Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD, WITH THE RARE PRESENCE OF A COPPERPLATE-PRINTED EAGLE IN THE CANTON, SET WITHIN A FRACTURED WREATH PATTERN OF 34 STARS AND WITH ITS CANTON RESTING ON THE WAR STRIPE; REFLECTS THE PERIOD OF KANSAS STATEHOOD, 1861-63

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 50" x 88.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 38.5" x 77"
Description....:
American flags that incorporate eagles in their design are among the rarest and most coveted of all examples. The list of known variations is so small and so desired that they are tightly held by the collecting community. In flags with pieced-and-sewn construction (as opposed to printed parade flags), there are extraordinarily scarce, commercially-made examples, but most are homemade. That is certainly the case here, with this Civil War period example, near-to-square canton, and elongated profile. Seemingly hand-dyed, the blue fabric varies from cobalt to sea foam green to khaki. Centered vertically, but toward the fly end horizontally, is a copperplate engraved image of a war-era, spread-winged eagle, in a style often seen on volunteer recruitment broadsides and political campaign posters of the time, with continued use throughout the balance of the 19th century. With arrows clutched in one talon and an olive branch in the other, though lacking a federal shield upon its breast, a streamer draped in the eagle’s beak bears text that reads “E Pluribus Uniom.” Perhaps this is not a misspelling of the Latin “Unum,” but rather a play on the phrase, combining it with the word “Union” to illiterate the same basic message in what might be construed as a heady and somewhat humorous fashion. Rays of sunshine protrude from the overall image on all sides, in a glorified and victorious manner. While I have seen this same basic eagle, with slight variation, on many 19th century paper articles, and occasionally on banners, I have never before seen it on a flag. Copperplate engravings of this sort are almost never employed on sewn flags.

The stars of the flag are loosely arranged in a medallion fashion. It is as if the maker wished to produce one or more circular wreaths, yet after partially completed around the top, the pattern got away from him or her and became almost random. This seems to have been due at least in part to the lack of available space. A star was placed in each corner, which sort-of anchors the eclectic assembly, that I find sort of ethereal on the mottled blue ground, with the eagle off to one side and the outstretching rays.

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 9th stripe. Whatever the case may be regarding its placement, the war stripe feature is highly coveted by collectors. The stars of the flag are double-appliqued (applied to both sides). The lowest 5 stripes are constructed of multiple lengths of fabric. The fly end was turned back and hemmed during its course of use, as a proper means of extending the life of the textile. The hoist end was rolled over around a length of twisted cotton cord and stitched into place to form a channel. Four sets of ties, made of the same twine, were added at various intervals.

Kansas was admitted into 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 with the addition of Kansas in January. The 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.

The combination of the eagle, the war stripe feature, the square canton, and the interesting star pattern, as well as the flag’s manageable size size, endearing wear, and Civil War date, result in a magnificent example.

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 mount was placed in a substantial molding is dark brown in color, almost black, with reddish undertones and highlights, with a concave shape, a textured surface, and a rope-style inner lip. To this a deep, silver, shadowbox molding was added as a cap. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is significant fading in the hand-dyed canton and there is minor to moderate foxing and staining throughout. There is a stitched repair below the 9th stripe, adjacent to the hoist end. There is minor fabric loss in the upper, hoist end corner of the canton, accompanied by modest to moderate loss in the top and bottom stripes, becoming more significant toward the fly end. There are minor tears and losses elsewhere throughout and there is minor to modest fading of the red stripes. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
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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