Jeff R. Bridgman, the nation’s leading expert and dealer of historic American flags and political textiles, as well as a leading dealer in American furniture and decorative objects, will exhibit at Antiques and Art at the Armory, which opens at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue (between 66th and 67th Streets), on September 29 through October 3, 2010.
Bridgman has attracted the likes of collectors such as Ralph Lauren, Barbra Streisand, Martha Stewart, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He is sought after to provide objects with both strong design components and compelling history.
Among the highlights he will offer are:
* An exceptional thirty-five star (1863-65) Civil War period flag. “For the advanced collector, who is only going to buy one spectacular, masterpiece flag, this is it,” said Bridgman. “This flag is the perfect combination of dynamic graphics, color, construction and condition.” Made entirely of silk with hand-embroidered, silk stars in three different sizes, the configuration is called the "Great Star" or "Great Luminary" pattern. 40.5” x 58.5” (flag), 53.25” x 70.5” (frame). It is unusually small for the 19th century, but big enough to make a dramatic statement. The price is $55,000.
*A late 19th century colorful hooked rug bearing an image of a turkey-headed, federal style American eagle gripping a long, coiled rattlesnake, on a modeled salmon background. The lighter border that encircles the eight-sided central medallion is comprised of folk interpretations of a rising sun that flank on left, right, top and bottom, separated by eight-pointed Lemoyne stars in each corner. With its beautifully muted color palette of rose tones and taupe, this design represents a beautiful example of late 19th century, patriotic American folk art. The price is $5,500.
*A 19th century firehouse banner, with the name Union No. 1, made during the Civil War era. “I have never before encountered a 19th century firehouse banner of this nature until I discovered this one and another of the same type among the holdings of a Pennsylvania collector,” said Bridgman. “While the specific history has been lost to the ages, the verbiage “UNION No. 1” has obvious appeal for Americana enthusiasts and is certainly fitting for the Civil War period in which it was made. The price is $18,500.
* A two-door cupboard / server in the best Robin’s Egg blue and red painted surface. Made in the very early period of 1810-1830, its origin is Ontario, but its decoration clearly says “America, Hurrah!”
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.
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques is located in historic York County, Pennsylvania. For more information, please call 717-502-1281 or visit www.JeffBridgman.com.