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Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags and Painted Furniture - 19TH CENTURY KERCHIEF WITH A HIGHLY DETAILED PORTRAIT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN KERCHIEF, A WARTIME EAGLE, AND A BROWN BORDER WITH CANTONESE LETTERING, ONE-OF-A-KIND AMONG KNOWN EXAMPLES, 1885 - 1909
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  19TH CENTURY KERCHIEF WITH A HIGHLY DETAILED PORTRAIT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN KERCHIEF, A WARTIME EAGLE, AND A BROWN BORDER WITH CANTONESE LETTERING, ONE-OF-A-KIND AMONG KNOWN EXAMPLES, 1885 - 1909

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 33.5" x 33.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 17.5" x 18"
Description....:
This beautiful silk kerchief presently survives as the only one known in this form. The imagery features a highly detailed, copperplate-engraved portrait of Abraham Lincoln, which was derived from a photograph taken by Andrew Berger in the studio of the renowned Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. Above Lincoln is another copperplate engraving of a wartime eagle in three quarter pose, gripping arrows in its outstretched talon, from which lightning bolts exude. The usually present olive branch is clearly behind, and while most eagles do not so fervently symbolize war, this aggressive style leaves no doubt of the artist's intent. Although I cannot find a copy of this exact image elsewhere, it is of the style and quality that appeared on U.S. Treasury notes. A very close design appeared on the $1 "Flying Eagle" Federal Reserve note in 1918, but the eagle carries a flag in its talons and no lightning bolts are present. Otherwise it is the same bird and it is reasonable to assume that the 1918 version was altered from an earlier rendition.

The presence of Cantonese characters is interesting because they merely infer a status symbol to the American audience for which the kerchief was made. The characters have no relevant meaning in their own right. One represents "east," one "south" and the other the number "5". There is a duck in each corner. In both Chinese and Japanese culture, the duck is a symbol of happiness and fidelity. That certainly seems applicable, although given the characters that accompany it, one can't be sure of the maker's intent.

The most likely date is sometime between 1885 and 1909, the latter being Lincoln’s 100th birthday. The construction of this particular style of silk kerchief, with a border that is separated from the body by a fine line that is absent of horizontal threads, first appears in political campaign material in the 1888 election year. The use of this variety disappears after the 1913 inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, for which a kerchief in this style was printed. None seem to have been made for the 1916 election. While Lincoln was celebrated by Republican clubs and Civil War veterans throughout the remainder of the 19th century following his death, the most probable specific year of production is 1909, when lots of Lincoln material was made for the widely celebrated centennial of his birth.

Mounting: The kerchief has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color. The black fabric was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. Spacers keep the textile away from the textile, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There is very minor foxing and staining, but there are no serious condition issues.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type:
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1885
Latest Date of Origin: 1909
State/Affiliation:
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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