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.


Pennsylvania Collection.
Estimate $15,000-25,000

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.

Descriptions provided in both printed and on-line catalogue formats do not include condition reports. The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Freeman's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Freeman's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Freeman's. For that reason, Freeman's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. All transactions are governed by Freeman's Conditions of Sale.

Sold for $18,750 (buyer's premium included)