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  RARE AND EXCEPTIONAL 44 STAR UNITED STATES INFANTRY BATTLE FLAG WITH A MEDALLION CONFIGURATION, GOLD FRINGE, AND RED WOOL TIES, LATE INDIAN WARS, WYOMING STATEHOOD, 1890-1896

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 88.5" x 89"
Flag Size (H x L): 75.5" x 75"
Description....:
This rare 44 star American national flag is a United States infantry battle colors of the late Indian Wars period. Its stars are arranged in a triple wreath medallion, with a star in the very center and a flanking star in each corner of the blue canton. Because there was no official way to arrange the stars on the American flag until 1912, the design was left up to either the flag maker, or the party who ordered any given flag to be made. Dynamic, non-lineal star patterns, such as circular and star-shaped designs, are encountered with some degree of frequency until the time of our nation's 100-year anniversary of independence in 1876. A wide variety of whimsical geometric configurations were produced for the various celebrations that took place in that year, but for some unexplained reason, these exceptionally graphic star patterns were afterwards abandoned by almost all flag makers in favor of lineal rows.

Medallion configurations, like this one, are therefore rare in flags with greater than 38 stars, and that is one reason why this particular type of Stars & Stripes is so highly sought after by advanced collectors. The presence of gold fringe and long red ties add a lot to the already dynamic presentation of this particular flag.

Note how the profile of the flag is square, at approximately six by six feet. This sort of design was favorable for use on foot, 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 determines this factor. The square shape maximized the surface area of the textile when hand-carried. Note also how the blue canton is proportionally square, adapted to the dimensions of the flag. While 72" on the hoist x 78" on the fly was standard for infantry and artillery, land-use battle flags, there was a great deal of variation when it came to actual production during the 19th century.

U.S. Army regulation battle flags are very rare in the private market. I encounter a very small number of them each year. This is one of just four known examples in this precise style that I am aware to have surfaced. Three of these I have been privileged to own, including this one, and a forth survives in a private collection. A smaller example, measuring approximately 67 x 69 inches, without fringe, was formerly in the collection of Tom Connelly (sold at Sotheby's on May 22nd, 2002, Important Americana, sale NO7801, lot 149, p. 80).

The 44th state, Wyoming, gained statehood on July 10th, 1890. Many flag makers would have began to add a 44th star to their flags on or before that day, and the 44 star flag would have generally seen use until the addition of Utah in 1896.

Construction: The stripes and canton of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been joined with treadle stitching. The stars of the flag are made of cotton and are double-appliqu├ęd (applied to both sides of the flag) with a lineal treadle stitch. Along the hoist there is a series of seven pairs of ties, made from red wool tape. This means of attachment seems to have been preferred in wool regulation battle flags of the late 19th century, which are seldom see with sleeves or traditional hoist bindings. A gold wool fringe runs the perimeter on three sides.

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 flat-lined with hand-stitching to 100% natural fabrics throughout for support, on every seam and throughout the star field. It will then be hand-stitched to 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for color fastness. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is an area of moderate loss, towards the fly end from center, in the 6th red stripe, with a very minor hole next to it. There are two small holes above and to the right of this, in the 5th red stripe. Period wool bunting of similar coloration was placed behind this for masking purposes. There are more minor to modest holes in the 4th and 5th red stripes, towards the fly end from center, without underlay, and in the 7th red stripe, where there is a small scattering of losses in the fly end corner. There are very minor holes in the wool bunting elsewhere throughout. There are very minor stains and bleeding in limited areas and there is some fading of the red stripes in the 4th - 7th red stripes, adjacent to the fly end. There are two repairs, made with 19th century wool bunting, both replacing damaged sections of a stripe. One of these is 6.5-inches in length and the other 13.25", occurring in the 4th and 5th white stripes, respectively in the lower, fly end quadrant. The 6th set of red wool ties is absent, as is half of one of a segment of a tie in the last set. 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: 44
Earliest Date of Origin: 1890
Latest Date of Origin: 1896
State/Affiliation: Wyoming
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD
 

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