Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags

13 STAR FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD, WITH A DIAMOND SHAPED CONFIGURATION OF STARS; ONE OF JUST TWO EARLY EXAMPLES OF THE STARS & STRIPES, WITH SEWN CONSTRUCTION, TO SHARE A VARIANT OF THIS EXTREMELY RARE DESIGN, circa 1863-1865

13 STAR FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD, WITH A DIAMOND SHAPED CONFIGURATION OF STARS; ONE OF JUST TWO EARLY EXAMPLES OF THE STARS & STRIPES, WITH SEWN CONSTRUCTION, TO SHARE A VARIANT OF THIS EXTREMELY RARE DESIGN, circa 1863-1865

Web ID: 13j-1646
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 62.75" x 105.75
Flag Size (H x L): 51" x 94"
 
Description:
13 star American national flag of the Civil War period, with an extraordinarily rare configuration of stars. These are arranged in a distinct diamond, flanked by two stars, at either side, in each corner of the horizontally-oriented canton.

Probably made during the closing years of the war, between 1863-1865, the stars of the flag are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides). The canton is made of three lengths of blue wool bunting, which have been joined to one-another by hand-stitching.

The stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced and joined with an interlocking chain stitch. There is a wide, sailcloth canvas binding along the hoist, applied in the same manner. Although treadle and crank-operated machines, capable of executing this type of stitching, were available in the 1850’s, I have personally never encountered it in flag-making until the 1863-1865 era. For some reason, there use in flags was extremely short lived. The fact that it required a lot of thread is one explanation. The fact that fabric tended to give way, before reasonably good stitching of any sort, is another.

The five brass grommets along the binding are original to the flag’s construction. Although this is an uncommonly large number for a flag of this scale, it is nonetheless congruent with the unusually wide binding. The use of a star pattern I have only encountered on one other occasion lends to the theory that this flag, while likely made in a cottage industry setting, perhaps by a sailmaker, was not made by someone regularly employed in the manufacture of flags specifically. Yet another trait can be seen in the arched patches at the top and bottom of the hoist. Called gussets, these were included for support and are original to the flag’s construction. Though not uncommon in flag production, these were typically rectangular or triangular, and I have never before encountered them in this shape.

Why 13 Stars?
13 star flags have been continuously produced throughout our nation’s history for purposes both patriotic and utilitarian. This was the original number of stars on the American flag, representing the original 13 colonies, so it was appropriate for any flag made in conjunction with celebrations of American independence. In addition to use at the 1876 centennial, 13 star flags were hoisted at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1824-25, the sesquicentennial in 1926, and celebrations of July 4th. They were displayed during the Civil War, to reference past struggles for American liberty and victory over oppression, and were used by 19th century politicians while campaigning for the same reason.

13 star flags were flown by American ships both private and federal. The U.S. Navy used 13 stars on the ensigns made for small boats, because they wished the stars to be easily discerned at a distance. As the number of stars grew with the addition of new states, it became more and more difficult to fit stars on a small flag so that they may be viewed from afar as individual objects.

Because there was no official configuration for the stars on the American national flag until it reached a count of 48, in 1912, the arrangement on a 13 star flag was generally left to the whims of the maker. The diamond pattern, present on this particular example, is especially significant among early Stars & Stripes, not only because it is beautiful, but because just one other presents with a diamond pattern. The only other such formation—actually quite different—is found on something called the “Hulbert flag,” a wonderful and fairly well-known, 13 star example, discovered on Long Island in the ancestral home of Captain John Hulbert. A Revolutionary war officer, Hulbert led the 3rd Regiment of New York volunteers. Though it has been claimed that the Hulbert flag was made in 1775, two years prior to actual adoption of the Stars & Stripes, on June 14th, 1777, the actual period in which in which the Hulbert flag was made has been the subject of some discussion. Whatever the case may be, its design, that places all 13 stars within the form of a large diamond, is likewise beautiful.

