condition, with vibrant colors and only some staining due to age and wear. The size of the flag reflects a small parade style, also known as a flag waver, which was handed out during parades and waved.
Once a collection has grown, we suggest investing in a flag such as this 38-star flag below. The 38-star flag celebrates Colorado statehood, which was granted on August 1, 1876. The flag was made official on July 4th of the following year.
38-Star Printed Flag, Circa 1876
Rare star pattern, clamp-dyed, $16,500
This rare flag boasts a unique star pattern, featuring a large central star, a circling medallion of stars, and a bordering square of stars that runs along the perimeter of the canton. Such a rare star pattern increases the desirability of the flag, coupled with the fact that the flag was clamp-dyed in vibrant and rich colors.
Whether they are first editions, limited printings, or signed works, rare books will always have a place in Americana collections. Fine works such as The Great Gatsby or Fahrenheit 451 are acclaimed works of American literature. Books such as these can add great value to any collection, as they often comment on the society of their time. Below, we compare two different versions of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to provide an understanding of publishing history, condition, and binding quality.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
U.K. First Edition, First Issue, $4,500
This first edition, first issue book was published out of the United Kingdom in 1884. This edition pre-dated the American version and was printed in red cloth binding. We have paired the book with a custom slipcase for preservation. Here, a new collector will see the value in the book’s authenticity, presented with original boards that have been only slightly retouched for the sake of preservation, in very good condition.
The American version of Twain’s novel was published afterwards, but that does not diminish the rarity of American first editions. Below is the beautifully bound first American edition of Huckleberry Finn.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
American First Edition, First Printing, Rare Blue Cloth, $19,500
This American first edition, first printing of the famous book is bound in extremely rare blue cloth. This blue cloth was issued as a tribute to subscribers to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, making it ten times more rare than the typical green cloth binding on other American first editions. The book is housed in a luxurious quarter calf leather clamshell, which keeps the original boards preserved.
Posters can add a pop of color to a collection. Many World War I or World War II posters are extremely rare and sought-after by collectors. A poster, especially a large one in very good condition, can be difficult to find as most posters during that time were simply ripped down or easily damaged-- they were not considered a form of art as we see them today.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus, the famous traveling circus company, holds a place in early 20th century American history. These original posters are iconic symbols of the awe-inspiring shows that captivated American audiences for years.
Barnum & Bailey Circus Poster, Circa 1915
Color lithograph, $3,950
Above is a colorful lithographic poster from 1915, inviting viewers to attend the Barnum & Bailey’s New Free Parade. The poster was printed by the Stobridge Litho Company of Cincinnati, which is considered to be one of the premier printers from the golden age of American lithography.
Barnum & Bailey Circus Poster, Circa 1903
Color lithograph, $5,500
Comparatively, this poster announces Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth. Printed by the same company out of Cincinnati, this poster was published earlier, in 1903, and elegantly showcases the famous Barnum & Bailey’s circus bandwagon, the Two Hemispheres. This carriage, cherished for its iconic style and elaborate detail, sold for thousands of dollars just this year! This detail makes this poster far more desirable to collectors, coupled with the poster’s excellent condition and vibrant colors.
We stand behind our products-- each old collection piece is presented with a certificate of authenticity with full provenance, condition, and valuation reports. We also offer a unique service to our clients-- we will trade any purchased old collection item for another item of equal or lesser value, or put that amount towards the purchase of an item of greater value. This way, collectors looking to enhance a collection may take advantage of our constantly growing inventory by trading out a purchased piece for something different or more prestigious. We are one of the best online resources for buying antiques out there. Get started with your Americana collection, today!