Presented is a rare Centennial patriotic flag banner, dating to 1876. The flag’s rich blue canton is spectacular, with 81 five-pointed, rayed stars, arranged to read “1776” and “1876.” The flag’s design is completed with thirteen alternating red and white stripes. The fly is a three-piece, machine sewn construction. The hoist to this large wool flag has five brass rings, original to 1876.
In the lead up to the nation’s Centennial in 1876, flag makers and individuals looked to the past for designs to produce as part of the country’s many celebrations. Popular interpretation of the stars and stripes undoubtedly reached its climax of variety and originality at the time of our Nation’s first Centennial. Since no design restrictions were placed on flagmaker’s imaginations and no strict distinctions were drawn between official and unofficial star counts, it is no surprise that, on the occasion of the Centennial, creativity in flag design was not the exception, but the rule.
The cantons from this period presented an array of geometric abstractions. Great star patterns, referred to as the “starry flower of Liberty” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, that were popular from 1818 and on, resurfaced in Centennial flags. The lively assemblage of many white stars into one great stellar design is perhaps the most beautiful visualization of the goal set forth by the original Flag Resolution of 1777, “...13 stars white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” Stars arranged in medallions or starburst patterns were popular among flag makers and consumers, yet this “1776/1876”remains to be one of the more spectacular and celebratory designs to come from the Centennial celebrations.
Some of the flags made for the Centennial were designed to be used and displayed during town events and celebrations, and then easily discarded afterwards. This has made it increasingly difficult to find original examples in good condition. Luckily, some examples have been saved, passed down through family generations, and now serve as glorious reminders of our perseverance through the both tragic and triumphant first 100 years as a nation.
Good overall condition. Wool flag, printed and dyed with two-piece machine sewn construction on fly. Original brass rings on hoist along hoist end. Flag has minor wear and fading to the red and blue, toning to white wool, with scattered light stains from past use. Old hand-sewn repair to canton and small losses to fly. Flag Dimensions: 28 1/2" H x 46"W.
Flag has been mounted in an archival, custom-built black and gold wooden frame with gold spandrels, UV Plexiglas, and a custom plaque.Framed Dimensions: 45" H x 62 1/4" W x 3" D.