|35 SINGLE-APPLIQUÉD STARS ON A CIVIL WAR PERIOD FLAG, SIGNED BY A SURGEON FROM SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK WHO SERVED WITH THE 29TH NEW YORK STATE MILITIA, WHICH MUSTERED OUT ON JUNE 20TH, 1863, THE EXACT DAY UPON WHICH WEST VIRGINIA BECAME THE 35TH STATE; OFFICIAL FROM THAT YEAR UNTIL 1865
|Frame Size (H x L):||n/a|
|Flag Size (H x L):||73" x 117"|
|35 star American national flag of the Civil War period with beautiful patina and wonderful presentation. The stars of the flag are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and single-appliquéd. This means that they were applied to one side of the canton, then the blue fabric was cut from behind each star, folded over, and under-hemmed, so that one star could be viewed on both sides. I always find single-appliquéd stars more interesting, not only because they are evidence of a more difficult level of seam-work and stitching, but even more so because they are usually more visually intriguing. That is certainly the case here. Because two rows of hand-stitching are visible on single-appliquéd stars, the stitching is more apparent, which emphasizes its hand-sewing and is more endearing. This feature appeals to connoisseurs of early American textiles.
The star are arranged in lineal rows of 6-6-6-5-6-6, which is an extremely unusual configuration for this count. Because their number is easily divisible, 35 stars are usually laid out in 5 rows of 7 stars. This is a commercially-made flag and the decision to select this star pattern must have been based upon the size of the fabric with respect to the size of the stars, which may have been pre-cut by the seamstress(es).
The stripes and canton of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced and sewn with treadle stitching. There is a sailcloth canvas binding along the hoist with two whip-stitched grommets, each of which bears a remnant of the braided hemp rope used to affix it to a staff.
The name "Dr. L.B. Putnam" and the date "1866" are inscribed along the hoist binding on both the obverse and reverse sides of the binding with a dip pen. It was common to mark flags in this manner during the 19th century to indicate ownership.
Lorin Bradley Putnam (b. Nov. 3, 1827, d. Aug. 31 or Sept. 1, 1895) a physician and owner of an apothecary from Saratoga Springs, New York, served as a surgeon with the 29th Regiment NY State Militia, a 2-year unit that mustered in in New York City in 1861. While not listed in any military records that I have thus far accessed, an 1862 letter survives, signed by Putnam, as surgeon of the unit, disqualifying a man for service due to a hernia. Assuming that Putnam served the entire term, he would have mustered out on June 20th, 1863, the exact date that West Virginia joined the Union as the 35th state--an especially curious coincidence. This occurred just a few days before the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3). The 35th star was officially added on July 4th of that year and the flag was used during the closing years of the war. Production would have generally ceased one year later, however, with the addition of the 36th state in 1864.
On October 5th, 1865, a year after this flag was no longer official, but before the 1866 hand-inscribed date, Lorin Putnam married one Frances (Fannie) Jenkins (b. 1832). A previous wife, Aurela, died Sept. 11, 1855 and he would later marry another woman by the name of Amelia Needham.
Dr. Putnam was the grandson of Gideon Putnam, a famous Saratoga resident, who constructed a tube in a mineral water source called Congress Spring in 1802, which was later purchased by a local physician who bottled it and sold it around the world. This would become the most famous of the mineral waters for which the town is noted.
A year earlier, in 1801, Gideon founded a hotel called "Congress Hall". Just following the Civil War, on May 30th, 1866, the hotel burnt to the ground while being placed in readiness for the opening of the racing season on June 1st. This was the second hotel to burn within a short period, as the United States Hotel had burnt the previous year on June 18th, and less than two months after, on August 7th, 1866, a third, called the Columbian, burnt as well. Whether these events had anything to do with the 1866 date of the flag is doubtful, but they were an interesting incident in the period.
Mounting: The flag has not yet been mounted. We employ professional staff with masters degrees in textile conservation and can attend to all of your mounting and framing needs.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1863|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1865|
|War Association:||1861-1865 Civil War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|