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  36 STARS ON AN ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA, STAR COUNT REFLECTS NEVADA STATEHOOD, 1864-1867; PROBABLY MADE BY ANNIN IN NEW YORK CITY

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 45" x 64"
Flag Size (H x L): 33" x 52"
Description....:
Entirely hand-sewn American national flag of the Civil War era, with 36 stars, in a unusual and highly desirable small size for the period (1864-67). 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.

Because of its keen similarities to other examples I have owned in terms of not only materials and construction, but overall appearance, this flag was probably made by Annin & Company in New City. 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. Annin signed at least some of their flags beginning in the 36-star period. The earliest signed examples I have encountered have 36 stars, but Annin was very inconsistent in terms of applying its mark, as were other flag-makers of this era.

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."

Lincoln pushed Nevada through to statehood on October 31st, 1864, during the Civil War, and just 8 days before the November election. The territory’s wealth in silver was attractive to a nation struggling with the debts of war and the president's support of statehood increased support for the Republican ticket. While the 36th star wouldn't officially be added until July 4th of the following year, flag makers cared little for official star counts. Some would have begun adding the 36th star several months before the addition of Nevada actually occurred and almost all would have added it after Nevada was in. Commercially produced flags with inscribed dates are known as early as July of 1864, four months before Nevada's addition. Adding stars before they were official was common practice during the late 19th century and reflects both the nation's desire for Westward Expansion and the hope of flag makers to bring new star counts to market before their competitors. It is interesting to note that 36 is the lowest star count I have ever encountered on a flag with a Annin signature. While in business for at least 30 years by this time, it seems that the firm did not sign its flags before this period. The 36 star flag was officially replaced by the 37 star flag in 1867, following the addition of Nebraska.

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 to twelve feet long or larger. Garrison flags were thirty-five feet on the fly. This is because they were important in their function as signals, meaning that they 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. Commercial production of flags smaller than this with sewn construction was very slim. At just over 4 feet on the fly, this flag is a great size for framing and display in an indoor setting. Many collectors prefer printed parade flags, which are typically three feet long or smaller, and smaller sewn flags, like this one.

Construction: The canton and stripes are made of wool bunting. Wool sheds water and was the fabric of choice for extended outdoor use. The cotton stars are single-appliquéd. There is a coarse linen binding along the hoist with two brass grommets.

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. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is very minor foxing and staining in the striped field and some very minor bleeding near the end of the last white stripe. There are a limited number of extremely minor holes, accompanied by a nick on the lower edge of the last stripe and some loss at the extreme fly end of the same. There are two period darning repairs near the end of the 12th and 13th stripes. 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: 36
Earliest Date of Origin: 1864
Latest Date of Origin: 1867
State/Affiliation: Nevada
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
 

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