Jeff R. Bridgman, the nation’s leading expert and dealer of historic American flags and political campaign textiles, will exhibit at the 8th annual Aspen Antiques & Fine Art Fair, which opens on July 3-10, at the Ice Garden in downtown Aspen, Colorado. Bridgman will offer a selection of rare and important flags, political banners and patriotic objects.
“The Aspen fair has its own unique character,” said Bridgman. “It’s a perfect place to be in the summer. According to Bridgman, many of his pieces are historically relevant to the state of Colorado. Among the highlights are:
*A rare and beautiful 38-star flag, An Indian Wars period flank guidon of the 4th U.S. Infantry, with a medallion configuration surrounding the numeral “4” (1876-1889), Colorado Statehood. Colorado became the 38th state in 1876 and on July 4 of 1877, the 38th star was officially added to the American national flag to reflect that state’s addition. The 38-star flag fell out of use on July 4th, 1890, following the addition of five more states. Military production flags carried by land forces are rare in the private marketplace. Of even greater appeal are the military flags with a striking graphic presentation, with ties to a historic unit such as the 4th U.S. Infantry. Infantry flank guidons are basically the smallest type of flag with sewn construction that were made with any regularity during this early period in American history, hence their rarity and appeal to collectors. Priced at $35,000.
*A Centennial celebration flag with 10-pointed starts that spell “1776-1876”
One of the most graphic of all early examples, this is among the best of the many fantastic star patterns that were made in the patriotism that accompanied the celebration of the Nation’s Centennial in 1876
Furthermore, flags with stars that spell out numeric or alphabetical characters are among the rarest of all designs. Only three other styles are currently known to exist. Priced at $22,500.
*A huge 38-star, triple-wreath Parade flag, Colorado statehood, 1876-1889, with three consecutive circles of stars surrounding a single center star. Typically there are four flanking stars outside this type of pattern, one in each corner, but there are only two flanking on this example. This was done intentionally to leave room for the easy addition of two more states since flag-makers felt that more Western territories were soon to be added to the Union and eagerly anticipated their arrival. Priced at $8,800.
*An extraordinary 38-star flag in a rare “beehive” configuration, 1876-1889, Colorado Statehood. The stars are arranged in an extraordinarily rare variation of what Bridgman calls a “beehive” configuration. This particular pattern consists of six rows of stars, all pointing upward, that from a basic beehive shape. There are 4 additional smaller stars in each corner, each tilted at forty-five degrees. The bottom two may be helping to form the base of the hive, while the above two may represent worker bees. Priced at $5,750
*The largest documented parade flag made for the 1864 campaign of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson with 34-stars in a medallion configuration on a chrome blue canton with matching blue text. Unlike some advertising flags, which were overprinted with the names of candidates in black ink, the brilliant, chromium blue text on this flag was printed together with its striking canton, where the stars are arranged in a fanciful, circular medallion. Thought the text simply reads: “Lincoln and Johnson,” it is a the huge size of the flag, accompanied by its striking color that sets it apart from most other known Lincoln campaign flags. Priced at $58,000.
ABOUT JEFF R. BRIDGMAN AMERICAN ANTIQUES
Jeff Bridgman launched his business in 1990, during a summer break, while attending graduate school. He scoured yard sales, flea markets, and country auctions, doubling his money on fifty-cent items. “I also bought furniture,” says Bridgman. "I'd buy something for twenty-five dollars, refinish it and sell it for seventy-five. That was a big score." About two years later, at the urging of a friend, he moved up to shows. "I didn't know anything about the antique show circuit. I picked the first one in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, because I liked the ads," he says. He dealt largely in furniture and quilts, buying better ones as he moved up and gaining knowledge along the way. When he began making enough money as an Americana dealer, he quit his health-care research job and went to more and more fairs. At one in Nashville, he happened to see two small, framed, nineteenth-century printed flags. "I didn't buy them, but I was struck by them and the price. I thought they were cheap for something so graphic and historically important," he says. Today, with 600 plus antiques shows under his belt and an inventory of more than 1,500 antique Stars & Stripes, he is the leading authority on the subject.