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  34 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD (1861-63), WITH WOVEN STRIPES AND PRESS-DYED OR PRINTED STARS, POSSIBLY MADE IN NEW YORK BY THE ANNIN COMPANY, REFLECTS THE ADDITION OF KANSAS TO THE UNION, 1861-1863

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 53" x 88"
Flag Size (H x L): 41" x 76"
Description....:
34 star flag, of the Civil War period, made of a press-dyed canton and woven stripes. The unusual construction incorporates a resist-dyed or printed field with 32 stars (in 4 rows of 8), with 2 additional stars single-appliquéd near the hoist end. Rumored by some to have possibly originated in Baltimore, this particular style is more likely to have been made in New York by the Annin Company.

These flags seem to have been produced for military use and on occasion have been found with specific history to Civil War units. It’s unclear as to what function they served, but the fact that most seem to have been tacked to staffs suggests that they were hand-carried. Though infantry battle colors were to be 6 x 6.5 feet by way of military ordinance, and these, by contrast, measure approximately 3.5 x 6.5 feet, the scale would have made them functional for infantry use. It’s possible that they served as company flags or replacements for the like.

Kansas was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about two-and-a-half 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 previously, with the addition of Kansas in January. 34 is the most common star count found on Civil War flags, as flag production was heaviest during the war’s opening two years. 34 remained the official count until July 4th, 1863 and 34 star flags would have been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year.

Without additional information, one might logically conclude that this flag was made in the 32 star period (1858-59) and updated for the opening years of the Civil War (1861-63). Others exist in same size and style, however, all of which have the 2 additional stars. In all likelihood, this was manner in which the maker decided to produce this type of flag. To do so, 4 continuous rows of stars were either press-dyed or printed onto a bolt of fabric, then clipped wherever necessary, to come as close as possible to the desired star count. Additional stars were then cut out of the same bolt and single-appliquéd within the canton to arrive at the appropriate total.

This wasn't a bad idea on the surface, for the simple reason that the star count changed so frequently during the 19th century. The process would allow both flag-maker and purchaser to easily change the star count when another state was added. Evidence across surviving flags demonstrates that this process never caught on. There are, for example, no 35, 36, or 37 star examples, nor flags in any other, higher count, with additional stars added either individually or by way of an additional column of 4. It is of interest to note that a few examples of the very same type of flag, in a smaller size, do exist with just 32 stars. None of the smaller size are presently known that have the 2 additional stars added, however, and no other star counts are known in this style except 32 and 34.

The striped field is woven in two sections that have been joined with hand-stitching. These were hemmed by hand at the fly end. The canton was hand-stitched to the stripes and there is a hand-sewn binding along the hoist made of heavy cotton twill. Along this illegible text is hand-inscribed in pencil. This probably represents the name of a former owner and it was common to mark flags in this fashion during the 19th century. There is a hand-sewn, whip-stitched grommet at the top and bottom for hoisting.

In addition to the novel idea behind their manufacture, these flags have attractive and interesting colors. The red stripes are, in fact, woven into the fabric, not printed. 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, but colored thread in the other, so that the overall effect has tomato or persimmon red overtones. The blue, by contrast, is both somewhat unusual and rather vibrant.

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.* 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. While some sources that record makers of military goods lack reference to specific military contracts with Annin, their Wikipedia entry might explain why. The narrative states: "…the U.S. Signal Corps requisitioned all its wartime flags from Annin Flagmakers for the Civil War. An undated newspaper article in Annin's 1860's archives states: "Without going through forms of contract, Annin supplied the government direct." "…As the war progressed, orders came pouring in from every state and city that was loyal to the Union, so that by the beginning of 1864, there was not a single battlefield, a brigade or a division that did not use Annin flags." The company itself reports that it provided the flag that was laid over the casket of Abraham Lincoln and that it supplied the flags hung at every presidential inauguration from 1849 onward, until at least the 1980’s.

* Madaus, H. & Smith, W., "The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict," (2006, VZ Publications, Santa Cruz, California), p. 62.

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, that has been washed and treated for color fastness. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is minor to moderate foxing and soiling throughout, the most significant of which is in the center of the flag across the bottom 6 stripes. There is a series of lateral tears resulting from fabric breakdown, with associated loss, running laterally through the canton, then onward through the lower edge of the 2nd red stripe, There are 2 other moderate holes in the canton, including one in the lower center and one in the bottom, hoist-end corner that continues slightly into the stripe field. There are other minor to moderate, lateral and horizontal tears with associated loss throughout both the canton and the stripe field. many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
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: SOLD
 

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