Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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34 STARS, AN ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN CIVIL WAR PERIOD FLAG IN AN EXTRAORDINARY SMALL SIZE FOR THE PERIOD, 1861-63, KANSAS STATEHOOD

Web ID: 34j-960
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 38" x 54.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 27" x 43.25"
 
Description:
34 star American national flag of the Civil War period, entirely hand-sewn and in an unusually small size among its counterparts. This is probably a homemade example, constructed entirely of cotton, which was a poor fabric to use outdoors over an extended period and was rarely chosen as the primary fabric for flags that were commercially manufactured for that function.

Kansas was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about 2 ½ months before the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter that marked the beginning of the Civil War. The 34th star was officially added on July 4th of that year, but most flag makers would have added a 34th star with the addition of Kansas in January. The star count remained official until July 4th, 1863, and 34 star flags would have generally been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year.

The stars are arranged in 7 columns, the first of which has one fewer star. Note how they point in various directions on their vertical axis, which adds a healthy degree of folk character to the flag’s design, as does the shape of the stars themselves. These are rounded, with relatively shallow valleys between each arm, many of which are bent slightly this way and that like starfish, which creates a nice visual effect.

The extremely small size of the flag is perhaps its most important trait. Most pieced-and-sewn flags of the 19th century are eight feet long or larger. This is because they were important in their function as signals, needing to be seen and recognized from a great distance. A small flag was six feet in length and production of flags smaller than this was extremely limited. Even infantry battle flags were approximately six-by-six-and-one-half feet, about the size of an average quilt of the same period. Measuring less than 4 feet, this one is particularly rare and desirable, and is relatively ideal in terms of a balance of visual impact and functionality, small enough to frame and fit above a mantle, over a sofa, or behind a desk, it falls into the most desired size across collectors and one-time buyers alike. This particular example is one of the smallest homemade cotton flags with sewn construction that I have owned in the 34 star count.

The stars are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides). The stripes of the flag are made of plain woven cotton bunting. The canton is made of a fabric that is either entirely cotton or perhaps a blended fabric with some wool content. Flags of the Civil War period that have cotton stripes don't typically have all-cotton cantons, possibly due to a shortage of blue cotton created by the demands of the Union Army.

There is a cotton binding along the hoist with three whip-stitched grommets. One of these was severed due to wear near the top of the binding, while the remaining two are looped with small pieces of braided cotton cord. These are likely period to the era of the flag's manufacture and seem to have been kept with it ever since.

In summary, this is an excellent example of the period, with great, traditional graphics and in an extremely rare and coveted small size.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics for support throughout on the reverse. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a gilded French molding of exceptional quality, with a traditional American profile, to which a black, ripple profile liner was added. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective Plexiglas.

Condition: The flag was certainly flown for an extended period. There is minor to moderate foxing and staining throughout. There is a scattering of small holes, most of which are located toward the fly end, accompanied by moderate breakdown at the top of the hoist binding, and at the fly end of the second red stripe. There is significant loss at the fly end of the 4th red stripe. The fly end was turned back slightly and hemmed by hand with two rows of running stitches. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
   
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 34
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1863
State/Affiliation: Kansas
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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