A stunning, 1856 campaign flag for President James Buchanan set a world record at Heritage Auctions May 13 when it sold for $275,000, shattering the previous record for a campaign flag sold at auction, set by Heritage in 2009. The flag was the centerpiece of a $1.9 million Americana & Political sale that focused on memorabilia from the nation’s Founding Fathers and other historic figures.
“The previous record of $95,600 was set in November of 2009 for an 1860 John Breckinridge portrait flag,” said Jeff Bridgman, the winning bidder and owner of Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques of York County, Pennsylvania.
Colorful campaign banners in the style of American flags were produced for every winning presidential candidate from William Henry Harrison in 1840 up through, at least, Woodrow Wilson. Highly collectible, none is rarer than the 21-1/2″ x 15″ flag banner for James Buchanan. “As thrilling as it was to see it sell, I was not surprised to see this flag set a world record,” said Tom Slater, Director of Americana at Heritage. “It is the only Buchanan portrait flag ever to appear at auction and represented a perhaps not-to-be-repeated opportunity for the advanced collector.”
Not only did Bridgman purchase the Buchanan flag, he also was the winning bidder on a Monumental Silk Banner from the October 1789 Parade Welcoming the Recently-installed President to Boston. “I have never owned an 18th century flag, almost nothing exists of that period, inside or outside of institutions, and this actually had Washington’s name on it,” Bridgman said. “Amazing!”
The auction’s first session was devoted to material relating to the Washington and the Founding Fathers. A rare and important Lexington and Concord Broadside, reporting on the events which ignited the American Revolution, sold for $162,500. A remarkable Leopard-skin Saddle Pad owned by both George Washington and British General Edward Braddock ended at $150,000 following interest from multiple bidders. Since 1927 the leopard skin pad has been preserved and displayed by the Society of the Sons of the Revolution, until the decision of the organization’s trustees to offer it at this auction.
A rare letter in which President Thomas Jefferson writes to Writes to Georgia Governor John Milledge Regarding the Removal of the Cherokees from Georgia as a Consequence of the Louisiana Purchase made $93,750.
Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:
- A 50″ tall metal & terracotta maquette of the Statue of Liberty sold for $45,000.
- A 21″ x 30″ hand-colored map from 1782 Battle of Yorktown sold for $42,500.
- An extraordinary, Large, Powerful “Cigar Store Indian” Attributed to the Workshop of Samuel Robb sold for $37,500.
- A 17″ x 13″ oil on canvas painting of George Washington Meeting at Fraunces Tavern ended at $35,000.
Heritage holds major auctions of historical Americana twice yearly. Consignments are now being accepted for the next sale, slated for November.