Although the specific history of this particular flag is not known, it does happen to conform to U.S. Navy regulations of 1864, in terms of scale, and may have seen Naval use. While the star configuration wasn’t specified, the 4-5-4 pattern is generally seen on U.S. Navy small boat flags in the 1850’s through the opening years of the Civil War. In or about 1864, when the new regulations replaced those of 10 years prior, flags that appear to be of Navy manufacture start to appear with lineal rows of 3-2-3-2-3. Even so, an examination of logistics of the times is useful. When war broke out in 1861, the Navy was woefully unprepared in many ways, not least of which was flag-making. As a result, orders flew out to local businesses to make flags and, in many instances, Navy quartermasters grabbed every flag already in existing stock, regardless of the specifics laid forth in their own regulations. Even during the latter part of the war, shortages and/or need, in any particular location or on board any particular vessel, may certainly have given yield to military specs. Captured ships were conscripted into military use, while others were privateered, creating an instantaneous need for appropriate signals. Because there was no official configuration for the stars on the American national flag until it reached a count of 48, in 1912, the arrangement on a 13 star flag was generally left to the whims of the maker. The diamond pattern, present on this particular example, is especially significant among early Stars & Stripes, not only because it is beautiful, but because just one other presents with a diamond pattern. The only other such formation—actually quite different—is found on something called the “Hulbert flag,” a wonderful and fairly well-known, 13 star example, discovered on Long Island in the ancestral home of Captain John Hulbert. A Revolutionary war officer, Hulbert led the 3rd Regiment of New York volunteers. Though it has been claimed that the Hulbert flag was made in 1775, two years prior to actual adoption of the Stars & Stripes, on June 14th, 1777, the actual period in which in which the Hulbert flag was made has been the subject of some discussion. Whatever the case may be, its design, that places all 13 stars within the form of a large diamond, is likewise beautiful. Although the specific history of this particular flag is not known, it does happen to conform to U.S. Navy regulations of 1864, in terms of scale, and may have seen Naval use. While the star configuration wasn’t specified, the 4-5-4 pattern is generally seen on U.S. Navy small boat flags in the 1850’s through the opening years of the Civil War. In or about 1864, when the new regulations replaced those of 10 years prior, flags that appear to be of Navy manufacture start to appear with lineal rows of 3-2-3-2-3. Even so, an examination of logistics of the times is useful. When war broke out in 1861, the Navy was woefully unprepared in many ways, not least of which was flag-making. As a result, orders flew out to local businesses to make flags and, in many instances, Navy quartermasters grabbed every flag already in existing stock, regardless of the specifics laid forth in their own regulations. Even during the latter part of the war, shortages and/or need, in any particular location or on board any particular vessel, may certainly have given yield to military specs. Captured ships were conscripted into military use, while others were privateered, creating an instantaneous need for appropriate signals.

Because there was no official configuration for the stars on the American national flag until it reached a count of 48, in 1912, the arrangement on a 13 star flag was generally left to the whims of the maker. The diamond pattern, present on this particular example, is especially significant among early Stars & Stripes, not only because it is beautiful, but because just one other presents with a diamond pattern. The only other such formation—actually quite different—is found on something called the “Hulbert flag,” a wonderful and fairly well-known, 13 star example, discovered on Long Island in the ancestral home of Captain John Hulbert. A Revolutionary war officer, Hulbert led the 3rd Regiment of New York volunteers. Though it has been claimed that the Hulbert flag was made in 1775, two years prior to actual adoption of the Stars & Stripes, on June 14th, 1777, the actual period in which in which the Hulbert flag was made has been the subject of some discussion. Whatever the case may be, its design, that places all 13 stars within the form of a large diamond, is likewise beautiful.

In addition to the Hulbert flag, two other antique American flags are known that exhibit diamond arrangements. One of these is a tiny but extraordinary parade flag, printed on cotton. Made sometime between the late Antebellum and the Civil War, circa 1855-1865 (likely on the lower side of that date window), the arrangement of stars is the same as that on the flag that is the subject of this narrative, yet instead of all the stars being the same size, they appear in three different sizes.

The other surviving flag with a diamond design is something called a “jack.” Traditionally flown on a Navy ship, when it was at port or anchor, a “Union Jack,” as it is formally called, consists of simply a blue field and white stars (without any accompanying stripes). There is just one known jack in this pattern. A civilian flag, instead of having been made for Navy use, it was likely flown to decorate a Hudson River steamer. Dating to the latter 19th century, it displays a configuration that more closely resembles that of the Hulbert flag. The primary difference is that the sides of the diamond on the Hulbert flag are flat, while on the jack, they are elliptical.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed in our own textile 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 deep, gilded, shadowbox molding has a very dark brown exterior, almost black. To this, a wood-grained molding with a scooped profile, and reddish highlights on the inner lip, was added as a liner. The background fabric is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for color-fastness. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglas. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There are minor to modest losses throughout. There is a moderate area of loss at the fly end of the 3rd white stripe, and significant loss at the fly end of the last stripe. Early wool fabric was placed behind these to locations for masking purposes. There is minor staining in the stars and along the binding, as well as in very limited areas within the striped field. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The exceptional rarity of this example warrants practically any condition.
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Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1863
Latest Date of Origin: 1865
State/Affiliation: 13 Original Colonies
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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