Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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36 STARS, A HOMEMADE FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA WITH AN EXCEPTIONAL RANDOM STAR PATTERN AND GREAT DISPARITY BETWEEN THE WIDTH OF THE RED AND WHITE STRIPES, NEVADA STATEHOOD, 1864-67

Web ID: 36j-889
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 60.75" x 88.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 47.75" x 75"
 
Description:
In the world of antique American flags there are nearly countless star patterns. Because there was no official configuration until 1912, their design before that time was left to the whims of the maker. Most structured their stars in lineal rows or columns. A smaller number of flag-makers chose medallion designs that employ two or three consecutive wreaths. Typically these have a star in the very center and one in each corner, outside the circular rings. Substantially further down the rarity scale is the "Great Star" pattern, in which the smaller stars are arranged in the profile of one large star. This pattern is highly coveted and visually powerful, but there are rarer configurations still. Among these are circles within squares, pentagons, ovals, diamonds, starbursts, shields and snowflakes. Then there are flags where the stars actually spell something with alphabetic or numeric characters.

While it is not uncommon for 19th century flags to have stars that are seemingly random in their vertical orientation, spun in various directions on their individual axis (one point up, two points up, canted to the left or right, etc.), it is, however, very rare for them to not be arranged as a group in any particular pattern. Such is the case on this flag, which bears an unusual combination of 35 stars on the obverse (front) and 36 on the reverse, lacking any apparent order.

The random star placement is interesting reasons beyond rarity. The most obvious of these is the whimsical presentation that results. This lends the flag an early appearance, congruent with its Civil War period date, yet at the same time bears the visual qualities of modern art. I personally love random pattern flags because they are simultaneously so unique and attractive.

This is a homemade flag with crude attributes beyond its stars that lend substantial folk appeal. Chief among its other interesting traits is the great disparity between the red stripes, which are especially narrow, and the white stripes, which are comparatively wide. This gives the flag a very different look than most 19th century examples, let alone modern flags. Note that the shape of the canton is near to square, as opposed to an elongated rectangle, which is also appealing to the eye.

The flag is entirely hand-sewn. The stripes are made of plain weave cotton, while the canton is made of a thicker, clothing grade wool and bound along the top with a length of light blue silk. Uneven piecing of the fabrics and shrinkage of the wool canton has resulted in a flag that is more narrow at the hoist end than at the fly and is sort of serpentine in profile along the bottom. This attractive feature lends some movement to the presentation.

The colors are also complimentary. The blue is strong--sort-of a dark royal, bordering on Navy. Soling of the white stripes and fading of the red, accompanied by minor tears and losses, add endearingly to this Civil War era textile.

Along the hoist is a narrow binding made of white cotton. This was used to reinforce the flag when it was tacked to an wooden staff. While the dimensions are not congruent with military issues, Union Army battle flags, they are nonetheless consistent with the sort of homemade examples that were presented to volunteer units by friends and family members. Although the flag retains no specific history, it was certainly flown for an extended period and shows its age with an appropriate measure of grace and charm.

Lincoln pushed Nevada through to statehood on October 31st, 1864, during the Civil War, and just 8 days before the November election. The territory’s wealth in silver was attractive to a nation struggling with the debts of war and the president's support of statehood increased support for the Republican ticket. While the 36th star wouldn't officially be added until July 4th of the following year, flag-makers cared little for official counts. Some would have even begun adding the 36th star several months before the addition of Nevada actually occurred and almost all would have added it after Nevada was in. Commercially produced flags with inscribed dates are known as early as July of 1864, four months before Nevada's addition. Adding stars before they were official was common practice during the late 19th century and reflects both the nation's desire for Westward Expansion and the hope of flag-makers to bring new star counts to market before their competitors. The 36 star flag was officially replaced by the 37 star flag in 1867, following the addition of Nebraska.

Mounting: The flag has been back-stitched to 100% silk organza throughout for support. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black cotton has been 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 black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is minor to moderate foxing and staining throughout. There are minor holes in the stripe field and there are minor losses at the top and bottom corners at the fly end from obvious use. There are tiny holes with associated rust stains along the hoist, where the flag was once tacked to a wooden staff. There are two tears in the top corner of the canton at the hoist end and the blue silk binding along the top edge has substantial breakdown with associated loss. There is significant fading in the red stripes and minor fading in the canton. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use and in this case the state of the flag's condition is a solid plus to its visual appeal.
   
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 36
Earliest Date of Origin: 1864
Latest Date of Origin: 1867
State/Affiliation: Nevada
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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