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ZFC2135

U.S. Centennial Exposition Quilt, Philadelphia.

Sub-collection: Veninga - Quilt Collection

U.S. Centennial Exposition Quilt, Philadelphia, PA, 1876.
Just over a decade after its Civil War, Americans welcomed the opportunity to celebrate the nation's first century and its successes. The great Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876 was more than a commemoration of the nation's first hundred years; for visitors from abroad and Americans alike, it made a striking statement about the advances the country had achieved in science, industry, commerce, and art. While still largely inward looking, America was beginning to place greater emphasis on its role in world affairs. This is reflected in the fabric souvenir, 'Flags of the Nations,' which the quilt-maker perhaps bought during a visit to the Exposition. Several of these souvenir's designs were inaccurate, but they spoke of the increasingly cosmopolitan outlook of Americans.

One interesting anomaly is the 39-star Stars and Stripes flag, which never legally existed. Colorado, the Centennial State, joined the Union in 1876 as the thirty-eighth state, but the next change in the national flag (in 1890) saw five new stars added simultaneously. It is possible that the mysterious thirty-ninth state was Utah, which had already been agitating for statehood for a quarter century. Flag makers often incorrectly anticipated new states. It is also possible that the mysterious thirty-ninth state was the Dakota Territory, whose attempts for statehood were frustrated by internal bickering over its future capital, which eventually resulted in splitting it into two states, thus rendering 39-star flags obsolete.

An unknown maker fashioned this pieced quilt from printed cotton souvenirs that were collected from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In America before the 1876 Centennial of nationhood, various fabrics printed with patriotic motifs were trendy. The Philadelphia exhibition motivated worldwide textile companies to show their fabrics and innovations to the public. This quilt contains four different panels.

Two panels in the upper corners, depict a large, 39-star US Flag, surrounded by international flags bearing the Patent date 28 December 1875. These are surrounded by the flags of countries that participated in the 1876 Centennial Exposition: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Siam, Tunis, Persia, Egypt, Peru, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Chili, Argentine, Ireland, China, Japan, Morocco, South Sandwich Islands, Haiti, Liberia, Mexico, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Denmark, [And] Sweden.

The reverse of the quilt is pieced from two different panels which repeat: Ten panels of this design, alternating, depicting 'Flags of the Nations which Participate in the Centennial Exposition of the United States in 1876.'

Exhibition History:
This quilt was exhibited in "The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict," at the Officers Club of The Presidio, San Francisco in 2003. This was the largest exhibit of historical American Flags in US History with over 120 flags on display.

First and Second Presidio Exhibits 2003

Publication History:
Madaus, Howard M., Dr, Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict. Santa Cruz: VZ Publications, 2006, p. 95.

Depicted in Threads of History, Smithsonian Institution, 1979, page 210.

Provenance: Acquired by the Veninga Flag Collection (LV13) in 1999.

ZFC Significant Flag

Sources:



Madaus, Howard M.- Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict, VZ Publications, Santa Cruz, 2006.

Collins, Herbert Ridgeway, Threads of History, City of Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979.

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection



Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 89
Length of Fly 91

Stars

Comments on Star Measurements 7-6-7-6-7-6 Vertical Rows

Frame

Is it framed? no

Stars

Number of Stars 39
How are the stars embeded? Printed
Are there stars on obverse? yes
Are there stars on reverse? no

Stripes

Number of Stripes 13
Color of Top Stripe Red
Color of Bottom Stripe Red
Has a Blood Stripe? no

Crest/Emblem

Description of Crest/Emblem Flag is on two panels in a Centennial Quilt made entire out flags of the countries that participated in the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

Nationality

Nation Represented United States

Fabric

Fabric Cotton

Stitching

Stitching Combination
Comments on Stitching Hand & Machine stitching

Weave

Type of Weave Plain

Applica

Applique Sides Double Faced = Reads correctly on both sides

Documentation

Documents
All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.
Drawings
All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.

Condition

Condition Good
Damage Flag is used and worn.
Displayable yes

Date

Date 1876

Exhibits

Exhibition Copy First and Second Presidio Exhibits 2003
Centennial Quilt with Flags of all Participating Nations
Just over a decade after its Civil War, Americans welcomed the opportunity to celebrate the nation’s first century and its successes. The great Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876 was more than a commemoration of the nation’s first hundred years; for visitors from abroad and Americans alike, it made a striking statement about the advances the country had achieved in science, industry, commerce, and art. While still largely inward looking, America was beginning to place greater emphasis on its role in world affairs. This is reflected in the fabric souvenir, ‘Flags of the Nations,’ which the quilt-maker perhaps bought during a visit to the Exposition. Several of these souvenir’s designs were inaccurate, but they spoke of the increasingly cosmopolitan outlook of Americans.

One interesting anomaly is the 39-star Stars and Stripes flag, which never legally existed. Colorado, the Centennial State, joined the Union in 1876 as the thirty-eighth state, but the next change in the national flag (in 1890) saw five new stars added simultaneously. It is possible that the mysterious thirty-ninth state was Utah, which had already been agitating for statehood for a quarter century. Flag makers often incorrectly anticipated new states. It is also possible that the mysterious thirty-ninth state was the Dakota Territory, whose attempts for statehood were frustrated by internal bickering over its future capital, which eventually resulted in splitting it into two states, thus rendering 39-star flags obsolete.

Publications

Publication Copy Madaus, Howard M., Dr, Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict. Santa Cruz: VZ Publications, 2006, p. 95.

Just over a decade after its Civil War, Americans welcomed the opportunity to celebrate the nation and its successes. The great Centennial Exposition, held in Philadelphia in 1876, was more than a commemoration of the nation’s first hundred years; for visitors from abroad and Americans alike, it made a striking statement about the advances the country had achieved in science, industry, commerce, and art. While still largely inward-looking, America was beginning to place greater emphasis on its role in world affairs. This is reflected in the souvenir flags of the nation’s fabric which the quilt-maker perhaps bought during a visit to the Exposition. Several of the designs were inaccurate, but they spoke of the worldliness Americans felt entitled to. More surprising is the large 39-star Stars and Stripes, a flag which never legally existed. Colorado, the Centennial State, joined the Union in 1876 as the thirty-eighth state, but the next change in the national flag, in 1890 saw five new stars added. It is possible that the mysterious thirty-ninth state was Utah, which had already been agitating for statehood for a quarter century. Flag makers often incorrectly anticipated new states. It is also possible that the mysterious thirty-ninth state was the Dakota Territory, whose attempts for statehood were frustrated by internal bickering over its future capital, which eventually resulted in splitting it into two states, thus rendering 39-star flags obsolete.