|34 STARS WITH "DANCING" OR "TUMBLING" ORIENTATION, ON AN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH EXTRAORDINARY COLORS, PRESS-DYED ON WOOL BUNTING, LIKELY PRODUCED FOR USE AS MILITARY CAMP COLORS, CIVIL WAR PERIOD, 1861-1863, REFLECTS THE ADDITION OF KANSAS TO THE UNION AS A FREE STATE
|Frame Size (H x L):||34.25" x 44.5"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||22.75" x 33"|
|34 star American national flag, press-dyed on wool bunting, with beautiful colors and interesting visual features. Note how the stars, which are arranged in linear rows of 7-7-6-7-7, are oriented consecutively point-up, point down in their vertical alignment across the canton, resulting in what I call “tumbling” or “dancing” formation. Also note how the shade of cornflower blue exhibits interesting, periwinkle blue overtones, and how it contrasts with the deep, scarlet red. There is a hand-sewn, cotton binding along the hoist.
I believe that this extremely scarce style of 34 star flag, in this design, was sometimes sold to the Union Army, to be flown as flank markers or camp colors. Examples are known in both wool and silk, in the same style, with similar coloration. I owned an example of the same exact type, in silk, with overprinted text for a Pennsylvania volunteer regiment. Silk was light weight, and was the traditional fabric for land-use, military flags in the north. flags hand-carried by infantry and cavalry regiments in the North. Wool sheds water and was practical for long-term use in inclement weather.
It is likely that flags in this style, in both wool and silk, were simultaneously sold for whatever purpose the buyer wished. Some probably saw short-term use at parades and political events, as well as in service as props in commercial photography, for portraits of Civil War soldiers. Whatever the case may be, the size is excellent, being small enough to be easily framed and displayed, yet large enough to make a substantial impact, great for both serious collectors and one-time buyers alike.
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 at the time of Kansas’ arrival, if not even before that day—a practice that became common during the latter 19th century. This 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, 11 days before the Battle of Gettysburg.
Some Notes on the Press-Dying Process:
First patented in 1849, the press-dying process was thought to be a novel idea that would improve flag-making efficiency. In this case, for example, it could potentially alleviate the chore of hand-appliquéing 68 stars (34 on each side). In reality, however, the result must have been less efficient than sewing. To achieve white stars, for example, metal plates in the shape of stars had to be clamped to either side of a length of woolen fabric, in the desired configuration, so they were back-to-back. These may have been lightly brushed beforehand with a solution that would resist dye, or perhaps with a thin coat of wax. The stars were clamped together tightly, the bunting was dyed blue, and the areas where the metal stars were positioned would be left white. For flags with press-dyed stripes, the same task was repeated with different clamps.
A form of resist-dyeing, this method often resulted in crude characteristics, such as stripes with irregular lines, in various widths, and stars with inconsistent shapes, in slightly varying sizes. It is likely that this resulted in some lost product and wasted time, from flags that had bleeding or misprint issues and were of too poor quality to sell. Within those flags that survived, today’s collectors today find the irregularities interesting, not only because they demonstrate early production methods, but also because they lend the sort of folk qualities that make early flags more interesting to look at.
When compared to some other fabrics, printing on wool is costly and difficult. Even today, only about 1% of wool fabric is printed*, because it generally needs to be washed afterward and wool cannot easily be treated with water.
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 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 flat profile molding, with a finish like old gunmetal, was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas).
Condition: There are two small areas of modest mothing and there is minor mothing elsewhere. There is moderate fading of the blue canton. There are two repairs along the hoist binding, at the top and bottom, where additional fabric was added for strength. Along the original part of the binding are light, penciled markings, now illegible. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1861|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1863|
|War Association:||1861-1865 Civil War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|