Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 10.75" x 14.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 4.5" x 6" (8.5" wide with ties)
Confederate Bible flag in the First National Confederate design. Made of silk and entirely hand-sewn, the blue canton does not feature a number of stars to reflect the seceded states, but rather a red bow made of silk ribbon.

Bible flags were made for a soldier by a loved one, to be presented as a token of patriotism and affection when he went away to war. They received this name because they were often carried in a Bible, both because this was the safest place that a soldier might keep a flat, treasured object of this sort, with limited places to do so, and because they sometimes doubled as a bookmark. This particular example features a knot of silk fabric attached to small lengths of twisted silk floss, knotted at the opposite end to make a loop--a familiar feature on book marks.

Union variants of Bible flags exist, but they were primarily a phenomenon of the South. I am not sure I have really ever seen a Union example in the strictest sense. There are fanciful needlework penwipes and housewifes, adorned with flag designs, with felt pages incorporated to wipe the tip of a dip pen or to hold needles as little sewing kits, but in the South, actual flags were made in miniature by a mother, wife, fiancé, sister, or daughter and gifted to someone they cared for. Confederate examples were most often constructed of ladies’ dress silk or dress ribbon. A woman might use new fabric, but if the maker was a fiancée or wife, as opposed to a mother or sister, she might use fabric clipped from her own dress as a way to romanticize the gift.

Strong evidence that dress fabric of various sorts was often used is evidenced by the fact that most of the time the cloth present is pink as opposed to red. Though the plain weave silk stripes of this particular flag are faded, they were likely pink originally, as were the pair of silk ribbon ties, with a twill weave, that were used to affix it to a staff. The center, white stripe is of plain weave silk, while the beautiful, cornflower blue canton is made of a length of silk ribbon, with a decorative edge, that was applied by folding it over the striped field and stitching it into place. The hoist end of the flag was bound with a fragment of the same pink silk used in the stripes. The fly end appears to have been trimmed after the flag was constructed, using a wide pair of pinking shears. This adds its own element of character to the overall design.

The bow is affixed with a tiny metal stick pin, obviously long present and rusted, seized into position. This may have been the original maker's intent, or may have been added when one stars fell away. Because appliqué work is a lot more difficult than hemming and seaming fabric, some Bible flags had stars that were adhered rather than sewn. Some makers used foil paper to create metallic stars, or sewed on metal sequins instead of fabric. Whatever the case may be, the bow appears to be of 19th century origin and either period to the flag's construction or else close to it.

Most Bible flags were constructed in the First National design, also known as the “Stars & Bars,” which closely resembles the Stars & Stripes and which most people do not automatically identify as Southern. This is good for collectors in a modern sense, because they can be displayed without a mistaken message.

While Bible flags can be found in many shapes and sizes and with every star configuration imaginable, all are tiny in a flag sense. Many were small enough to fit in a small Bible. Larger examples were more likely waved first by the maker, during whatever ceremonies or processions took place, then presented to the departing soldier. These would have likely been folded to be stowed more easily. Usually measuring between roughly four and ten inches in length, this sort of scale is terrific for a collector. They can easily become a collection unto themselves within a larger collection of more types of flags, without really taking up any space at all.

The flag descended through a family, having been obtained from their attorney in Phoenix, Arizona about 20 years ago. It was found in a frame with an engraved plaque that read:

"Corporal Daniel Clancy CSA made this flag in the military prison at Cincinnati (McMclean Barracks), Ohio in 1861. After being paroled, he returned to the Confederate service and died defending Vicksburg in 1863."

Daniel Clancey, residence unknown, enlisted on July 5th, 1861 at Camp Boone, Kentucky and mustered into Company "B" of the 2nd Kentucky Infantry (Confederate). If he was held in Cincinnati, I could find no record of that, but he was list as a P.O.W. at Fort Donelson, Tennessee as of February 15th, 1862. He was, indeed, killed at Vicksburg (May-June, 1863).

While this little flag was probably handed down through the Clancy family, it seems unlikely to have been made at a military prison, where there would have been no easy access to the fine fabrics employed in its construction. It is more likely that the flag was made for Clancy by a loved one and carried off to war, then somehow returned to the family either prior to or following his death.

Mounting: The fantastic, ripple-profile molding has a paint-decorated and gilded surface and dates to the period between 1830 and 1860. The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, that was washed and treated to set the dye. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There is moderate fading of the red (pink) stripes and there is minor to modest soiling throughout, the most significant of which is in the center, white bar. There are tiny holes in the first and second bar, as well as in the canton, and there are minor losses in the ribbon ties. Part of the knotted tie either has rust staining, or it was painted red intentionally. The flag presents beautifully. The rarity and beauty of Bible flags, as well as their wartime use and the manner in which they must be carried, well-warrants practically any condition.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: Other
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1863
State/Affiliation: Kentucky
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD

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