Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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34 STARS ON A HOMEMADE AND ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD, THE SMALLEST I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED AMONG PIECED-AND-SEWN WOOL EXAMPLES, AN EXTRAORDINARY FIND, 1861-63, KANSAS STATEHOOD

Web ID: 34c-803
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 32.25" x 53.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 22.25" x 44.5"
 
Description:
34 star American national flag of the Civil War period, homemade, entirely hand-sewn, and in a scale that is tiny among its counterparts of this era with pieced-and-sewn construction.

The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting, which is very unusual for a flag that was not commercially-made. Because its only purpose was for use in the manufacture of flags and banners, this fabric was not widely available outside the business of flag-makers and ships chandlery. Several things are worth noting about bunting itself. The red variety used in the first 6 stripes, yet curiously not the 7th, is of an early, homespun and woven variety, which has filaments running in 4 directions to create a herringbone weave. While I have seen thousands of wool flags, I have never before encountered this in wool bunting. Because the fabric was purely utilitarian and not meant for decorative purpose, the presence of such a weave is rather peculiar. All of the wool fabric used to construct the flag was obviously salvaged, perhaps from leftover scraps of whatever was available to the maker. This might be expected if the flag was made by a sailor aboard ship, but the hoist binding is made of plain weave cotton, as opposed to heavy twill or canvas sailcloth, and the small and rather delicate, whip-stitched grommets are not what one would anticipate on a flag meant for nautical purpose. The blue canton is pieced from two lengths of fabric, with a narrow strip running vertical along the hoist. The five stripes below the canton are pieced in two sections. All of this was done to conserve available fabric. With the exception of the first six red stripes, the remainder of the flag is made from bunting with a normal weave.

The stars of the flag are arranged in a lineal fashion, in 5 rows of 6, with an off-set column of 4 stars along the hoist end. Note how these point in various directions on their vertical axis, which adds a nice degree of folk character to the flag’s design. The stitches are tightly placed throughout the flag and expertly done, but the maker almost certainly was not skilled in appliqué work, as the edges of the stars were not turned under. Because appliqué is a whole different type of sewing and especially difficult, this can be expected in a homemade example.

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 extremely small size of the flag is perhaps its most important factor for a collector. Most pieced-and-sewn flags of the 19th century are 8 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 6 foot flag was considered small and production of flags smaller than this length was extremely limited. Even infantry battle flags were approximately 6 x 6.5 feet, slightly smaller than an average quilt of the same period. At just 22 x 44.5 inches, this is actually the smallest pieced-and-sewn, wool example that I have ever encountered in the 34 star count. Because many collectors and one-time buyers alike prefer smaller flags, due to greater ease of framing and display, this is an especially desirable trait.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

The gilded American molding dates to the period between 1830 and 1850 and therefore actually pre-dates the flag. This was taken from a pier mirror that came out of the Macy House on North Main Street on Nantucket Island, which we cut down just slightly to accommodate the flag. The background is 100% hemp fabric, ivory in color. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to inquire for more details.

Condition: The flag was certainly flown for an extended period. There are minor losses throughout, accompanied by two modest areas of loss along the last stripe, one near the hoist and one at the extreme fly end. There is a significant area of fabric loss in the canton, adjacent to the hoist. The star that was located in this area was holding on by a thread and pinned in place by a former owner. We placed fabric of similar coloration behind the flag throughout, during the mounting process, both for masking purposes and to strengthen its color against the light background. The star was then stitched back into position on the blue underlay fabric. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. Further, the great rarity of pieced-and-sewn flags in such s small size, in addition to its Civil War date, well-warrants any condition issues.
   
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
Nautical: No
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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