Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN, CIVIL WAR ERA, ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA, WITH HAND-SEWN STARS, ENDEARING WEAR FROM LONG-TERM USE, AND ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL PRESENTATION, REFLECTS NEVADA STATEHOOD, 1864-1867

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 48" x 72"
Flag Size (H x L): 36" x 60.25"
Description....:
Entirely hand-sewn American flag of the Civil War era, with 36 stars in lineal rows of 7-7-8-7-7, with endearing wear from obvious, extended use. 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 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.

This is a cottage industry-made flag, sewn by someone with expertise at the task. The stars are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides). Note how these are especially large; so much so that their arms overlap into each other’s circumference, tipped this way and that on their vertical axis. This lends a great deal to the flag’s folk qualities.

The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting. There is a plain weave, cotton or linen binding along the hoist, in the form of an open sleeve, through which a length of braided hemp rope was inserted, looped at both ends, and stitched into position by hand-sewing. While this type of hoist could be used anywhere, it was particularly common in flags made for maritime use.

A couple of factors with regard to the flag’s construction are especially peculiar. One is the lack of the use of a selvage edge along the top and bottom of the flag. Instead, the wool fabric was rolled over two lengths of cotton twine and hemmed. Though almost entirely absent, this was also once present at the fly end. One may occasionally encounter this, but it is certainly far from the norm. Also note the diagonal rows of hand-stitching in the upper and lower, hoist end corners, used to affix gussets (supportive patches) that are original to the flag. While gussets are not uncommon, the manner of stitching here is unusual, and the additional hand-sewing here adds a degree of visual interest.

Among early flags, many that survive tend to be in better condition than this one. That is because when flags reached a certain point in terms of damage and losses, they were discarded. When they do survive with significant losses, they also tend to be unattractive. This actually creates a scarcity of flags with the sort of wear that this one presents. Some flags, when they have reached this manner of condition, are all the more beautiful because of it, and this is no exception.

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 or forty-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. At just 3 x 5 feet, this is a wonderful example among its counterparts with sewn construction.

The 36 star flag was officially replaced by the 37 star flag in 1867, following the addition of Nebraska.

In summary, this is an exceptional flag of the Civil War era, in a very desirable scale, entirely hand-sewn and with great folk qualities, with beautiful and endearing wear. A great choice for collectors or one-time buyers alike.

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, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is extensive wear at and adjacent to the fly end, with fraying and significant loss, tears, and minor to moderate holes. There are minor losses elsewhere. There is minor to modest soiling. There is a stitched repair to the 5th star in the 4th row. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The presentation that results from the state of preservation actually adds to the appeal in this instance, as previously noted.
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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