Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: 34j-976
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 58" x 73"
Flag Size (H x L): 45.5" x 60.5"
34 star American national flag with a host of unusual and interesting features. Homemade and entirely hand-sewn, the stars are configured in an elongated lozenge or oval medallion that is unique to this example. The pattern consists of a large center star, flanked on either side by a single star, the trio of which is encircled by two elongated oval wreaths.

The design has wonderful visual presentation. At the same time graphically compelling and crudely endearing, the flag is and indicative of why people collect 19th century examples. Perhaps the most unusual attribute can be found in the position of the blue canton itself, which rests two stripes higher than is typical. While there was no official placement until 1912, the cantons of most flags rested on the 8th stripe. Smaller than usual, the long and narrow format is interesting to see on a flag that is notably truncated on the fly. In this way is not dissimilar to infantry battle flags, which were near-to-square. This sort of design was favorable for ground use, because it allowed the flag to be as large as possible, in order to effective as a signal, yet at the same time not drag on the ground. When raised on a staff, it is the measurement on the bias that matters. This shape maximized the surface area of the textile when carried by hand.

At 45.5 x 60.5 inches, while not at all concurrent with military regulations, the flag is of a size that might be gifted to a volunteer unit as a presentation colors. It also exhibits the sort of wear that one might expect in such a flag if it were carried with some regularity, with beautiful wear, some fading, and various repairs.

The stripes are made of plain weave cotton. Note that the lowest 8 stripes were pieced from two lengths of fabric. This may represent a means of repair. If so, this would be the flag's original fabric, being taken from elsewhere, further out the fly, and re-purposed. If not, it is simply reflective of the maker's efficient use of available fabric. The former is probably the case, which would mean that its measurement was at one time greater on the fly. Unlike military regulation colors, homemade presentation flags were almost invariably more rectangular if form. My guess, however, is that it wasn't a great deal longer. The stars of the flag are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd, meaning that they are applied to both sides of the blue canton. This is constructed of fine wool or a wool and cotton blended fabric. Note how the stars are oriented in various positions on their vertical axis and how this contributes to the overall visual effect.

Many of the flags of the Civil war era with cotton stripes have cantons that are instead made of wool or a woolen blend, such as this one, which probably reflects a wartime shortage of blue cotton and/or the dye necessary to color it. There is a narrow cotton binding along the hoist end, through which four slits were made, in order that the flag could be tied to a staff. This is evidence of ground use, as unobstructed, heavy winds would tear the fabric rather quickly if the slits were unbound. Unlikely nautical flags, many land-use flags of this period don't have especially sturdy bindings or grommets. Many were simply tied to a staff or affixed with a series of metal tacks.

While it may appear large by modern standards, the flag is actually small in scale for the period. Infantry battle flags measured six by six-and-a-half feet on the fly. Garrison flags of this time measured between 35 and 45 feet in length. Collectors generally prefer smaller examples, like this one, which can be more easily framed and displayed in an indoor setting.

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 been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year.

In summary, this is an exceptional flag of the Civil War era, with a unique, oval star pattern, great folk qualities that lead to a beautiful presentation, entirely hand-sewn and in a very desirable scale among its counterparts, with beautiful and endearing wear. Of masterpiece quality, it would be an outstanding addition to any collection.

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 mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to inquire for more details.

Condition: There is minor to moderate foxing and staining throughout. There is moderate breakdown of the blue fabric in the canton, the most significant of which is located along the top edge and the hoist end, where it meets the binding. There are minor tears with associated loss at the very top of the binding, adjacent to the slit made so that the flag could be tied to a staff. There are small, lateral tears in the 2nd and 3rd stripes, a larger, L-shaped tear that spans the 10th and 11th stripes, and there are a number of very minor to minor holes elsewhere throughout. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
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

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