|22 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA; A SOUTHERN-EXCLUSIONARY COUNT ARRANGED IN A DOUBLE-WREATH MEDALLION CONFIGURATION; HOMEMADE OF WOOL AND COTTON; A RARE STAR COUNT IN ANY PERIOD
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 52" x 72"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||39.25" x 60"|
|Hidden symbolism is abundant in American national flags of the Civil War era and variants thereof. Messages appear in both the count of the stripes and the stars, as well as their placement.
At the onset of the Civil War, President Lincoln urged Americans not to remove the stars that represented states that seceded from the Union. There was great need to demonstrate unity; to show that he had not written off those Americans living in the South who did not support the ideals of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, as well as to show both the American people and the world that he rejected and vetoed secession and would do everything in his power to ensure Union victory.
Despite Lincoln’s pleas, some anti-Southern patriots removing the stars represented Confederate States. At the same time, the opposite actually occurred in the South, where some persons were loathe to instantly abandon the national flag. Here the count of stripes or stars was altered to reflect the number of Confederate States, or else the star count was modified to glorify a particular Southern State.
The 22 stars on this particular example represents a removal of those states that the particular flag-maker felt were loyal to the Confederate cause, creating what has been called a Southern-exclusionary count. Because the number of states in the Union fluctuated over the course of the war, and because certain states were on the fence with regard to their loyalties, the number of stars on any particular flag of this nature can differ from one to the next. When the war broke out, there were officially 33 stars on the flag. Before the 34th star was officially added on July 4th, 1861, 11 state governments had officially ratified secession. 33 less 11 equals 22. Yet because most makers of flags would have added the 34th star early (with or following the addition of the 34th state, Kansas, in January of that year), the calculation of 22 was probably obtained from circumstances that occurred later in the war. Between the addition of West Virginia in 1863 and Nevada in 1864, there were 35 states and generally 35 stars on most American national flags produced within that period. By this time the Confederacy had officially recognized 2 of the Border States (Missouri and Kentucky), for a total of 13. Although there were 3 additional Border States (Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia), the stars for these states are not typically included on Confederate battle flags of this time frame, most of which contained 13 stars, so the subtraction resulting in a count of 22 is particularly plausible.
The stars of the flag are arranged in a double-wreath version of a medallion configuration. This consists of two consecutive wreaths of stars in counts of 10 then 6 stars, with a single star in the very center and a star in each corner of the blue canton, outside the basic pattern. The stars are made of plain weave cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliquéd. This means that they are applied to both sides. The canton is made if a clothing or blanket grade gabardine wool with a distinct twill weave. This was joined to the striped field along the fly end with hand-stitching and along the lower edge with treadle stitching. The red stripes are made of a blended fabric composed of both wool and cotton, while the white stripes are made of the same cotton employed in the making of the stars. The stripes are pieced and joined with treadle stitching. Along the hoist there are two bindings. Above, adjacent to the canton, the edge is bound with navy blue silk. Below, along the stripes, a binding of the same width continues in a woolen twill, in a color that either began life as or faded to a seafoam blue-green. The fly end is bound from top-to-bottom with the same fabric.
This is a homemade flag, produced of whatever materials were available to the maker. The binding is of the sort that indicates that it would have been intended to be simply tacked to a staff. Many battle flags were actually affixed in this fashion. Although at approximately 40 x 60 inches, this example is significantly smaller than a 72” x 78” regulation infantry flag, it may have been made my local women, usually mothers, daughters, wives, fiancées, etc., to present to a unit when it went away to war. Such colors can appear in any scale that may have seemed fitting to the makers. Presentation flags might be carried until the unit’s own state or federally issued flags were received, or may have been brought out for special occasions only, or it may have been carried in addition to other flags. Whatever the case may be, the flag was extensively flown and has many repairs, indicative of ongoing field use. Whomever accomplished the repairs had access to the same red fabric.
22 is a very rare star count on legitimate 19th century flags and is a great prize for any collector. Because Alabama entered the Union as the 22nd state on December 14th, 1819, even though the flag was likely made with Northern sympathies, removing Alabama—the 4th state to seceded from the Union—the reality is that few people will ever own a 22 star flag. For this reason, flags with star counts such as this are of interest to natives or residents of whatever state the star count conveys, with respect to its entrance to the Union. The resulting circumstance lends to an interesting story, in spite of the flag’s original intent.
All-in-all, a rare homemade example of the Civil War period, with a beautiful star pattern and an interesting tale.
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 presentation of flags and have preserved thousands of examples.
The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated to reduce and set the dye. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. A shadow box was created to accommodate the tassels. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.
Condition: There are various minor tears and losses in all of the red stripes, as well as in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th white stripes. There are a number of stitched repairs and patches, particularly in the bottom corner adjacent to the fly end. There is minor to moderate soiling in the white cotton stars and stripes, especially in the lower, hoist end sector of the stars, below the canton, and all along the fly end. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The wear is expected, attractive, and actually contributes to the presentation.
|Collector Level:||Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1861|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1864|
|War Association:||1861-1865 Civil War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|