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  30 STAR FLAG OF THE PRE-CIVIL WAR ERA, A RARE AND BEAUTIFUL ANTIQUE EXAMPLE WITH A DOUBLE-WREATH CONFIGURATION THAT FEATURES A LARGE, HALOED CENTER STAR, WISCONSIN STATEHOOD, 1848-1850

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 24" x 31.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 15" x 22.5"
Description....:
30 star American parade flag, block-printed on coarse cotton, with a beautiful form of the medallion configuration that features a very large center star with a pinstriped halo around its perimeter and large flanking stars in each corner of the blue canton. Between these are two consecutive wreaths of stars in a third and considerably smaller size. Note the striking profiles of the 4 flanking stars, in particular, which are long-armed, misproportioned, and whimsical. All of these tip slightly so that the topmost point is directed slightly toward the center of the canton. Also note the vibrant, sun fire red stripes that lend bold color to the presentation.

The 30th state, Wisconsin, joined the Union on May 29th, 1848. The 30 star flag was official until July 3rd, 1851, but flags in this star count would not likely have been made following the addition of California in 1850. Flag-makers paid little heed to official star counts in favor of what was practical. While the Flag Act of 1818 dictated that the star count would officially change on the 4th of July following the date of a state's acceptance, stars were generally added by the makers of flags when the state was added (sometimes even beforehand). This means that the 30 star flag had a realistic window of production of just over two years.

Flags made prior to the Civil War are rare, comprising less than one percent of 19th century flags that survive in the 21st century. This is partly because our flag wasn't used in the same purposes in early America as we employ it in today. Private individuals did not generally display the flag. Use of the Stars & Stripes for functions of general patriotism rose swiftly following the 1861 attack on Fort Sumter that spurred the Civil War (1861-65). This was the beginning of widespread civilian use, which then exploded in 1876 during the centennial of American independence.

Even the military did not use the flag in a manner that most people might think. The primary purpose before the Civil War was to mark ships on the open seas. While the flag was used to mark some garrisons, the flags of ground troops were often limited to the flag of their own regiment, with a design peculiar unto itself, and perhaps a standard that featured the numeric designation on a painted or embroidered streamer, on a solid buff yellow or blue ground. Most people would be surprised to learn that ground forces were not authorized to carry the Stars & Stripes until it was assigned to artillery regiments in 1834. Infantry was afforded the privilege in 1841, just prior to the Mexican War (1846-1848), while cavalry regiments were not authorized until the second year of the Civil War, in 1862.

The most likely use of this flag was at a political rally, probably in 1848 when Zachary Taylor ran against Lewis Cass and Martin Van Buren to win the White House. Use of parade flags appears to have occurred largely for political campaigning until 1861. Although the maker that produced the flag is unknown, examples with this unusual center star exist in at least six other star counts including 31, 34, 35, 36, and 42. Three examples also exist, probably from different makers, that bear 13 stars. One dates to 1856 and was made for the presidential campaign of James Buchanan. Another was made for the 1860 presidential campaign of John Bell, who ran against Abraham Lincoln, as an independent, on the Constitutional Union Party ticket. Another style, printed on a wool and cotton blended fabric, dates to the 1876 centennial and all of its 13 stars have halos.

With the exception of the 13 star examples, 30 is the lowest count encountered on printed parade flags with a haloed center star. Because parade flags first appeared in the 26 star period, just a few years prior, between 1837 and 1845, this 30 star example falls among the earliest of all known printed flags. Very few varieties in this star count have been discovered. I am aware of only three styles. In two of these, only a single example is known. I bought and sold one of the two, which is documented on page 15 of "The Stars & The Stripes: Fabric of the American Spirit" by J. Richard Pierce (2005). I know of fewer than twenty five flags to exist in this third, halo medallion style.

Mounting: The banner 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. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: The flag exhibits obvious signs of use. There is a series of moderate to significant tears and associated losses near the hoist end in the canton, stripes, and in the white area along the hoist. Two of the losses, at the hoist end of the 5th and 6th white stripes, are significant. There is a series of minor to moderate vertical bars of foxing in the same region, resulting from where the original wooden staff came in contact with the flag as it wrapped around it. This gets lighter as it gets further from the hoist. The blue pigment used in the canton has some loss throughout the canton itself and some transfer into the striped field below and beyond it. There is some misprinting in the stars and the halo. There is more foxing and staining towards the fly end, accompanied by further losses, particularly in the last 3 white stripes. There is very minor fading and misprinting in the red stripes and there are minor losses along the top and bottom edges of the flag. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The rarity of this example, accompanied by its early date, well-warrants the condition.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 30
Earliest Date of Origin: 1848
Latest Date of Origin: 1850
State/Affiliation: Wisconsin
War Association: 1777-1860 Pre-Civil War
Price: SOLD
 

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