Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: fcj-904
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 36.5" x 48"
Flag Size (H x L): 24.25" x 36.5"
Confederate flag in the 1st National design, with 8 stars arranged in a circular medallion that includes a single, center star. The star count reflects the initial 7 states that left the Union in the initial wave of secession, on February 7th, 1861, in conjunction with the adoption of a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America, plus Virginia, which followed shortly thereafter.

Virginia became the 8th state to secede on April 17th, with the ordinance ratified by the Virginia State Legislature on May 3rd. Because there was so little time before the secession of the 9th and 10th states of Arkansas and Tennessee, which followed on May 6th (ratified on May 20th and June 6th, respectively), very few flags in the First National design have 8 stars. Those made post- war, like this flag, would have been specifically made to honor Virginia’s position in the order of secession.

The blue canton and bars of the flag are made entirely of plain weave cotton. These have been pieced-and-sewn with treadle stitching. The stars are made of metallic bullion that was probably imported from Paris. The French had long been the master-producers of this type of decorative trim. The sequins and fancifully twisted wire were typically made of precious metal, traditionally with a content of approximately 98% silver and 2% gold, the latter adding a yellow tone and to deter tarnishing. More gold would have been added, and perhaps shellac or varnish, to strengthen the gold color. A curious feature in this particular instance is that the stars are gold on one side and silver on the other. This is something I can’t recall ever having encountered. This may simply reflect the availability of enough stars in whatever color the maker desired. Because the French generally supported the Southern cause, one might expect that French bullion stars, fringe, and other trimmings might appear fairly frequently on war-period Southern flags. In fact, however, this is something I have almost never encountered. I have seen individual metal sequins being used as stars on Bible flags (tiny flags made by a loved one for a soldier as a keepsake), and I owned a complete set of Confederate colors from a Louisiana unit that included bullion stars and fringe, but otherwise I cannot now recall any others that share this feature.

Because the war generally brought economic ruin for the South for many years to come, one does not encounter much in the way of extravagance in reunion era textiles. This 1st National pattern flag is an exception. The presence of this type of star, in such an attractive pattern, on a flag with great, saturated colors, makes for a wonderful example. Most likely it was produced for use by the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) or the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) sometime between the 1880’s and the turn-of-the century.

The First National is the flag also known as the "Stars & Bars." Because they were so alike, use of the Stars & Stripes and the Stars & Bars on the same smoke-laden battlefields created great confusion. For this reason, General P.G.T. Beauregard introduced the Confederate Southern Cross or “Battle Flag” in late 1861, designed by his aide, William Porcher Miles, when formerly serving as chairman of the Confederate Congress's Committee on the Flag and Seal." Though it never became the national flag of the Confederacy, the Southern Cross, with its diagonal bars, was widely carried throughout the South because it was a much better signal.

The Second National Confederate flag was adopted on May 26th, 1863. Primarily white in color, it included the Southern Cross as its canton. Soldiers and officers alike disliked this design because it looked too much like a surrender flag, and, so the story goes, if given the opportunity, would dip the end in blood to provide color.

36 days before the war’s end a red vertical bar was added at the fly end and the result became the third national design. This was the “blood stained banner.” Officially the red color did not represent blood, but instead paid homage to the French out of respect for its aid. Note how if you were to replace the first third of the flag with a blue vertical bar, the result would be the French tri-color.

Brief Description of the UCV and UDC:
The United Confederate Veterans (UCV), formed in 1889 and served as the primary post-war organization for Confederate soldiers. The Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which was established in 1884, came first and actually preceded the men, as it was deemed safe for the women to publically organize.

Wikipedia probably gives the best, most concise description of the U.C.V. that I have encountered:

“Prior to 1889, Confederate veterans had no national organization similar to the Grand Army of the Republic [the primary veteran’s association for the Union Army]. Several separate fraternal and memorial groups existed on a local and regional level. Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1889, several of these groups united and formed the United Confederate Veterans Association. The organization was founded to serve as a benevolent, historical, social, and literary association [and was] active well into 1940’s.

The primary functions of the organization were to provide for widows and orphans of former Confederate soldiers, preserve relics and mementos, care for disabled former soldiers, preserve a record of the service of its members, and organize reunions and fraternal gatherings. At its height, membership in the organization was approximately 160,000 former Confederate soldiers organized into 1,885 local camps. The UCV produced a magazine called Confederate Veteran with articles about events during the war and providing a forum for lost comrades to locate one another.”

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 flag has been hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics throughout for support. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color (treated for color-fastness). The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is minor fading and minor foxing and staining. There are minor holes in the white bar. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind the flag during the mounting process. The colors are wonderful and the flag presents beautifully.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 08
Earliest Date of Origin: 1884
Latest Date of Origin: 1900
State/Affiliation: Virginia
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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