|36 STARS ON AN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA, ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN, MADE BY ANNIN IN NEW YORK CITY; DESCENDED IN THE FAMILY OF MAJOR CHARLES HARROD BOYD OF PORTLAND, MAINE, A SURVEYOR ENGINEER FOR BOTH THE U.S. NAVY UNDER COMMODORE DUPONT, AND THE U.S. ARMY UNDER GENERALS J.G. BERNARD, W. L. ELLIOTT, AND GEORGE H. THOMAS; THE STAR COUNT REFLECTS NEVADA STATEHOOD, 1864-67
|Frame Size (H x L):||44.25" x 70.75"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||33" x 59.5"|
|Entirely hand-sewn American national flag of the Civil War era, with 36 stars, in a unusual and highly desirable small size for the period (1864-67). The stars 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 of the flag. 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 also because they are more visually intriguing. Both the sewing itself and stretching of the fabrics over time results in stars that tend to have irregular shapes and interesting presentation. This is why flags with single-appliquéd stars often appeal to connoisseurs of early American textiles. The two visible rows of hand-stitching emphasize their hand-sewn construction and the nature of the technique leads to elevates folk qualities.
This flag was made by Annin & Company in New City and is signed with a now-faded stencil along the hoist binding that reads: "Annin & Co., N.Y.," followed by the numeral "5" to indicate its size in feet. Annin is our nation's eldest flag-maker that is still in business today. The company was founded in the 1830's, incorporated in 1847, and was located in New York until the 1960’s, when it moved to Verona, New Jersey. While some sources that record makers of military goods lack reference to specific military contracts with Annin, their Wikipedia entry might explain why. The narrative states: "…the U.S. Signal Corps requisitioned all its wartime flags from Annin Flagmakers for the Civil War. An undated newspaper article in Annin's 1860's archives states: "Without going through forms of contract, Annin supplied the government direct." "…As the war progressed, orders came pouring in from every state and city that was loyal to the Union, so that by the beginning of 1864, there was not a single battlefield, a brigade or a division that did not use Annin flags."
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 star counts. Some would have 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. It is interesting to note that 36 is the lowest star count I have ever encountered on a flag with a Annin signature. While in business for at least 30 years by this time, it seems that the firm did not sign its flags before this period. The 36 star flag was officially replaced by the 37 star flag in 1867, following the addition of Nebraska.
Adding to the appeal of this flag is its small size when compared to others made for extended outdoor use prior to 1890. During the 19th century, flags with pieced-and-sewn construction (as opposed to printed) were typically eight to twelve feet long or larger. Garrison flags were thirty-five feet on the fly. This is because they were important in their function as signals, meaning that they needed to be seen and recognized from great distance. Even flags made for decorative purpose were generally very large by today’s standards.
A six-foot long flag was considered small. Commercial production of flags smaller than this with sewn construction was very slim. At approximately five feet on the fly, this flag is a great size for framing and display in an indoor setting. Many collectors prefer printed parade flags, which are typically three feet long or smaller, and smaller sewn flags, like this one.
Construction: The canton and stripes are made of wool bunting. Wool sheds water and was the fabric of choice for extended outdoor use. The cotton stars are single-appliquéd. There is a coarse linen binding along the hoist with tow brass grommets. All of the stitching is by hand. In addition to the aforementioned stencil, an notation that appears to read "9" [inches]" was inscribed with a dip pen, the intentions of which remain unknown.
The flag was handed down through the family of Major Charles Harrod Boyd, an expert geographical surveyor who served both the Navy and the Army during the Civil War. According to the family, the flag accompanied his affects. Boyd Boyd was born in Portland, Maine on Independence Day, July 4th, 1833, to attorney William Boyd (of Kilmarnock, Scotland descent) and Susan Dayton (Harrod) Boyd. At the age of 18, in 1851, he married Annette Maria Dearborn. They had six children. A graduate of the Portland Academy, he attended Brown University, graduating in 1854, and joined the United States Coast Survey, where he served until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
A specialist in astronomical triangulation and topography, he entered military service assigned for approximately the first year to the Port Royal Squadron, U,S. Navy, under the command of Commodore DuPont. In July of 1862 he transferred to the U.S. Army and was charged with assisting in the fortification of Washington, D.C. under General J.G. Bernard. In July of 1863 he was assigned to the 8th Corps in Maryland, then, in the fall, transferred again to the Staff of General W.L. Elliot, Cavalry Commander, Department of the Cumberland, where he served with the assimilated rank of Captain. Promoted to Major, he soon after joined the Staff of Major General George H. Thomas and served in this capacity for the balance of the war.
Post-war he returned to the U.S. Coast Survey for 30 years. He passed at his home at 64 Grey St., Portland, on February 9th, 1919, just following the close of WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18). In his obituary, written for the Maine Commandery of the Loyal Legion of the United States, described him in the following manner: "Major Boyd was conservative in this thought. He had a profound knowledge of American history and a deep and abiding belief in the principles underlying American institutions. He was a true son of New England, and brought to our latter day that strength of character, firmness of conviction and faithfulness to principle which we love to think distinguished the leading minds of a former generation. He had an inborn courtesy of manner and a charm of personality which attracted all to whom he came in contact and especially endeared him to all admitted to the intimacy of his friendship." His many memberships are testament to his scholarship and historical American interests, including the "National Geographic Society, the Maine Historical Society, the Portland Society of Natural History, the Order of Colonial Governors, The Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of Colonial Wars, and the Bosworth Post of the Loyal Legion." (Source: Much of the information in the previous 4 paragraphs was paraphrased or quoted from his Loyal Legion obituary. A lot of the information was substantiated in other sources, including the archives of Brown University and "Who's Who in New England: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men and Women of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut," Volume 2, Second Edition, by Marquis, Albert Nelson, Edt. (1916, A.M. Marquis & Company, Chicago), p. 143-144.)
Various objects that formerly accompanied the flag included 5 CDV portrait photographs of Boyd, his obituary, his lap desk from his time at Brown and with the Coast Survey (twice hand-engraved with his name), his spyglass, binoculars, sextant, canteen, a schoolchild map drawn by his father, William Boyd, and books. Photographic images of these objects, though not included, exist for documentation of facts and provenance.
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 background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.
Condition: There is very minor foxing and staining. There is minor mothing in the white stripes and very minor mothing in the red. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1864|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1867|
|War Association:||1861-1865 Civil War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|