American, circa 1880
Tinned iron with original painted decoration, each, 24 x 20 inches, and having three metal rings on the verso for holding small flag poles.
These extraordinary shields, probably utilized in a public building or fraternal organization, were undoubtedly executed by an ornamental painter working in the same tradition as fire bucket and fire hat painters. They are the finest examples known.
For related examples and iconography see Nancy Jo Fox, Liberties with Liberty (New York, 1985), p. 22, and Deborah Harding, Stars and Stripes, Patriotic Motifs in American Folk Art (New York, 2002), pages 48, 54-55, 214-217.