|34 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD (1861-63), WITH WOVEN STRIPES, PRESS-DYED STARS, AND BEAUTIFUL COLORS, POSSIBLY MADE IN NEW YORK BY THE ANNIN COMPANY, REFLECTS THE ADDITION OF KANSAS TO THE UNION, 1861-1863
|Frame Size (H x L):
|Approx. 53" x 94"
|Flag Size (H x L):
|41" x 82"
|34 star flag of the Civil War period, with a press-dyed canton and woven stripes. Made of a fabric produced frame a combination of wool and cotton fibers, the 34 star count was achieved in an unusual fashion, beginning with a press-dyed field of 32 stars, arranged in 4 justified rows of 8, to which 2 additional stars were added. Offset between the 1st and 2nd columns, just inside the top and bottom rows, these were clipped from the same resist-dyed fabric and inserted in the field by single-appliquéing them in the desired positions.
All of the stitching of the flag is done by hand, including the appliquéing of the stars, and of the canton to the striped field, which is joined in two sections, the seam of which running along the lower edge of the canton. There is a hand-sewn binding along the hoist, madp and bottom.e of plain weave cotton or linen, with hand-sewn, whip-stitched grommets at the extreme top and bottom.
In addition to the novel idea behind their manufacture, these flags have attractive and interesting colors. The red stripes are woven, not printed. The weft is red where the stripes are red, but the warp is white throughout, which, in the colored portion, creates an appearance similar to modern, oxford cotton shirting. With white thread going in one direction and colored in the other, the resulting red has sunburnt orange / persimmon overtones. The blue fabric is rich and vibrant, with great contrast.
Rumored by some to have possibly originated in Baltimore, this particular style is more likely to have been made in New York by the Annin Company. These flags seem to have either been produced with the intent of military use, or else simply ended up being employed in that function, purchased by quartermasters in the face of wartime scarcity. Although their function often remains unclear, most show evidence of having been tacked to staffs, which suggests that they were hand-carried. I have occasionally found examples in this style with specific, known history to Civil War units. Although military regulation, infantry battle colors were to be 6 x 6.5 feet, while these predominantly measure about 3.5 x 6.5 feet, their general, their length on the fly was identical and their overall scale would have made them functional for infantry units, where they likely served as company flags and/or replacements for lost colors.
Kansas was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about two-and-a-half 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 no one cared about official star counts and most flag makers would have added a 34th star previously, with the addition of Kansas in January. 34 star flags would have been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of 1863, shortly before the Battle of Gettysburg. The 34 star count remained official until July 4th, 1863. Because production was heaviest during the war’s opening two years, 34 is the most common star count seen on Civil War flags.
Without additional information, one might logically conclude that this flag was made in the 32 star period (1858-59) then updated in 1861. Others exist in same size and style, however, all of which have the 2 additional stars. In all likelihood, this was simply the manner in which the maker decided to produce this type of flag. The 4 continuous rows of stars were either press-dyed onto a bolt of fabric, then clipped wherever necessary, to come as close as possible to the desired star count. Additional stars were then cut out of the same bolt and single-appliquéd to arrive at the appropriate total. This wasn't a bad idea on the surface, for the simple reason that the star count changed so frequently during the 19th century. The process would allow both flag-maker and purchaser to easily change the star count when another state was added. Evidence across surviving flags demonstrates that this process never caught on. There are, for example, no 35, 36, or 37 star examples, nor flags in any other, higher count, with additional stars added either individually or by way of an additional column of 4.
It is of interest to note that I have encountered a single, larger example of this style of flag, with the same 34 star arrangement, incorporating the two offset stars. There are also a few examples of the same type of flag in a smaller size, yet with just 32 stars. None of the smaller size are presently known that have the 2 additional stars, to take the count to 34. And no other variants of this type of flag are known beyond the 34 and 32 star varieties mentioned.
While the name of the maker remains unknown, the late flag expert Howard Madaus suggested that there was reason to believe that these flags were produced by the Annin Company.* Annin is our nation's eldest flag-maker that is still in business today. The company was founded in the 1820's on the New York waterfront, incorporated in 1847, and was located in New York until the 1960’s, when it moved to Verona, New Jersey. While some sources that record makers of military goods lack reference to specific military contracts with Annin, their Wikipedia entry might explain why. The narrative states: "…the U.S. Signal Corps requisitioned all its wartime flags from Annin Flagmakers for the Civil War. An undated newspaper article in Annin's 1860's archives states: "Without going through forms of contract, Annin supplied the government direct." "…As the war progressed, orders came pouring in from every state and city that was loyal to the Union, so that by the beginning of 1864, there was not a single battlefield, a brigade or a division that did not use Annin flags." The company itself reports that it provided the flag that was laid over the casket of Abraham Lincoln and that it supplied the flags hung at every presidential inauguration from 1849 onward, until at least the 1980’s.
* Madaus, H. & Smith, W., "The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict," (2006, VZ Publications, Santa Cruz, California), p. 62.
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 color fastness. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.
Condition: There is minor overall golden brown oxidation of the white stripes and stars, accompanied by extremely minor to minor soiling in limited areas. There is minor wear in the bottom stripe, along the hoist end, as well as fabric loss in the lower grommet. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
|Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
|Earliest Date of Origin:
|Latest Date of Origin:
|1861-1865 Civil War
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