Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 53" x 33"
Flag Size (H x L): 42.25" x 22.25"
32 star American flags are rare. This is largely because they were only official for one year (1858-59), but it is also a result of the fact that this time frame occurred prior to the Civil War, in an era when use of the Stars & Stripes on land in the private sector was very slim. Flags were becoming popular in political campaigning, but their use had yet to be widespread in the display of general patriotism.

Minnesota joined the Union as the 32nd state on May 11th, 1858. The 32 star flag became official on July 4th of that year and remained so until July 3rd of 1859. Since Oregon joined the Union on February 14th, 1859, however, production of 32 star flags probably ceased well before July. For this reason, the 32-star count likely saw use for only 9 months. This made it one of the shortest lived flags in early America.

This particular 32 star flag is of a peculiar type, thought to have been made in New York City. The unusual construction incorporates resist-dyed stars, arranged in 4 rows of 8. Like most pre-war flags, it is reasonable to believe that this design was probably made for military use. It is very likely that the intended purpose was to be flown as camp colors. Although longer than expected, the height is congruent with identified Civil War examples. Infantry battle flags were square in profile because they needed to be as large as possible, yet not drag on the ground when carried. Infantry guidons and camp colors, while far smaller, generally followed suit, though the need for near-to-square format was less crucial, especially with regard to camp flags. If these were longer, they could theoretically be turned back as they suffered loss from wind shear in order to extend their span of use.

The union is press-dyed on a blended wool and cotton fabric. The red stripes are, by contrast, woven into a similar fabric. The weft is red where the stripes are red, but the warp in these areas is white, so the fabric looks like oxford cotton shirts, with white thread going in one direction and colored thread in the other, so that the overall effect has a washed appearance. The royal blue of the canton appears more saturated because it has a solid application of pigment.

The canton was hand-stitched to the stripe field. The binding along the hoist is likewise hand-sewn, made of sailcloth canvas, with a hand-sewn, whip-stitched grommet at either end. Along this, on the reverse side, three inscriptions are written with a dip pen. From left to right, the first reads "Pre' by Ed Tryon, 13th Conn Inf." The second is the date "1861." The third reads "Killed at Baton Rouge."

Edmond Tyron of Glastonbury, CT (greater Hartford), enlisted as a musician on December 17th, 1861. On the 7th of January, 1862, he mustered into Company F of the 13th Connecticut Infantry, where he basically remained for the entirety of the war, reenlisting on December 29th, 1864 and transferring to Company A of the Veteran Battalion of the 13th Connecticut Infantry. Although the last Confederate general surrendered on May 26th, 1865, the unit (and Tyron along with it) stayed on until well after the war on provost duty, chosen because of its fine reputation for discipline. Tyron finally mustered out on April 25th, 1866 at Fort Pulaski, Georgia.

For a short time in 1863, Tyron was promoted to Principal Musician and transferred to Field & Staff, probably because his talents were requested for some reason by an officer.

The text on the flag appears to state that Tyron presented the flag to someone or something. He may have brought the flag with him as a gift to the unit when he enlisted, in 1861. This might explain the 1858-59 star count on a flag used also during the Civil war period. Alternatively, he may have been presented with the flag as a gift of thanks at some point, and the 1861 date inscription added later to notate the date in which the regiment was raised. This could certainly have been a flag used by the musicians themselves. Camp colors were used in drilling, and bands were an integral part of drills.

The notation about Baton Rouge clearly does not refer to Edmund Tyron, who survived the war. It may instead mean that Tyron presented the flag to the family of someone who was killed at Baton Rouge, perhaps a friend who had enlisted with him. The 13th was, in fact, camped at that city from December 27th, 1862 - March 13th, 1863 and was for most of the war in active service throughout Louisiana.

