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    Union Flags associated with Khartoum, 1885 and Omdurman, 1898. This lot of two well-worn Union Flags are something of a mystery. They are both marked "TANNER." Additionally, one is marked in ink "KHARTOUM 26 JAN 1885" and in pencil "OMDURMAN." These geographic place names refer to the seminal events in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in the 19th century; the siege of Khartoum and the Battle of Omdurman.

    The Union Flags are cotton, 20" X 33" and 29" X 32", screen dye printed, and finished with plain hems. One has a small pole hem sleeve while the other exhibits evidence of once being tacked to a staff; both indicative of probable handheld use.

    After the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882, Egypt, nominally a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire ruled by the Khedive of Egypt, became a de facto protectorate of Britain and the Sudan, administered by the Khedival government, became a problem for Imperial Britain. When the Mahdist Revolt broke out, Britain appointed Charles Gordon as General-Governor of Sudan with the understanding that he would organize a British-Egyptian withdrawal. Instead, Gordon began to administer the Sudan from Khartoum, thinking it vital to the British presence in Egypt. He fortified Khartoum, and the siege began in March of 1884. It lasted 10 months, ending on January 26, 1885, with a Mahdist victory, the slaughter of the garrison, and the death of Gordon. The Mahdist state that came to power would control Sudan until General Kitchener defeated them at the Battle Omdurman on September 2, 1898.

    Whether these flags were at either event cannot be confirmed. It has been speculated that the flags were "camp" or "personal" flags for a British soldier named "Tanner," a surname routinely found for both enlisted and officers in the Victorian era who were either a part of the Gordon Relief Expedition or in Kitchener's column. However, in the 19th century the flag of the UK was generally a rectangle in 1X2 for government use or 3X5 or 3X4 proportions when used by the army. The army's version was styled as the "Queen's Color" and accompanied the regimental color. Both were richly embroidered and heavily fringed.

    Instead, these flags conform to popular hand-held parade flags ubiquitous during the Victorian era and, it seems, more likely that these lightweight cotton flags were for personal use at patriotic display at victory parades or jubilees. Perhaps "Tanner" used them to commemorate the returning elements of the Nile Expedition under General Woolsey and then they were used again to celebrate Kitchener's victory 13 years later. Similar small cotton flags like these, all dating to the late Victorian era, occasionally come to market, however, they are rarely inscribed.

    Khartoum and Omdurman associated artifacts rarely come to auction. These two flags are an opportunity for a collector of Khartoum, Omdurman, Victorian, Gordon, Kitchener, or Anglo-Egyptian Sudan artifacts.

    Condition: This lot of Union Flags are in fair condition. Both are used, soiled, stained and faded, but otherwise complete.
    This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2020
    6th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,041

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