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33 STARS, LATER UPDATED TO 35, WITH A RARE AND INTERESTING DIAMOND CONFIGURATION, ACCOMPANIED BY HAND-WRITTEN NOTES THAT RECORD IT AS HAVING BEEN FLOWN IN CELEBRATION OF WARTIME VICTORIES, AS WELL AS TO MOURN THE DEATH OF THREE PRESIDENTS; MADE IN 1861 BY MRS. JOHN DUNN OF MILES GROVE, PENNSYLVANIA (ERIE COUNTY)

33 STARS, LATER UPDATED TO 35, WITH A RARE AND INTERESTING DIAMOND CONFIGURATION, ACCOMPANIED BY HAND-WRITTEN NOTES THAT RECORD IT AS HAVING BEEN FLOWN IN CELEBRATION OF WARTIME VICTORIES, AS WELL AS TO MOURN THE DEATH OF THREE PRESIDENTS; MADE IN 1861 BY MRS. JOHN DUNN OF MILES GROVE, PENNSYLVANIA (ERIE COUNTY)

Web ID: 35j-821
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 67" x 109"
Flag Size (H x L): 56" x 98"
 
Description:
Diamond-shaped star configurations are some of the most rare and interesting that exist on early Stars & Stripes, comprising just a handful of flags that survive from the 19th century. This is but one of the numerous reasons why this extraordinary example with 33 stars, later updated to a count of 35, is so important across its known counterparts. In addition to the flag’s unusual fabrics, uncommon shades of red and blue, and beautiful graphics, of key importance are two hand-written notes, penned by members of the Dunn Family of Erie County, Pennsylvania. The earlier of these reads as follows:

Diamond-shaped star configurations are some of the most rare and interesting that exist on early Stars & Stripes, comprised of just a handful of flags that survive from the 19th century. This is but one of the numerous reasons why this extraordinary example with 33 stars, later updated to a count of 35, is so important across its known across its known counterparts. In addition to the flag’s unusual fabrics, uncommon shades of red and blue, and beautiful graphics, of key importance are two hand-written notes, penned by members of the Dunn Family of Erie County, Pennsylvania. The earlier of these reads as follows:

“This flag was made in 1861 by Mrs. John Dunn. It was flung to the breeze for our Union Victories and lowered at half mast at the death of our martyred presidents, Lincoln & Garfield.”

To which further verbiage was later amended:

“Draped for Pres. McKinley, assassinated at Pan-American, Sept. 6, 1901.”

A subsequent note, added at a later date, reads:

“This flag was hung on the same pole, in the same place, and floated over our house on November 11th, 1918 to add to the Celebration of “Peace Victory,” of the World War. [signed] Helen F. Dunn.”

The presence of these two documents adds important specific history to an outstanding Civil War flag. The 1861 date is consistent with the information that can be gleaned from the configuration of stars. The original design would have consisted of the 5 by 5 square, turned on the diagonal in the center to create a diamond, plus two stars outside this pattern, lined up on the opposing diagonal, that flank the primary formation in each corner of the blue canton.

Note how this pattern creates a distinct saltire, comprised of 17 stars, that runs from corner-to-corner. This does not display Southern sympathies, as the count of 17 bears no relevance to the Confederacy and the Southern Cross was not yet conceived during the 33 star period. Integral to the larger pattern, it is very likely to reflect the Cross of St. Patrick, glorifying the Dunn Family’s Irish descent by replicating the Cross of St. Patrick, in use from 1783 to 1801 to display Ireland's legislative independence from Britain, and included from 1801 onward in the British Union Flag (a.k.a., Union Jack) to represent Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, conjoined with the similar emblems of Britain, Wales, and Scotland.

The two women referenced in the note, “Mrs. John Dunn” and “Helen F. Dunn” are mother and daughter, respectively. John Dunn (b. 1807, d. 1891) was born in Erie County, Pennsylvania, near the Crawford County line, to Simeon Dunn (b. 1782, New Brunswick, NJ). According to “A History of Erie County…” by John Miller (1909, Yale University Press, Lewis Publishing, Chicago, p. 145-146), Simeon was part of the first local militia company, known as the Erie Light Infantry. More specifically, he served as a Private in Captain Thomas Atkinson’s company, which was attached to the 137th Reg’t Pennsylvania Militia. Miller explains how, during the War of 1812, Simeon and was stained in Buffalo for five months and “regularly served as an express rider to carry messages to Commodore Perry.” He also describes how John Dunn, as a boy, watched the British fleet from Erie shoreline.

Simeon is reported to have been a successful businessman, to have built considerable wealth in real estate, and to have built the first brick houses in Erie. Though listed as a farmer in the 1840 census, it isn’t clear precisely what John’s profession may have actually been for the majority of his life. Among other ventures, one of his sons, Henry C., opened a brick-making factory.

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Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 35
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1861
State/Affiliation: Pennsylvania
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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