Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 46" x 68"
Flag Size (H x L): 33.75" x 57"
36 star American national flag of the Civil War era, entirely hand-sewn and with its stars arranged in a beautiful and highly unusual variation of what is known as a medallion pattern. This consists of a single center star, surrounded by three consecutive wreaths.

Among flags with star counts greater than 13, circular and oval arrangements almost always contain stars that lay outside the central pattern. Most often a single star is placed in each corner of the blue canton, beyond the outer wreath. In my opinion, these rare exceptions that what flag enthusiasts call "flanking corner stars" are even more visually attractive than their respective counterparts, because the simpler design is more pleasing to the eye. I have termed these completely circular designs "snowball medallions" and they are among my all-time favorites in flag collecting.

This is a homemade flag. The canton and stripes are made of three wool fabrics, joined by hand-stitching. All three may be merino wool, sheared from the belly of a sheep, but while the white stripes are of the traditional, fine weave common in merino wool of the period, the red stripes are of a grade that is more coarse and open, while the canton is more of a uniform or blanket grade wool with a napped surface. The latter is light in color, having faded to this attractive blue-grey hue. This contrasts nicely with the tomato red and natural white. The stripes below the canton were pieced toward the fly end, evidently because the lengths of fabric available to the maker were not as long as he/she desired the flag to be. This manner of piecework is typical in 19th century flags, with a conscious eye toward the conservation of fabric, especially during wartime. The stars are made of cotton, hand-sewn and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides). There is a hand-sewn cotton binding along the hoist, into which three holes appear to have at some point been pierced so that the flag could be tied to a staff.

The scale of the flag is very small in 19th century terms, which is a plus to both casual and serious collectors. Because most 19th century flags with pieced-and-sewn construction were 8 feet long or larger, they can be difficult to display in an indoor setting. The smaller they are, the more unusual they become among surviving examples, and the more desirable they are across a wide audience. At just 34 x 57 inches, this is a terrific small size, unusual among Stars & Stripes with this manner of construction that were made during this period in American history. A flag of this nature could have been produced for several different purposes. It may have been sewn to mourn the death of Abraham Lincoln as his funeral train made its way funeral train made its way back to Illinois, retracing the steps he traveled to Washington as the president-elect, on the journey to his first inauguration. This exceptionally significant event brought hundreds of thousands to the streets and resulted in a tremendous production of flags. It may alternatively have been produced for a Union Civil War regiment, to replace a lost or damaged flag, or perhaps to honor the return of a unit of volunteers at the war's end. It may also have simply been made for the general display of patriotism, but whatever the case may be, it was certainly flow for an extended period and uncommon for a pieced-and-sewn flag to be this small before the 1890's, particularly when it contained the full complement of stars.

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 counts. Some would have even 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. This would be especially true among homemade flags like this one, but can also be seen across commercially produced flags. Professionally-made examples with inscribed dates are known as early as July of that year. 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. The 36 star flag was officially replaced by the 37 star flag in 1867, following the addition of Nebraska.

  A Civil War relationship, small size, homemade construction, and a rare and beautiful configuration of stars combine to fuel the interest of both folk art enthusiasts and flag collectors alike.

Mounting: The flag has been back-stitched to 100% natural fabrics throughout for support. Fabrics of similar coloration were chosen for masking purposes. The flag was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black cotton has been washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is a moderate hole in the canton, encompassing a small portion of one arm on two different stars. This area was underlaid with blue fabric of similar coloration, to which white matching fabric was sewn to visually complete the points of the two stars. There are significant horizontal tears with associated loss in the first, second, and third red stripes, accompanied by a rectangular area of loss near the hoist end of last red stripe. There are significant holes with associated loss at the fly end of the third white strip and both the hoist and fly ends of the fourth white stripe. There are moderate losses at the top and bottom of the hoist binding from extended use. There is minor mothing throughout and other minor losses, as well as some degree of overall fading. There is significant soiling of the white cotton fabric of the stars and hoist binding. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use and this particular example is beautiful because of it.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 36
Earliest Date of Origin: 1864
Latest Date of Origin: 1867
State/Affiliation: Nevada
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD

Views: 1039