Rare and possibly unique painted tinware and zinc 'Liberty' cap with Civil War association to the "Pratt Street Riot"
mid-19th century

The cap, fitted on the underside with receptical for pole, inscribed by hand in ink, "From the staff of which the Rebel Flag was carried on April 19th 1861 in Baltimore Md. in the attack on the Mass 6th." This is the only "Liberty" or Phrygian Cap form parade pole finial known to exist.

L: 8 in.

Provenance: Pennsylvania Collection.

Sold for $18,750
Estimated at $15,000 - $25,000


 

The cap, fitted on the underside with receptical for pole, inscribed by hand in ink, "From the staff of which the Rebel Flag was carried on April 19th 1861 in Baltimore Md. in the attack on the Mass 6th." This is the only "Liberty" or Phrygian Cap form parade pole finial known to exist.

L: 8 in.

Provenance: Pennsylvania Collection.

On April 19, 1861, just five days after Fort Sumpter had surrendered, the 6th Massachusetts Infantry arrived in Baltimore on its way to take part in the defense of Washington D.C. and was in the process of changing trains. An angry crowd gathered and blocked the tracks. The soldiers disembarked from the trains and marched down Pratt Street. The crowd led by a man carrying a rebel flag, followed the soldiers. Some in the crowd tore up paving stones and threw them at the soldiers. Others in the crowd threatened with guns and someone fired a shot. The soldiers were ordered to fire into the crowd and a full riot ensued. Eight rioters, one bystander and three soldiers were killed- the first deaths of the Civil War.

The Phrygian Cap is an ancient symbol of Independence and was used during the French Revolution and the American Revolution when Liberty caps were held aloft during political parades. The Liberty Cap is found on many State Seals and on the panoply of arms of the United States Army.

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