Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  SPECTACULAR 34 STAR FLAG WITH AN EXTREMELY RARE AND BEAUTIFUL DIAMOND CONFIGURATION, AND AN APPLIED BANNER WITH A STENCILED PATRIOTIC SLOGAN, AMONG THE BEST EXAMPLES I HAVE EVER OWNED, KANSAS STATEHOOD, OPENING TWO YEARS OF THE CIVIL WAR, 1861-63

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 85" x 62"
Flag Size (H x L): 73" x 50.25"
Description....:
34 star American national flag, made during the opening years of the Civil War period, entirely hand-sewn and with its stars arranged in a dynamic and extraordinarily rare diamond medallion that features 4 stars in the center and a trio of stars in each corner of its blue canton. Kansas was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about 2½ 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 with the addition of Kansas in January. The star count remained official until July 4th, 1863, and 34 star flags would have been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year.

In the world of antique American flags there are nearly countless star patterns, but most have lineal rows or columns. Some have circular designs, which are the next step up the rarity scale. The Great Star is much more scarce, highly coveted, and can be among the very best visually, but there are rarer configurations still. Among these are circles within squares, pentagons, ovals, and completely random patterns. There are flags where the stars actually spell something with alphabetic or numeric characters, some of which are among the rarest of all, but with regard to geometric configurations, the rarest--and arguably the most beautiful--are diamonds, shields, snowflakes, and starbursts. From a folk art perspective, these often excel beyond all others and are certainly more unusual to the eye. This particular flag is no exception.

Diamond patterns are extraordinarily rare among documented examples in any form. Not more than 10 to 15 exist across all flags of the 19th century with pieced-and-sewn construction, in all star counts. Each of these is one-of-a-kind, displaying its own design idiosyncrasies within this unique group of spectacular flags.

Another interesting trait can be seen in the fact that the canton rests on a red stripe. When this scarce condition occurs, some flag historians have referred to it as the “blood stripe” or the “war stripe”, suggesting the flag was constructed in this manner when the nation was at war. In actuality, the placement probably occurred more often by accident. Not everyone knew where the canton was traditionally placed, and because there was no official legislation regarding this facet of American flag design until 1912, there was no specified position. Here one may note that it rests on the 7th stripe. Whatever the case may be regarding its placement, the war stripe feature is highly coveted by collectors.

Applied banners with patriotic verbiage are all but unheard of. Elevating this flag to an even higher level of desirability among collectors is the white length of cotton, treadle-sewn to the fly end, with bold, black letters that read: “We Love Every Stripe and Star.” This appealing, pro-Union statement adds another layer of graphic and emotional impact to a Civil War period flag, and when combined with such an outstanding star configuration, and the canton resting on the war stripe, results in a venerable masterpiece.

Construction: The stars of the flag are made of cotton, hand-sewn and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) of the blue canton, which is made from fine merino wool. The stripes are made of cotton, pieced with hand-stitching. The banner is made of cotton, with stenciled or block-printed letters, and was applied to the fly end with treadle stitching.

Provenance: This flag was exhibited from June 12th – September 6th, 2021 at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, in an exhibit entitled “Flags & Founding Documents.” The flag portion of this, curated by Jeff Bridgman, featured 43 flags that span American history as we progressed from 13 to 50 stars, with a particular focus on not only flags that display the anticipated and/or actual addition of states, but the subtraction of both Union and Slave States during the Antebellum and the Civil War periods.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza on every seam and throughout the star field for support. It was then sewn to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, that was washed to remove excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There us modest foxing and staining throughout. There are minor splits and tears in the canton and in the red stripes, accompanied by some breakdown and losses, from obvious use, in each corner. White cotton patches for reinforcement were at some point added for reinforcement at the extreme top and bottom of the hoist binding and in the upper, fly end corner. The red cotton is moderately faded throughout. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The flag is in exceptional condition for its age and the extreme rarity of this particular example would warrant almost any condition.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
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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