It is of interest to note that this same exact type of flag was made in a much larger size, except that all known flags in that larger scale were modified to include 2 additional stars, raising the overall count to 34. On all of the examples I have encountered, the added stars were single-appliquéd in the same place, between the first and second row and between the 3rd and 4th row, respectively, in a staggered position, near the hoist end. Whether these flags were produced in the 32 star period, then updated later, or whether they were instead created in the 34 star period (1861-63) is not known, but it is reasonable to assume that the flag maker was using this continuous fabric with 4 rows of stars in a fashion by which any star count could be achieved. The first step would simply be to get as close as possible to the desired number, using multiples of 4, then clipping additional stars from the same fabric and appliquéing them within the field. Whatever the case may be, the larger style is only known in the 34 star count and the smaller is only known in the 32 star count.

While someone may have procured the 32 star flags in the latter period and simply not had them updated due to time constraints or apathy, the 32 star examples are far more rare. This tends to support that they were actually made in the period that corresponds with their star count.

While the name of the maker remains unknown, the late flag expert Howard Madaus suggested that there was reason to believe that these flags were produced by the Annin Company in New York City.** Annin is our nation's eldest flag-maker that is still in business today. The company was founded in the 1820's on the New York waterfront, incorporated in 1847, and, though it opened a large manufacturing operation in Verona, New Jersey in 1916, maintained its head office and some production in Manhattan until 1960.

Some Notes on the Press-Dying Process:
First patented in 1849, the press-dying process was thought to be a novel idea in-and-of-itself that would improve flag-making efficiency. In this case, for example, it could potentially alleviate the chore of hand-appliquéing 64 stars (32 on each side). In reality, however, it must have been less effective and efficient than sewing. To achieve white stars, for example, pieces of white fabric or waxed paper, in the shape of stars, had to be cut out and carefully placed on both sides of the white wool bunting, or a solution that would resist the dye had to be printed or brushed on first. The bunting was then dyed blue and the areas where the stars were positioned would be left white. Also called resist-dyeing, one can imagine why this task may have been anything but simple with 19th century technology. This inexact art would often add crude characteristics, such as stripes with irregular lines, in various widths, and stars with inconsistent shapes, in slightly varying sizes. It is likely that this resulted in lost product and wasted time, from flags that had bleeding or misprint issues and were of too poor quality to sell. This may perhaps explain why it never became a become a popular method of flag production.

Wool was included because it sheds water, making it the fabric of choice for all maritime flags and, in fact, most flags made by professional flag-makers for long-term outdoor use. The inclusion of cotton would have made the fabric easier to press-dye. Printing on 100% wool is costly and difficult. Even today, only about 1% of wool fabric is printed**, because it generally needs to be washed afterward and wool cannot easily be treated with water.

Mounting: This is a pressure mount between U.V. protective Plexiglas and 100% cotton twill, black in color, which was washed and treated to reduce excess dye. And 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.

Condition: There are significant tears with associated loss, and there is a scattering of small holes throughout, but the flag is largely intact. Unlike quilts and samplers, which were often made as gifts and put away or safe-keeping, flags often saw extended use outdoors, sometimes during wartime, like this example. This is one reason why many people actually prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The semi-round holes in the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 12th, and 13th stripes may be bullet holes (and other areas of loss may reflect the same). These have not been tested for powder, but the way in which they occur is very unlike mothing. Among the thousands of flags I have handled, I have only suggested this possibility on a small handful of occasions. In two other cases it appeared on identified camp colors. The pattern of damage in general is indicative of hard use as opposed to poor storage.

* Chen, W., Wang, G., & Bai, Y., “Best for Wool Fabric Printing…,” (Textile Asia, 2002, v.33 (12)), pp. 37-39.

** Madaus, H. & Smith, W., "The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict," (2006, VZ Publications, Santa Cruz, California), p. 62.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 32
Earliest Date of Origin: 1858
Latest Date of Origin: 1859
State/Affiliation: Connecticut
War Association: 1777-1860 Pre-Civil War
Price: SOLD

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