|33 STARS IN A "GREAT STAR" PATTER ON A BRILLIANT, ROYAL BLUE CANTON, A RARE AND EXTRAORDINARY EXAMPLE, PRE-CIVIL WAR THROUGH THE WAR'S OPENING YEAR, 1859-1861, OREGON STATEHOOD
|Frame Size (H x L):
|15.75" x 19.5"
|Flag Size (H x L):
|8.25" x 11.75"
|33 star parade flag, printed on silk. The stars are configured in a variation of what is known as the “Great Star” pattern [one large star made out of smaller stars]. Great Stars take on many forms. This particular one is comprised of a star-shaped perimeter, surrounding a wreath of 7 stars, with a single star in the very center. This variety is interesting, not only because of the inner wreath, but because when star-shaped or circular designs appear in printed flags, they are almost always accompanied by additional stars outside the primary pattern. Sometimes simplicity is better. There is something to be said about the strong graphics of the one big star against the rich, royal blue ground, unencumbered by smaller stars around it.
Because there was no official configuration until 1912, the design was left to the liberties of the maker. Among flag collectors, the Great Star configuration is perhaps the most coveted geometric pattern. It seems to have come about shortly before 1818, when Congressman Peter Wendover of New York requested that Captain Samuel Reid, a War of 1812 Naval hero, help to create a new design that would become the third official format of the Stars & Stripes. The primary concern of ship captains was that the signal be easily recognized on the open seas. Reid’s concept of placing all the stars in a star-shaped pattern would have kept the constellation in roughly the same format as the number of states grew and more stars were added. Such a distinct design could be quickly identified at a distance. Though his proposal was rejected by President Monroe due to the increased cost of arranging the stars in this manner, the Great Star was produced by anyone willing to make it. Its rarity today, along with its beauty, has driven its desirability among collectors.
This is an extremely rare example. Oregon joined the Union as the 33rd state on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, 1859. The 33 star flag was official from 1859-1861, and was thus still the official flag when Ft. Sumter was fired upon, on April 12th of that year. This event marked the beginning of the Civil War and a 33 star flag was flying at Ft. Sumter during the attack. Because the 34th state, Kansas, had already acquired statehood on January 29th, 1861, flag makers knew that the 34 star flag would soon become official. For this reason, 33 star flags were not produced in great quantity for the war, which would last until 1865, and the 33 can be considered to be more of a pre-Civil war flag than a war-period flag. 33’s are considerably more rare than 34 and 35 star examples.
Flags made prior to the Civil War are extremely rare, comprising less than one percent of 19th century flags that exist in the 21st century. Prior to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in 1861, the Stars & Stripes was simply not used for most of the same purposes we employ it in today. Private individuals did not typically display the flag in their yards and on their porches. Parade flags didn't often fly from carriages and horses. Places of business didn’t regularly hang flags in their windows. The only consistent private use prior to 1861 seems to have accompanied political campaigning. Private use of the national flag rose swiftly during the patriotism that accompanied the Civil War, then exploded in 1876 during the centennial of American independence.
Even the military did not use the flag in a manner that most people might think. The primary purpose before the Civil War was to mark ships on the open seas. While flags were used to mark garrisons and government buildings, those of ground troops were often limited to the flag of their own regiment, with a design peculiar unto itself, plus flank markers bearing the unit’s numeric / alphabetic designations (usually on a buff yellow or blue ground), and perhaps a federal standard (also blue or buff yellow) bearing the arms of the United States.
Most people are surprised to learn that ground forces were not authorized to carry the Stars & Stripes until it was assigned to artillery regiments in 1834. Infantry was afforded the privilege in 1841, just prior to the Mexican War (1846-1848), while cavalry regiments were not issued their iconic, swallowtail, Stars & Stripes format guidons until the second year of the Civil War, in 1862, and even then were not formally authorized to carry the national flag until long afterward, in the 1890’s. The first actual war in which the Stars & Stripes was officially carried was thus the Mexican War (1846-48). In more than 20 years of aggressive buying and research, I have encountered almost no American national flags produced in an obvious, land-use, military style that are of the Mexican War period.
All-in-all, a rare and stunning representation of a pre-Civil War parade flag in the Great Star pattern.
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 flag has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The gilded American molding dates to the period between 1840 and 1870. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas).
Condition: There is very minor foxing and staining in limited areas. The most significant of these occurrences are near the end of the 2nd white stripe, near the beginning of the 3rd white stripe, and in an area encompassing just over half of the last 3 stripes, toward the fly end. There are tiny holes in limited areas, in both the canton and the striped field. The colors are strong and bright.
|Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
|Earliest Date of Origin:
|Latest Date of Origin:
|1777-1860 Pre-Civil War
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