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RARE AND IMPORTANT 1860 "WIGWAM" REPUBLICAN CONVENTION KENTUCKY STATE DELEGATION FLAG, printed glazed cotton linen, the canton exhibiting highly desirable Great Star pattern with 31 stars, the stripes bearing "KENTUCKY" in bold painted black letters, probably stenciled, retains correspondence from Larry Malis regarding the present flag, including one example detailing the origins of its discovery. Housed under glass in a modern frame. 1860. 11" x 16 3/4" object, 14 1/2" x 22 1/4" OA.
Catalogue Note: The present flag is believed to have been used at the 1860 Republican Convention in Chicago, Illinois as a state delegation flag. An important political and historical event, often referred to as the "Wigwam" Convention, the occasion generated much debate in a fractious environment. After several ballots, the delegates ultimately nominated Abraham Lincoln for President and Hannibal Hamlin for Vice President, and the rest is history, as the expression goes.
One of several nearly identical flags bearing black lettering for each respective state in attendance at the convention, the present flag appears to be part of a large group of nearly identical flags discovered in an estate in Middletown, New York by Jan and Larry Malis sometime in 1974. Mr. Malis describes the extraordinary discovery of these important political textiles in a letter to Mr. George Huffman dated June 21, 1975: "This flag was obtained by us from an estate in Middeltown [sic], New York. The estate was pure, having been unpicked with no additions at the time we got to it. There were three related families represented, all active in New York State and local politics for several generations. We obtained all of the political memorabilia with the exception of personal family documents and photos. The period covered was from 1840 through approx. [sic] 1890. The flag was from a group that was documented in family papers as having been from the Lincoln/Hamlin Republican Convention of 1860. The group consisted of identical flags (yours included); two had 'Lincoln and Hamlin' printed in black on the face, and 37 identical flags each had the name of an individual state of the Union printed on the face in identical fashion. These 37 flags represented 37 of the 42 attending states and Terratories [sic] at the time. My memory is a little unsure on the following point, but, if memory serves these were originally owned by a gentleman of the name of Halstead Sweet or his direct descendant."
The present Kentucky delegation flag was purchased by George Huffman from Larry Malis in the winter of 1975 at the Crutcher Antiques Show in Indianapolis, Indiana, where, according to Mr. Huffman, Mr. Malis had all 37 state flags on display in his booth.
Very good overall condition with minor discoloration and fading. Minor creases and edge losses. Affixed to board at top corners, not laid down.
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Property from the private collection of George Huffman, Carmel, IN.
Purchased in winter of 1976 at the Crutcher Antique Show, Indianapolis, IN from Jan and Larry Malis, New Canaan, CT.
Exhibited: Indiana State Fair, 1976.