Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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CIVIL WAR PERIOD ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH 35 STARS IN A “GREAT STAR” OR “GREAT LUMINARY” PATTERN, A VERY RARE VARIETY WITH AN OPEN, LONE STAR PROFILE, LACKING STARS INSIDE OR BEYOND THE ARRANGEMENT; MADE circa 1863-65, REFLECTS THE ADMISSION OF WEST VIRGINIA TO THE UNION AS A FREE STATE, ANNEXED FROM VIRGINIA JUST 10 DAYS BEFORE THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG; PROBABLY WAR-CARRIED

CIVIL WAR PERIOD ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH 35 STARS IN A “GREAT STAR” OR “GREAT LUMINARY” PATTERN, A VERY RARE VARIETY WITH AN OPEN, LONE STAR PROFILE, LACKING STARS INSIDE OR BEYOND THE ARRANGEMENT; MADE circa 1863-65, REFLECTS THE ADMISSION OF WEST VIRGINIA TO THE UNION AS A FREE STATE, ANNEXED FROM VIRGINIA JUST 10 DAYS BEFORE THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG; PROBABLY WAR-CARRIED

Web ID: 35j-902
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 63.75" x 93.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 51.75" x 81.75"
 
Description:
35 star antique American flag, with its stars arranged in what is known as the “Great Star” or Great Luminary” pattern, a star made out of stars. West Virginia joined the Union as the 35th state on June 20th, 1863, annexed from the upper west corner of Virginia to become a Free State, just 10 days before the Battle of Gettysburg. The 35 star flag became official on Independence Day of that year, one day after the battle’s conclusion. On the very same day, an event of equivalent importance took place in Mississippi, when Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, as the city of Vicksburg fell in the heart of the Confederacy.

While the 35 star flag remained official until July 3rd, 1865, production would have ceased long before. Nevada became the 36th state on October 31st, Halloween, 1864, ushered in by Lincoln just 8 days before his reelection. The makers of American flags, both commercial and private, paid little heed to official guidelines with regard to official specifications, often adding stars before the respective states were even in, in hopeful anticipation of their arrival, or subtracting whatever number they felt were loyal to the Southern cause. Not wanting to produce flags that would soon be out-of-date, most flag-makers would have included a 36th star upon Nevada’s admission. This meant that 35 star flags were realistically produced for less than a year-and-a-half. Scarcity is one reason why 35 star flags are so interesting. Far fewer flags are known in this count than in the 34 star count that proceeded it, or the 36 star count that followed.

Great Star patterns come in many forms. Graphically speaking, this is a very unusual one, in which all of the stars are arranged in the profile of one lone star, without any contained inside, and with none placed beyond their perimeter. Both of the latter characteristics are typically present in renditions of this extremely desirable star pattern, that serves as the veritable “Rolls Royce” of configurations, always appreciated by flag enthusiasts and sought by collectors.

The stars of the flag are made of cotton and are double-appliqued (applied to both sides) of the blue canton. Both this and the striped field are made of fine, merino wool. There is a linen or cotton binding along the hoist, possibly with hemp content, in the form of an open sleeve, through which a length of braided hemp rope was inserted. The original rope was at some point clipped at the top and bottom, but remains within. Remnants of braided cotton or wool cord, red in color, are hand-stitched near the top of the binding, apparently having served as part of the method by which it was affixed to a staff, thereafter.

The flag was likely produced in a cottage industry setting, and is entirely treadle-sewn throughout. The latter is typical with regard to the stripes of Civil War period flags, but is unusual with regard to application of stars, as most seamstresses did not possess the skill required to stitch one to the back and front simultaneously, while turning the fabric and pumping the treadle mechanism at the correct speed. While this method of construction can be encountered in flags in both the 34 and 35-star counts, and occasionally just prior, the level of difficulty precluded widespread use of the technique until the last decade of the 19th century.

The flag’s size is suggestive of its manufacture for use as a company flag in a volunteer regiment that was either not outfitted with flags from a state or federal armory, or was received as presentation colors from a local entity, often a group of ladies comprised of wives, mothers, and admirers, or a wealthy benefactor. Sometimes such flags belonged to a local militia unit or social club that enlisted into service, already having flags or else acquisitioning them as need required. Even when regulation flags were thereafter assigned to such groups from governmental sources, the endearing nature of the gifted flag from loved ones, or nostalgic ties to an earlier possessed flag, often led to continued use. That appears to have been the case here, as seen in the conventional pattern of wear from use in the upper fly and hoist-end corners, as well as along the top edge and in the lower corner at the fly end.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, that 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 100% silk organza for support throughout. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, that was 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 an area of moderate loss from obvious use in the upper, fly end corner. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind some of this for masking purposes. There are additional losses from use in the upper and lower fly end corners, and elsewhere along the fly end, where there are associated tears and small holes, and in the upper, hoist end corner. There is a darning repair in the latter, as well as a stitched repair to a modest tear, and to bind a small portion of the top edge, adjacent to a small nick in the fabric. There is scattered mothing intermingled and scattered throughout, more significant toward the fly end. As previously mentioned, rope inserted in the sleeve at the hoist end was at some point clipped. Lengths of braided, red, cotton or wool cord, hand-sewn near the top of the binding, are fragmented, and the fabric of the hoist adjacent to this is torn. There are minor streaks of water staining near the beginning of the 2nd, 3rd, and last white stripes, and there is minor to modest soiling elsewhere, more prominent in the last 2/5ths of the flag. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
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Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 35
Earliest Date of Origin: 1863
Latest Date of Origin: 1865
State/Affiliation: West Virginia
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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