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  ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN 34 STAR FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD, WITH HAND-SEWN, SINGLE-APPLIQUED STARS AND ENDEARING WEAR FROM LONG-TERM USE, REFLECTS KANSAS STATEHOOD, 1861-1863

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 54" x 79"
Flag Size (H x L): 42" x 65.5"
Description....:
Entirely hand-sewn American flag of the Civil War era, with 34 stars in lineal rows of 7-7-6-7-7, with endearing wear and repairs from obvious, extended use. Kansas was admitted to the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about 2 ½ 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 at the time of Kansas’ arrival, if not even before that day—a practice that became common during the latter 19th century. This star count remained official until July 4th, 1863, and 34 star flags would have generally been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year, 11 days before the Battle of Gettysburg.

The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting. This is a cottage industry-made flag, sewn by someone with expertise at the task. The stars are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and single-appliquéd. This means that they were applied to one side of the canton, then the blue fabric was cut from behind each star, folded over, and under-hemmed, so that one star could be viewed on both sides of the flag. I always find single-appliquéd stars more interesting, not only because they are evidence of a more difficult level of seam-work and stitching, but also because they are more visually intriguing. Both the sewing itself and stretching of the fabrics over time results in stars that tend to have irregular shapes and interesting presentation. This is why flags with single-appliquéd stars often appeal to connoisseurs of early American textiles. The two visible rows of hand-stitching emphasize their hand-sewn construction and the nature of the technique leads to elevates folk qualities.

There is a coarse linen binding along the hoist, at the top and bottom of which a length of cord is tied to the fragmented remains. These would have once been used to tie the flag to a staff. Along this, on the reverse, the name of “Rowland” or perhaps “Rowling” was inscribed, with what appears to have been a dip pen. This would be the name of a former owner. It was very common to mark flags in this manner during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries to indicate ownership.

Although at approximately 3.5 x 5.5 feet, this example is significantly smaller than a 72” x 78” regulation infantry flag, it may have been carried by a Civil War unit as a company flag, or flown in a camp, perhaps at an officer’s tent. The wear would tend to indicate that the former. Because there was great inconsistency within volunteer units, which were often outfitted by local organizations or wealthy individuals, anything was possible. Even when state and federal-issued colors arrived, flags with any sort of emotional attachment or practical purpose were used. Whatever the case may be, the flag has a beautiful presentation that conveys its age and expected function during the opening two years of the war.

Adding to the appeal of this flag is its small size when compared to others made for extended outdoor use prior to 1890. During the 19th century, flags with pieced-and-sewn construction (as opposed to printed) were typically eight feet long or larger. Garrison flags were thirty-five feet on the fly. This is because they were important in their use as signals that needed to be seen and recognized from great distance. Even flags made for decorative purpose were generally very large by today’s standards. A six-foot long flag was considered small and anything smaller is of elevated interest because it is more manageable for framing and display in an indoor setting, and especially scarce.

All-in-all, a wonderful relic of America’s bloodiest war, with beautiful presentation.

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% hemp fabric, ivory in color. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is extensive wear at the fly end, below the stripes, below the canton in the striped field, and along the top of the canton, and along the hoist binding, and minor to moderate losses elsewhere throughout. There are stitched repairs at the fly end in the top and bottom stripes and there is a small, patch, made of faded black cotton, in the upper, hoist-end corner of the canton. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
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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